The Cycle Touring Festival is something of a homecoming. In 2015 I set off on my most recent journey. My first big solo trip: UK – Vietnam – UK. There’s a beautiful symmetry to this year’s event since I’ll be there to give a talk about my experiences from the last two years on the road. In fact I’ll be giving two talks; one about cycle touring in Burma, India and Nepal and the second talk titled The Consciousness Cycle, is about the life affirming effect of long distance bike travel.
To kick things off for our year of microadventure Fabian & I decided to head out to the South Downs for a night of wild camping and a brisk cycle to the Roman town of Chichester. Our initial plan was to cycle to Winchester and camp out in the National Forest but let’s just say that Google Maps’ beta cycling maps are less than ideal (we spent an hour navigating Guildford Research Park going around in circles following the robotic directions of the charming Googlebot lady). Continue reading
A small child screams, dogs bark, hens cluck, sheep bleat, and a cow jumps over the moon… just kidding, there were no dogs around. We’ve just entered the house of Mr Mohammed Zerouat and his granddaughter is bawling her little eyes out at the sight of the two lycra clad gringos that just walked through her front door. She’s currently hiding behind Nanna Zerouat, as we later come to know the old lady baking bread in an open fire hole in the ground. We’re invited to eat said fresh bread and drink mint tea immediately.
Waking in the desert plains with mountains to our right and behind us, we look ahead to a flat road stretching as far as the eye can see, nothing of note but small trees and goats climbing and eating them. So, we set out at a blistering pace (for our bikes and luggage that’s maybe 18kph) heading to towards the coast, in particular, Agadir. Continue reading
Out of Asni and into the mountains we go, pushing up through the High Atlas like two mountain goats. This is a well-traveled road, busy with ‘grand taxis’ darting from Marrakech to Coast and back. For this reason the road is dangerous and wits must be razor sharp to avoid an accident since the drivers are somewhat reckless and vehicles overloaded. Continue reading
Flying with our bikes is something we are always reluctant to do, it’s a major hassle to get to the airport, since they are always out of the way and then the dismantling of the bikes at the airport inevitably means something goes missing not to mention the fact that the bike has to be handed over to the wonderfully mysterious forces of ‘baggage handlers’ hidden in the bowels (behind the wall) of the terminal. So, we fly out to Marrakech full of excitement and hope – ready for our latest adventure in a foreign land – not knowing what lies ahead of us (we very rarely plan a route in detail). Continue reading
Maps and Apps
Finding one’s way around on a bike is one of those tricky things that every cyclist needs to master. Back in the days before the internet, GPS and smartphones the only options we would have had would have been to either be very good at navigating or carry paper maps with us. Indeed, to a lot of people that is still the case (and it can be a much more reliable way of navigating when out of battery or signal reception). One invention that didn’t quite catch on back in the 1950s was a map that you wore like a wristwatch. Continue reading
It’s the first week in April, a season notorious for rain but capable of any kind of weather. The destination – Devon, famed for it’s spectacular coast line, picturesque cottages and bad ass cream teas. The perfect way to kick off 2012. Continue reading
Zagreb was eerie and quiet, It’s Sunday morning. We park our bikes against a wall, take stock on our losses and figure out where to stay the night. We’re amazed by how thoroughly the thieves have gone through our stuff, right under our noses. They’d even taken care to remove cash from our wallets then carefully place them back in our bags. We’d been fleeced good and proper. We carry on looking. Phone, cammera, yep, gone. They’d even taken Jim’s jeans. We were livid, scratching our heads in bewilderment, how didn’t we wake up? Did they really gas our cabin? The truth is we’ll never know but we arrived in Zagreb feeling pretty down about it all. The weather had taken a sudden winter-ward snap. The cold fog was sucking the life out of us as we sat dejected on the pavement. Continue reading