Welcome to my Blog page. Here I will add articles in a Blog form to enable easy navigation between Articles and for comments to be posted to each article.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on November 12, 2017 at 4:50 AM||comments (0)|
Making a Molehill out of a Mountain
Not being a regular cyclist before setting out on my first ever cycle tour, I had concerns regarding hills. I had been surrounded by hills and mountains in the Snowdonia National Park near where I lived in North Wales, but I had never thought about cycling them.
My view of a hill or mountain at the start of my tour was nothing more than a massive obstacle, a towering menace I needed to battle and conquer in order to continue on my adventure. It was something that would cause me pain and slow me down.
I made quite a big deal of hills in my mind, but it was then time to take to the road on my heavy fully loaded expedition bicycle. Panniers hanging off the front and rear wheels, a handlebar bag, a bag on the rack at the rear, and me.
I cycled from my home and onto fairly bumpy but mostly easy roads. I say easy, but that’s looking back at the roads after what I have cycled through since then.
It was the first time I had taken my bicycle out on the road fully loaded, and on the very first day I would cycle almost as far as I have ever cycled before in my life, I cycled only 24 miles.
I camped for the night, but awoke in agony with pains shooting through my right thigh. Thankfully the pain had gone by morning, but I could not help but wonder if I’m like this on relatively flat ground, what are my legs going to be like when I encounter my first real hills.
Practice before I set out might have helped, but I just really wanted to experience this adventure as a complete novice in every respect. After all, it was only a little pain and I knew that my body and mind would adapt at some point.
On my way to Portsmouth I encountered rolling hills and bumpy landscapes, but then came the Chiltern Hills and South Downs in the South of England, and to me they were huge but I was ready.
After cycling through France where my route produced little in the way of big hills and was mostly flat, especially along the Atlantic coast, I entered Spain and hills got a little bigger.
At San Sebastian, my plan was to head to Bilbao, and work my way around the larger hills and mountains as I headed for Madrid, but as I stood there on a bridge in the centre of San Sebastian, I looked at the hills and mountains towering in the distance in the direction of Madrid, and decided against Bilbao and headed straight into those Basque Country hills and mountains.
It wasn’t easy, but even though this landscape was higher than what I had been through by that point, it didn’t feel any harder. My body and mind were obviously adapting to cycling with a fully loaded bicycle.
I would still stop to catch my breath and let my muscles relax from time to time on the really steep climbs if I needed to, and I might be wishing I had a few more granny gears, but I was now looking at hills very differently from when I first set out from Cheshire.
I see a huge hill or range in the distance now and I hardly give it a second thought. I know that I’m not going over the top, there will likely be a road going through. Big hills appear to get smaller the closer I get, because before I have reached the steepest parts, I’m already someway up due to the increase in altitude I have gained on the approach to the very steep parts.
I no longer have concerns regarding hills, or even mountain ranges such as the Sierra de Guadarrama that took me by surprise north of Madrid.
More than that, I have grown to appreciate the beauty of hills and mountains, with the stunning views, wildlife and surrounding landscapes.
Hills and mountains are still not my best friends, but at least we now have an understanding.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on June 27, 2017 at 4:05 AM||comments (1)|
Joby GorillaPod Focus Tripod + Ballhead X
I bought this thing to save space, as it hangs off all sorts of things so no need for a full size tripod in a lot of situations. I was a bit suspicious of how it would handle in my rough mitts, but it feels really tough, as no doubt it would be broken by now. I couldn't resist, I had to hang it to this while passing. The Ballhead X which is the top attachment, is multi-adjustable and solid. It's about 1kg in weight, but so much easier to store than a telescopic tripod. So far I'm happy Joby should pay me for this
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on June 12, 2017 at 5:45 PM||comments (1)|
Reinvented as the most livable tent available for its ultralight weight, the bestselling MSR Hubba Hubba 2-person backpacking tent now weighs in at a trim 1.54 kg / 3 lb 7 oz. Ultra-compact and precision-engineered, the tent feels as light and efficient to use as it does to carry. From its optimized, symmetrical geometry and non-tapered floor that maximize space, down to its integrated, adjustable stake-out loops that speed setup, this tent redefines livability.
Whether you’re setting out to climb the Sawatch Range or circumnavigate Mount Rainer along the Wonderland Trail, the freestanding, 3-season Hubba Hubba tent lets you enjoy the full backcountry experience — including time spent in the tent.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on May 20, 2017 at 2:15 AM||comments (1)|
Rohloff 14 Speed Hub Gear Ratios??
