All about our Cycling East Adventure!

Cycling East was our latest big adventure: In the summer of 2014 Ed and Marion cycled from Suffolk, England, each day we got up and headed east by bike. After catching the ferry to Holland we kept on heading east, like all true adventures we had no defined end point, no timescale, no return flights booked nor any specific route to take. I’ll be honest we were a bit apprehensive as we’d never undertaken anything so unknown over the last decade we have been adventuring around the world. One certainty was that we tried our best to regularly share lots of great photos and all of our experiences, thoughts and stories. It ended up taking 24 instalments:
Part 1: The start of something epic
right through to:
Part 24: The Grand Finale

The Route
To live up to the We Love Mountains name we tried to visit as many great mountain ranges that were new to us. We visited bike filled ski resorts in central Germany, struggled up the hills of Czech republic where more ski lifts lurked among the forests. In Slovakia we detoured up into the magnificent High Tatras. THe mountains of Transylvania were as fascinating as their evocative name suggests. The mountains of western Bulgaria were stunning as we crossed the high pass, home to the trans balkans mountain route. In Turkey we detoured breifly into mountains but in Georgia we rode through Adjara and alongside the Caucasus into Azerbaijan. Next were the views over to the Pamirs, before the gigantic Tian Shan mountains in Kazakhstan. A flight took me into the heart of the Himalayas.

As a rough idea I had sketched out this map before we left and we stuck quite closely, only ending in Kazakhstan rather than getting into China.
Click here for the actual route we took

Cycle route

We decided to head through Germany and Eastern Europe this year after a more western route last year. As a rough list of countries we visited:
England, Holland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, India and home!

Yep, that’s a lot of countries, local currencies, languages, local customs and thousands of interesting people that we met. A working knowledge of French and German got us so far, but a few Turkish phrases helped in Turkey but also the Turkic languages in central Asia.

A little about Ed’s kit

To support me in this epic adventure I had some of the best biking brands in the UK on-board. I am super pleased to announce I was supported by the following companies:

kinesis_logos

I rode the Tripster ATR bike provided by Kinesis UK, the entire way. On paper this bike looked like the very best adventure touring bike on the market today. I can safely say after riding it I still think this, take a look at my review:
The ultimate review

The KInesis Tripster ATR is a super light and strong titanium frame with a cutting edge geometry that was matched with the very latest carbon forks and TRP spyre SLC road disc brakes. It was built with the perfectly matched Kinesis Crosslight CX disc wheelset. Shimano 105 road groupset. Continental Gatorskin 700*25mm tyres. I think this ride was be the ultimate test for this titanium ‘all road’ bike in some of the harshest conditions on the planet.

apidura-logo

To ensure I could do justice to such a superb bike I used the latest bike packing bags from the new and exciting brand: Apidura. Based out of the UK these guys are making some fantastically light and innovative touring or bike packing bag solutions. Their philosophy towards touring comes from tons of real world experience and totally fitted in with my fast and light touring approach.
What were the Apidura bags like?

morvelo-logo

Morvelo
I cycled almost everyday for over three months, that means I needed some seriously comfortable bike clothing. Just think of the pain that a shoddy pair of shorts would have caused after around 600hrs in the saddle! Happily this won’t be an issue as Morvelo supported me with some of their outstanding biking apparel. Morvelo are an independent UK bike clothing company. Their European made shorts and jerseys combine comfort with uber stylish designs and all this while loaded with practical features that I love like full length zippers. Click here to see some of the coolest bike kit in the UK: Morvelo
My final review on Morvelo kit was here:
The most thorough Morvelo Test?

Sustainability and Supporting me

This trip also had a bigger message that I really wanted to promote. Essentially we were cycling because we love cycling, however we were also doing it through a necessity using it as a pure form of transportation. We have always wanted to visit the areas we passed through, all these stunning landscapes had an alluring charisma from the misty hills of rural Romania to the vast steppes of the silk road and then up into the peaks and glaciers of the Tian Shan mountains.
The easiest way to experience all this would have been to fly into the cities and drive out into the mountains, trek or cycle and then fly out again. This approach is something that we all take for granted but it is just not sustainable nor as rewarding. By cycling we experienced these stunning locations in a more engaging way that was both more sustainable and fulfilling; outdoor adventures should always be about not leaving a trace nor destroying the very places you travel to see. I set off with a list of places that I wanted to see but I returned not having ticked them off my list but with memories of meeting some amazing people, interacting with locals across the world is an experience that words struggle to describe. On a personal level I have learnt so much about life and what is important: from the burden of materialism that we stress under in the west to the unexpected hospitality and generosity of strangers from different cultures, religions and wealth that put so many of us to shame.
I certainly saw the landscapes I wanted to, dramatic landscapes that left me speechless or more often singing at the top of my voice! But while they lived up to my expectations it was the complete package of arriving here by bike and the experiences along the way that will stay with me, something that flying on an aeroplane can’t match in a million years!



 

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