Now that we have finished our 18,000km bicycle tour and basked in the glory of our achievement for the past few weeks, it’s time to admit that we never could have done it without the many kind souls who helped us out along the way. ||
While we planned our trip, we read many inspiring blogs and books and contacted several experienced cyclists for advice. Special mentions go to Anne Mustoe’s book A Bike Ride, which was our first inspiration for cycle touring, and Alastair Humphrey’s brilliant books about his round-the-world cycle tour.
Al Humphreys also organised a pub night in London where we met other cycle tourers - Friedel and Andrew from TravellingTwo, who had already helped us out with lots of advice before our meet-up and have since published a Bike Touring Survival Guide that is packed full of useful tips and information. We also met Justin and Emma from Rolling Tales, who were about to embark on their own journey to New Zealand and who we later met again in Turkey, and Di who we ended up cycling with from Budapest to Istanbul. Tara and Tyler from Going Slowly answered our many pre departure questions via Skype from their tent in Romania and we had the pleasure of catching up with them in Bangkok. Many other blogs provided inspiration as well as practical advice and helped us gain the courage to embark on our own journey.
On our first day leaving London our friends Gerry and Dom cycled out with us. That night we were offered a bed by Andrea in Dartford via the Warmshowers website, making for a great start to our journey. During our tour we were hosted by many other people who invited us into their homes: Catherine & Mathieu in Metz, Charlotte in Strasbourg, Sandra & Alex in Böblingen, Jürgen in Vienna, Ulas in Turkey, Hossein & Sohra in Iran, Mahmud & Mahdie in Iran, Ahmad and his family in Iran, Melanie in Abu Dhabi, Chuen and his mum in Singapore, Ruth & Glen in Darwin, Paul & Jenny in Adelaide, John & Rachel near Timboon, Peter & Corinne in Wye River and Tony & Pam in Fairhaven on the last night of our tour.
Countless people helped us along the way by stopping for a chat, giving us directions, presenting us with food or drinks, waving or giving us the the thumbs up, buying us a meal or inviting us to into their homes, letting us camp in their garden, taking us on tours of their local area or even doing water drops for us in the Australian Outback. There are too many to name, but you know who you are and we will always remember your acts of kindness.
Along the way, some of our friends and family came out to visit us. It was great to see familiar faces en route. Gudrun came to meet us in Ulm, Freddie’s parents, sister and brother-in-law visited us in Vienna, Tony showed us around Budapest, Janna & Marco and Gerry came out to Istanbul, Abhishek & Priya and Amol introduced us to Mumbai, Nick & Aom met us in Bangkok and Nick spent a week cycling with us in Thailand, we met up with Beng near Kuala Lumpur, Tze-Ern and Ben took us out for a meal in Singapore and Guy’s sister Justine visited us in Adelaide. The prize for the most visits however goes to Freddie’s dad, Gerhard, who came out to see us 3 times – in Vienna, Istanbul and Dubai. Each time he carried a parcel full of spare parts, hand delivered from Germany, as well as sponsoring us some treats along the way.
A special thank you goes to everyone who has made a donation to SOS Children’s Villages to sponsor our ride, and to the charity itself who invited us to visit one of their villages in Kerala, India.
When planning our tour, we made sure that our gear was high quality, durable and light weight. The companies supplying our gear have for the most part been extremely helpful when something did go wrong. Icebreaker replaced a worn T-Shirt for free, Ortlieb sent us replacement clips for our panniers, Thermarest sent us two (!) new sleeping mats (the original one had delaminated and the first replacement was lost in the mail), General Ecology sponsored us a new First Need water filter cartridge, and Bikesportz sponsored us new Panaracer tyres.
A huge thank you to the crew at SJS who supplied us with our Thorn Raven bicycles which have served us loyally for over 23,000km without any major issues, not even a broken spoke. They were the most important kit item and they never let us down and certainly the upgrades to double walled rims, thick spokes and Rohloff hub were integral in this.
Our families have been extremely patient and supportive. Despite the fact that they sometimes worried about us, they never complained about our extended tour and always tried to act as if it was normal that we’d call them up from a phone booth in Iran announcing we’d be out of touch for the next 8 days as we were about to cross a desert.
Finally, we have really enjoyed writing this blog and connecting with people through our website, Twitter and more recently Facebook. We still get pretty excited when we receive a message or comment, and the encouragement of our readers has seen us through some tough times. Twitter in particular has allowed us to hook up with many interesting people along the way who were on their own extended cycle tours.
We hope that we were able to pass on some useful information and learnings to people planning their own tour to close the loop and give back what we received when we first started out.
-- THANK YOU!