Let’s talk about how we prepared ourselves a tasty meal of cycling half the globe by bike. You will need the following ingredients: an idea, preparation, motivation (add lots) and give it some flavour with a little bit of craziness of cycling 16.000km to the other side of the world. Below you will find a more detailed description of these ingredients.
It all started when Bram was in Laos and spoke to a British couple that drove their 4×4 all the way from England to Laos, and were on their way to Singapore. This idea of traveling over-land to Asia without having to cross any seas was very interesting.
After returning back to The Netherlands Bram dug a bit deeper and told some friends about the fact he was playing with this idea of pedalling to China. They found it interesting but didn’t take it very serious and actually made a bit fun of it. So the idea faded and life went on.
A couple of months later, Bram was having a drink with some of the same friends. Only this time, Davy was also present at the party. With a couple of beers and a match of football in the background, one of the guys brought the old idea of cycling to China up again. He asked Bram if he was still thinking about the trip or he gave up on it. Some jokes were made and Bram said that he actually gave up, also because doing this all by yourself seemed nearly impossible. But then Davy jumped in, saying he actually found it an insane, but at the same time amazing idea. We both remember talking about it when we got back in the car: ‘is it possible?’ and ‘do you really think you can do this, physically and mentally?
So now there was not only one cook, but there were two chef de cuisine’s who could make this Michelin-star dish really happen. Now that the idea was born, the seed was planted – you name it – it was time to grow this into something real.
We were glad we were not the first persons that had this sick idea, because we had no idea where to start. There was this guy from The Netherlands, Henk van Dillen, who cycled all the way from Rotterdam to Singapore on a second-hand bike he bought from the internet. And then there was Martijn Doolaard, who made a mind-blowing book with beautiful stories and photos about his journey to Singapore on a bike. Just a few examples, but there were so many more inspirational cyclist who also did a journey like this and made it seem possible to do this.
We had to prepare a couple of things. The route, the gear and the bike.
Here’s the most difficult part: the route. We kind of quickly decided we wanted to finish in Beijing, and cycle through Turkey, Iran, the Stans and Mongolia. So many interesting countries were we didn’t know anything about. And then it gets hard, because there are two vital questions: when will we start our trip and where will we experience the inevitable and bitter cold winter? Cycling for one year on more or less the same latitude would automatically mean snow, rain and frozen toes somewhere along the way. Most cyclist who are going to Asia leave around February/March so they will have a cold start but will have not many weather-concerns further down their trip. Leaving around that time with our route would mean we experience winter around Mongolia. Good luck with that, since it can be -40 degrees during nighttime. The option of leaving end of summer and have winter in eastern Turkey, the Caucasus and Iran seemed to be the least bad option. We found a few other cyclists who cycled during that time and they found it really cold, but doable. We even saw a video of three Belgium cyclist jumping into an ice-cold lake during their trip. We still aren’t really sure if we made the right decision and what we get ourselves into but hey, that’s also part of the adventure.
And then there was also the preparation of our gear and bike. Thank god for internet and the tendency of other cyclist putting their gear list on their websites. We had a fun time finding and reviewing all the right gadgets and clothing we needed for the trip, but we both cried a bit at the checkouts, since we had to sell our kidneys to pay the bills. (we actually didn’t.)
Buying the bike was fun. We had two preferences, we wanted a Surly-frame and put together the other parts ourselves. We weren’t cyclers, and we knew as much of bicycles as we know of building a rocket ship, so we needed help. Luckily we found that in Martin de Roy who helped us with looking for the right parts and putting it all together. Pretty useful, since we now know a little more than inflating a flat tire.
We are planning to update our website with more detailed information about all the gear, but feel free to ask what stuff we use via our Instagram.
We haven’t talked about the fact that we both worked full time, have concerning parents and lovely girlfriends to make everything a bit more complicated.
So we both really liked our jobs and it made us able to save up enough money to make a journey like this. Some would buy a car, some would buy a house, we buy a bike and one year of adventure-time. Financially there was no reason we couldn’t do this, but we had a harder time explaining to our surroundings that we wanted to make this trip.
Our parents were very concerned and our girlfriends had no idea which face expression to make when they first heard about this idea. Eventually they all gave it a place and knew this was a dream that we both had to go for, so they started supporting us along the way. We are most happy with their support before and during the trip. And we are really looking forward to the moment they will pay us a visit along the way!
In a year of preparation, you’ll have ups and downs with your motivation. Sometimes you’ll have to help each other getting back in the right spirit, or you just have to read or see stories from other people traveling and discovering new places. We think the most important motivation have to come from within yourself and will allow you to do anything what you want.
Why cycling to the other side of the world?
So we both had a nice job, an apartment, some cash on our bankaccounts to maybe buy a house in the future and also, have girlfriends. Why not just go on a 3-month backpacking trip?
An endless discussion, but to conclude; we want to go further than to just experience new countries and cultures. It is all about personal development as well, in the boundaries of staying safe at all times. The ‘Volkskrant’ published a nice article about this: https://www.volkskrant.nl/nieuws-achtergrond/van-amsterdam-naar-singapore-of-van-breda-naar-beijing-wat-bezielt-de-verre-fietsavonturier-~ba336125/.
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog. We are quit new in this. Let’s see if we find time to write a new blog about how we have experienced our first weeks on the bike.
By Davy and Bram from @half.the.globe.by.bike