In May 2018, Matt Arnold and Becky Prince decided they needed a big change in their life, and gone straight to university after high-school, they felt they were missing out on something important. Ultimately, they quit their jobs, bought some bikes and rode to Singapore.
However simple that may sound, there is much more to it than that. A lot of learning had to happen. Initially they thought they would be able to ride through Iran and that things would just work out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case, and while in Turkey they had to adjust their plans. They also recommend other potential bike tourers to not buy every piece of kit that is available, but to just get the essentials and then add or take away things as necessary. This lesson can be quite costly and just results in a bunch of stuff being posted home.
I recommend to anyone to just take the absolute bare essentials and then buy as you need it rather than imagining a scenario where you may need something, buying it, and then…
As this was their first big bike tour, they decided to follow the Rhine and the Danube to cycle through Europe as it would offer a lot of spots for camping and allow them to get accustomed to touring at a more leisurely pace. Although they now wished they would have been a bit bolder and gotten off the beaten path a bit more, it probably was the best way to get to being on a bike every day.
By the time they finished cycling in Turkey, they realized they needed to hurry up if they wanted to reach Tajikistan and cycle along the Pamir Highway before winter fully set in. For this reason they took a train from Georgia to Azerbaijan, and then again from Western Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan. Without a doubt, Matt and Becky say that one of the most wonderful parts of the trip was cycling along the Pamir Highway, an old Soviet supply route constructed during the Afghan War. One of their big tips with this is to lighten your bags and have the hostel them sent onwards to Osh in Kyrgyzstan. This service only costs a few dollars and seems to be reliable, although you would probably want to avoid sending anything valuable. Matt and Becky also said that the Pamir Highway is doable on a touring bike, but that it is definitely more suited to a bikepacking set-up and mountain bike tires.
What was the best thing about cycling in Europe?
The fact that you can go to so many countries in such a short space of time.
After their trip through Central Asia, they packed up their bikes and flew to New Delhi, India, and decided to take a break from cycling and tour India for 6 weeks taking trains and busses to get around and really immerse themselves in the culture. They say that their time in India was the favourite part of the entire trip. When leaving India, they cycled up to Nepal where they would spend Christmas and New Year with a friend they made along the way, do a simple 1 week hike lower down in the foothills so that they don’t need to buy too much equipment, and then cycle back into India as they made their way towards Myanmar.
After all the hardships and challenges, they said cycling through Thailand was almost like being in Europe again. Everything is easy to get, lots of people speak English and they have 7/11. Wishing they could have spent more time in Laos, it remains on their list of places they would like to go back to and explore more, having already spent a lot of time in Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia.
They finished their tour by flying to Ireland, crossing the island, and cycling down the coast until they could take a boat to Whales where they would visit Matt’s family before finishing the tour once and for all after cycling up to Sheffield.
People get so bogged down in trivial matters, whatever it might be. You take a bigger picture, you see the bigger picture more.
Like most people on a bike tour, Matt and Becky considered extending their tour, but as things were coming to a head, they found that they were beginning to get excited about returning to the U.K. and had thought a lot on how they would like to live their lives. They have now settled in Sheffield, deciding that they no longer wanted to live in London. Matt and Becky both feel that they have learned to be more patient and not to care as much about the little things, while maximizing their free time riding their bikes embracing everything that the U.K. has to offer.
Cheers Matt and Becky. Keep on pedalling.
Follow Matt and Becky on their adventures at:
~ 30 sec Intro to episode and Matt Arnold and Becky Prince
~ 4m 30s Motivation towards doing the tour and how they made their timeline
~ 7 min Why they biked, how much it cost them, and the mistake of taking too much stuff
~ 11m 30s Epic departure from a pub to start the trip
~ 14 min Where they went in Europe and what they would have done differently if they could do it over again
~ 18 min Adjusting the schedule so as not to have to spend winter in Central Asia, and the insanity of getting a boat from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan
~ 21m 30s Riding the Pamir Highway
~ 28 min Off the bikes in India for 6 weeks and why it was their favourite country and New Year’s in Nepal
~ 34 min Cycling SE Asia: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
~ 43 min Finishing the tour and re-assimilating into society
~ 48 min Matt taking lessons learned during the tour to use in his daily life. Downsides to a big tour.
~ 56 min Where to find Matt and Becky
~ 57 min In next week’s episode: Swag Family Hughes