I first met Adam and Lucia when I was cycling the Mae Hong Son Loop in Northern Thailand in November 2018. I was fortunate to meet Adam’s friend Simon while cycling from Chiang Mai to Pai and he invited me out that night to meet his other cyclist friends. I planned to meet up with Adam and Lucia in Chiang Mai a week later and carried on with my bike tour. After a good couple days of hanging out in Chiang Mai and eating our way through Anthony Bourdain’s favourite places, it was time to wish them well and let them continue their trip through parts unknown. Lo and behold, a few months later, I had moved to Cambodia and they were passing through, and I agreed to host them while in Phnom Penh, and we took the opportunity to record this interview.
From the insane driving in Cambodia, to eating bugs in Thailand, and seeing a dog being burned alive in China, Adam and Lucia have found that the biggest challenge of the bicycle tour is the cultural aspect. While most bike tourists start their trips in their home country, the Cycling Two dove in headfirst and started their trip in Singapore and cycled up through Malaysia, Thailand and Laos into China, before turning around and coming back down through Vietnam, Laos a second time, and into Cambodia.
While seeing something such as a dog being burned alive can lead to an almost shell-shocked type of feeling which may seem as brutish mindless cruelty, the people carrying out the action were actually quite friendly and proud of what they were doing and that you have to realize that people do live different cultural norms.
“It’s not for us as travellers to impose our ideals onto anybody. We are absolutely guests and visitors. It’s kinda the beauty of travelling by bicycle is you see these things that most people don’t normally see. It can be really rewarding and it can also change your views on the world in bigger ways.”
One of the bigger challenges with planning an around the world tour is deciding on the route to be taken. Cyclists often spend countless hours planning their route, looking up sights they want to see, figuring out likely places to camp, sleep, get hosted, etc. Adam and Lucia have changed their plans on many occasions. Because they make a lot of YouTube videos related to their travels, it likely seems that they are changing their minds too often.
“That’s what I love about bicycle touring, you can be really flexible. You don’t have to be dead-set on a certain direction because it’s up to you. You’re on a bicycle and you pedal the way you want to go.”
As a life-long cyclist and traveller, it’s interesting to hear how various people get the bug for cycling and travelling. Adam’s interest began while on tour in Afghanistan when he read a book by Alastair Humphreys and immediately got hooked on the idea of doing something to bring adventure and excitement into his life. After doing some smaller tours around the UK, Northern Ireland, and Europe, Adam decided that with all the external pressures of life coming into play, such as buying a house, starting a family, and beginning a new career, he was going to lose the chance of ever doing a world tour unless he did something soon.
Once Adam and Lucia decided to do a multi-year tour, it was a matter of testing out equipment and seeing what works for them. By doing a short tour before the big one, it gave them the opportunity to see what they need and to help cut down on the amount of kit they are carrying. One of the biggest mistakes of most new bike tourers is that they tend to pack too much clothing, and just by cutting down on this, it can lower your gear weight by up to 50%. It’s also important to build your way into the tour you are planning, starting the journey on a flatter route, and even staying in hotels a bit more often, until everyone is comfortable with the terrain, etc.
Preparing for a multi-year bike tour can take a lot of time, and one of the most effective ways to go about it is to check out other blogs online and see what other cyclists are carrying with them. One thing Adam believes too many people prioritize on is gear, but that you don’t always need top of the line equipment. However, he thinks you should prioritize with a strong bike rack that can take a beating.
Be honest about what you enjoy, what you don’t enjoy, and communicate that. It’s really important if you are cycling with somebody else, whether it’s your partner or your friend.
I really enjoyed interviewing Adam and Lucia about their bicycle tour. If you want to hear more podcasts and read more content such as this, stay tuned.
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~ 1′ introduction
~ 4′ experiencing cultural differences
~ 11′ changing plans during the tour
~ 14′ homesickness while on the road and spending all your time together
~ 20′ creating a bike tour plan
~ 38′ preparing for a multi-year bike tour: what you need to do.
~46′ the usual reasons to not tour: money, time, career, family