Interview 029: Joe & Verity | From the U.K. to New Zealand + Tips on Cycling Oman

“We are not huge cyclists and we are not huge adventurers. We are just two normal people that wanted to enjoy and get out there.”

– Joe

In August of 2018, Joe and Verity started their most epic cycle journey to date. They had somehow both managed to quit their jobs with the promise to return after a year of cycling. Verity was a lawyer and Joe was a school teacher. Leaving just days after Verity finished her last day, Verity on her trusty Genesis touring bike and Joe on his new cyclecross bike, they were off to search for adventure, culture, and whatever else may come their way.

Having previously done many smaller tours and read loads of blog posts and reviews, they were pretty sure they had their bikes kitted out exactly how they would like. They opted to take just one tablet that they would share between themselves, and also had their phones. Thanks to some generous sponsors, they also had a sweet set of lightweight camp chairs, which, in hindsight, they can’t imagine ever travelling without. Furthermore, they were sponsored a few other neat gadgets such as the Beeline navigation aid, and Joe’s panniers for his new bike. All-in-all, a pretty sweet way to start the trip

“That was always my thought, do I want this enough to drag it up a hill.”

Verity

In tradition with many other long-distance cyclists going through Europe towards Turkey, Joe and Verity decided to follow the River Rhine and various other Eurovelo routes as they made their way down to Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria. After reading so many blogs, one thing they expected was better paths and found that the Eurovelo routes they took were often in terribly rough condition, but the people of Serbia were so kind and generous that they completely made up for their prior challenges with routes. 

Cycling through Turkey was a dream come true. All the people were kind and there is nothing like camping in a cave in Cappadocia and waking up to see all the hot air balloons rising up into the sky. After crossing Turkey and cycling through Georgia and Azerbaijan, they decided to catch a flight to the U.A.E as they could not get visas to enter Iran, and it was already mid-November and getting late in the year to be riding through the Stans and attempting the Pamir Highway.

Little did they know that their time in U.A.E. and subsequently, the month they would spend in Oman before catching a flight to India would be some of the most memorable of the trip. From riding the mountain ridge line separating the deserts from the coastal region, to spending weeks riding along the coast and enjoying the everyday kindness of the local people, Oman turned out to be a diamond in the rough. Initial worries of having enough access to water turned out to be unimportant, as mosques always had fresh filtered water for them to fill-up. Due to some previous government decree that all towns should be connected with roads, they were privileged to ride on roads smooth as butter. After nearly 30 days in Oman, they returned to Muscat and caught a flight to Chennai, India, where then then proceeded to cycle the southern part of India in a clockwise manner until reaching Mumbai.

Although they passed within 10km of Sri Lanka, there weren’t any boats that run between the two countries, so they had to give it a pass and continue on their way. Instead, they spent their time enjoying the business of the cities and the emptiness of the countryside. This is something most tourists would never experience unless they leave the densely populated north. After reaching Mumbai and spending some more time with the Magic Bus Charity, they took some busses and spent some time doing the typical tourist stuff before continuing on through the north of India and heading towards Myanmar.

Myanmar is still a difficult country to bike tour in, seeing as it has just started to open up during the past few years. Because of this relative newness in dealing with tourists, it’s difficult as a cycle tourist for several reasons. Not just because of the massive amount of road development, but it was also illegal for tourists to stay anywhere other than at official hotels. This can be a bit of a drag to bike tourists that want to be able to explore a culture and get to know the people. After Verity got into a minor accident, they decided to get out of there and get into Thailand. Although Thailand is easily many people favourite country in SE Asia, Joe and Verity especially loved Malaysia because of the diversity of cultures, languages, and food. After cycling their way through Malaysia during Ramadan and reaching Singapore, they caught a flight to Bali and then made their way over to Lombok. Lombok is very different to the very busy and intense island of Bali. The people of Lombok live a laid-back lifestyle and it’s much easier to feel a connection to the people and culture. After climbing Mt. Rinjani and doing a boat trip out to the Komodo Islands, it was time to get back to Bali to catch a flight to New Zealand, where they would spend their last three month driving around, skiing, and biking before heading back to England and re-start their previous lives.

However, now they were changed and things would never be the same.

Cheers. Keep on pedalling.

Chris

Follow Joe and Verity on their adventures at:

Show Notes

~ 01m 30s     Intro to Episode and who are Joe and Verity
~ 03m 30s     Previous bike touring experiences
~ 05m 30s     What bikes they used and gear setup
~ 09m 30s     Tips of packing for a 1 year tour; 3 things in their bags they absolutely loved
~ 12m 00s     Things people should leave at home which they thought were unessential~
~ 13m 30s     Cost of the tour; Getting sponsors
~ 17m 00s     What cooking system they used
~ 20m 00s     Cycling Europe; challenges and highlights; where they would like to explore more
~ 26m 00s     Turkey and amazing Oman
~ 35m 00s     Cycling in India and the Magic Bus
~ 40m 15s     Myanmar and why they didn’t love cycling there
~ 44m 00s     Cycling south through Thailand and Malaysia during Ramadan
~ 47m 00s     Skipping Java; cycling Bali and Lombok
~ 53m 15s     3 months in New Zealand; reverse culture shock
~ 59m 30s     How the bike tour helped them grow and develop
~ 1h3m30s    Most dangerous moment –> cartoonish accident in Myanmar
~ 1h7m00s    Next trip; bloggers that influenced them
~ 1h12m00s  More on the Magic Bus Charity
~ 1h15m45s  On the next episode: Dan Hurd

About the Author
Traveller. Cyclist. Expat. Over 15 years experience living abroad in six different countries. I've travelled to over 40+ countries and met countless travellers, cyclists, and other expats. As a passionate cyclist I've had opportunities to bike tour in some truly amazing places. While definitely not an expert at bike touring, I'm passionate about sharing bike touring stories and helping others learn hacks, tricks, and techniques to improve their touring experience. I look forward to you joining me on this journey of learning about and becoming a better bike tourist.

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