How will you get your bikes on a plane?…

To begin we thought it might be useful to answer some frequently asked questions we often get asked once people have got over the initial “you did WHAT on bikes…?”

How did you get your bikes on a plane?

It’s actually pretty straightforward: most planes take bikes as regular hold luggage, you just need to notify them in advance. It would be impractical to cart a suitcase or bike box round the world with us, so our strategy was to procure a big cardboard box, like the ones new bikes come in, at each city we catch a flight from: Dublin, LA, Christchurch, Sydney & Delhi. We then “break down” the bikes, (remove the wheels, take off the saddle/handlebars) and pack them in the boxes with load of padding (bubble wrap, cardboard), tape them up and then pray to the plane gods that they make it safe and sound to the other side!

What’s your route and how did you come up with it?

Due to work commitments and various weddings and other events, we determined our leaving date to be 2nd October 2016. Initially we were planning to head east through Europe and into Asia, however with our leaving date in mind, we would then be travelling through Southern Europe/Turkey in winter, which would be bitterly cold. Instead, we decided to go west from London, flying into Orlando Florida on the 13th October and traversing the southern American states in the winter – although cold overnight, it’s much more bearable than Southern Europe. Once across the USA we fly to New Zealand (via Fiji) and land on Christmas day in the middle of summer!

Other major considerations we made with the route was to decide not to cycle in Australia. Rather than hammering out mile after mile in the scorching sun in what is essentially 4,000 miles of desert, we settled on a flying visit to Sydney, but then to move onto Asia.

We were both really keen to explore Asia and so the route from Vietnam to India was a leg we’re both extremely excited about. Likewise with central Asia, as this is a part of the world we knew very little about. As planned, we dodged monsoon season, and the crippling summer heat in Bangladesh, Nepal and India. We also arrived in Central Asia just after the snow had melted in the mountain passes of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which meant we could cycle over some incredible mountainous landscapes.

We entered Europe via the Caucasus, then Turkey, sailed across to Greece, then spun back home via the Balkans, Italy and France in the summertime, ending up back in London before Autumn.

Aside from our flights, our route was flexible and will largely depended on what was happening in specific regions closer to the time. Things change quickly, so we set up alerts for the relevant parts of the world from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office app. We adapted as we went, with only two major changes – we couldn’t cross overland from Myanmar to India as the border closed whilst we were on our journey, instead we flew in Bangladesh. Our VISA application was also rejected to Turkmenistan so we were not able to pass through this country.

Where did you sleep?

We planned to camp as much as possible, particularly in “Western” countries. In Europe/USA/NZ to pay for accommodation each night you’re talking a minimum of $30 (USD) per head, per night – which we couldn’t afford. Once into Asia and less developed countries, accommodation became cheaper and we took full advantage of this. We also had some amazing experiences with various “traveller” websites such as Warm Showers (specifically for cycle tourers), and Couch Surfing. We were also blown away by the kindness of so many stranger who took us in for the night, and to our friends and family who have connected us to people all over the world.

How did you record information about your trip?

We created this website and wrote a blog once every week or two. Euan kept a daily diary, and we recorded daily stats including the distance travelled, average speed and money spent. The intention was to create informative and interesting content -giving people a snap shot of the world in 2016/17 through the many different countries we’ll be passing through.

How did you carry your kit?

A touring bike, often made from durable steel, is a lot sturdier than a road bike. This set up enabled us to load them up with panniers, which contained all of our clothes/sleeping bags/cooking stuff. We rode Ridgeback Panorama bikes and carried Ortlieb panniers; both performed remarkably well. Our bikes, fully loaded with kit, weighed around 28kg.

How much did you cycle per day?

This varied between country depending on weather/road surface and other stuff, but in general we covered 115km per day. We didn’t have a set number of days off per week, but it worked out at around one day off every 4 days. We also had a few longer “stop over” breaks including a week in California, Sydney, Greece and Myanmar. Our flights were all booked in advance, so we did have a few deadlines to hit – we had to put in a few big days to make sure we didn’t miss our flights!

How long did it take?

11 months. Euan had a sabbatical agreed with his work which means he’ll be returning to work in October 2017, and Katie secured a job whilst she was on the road. This gave us enough time to cover the distance needed, whilst keeping the pressure on to get back in time.

Which country was your favourite?

It’s hard to pick one because each leg offered something totally different and a whole new set of challenges. We both loved our time in Bangladesh for the incredible hospitality, Kyrgyzstan for the unimaginable scenery, and Turkey and France for their amazing cuisine and beautiful cycling.

It was an amazing opportunity to explore so many places – some that we thought we knew, and others we had never even heard of. The best thing about travelling by bicycle is that you get to see and learn about countries in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily on a bus or car.

What was the biggest challenge?

Amazingly not the cycling. Although we did come up against some extreme headwinds, burning sun, torrential rain, and every element in between. Challenges included the language barrier (although google translate proved priceless), finding places to sleep, and Katie’s severe peanut allergy.

Fortunately we made it through the year happy, healthy and more resourceful than ever before.

How much did it cost?

The initial outlay including flights, insurance, a touring bike and some specialist kit, set us back about £5,000 each. Once on the road, we tried to stick to a budget of £15 each per day, with some extra contingency built in. In Asian countries this was plenty, but it was much harder to keep to in Europe and USA. In total we spent around £12,000 each for the year. We saved this in advance of the trip to avoid having to work whilst on the road.