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.
For our first day ride of the year we set our sights on an easterly journey of just over 70km, destination – Southend on Sea. An early start was always going to be a relative concept given Ade’s proximity to the brewery (Ade is the Ops guy at Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick) so at length I arrived at the Peanut Factory (Ade’s house) at a leisurely 10am. The few miles cruise down from Highams Park some of the best of the day. Joggers jogged, teams assembled on the playing fields poised for imminent battle and cyclists in great numbers headed out in the opposite direction bound for Epping Forest.
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
The Dunwich Dynamo, the dun run, the French might call it ‘the beautiful madness’. Whatever you call it, the dun-run is a whole lot of adventure packed in to a single night. This year, my third, we (Fabian and I) got a group of newbies together to tackle the 120 mile night ride to the coast. A motley crew of mainly girlfriends, friends and a German intern called Silvan. 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
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