Frequently Asked Questions

Every time I tell someone about my cycle I’m inevitably asked many of the same questions, so I figured I’d throw up a “FAQ” of sorts!

You’re cycling to China?! That’s insane! Are you insane?

No, I’m not insane. Many people have cycled or driven similar routes. Examples are:

  • Mark Beaumont – Cycled 18000 miles from Paris around the world in 195 days, setting the Guinness World Record for cycling around the world.
    • Mark also cycled the length of the Americas (10000 miles). He also climbed the highest peaks in Alaska and South America at either end. As you do.
  • Rob Lilwall – Cycled 30000 miles home from Siberia to England over 3 years. I thoroughly recommend his book “Cycling Home from Siberia” – in particular the Papa New Guinea chapter. That’s a “Holy Crap!” read at times!
  • Alistair Humphreys – Friend of Rob Lilwall, cycled around the world over 4 years, 46000 miles.  Alistair has three books about this trip. I haven’t read them yet, but will get to them!

What will you do if you get a puncture?

I’ll fix it like I would any other. To limit the number of times I’ve to do this, I’ll be using some puncture resistant tyres (Schwalbe Marathon Plus – I’ve had these for years and they are virtually bullet proof).

What if your bike breaks? How will you fix it?

The bike I’m taking is a Surly Long Haul Trucker that is incredibly strong and durable. . The advantage of this bike is that it’s lightweight, strong, and has simple brakes.  More importantly it has 26″ wheels. Most dedicated touring bicycles are 27″. 26″ wheels are standard, and far more available outside of Europe. If I break a wheel, I’ll be able to get a new one.

Bicycles are incredibly simple machines and mine is simple to repair. Even broken spokes. My bike is a proven piece of kit, tried and tested by countless cycle tourists. I’ll carry a spare chain and spare spokes. Everything else I can have posted out or sourced locally.

What about your arse? Won’t it get sore?!

Yes. Yes it will. 😥 To limit this, I’ll be taking a Brooks B17 saddle, a renowned touring saddle design that hasn’t changed much in 100 years and some padded shorts.

You’re cycling through Iran?! Isn’t that, like really dangerous?

Eh, no. Check out the blog post I did on cycling in Iran. It’s probably going to be the highlight of my trip!

I couldn’t get an Iranian visa in time so took a cargo ship across the Caspian Sea instead

How much will it cost and how long will it take?

Excluding expenses for the bike, visas, equipment and flights home, I’m looking at a budget of just €30 per day. I’m basing this estimate off a useful article on TravellingTwo.com. I’ve got just 8 months to complete the trip in order to be home for my sister’s wedding in September. That’ll be the guts of €8000 for the day-to-day expenses on the trip.

Other expenses of equipment, visas, flights etc… are budgeted for about €2500. Hopefully I’ll have some of the equipment donated! Then medical and travel insurance for the year will be about €1200. That’s about €12500 – I’m funding the trip myself. None of the expenses will be paid for by my fundraising – that’s all for Crumlin Hospital. With any luck I’ll camp a lot to save money and get that €30 down much lower.

What equipment will you bring?

I’ve to do a post on equipment, but asides from the bike it’ll be:

  • Tent
  • Multi-fuel Stove
  • Pots
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Mat
  • Pillow
  • First Aid Kit
  • Cycle computer
  • Solar Panel for charging stuff – Broke. Used it rarely
  • DSLR Camera + Lenses + Gorilla Pod Tripod – Sent DSLR home
  • Tablet for updating blog – Brought MacBook Air in the end
  • Smartphone
  • Mugging wallet (Wallet with cancelled cards and $100 in case I’m mugged)
  • Bike tools & spare parts
  • Change of clothes
  • “Magic Letters” – Rob Lilwall inspired letters in local languages for each country asking to direct me to “cheap and clean accommodation, and cheap & wholesome food”. Apparently this letter was magical when he used it on his trip.

How will you carry all that gear?

I’ll have pannier racks on the front and back of the bike, with a dry back strapped on the back too. I’ll bring a handlebar mounted bag too.

How many miles will you cycle a day?

My goal is to cycle 70 miles or 120km per day, 5 days a week. That’s 600km a week. So 3 days on, a day off etc… This will vary depending on where I am and how I’m feeling. I’ve also factored in a full week off a month for mechanical problems, illness, visa issues. So 14000/700 is…….20 weeks. Add in a 20% factor of safety and I’m at ~24 weeks. Then allow for 6 weeks of mechanical downtime in those 6 months, and I’m hitting 30 weeks, or about 7 months. I think that’s a fairly safe estimate.

Where will you sleep?

Where possible I’ll try to camp. I’ll also use http://www.couchsurfing.org and http://www.warmshowers.org to try to keep costs down. From what I’ve read, I’ll hopefully be able to count on the help of strangers in each country I go through. I imagine the European leg will see far less random helpers than as I get further East.

That’s about it for the moment. If I’m asked anymore new questions I’ll add more to this 🙂

6 Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Linda Dundas says:

    I’ve three to four weeks to do a road trip and planned to cycle Romania but your recent posts re dogs has put me off. Where has been your favourite / would you recommend ? All the best. Good on ya!

    • Hi Linda,

      Favourite has been Germany or Austria, but expensive. Turkey has been great so far! Hungary was cheap and easy cycling but not much to see, but I was there in February and the weather was just cold and grey.

      Regarding the dogs in Romania. Yes, I found them terrible. I know plenty of others have found them bad also, but others have found them fine. I couldn’t recommend Romania, but with that said, the Danube is most spectacular there! A Catch 22 if ever there was one.

      Serbia is much easier dogs-wise, although they have enough. You can still cover the same section of the Danube, but I believe there are a lot of tunnels. Have a look at JP’s blog. He says good things about the Serbian side: http://www.jpbiketrip.com/?p=839

      Best of luck!

  2. Rory says:

    Hi, just came across your site. Myself and good lady are trying to plan istanbul to china next year but struggling at the visa for China situation. Do you have yours or planning to get it along the way? Good work by the way, Istanbul is a milestone but a beautiful one! Rory

    • Hi Rory,

      The visa for China is supposedly straightforward in Tashkent in Uzbekistan. I believe you can get it on the day there. Check out Caravanistan.com for more details: http://caravanistan.com/visa/china/

      Other advice I’d give you: Buy two sets of spare rims that fit your bike and leave them at home with someone who you can rely on to ship them out to you. If your rim goes, you’ll struggle to get one on the route. I’m having a lot of difficulty with that problem currently.

      Good luck!

  3. Hi there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same topics?
    Thank you so much!

  4. The Observer says:

    Great blog. I love cycling and look forward to a similar trip myself, (finances and technical skills permitting).

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