I was in Sheffield briefly this weekend to attend and talk at the first ever SHAFF Fringe cycle touring forum and it was a fun free event.
It was a good chance to meet some fellow tourers and also to give out some advice from what I have learnt over the last decade riding bikes in over 40 countries. I am a bit geeky over bike kit so I tried to tone it down and hopefully explain it is all about just getting out there riding to new places, rather than fretting over routes or kit (as much as I enjoy choosing kit!)
It was only my second event talking about cycling and I probably mumbled and waffled far too much, but hopefully some useful tips were gathered despite that. I certainly learnt a few things from the other panellists.
I wanted to add some thoughts to the areas that seemed to arise at the event and to say thanks to everyone who attended and for those making the event happen.
Firstly cycling both alone and as a couple was discussed and it certainly has it’s differences but it seemed the consensus was both ways work out fine! Personally I did get a bit bored/lonely on my own in the wilds of central Asia and that maybe led to me flying to Nepal and not sitting out and waiting for the elusive China visa in Kazakhstan, but on the flip side I enjoyed going at my own pace and certainly found it easier to meet the people who really made the trip what it was. I think being a vulnerable chap on his own attracts local ‘friends’ and was a great experience, however overall I would rather have had Marion along all the way to China.
Costs of cycling was discussed and I mentioned I worked part time over winter to pay for my trips. Touring costs clearly vary country from country but it is easy to do cheaply – we tried to stick at $15 each a day averaged out over the entire trip. As a couple being able to share costs certainly makes it cheaper per person. In cities we spent a lot more doing tourist things but other times I spent much less and in Georgia/Azerbaijan I had a run of a few days not spending a penny (not from dehydration I should add).
Getting the right speed and distance is a balance, at the forum I came across as the race whippet but overall I think covering 100km a day average over a trip is a good distance. I still think when landscapes get dull (Uzbekistan desert?) pushing out 250km a day is great for escaping quicker!
My bike was a Kinesis Tripster ATR titanium bike and it’s not the cheapest but if I had all the money in the world to cycle around the world I wouldn’t change it! Titanium is the most comfortable frame material to ride long distances on full stop.
The water filter bottles I discussed using were Aqua Pure and Water to Go. Have a read of my review for more info. I used Apidura bike packing bags.
Any other questions please let me know: