I am learning so much about cycle touring while on the road, both from other cyclists and from my own personal experiences. As I’m often asked about my trip, I thought I’d start a FAQ section and also include additional information which might prove helpful to others.
You say on your blog you’re trying to cycle around the world, what does this mean?
This means I want to limit the amount of time I spend using other forms of transport and will only use buses, trains, boats and planes when transiting across parts of the world where I cannot cycle. According to the official Guinness records, cycling around the world means you have to cycle at least 18,000 miles and travel at least 25,000 miles. This allows for transport across oceans by airlines etc.
How long will this take you?
Sorry but that’s impossible to answer because there are so many variables to consider, i.e. where I go, when I decide I’ve completed the challenge and most crucially, how long I can keep going for.
How much will it cost?
That’s a tough one. If you transit by airplane across oceans, I imagine that will be your biggest single outlay. Your next biggest costs will probably come from playing the visa game, both in the actual cost of the visa’s and the waiting around time. I will do a separate section on the Visa nightmare and subsequent costs as it’s such an important part of planning a trip. When you decide to take a room or hotel costs can quickly rack up, so it depends on what kind of budget you set yourself and don’t forget to allow for bike bits breaking or just needing replacement – this can also cost quite a lot.
OK let’s try and actually answer the question. I set myself a budget of 5 euros a day – a bit difficult to say the least. However until I had to fly back to London (to replace stolen passport) I was just about on target. This meant no luxuries and I cook my own meals and wild camp most of the time. I could easily go a few days not spending anything then use the accumulated daily amount for a proper campsite and shower etc. Crossing Europe I wasn’t far off, but once I started messing about with visa’s that all changed. I’m now frighteningly over budget and will run out of money, so I try to earn a little on the road. So my answer is this, if you plan on touring you can do it cheaply until you have to enter countries that charge you (require visa’s) or you need to transit. Bottom line: I was naive when I thought I could do it with £5,000. I can’t.
What’s your daily mileage?
I’m working in Kilometers, but It has changed since I started out where I was able to comfortably do 160 km a day. Now I usually plan on doing 100 km a day unless it is very hilly. However I’m more and more starting to ride on feel and this can mean both longer and shorter days. 100 km is a good daily average for me to aim for.
Isn’t riding ‘Solo’ lonely and a bit dangerous?
It can be very lonely and I would advise to think carefully before deciding on a solo trip, as it requires a strong mindset. Security though has never been an issue, you are in no more danger than living in a city as long as you are mindful of your surroundings. I’ve found the majority of people I’ve met just want to help me.
Does riding in winter require special kit?
Yes! It is a whole different ball-game and I’ve seen some ridiculously ill prepared cyclists on my travels. You need good quality winter clothing, a good 4 season sleeping bag, a quality sleep mat and a decent tent to make it even remotely comfortable. As I crossed the passes into Kyrgyzstan the day time temperature was minus 25 degrees (-25°) with the sun still up – I took this picture to record it. Outside the vehicle the roads were just solid snow & ice – hence why I was not cycling!
I’m not scaremongering, but the previous November a cyclist died while camping in the valley due to exposure. Don’t underestimate just how hard it is – if you intend cycling through winter buy the best kit available.
Which is your favourite country visited and why?
It’s tough to pick just one out, but if pushed I’ll say Armenia. I’ve always been interested in architecture and in particular old churches and monasteries. They don’t come any better than the wonderful sites I visited in Armenia and if you add onto that the kindness of the people (one of the poorest nations in Central Asia) it holds a very special place in my heart.
Which is your least favourite country and why?
That’s an easy one, China by a huge margin. While I did have a few occasions where I was treated to good hospitality and friendship, on the whole the two months I spent there were pretty horrible. The roads are awful: I witnessed first hand a moped driver killed by being run off a mountain road, witnessed two other fatalities, was hit twice myself and run off the road several times. Then the overcharging just wears you down, having to constantly argue the price of even basic goods or a meal was endemic in many parts of the country. Finally WIFI was a nightmare and Facebook is banned. Enough said.