Cycling to Gdog’s - Cycling Closes To An End

5 minute read

I finally began to run low on funds and in doing so decided to book a flight to Perth to see my good friend Gdog (Gareth). I could easily stay on in Asia (given the expense of going to Australia), but the trip was all about cycling to see my buddy prior to his wedding in 2012. I didn't quite achieve the 13,000km I set out to do finishing short at around 9,300km (I may add another 500km in Australia). The missing 3,700km is due to me not going to India. While, by my original plans, I had enough money to go to India, I of course changed my plans along the way. The three weeks in Japan were not planned (it was expensive), nor was the one month in Vietnam to see my brother during Christmas and the New Year. Both of those effectively burned my budget for India. In a way though I'm sort of glad...

Tired...

Physically I'm still in good shape in terms of cycling (I got a bit of a shock and plenty of muscle burn when playing football and going climbing in Vietnam). I can quite happily jump on the bike and cycle 150km, so it's not the body that it tired... it's the mind.

Four and a half months in Asia has been an enjoyable but draining experience. My mind is exhausted from the constant planning (where to next, what route, where do I stay, how do I fix the bike, can I take my bike on the flight, how do I eat 6,000 calories when I'm sick of rice etc...). For periods of the trip (Yunnan in China, and parts of the deep south of Thailand) I started to cycle purely to rack up miles. It wasn't enjoyable, especially in the heat (or lack of in Yunnan).

The bike is tired too. Given my recent problems with the bike and troubles I've had in finding replacements, India would not have been a good place to go. Of all the countries it's the worst for finding 28" wheeled bike replacement parts. Serves me right for not buying a 26" wheeled bike.

So while I would love to see India, it's probably a good thing I'm not during this trip. To fully appreciated and handle India I think I need as much energy and focus as possible, which I'm currently lacking. Otherwise it's money not well spent.

Trip Breakdown

  • Total Distance Cycled - 9,310km (a fraction under the 1/3 the round the world distance)
  • Days Cycled - 134, ie 4 months of solid cycling (prior to going to Australia). 70km daily average (skewed by quite a few short days, the median is nearer 90km)
  • Calories Burned - 315,000 (approx) ie 41kg
  • Countries Cycled - 17 (England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Japan (briefly), China, Thailand and Australia)
  • Flights Taken - 7 (including the flight I will take home)
  • Warmest Day - 38C (15/11/2011 - Krabi, Thailand)
  • Coldest Day - 16C (28/10/2011 - Yunnan, China)
  • Most Distance In - China (2,900km).
  • Most Time Spent In - China (2.5 months, three different entries!)
  • Hardest Day Of Cycling - Guilin > Longsheng (China) or Phang Nga > Krabi (Thailand). The former being mostly uphill, the latter being 38C!
  • Best Country For Cycling - Germany (no contest)
  • Worst Country For Cycling - Hungary or Eastern China
  • Punctures - 2 (!). One in Austria (front). One in Thailand (rear). Thank you Schwalbe.
  • Thefts - only my dynamo battery in Hungary. In Vietnam I lost my phone, yet it was posted back to me!
  • Losses - Smith sunglasses, cow saddle cover (both in Austria), cycling gloves (Thailand, probably a good thing as they stank)
  • Weight Lost - 7kg, lowest weight was 77kg (weighed 84kg prior to the trip)

Highlights

  • Mark & Ed - two guys, post-university that I met firstly in Austria, and then caught up with in Serbia. Great company and made Serbia/Romania/Bulgaria far more enjoyable than they would have been if done solo.
  • Danube Gorge Trails - the best cycling of the trip. Two gorges, one in Austria, the other in Serbia (the tunnels make it fun). It's hard to take a bad photo. Highly recommended.
  • Luxembourg City - I can't believe I've not been there before, it was a beautiful and relaxed city. A perfect place to take the missus. Possibly my favourite city in Europe.
  • Other Notable Cities - Regensburg, Vienna, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Istanbul, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Possibly Bangkok too (hard to judge due to the floodings)
  • Germany - the best cycle routes, I would say, in the world. And a great country too. Beautiful and well preserved. In many towns it's like you've walked into a fairytale.
  • Japan - what a fantastic country. I can't rate it highly enough in terms of culture, cleanliness and how cute the girls are. Possibly my favourite country of the trip. It wasn't part of my original plans and by visiting it I did have to forfeit India, but it was well worth it.
  • China - while cycling the east was awful (the worst of the trip), the west is fantastic and it is still a great country to travel. While I love Thailand (not so much Vietnam), I still feel China is the best country to travel in East/South-East Asia in terms of a raw travel experience. Best place for fake clothing too.
  • Most Beautiful Girls - Serbia or Japan.
  • Best Beer - Germany. So much choice, so much good beer.
  • Best Food - Thailand. Ok, so a lot of it is "westernised" but it was still damn tasty. The Thai's have a knack for cooking great food. Should maybe go teach the German's a thing or two (and us Brits).

Saviours

  • Prison Break - wild camping, alone, in random forests across Europe was a lonely experience. Prison Break helped pass the hours and ended up becoming quite addictive.
  • MP3 Player - prior to the trip I had never cycled with headphones in. On the trip I spent every day of cycling with one headphone in. The music helped break down the boring stretches of road.
  • Nicolas Cage Losing His Sh*t - whenever I was having a crap day I would rewatch this video. Courtesy of Mark.
  • Coca-Cola - I am now officially addicted to the stuff, but it probably powered me through a quarter of my trip! There's nothing better than a rest-stop with a cold coke (and Cornetto).
  • Android Phone - throughout Europe I was able to email, chat, use Facebook and check the news while on the road. For many days it was the only company I had and was a lifeline to my existence back home.

Photos

Here is a collection of my favourite photos, in chronological order, during the trip.

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