I'm no bike engineer or even have a basic understanding of gear ratios. Finding info on the Rohloff Speed Hub is easy, finding the information I want is not so easy. It's probably right in front of my eyes, but I'm just not bike techy to see it.
I have been trying to find out how the 14 gears of the Rohloff, compare to those in say, an average 32 speed road bike derailleur setup.
I mean, is hub gear 1 equal to gear 1, and is hub gear 14 equal to gear 32, and if so, does this mean that hub gear 7 is equal to gear 16?
Does the jump in missed gears compared to derailleur cause problems in any way?
So what did I learn from my extensive internet search? A learned there are a lot of numbers out there, which made no sense to me whatsoever. Ratios I couldn’t understand or get my head around. I just wanted a simple “yes, hub gear 7 was equal to gear 16” or “no”.
I get that there are all sorts of variables regarding cog sizes and stuff, but a just thereabouts would have done me.
Some things I did find interesting are as follows:
The Rohloff 14 speed hub is a seven speed hub with a set of (internal) reduction gears, giving a second set of 7 speeds. 7 gears in low ratio, and 7 gears in high ratio. And that changing from 7-8 or 8-7 means easing off pedalling before changing, in just these two gears, as the gears move between high and low ratio. Gear 7 is the top gear in low ratio, and gear 8 is the bottom gear in high ratio.
Gear 7 is noisiest and gear 1 to 7 are best for steep hills up to the steepest, especially with a fully loaded bike, which I will have.
The gear range means you can pedal at a 75rmp cadence at 3mph uphill and roll down still pedalling at 28mph.
I know I said no percentages, but damn, I’m struggling here and what does this really mean:
"Gear range is 526%, meaning the highest gear is 5.26 times as high as the lowest gear” OK, so what is the lowest gear equal to when compared with an average derailleur?
"It offers the gear range of derailleur gears and more, and at its ratio of 5.26:1 more range than a typical road bike ratio of 4.28:1 with 50/34 chain rings and 11 to 32 tooth cassette." Does this mean that hub gear 1 is even lower than an average derailleur gear 1?
Questions questions :), see what you can come up with for me here, but in terms a complete novice would be able to understand
Here is a link to this blog post on my Google+ page, where it has received a fair few responses which might help.
July 4 2017, and after just a few days with my Rohloff, I can see there is quite a distance between each of the gears, as though 1 gear is missing between them. A bit of a jump. That said, the range feels very much like my 24 speed Giant Escape at both at high and low gears, and so other than the high and low 1 and 14 on he hub, the other 12 are spread out over what would be the other 22. If you get what I mean. But feeling good all the same. Just taking a bit of getting used to.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on May 12, 2017 at 2:45 AM||comments (0)|
How to get the best deal when storing your stuff
I will describe my own process to get the best deal I could. No doubt there will be some who have managed to get the same space on internal storage for less, and if so, let’s share your experience.
I first tried to work out how much room I would need, with everything stacked on top of everything else, making use of every bit of available space, right to the ceiling.
Turned out that for my whole small 2 bed house and tools from my garage, I could get away with a room size of 100 square feet. Based on an 8ft ceiling height of an average room, that’s 800 cubic feet of space.
This is how they size the rooms for internal storage in a lot of the large storage companies like Smart Storage, Big Yellow, Armadillo and the like.
It was important to me that because I want to store all my furniture, pictures, clothes, shoes, bedding, and all my person items I have an attachment to, that the storage facility is not exposed to bad weather, and that the temperature remained ambient throughout the whole building at least.
It also had to be internal, and not like a shipping container or other outdoor storage box, as this was just asking for trouble from mould and pests. On the subject of pests, try to use brand new boxes for your clothing, bedding, and material items, because sometimes with older used boxes, there could be moths or other critters living in them.
It also had to be secure, really secure, and this is the beauty of these big internal storage companies, as they have 24 hour security and cameras everywhere, although the trade-off’s are that they are more expensive and a little bit more awkward to transfer your things into when looking for a removals firm, so chances are you will be doing most of it yourself, if not all of it.
Now here is how to get the best deal
I had a rough idea of which month I wanted to start the contract, so then started with contacting the first one, telling them that I hadn’t planned to be moving my things for a few months. I told the storage company that I will require the storage for several months, or maybe much longer, like maybe more than a year or even longer.
Saying maybe puts you in the clear if for some reason you end up cutting your plans short, and it also helps you to get a better deal, as he longer you say you need the storage, the more they want your business. So if asked to put your request in writing, always put in the maybe or possibly, which helps you remain none committed.
The first one gave me a quote of £48 per week, which is really quite high. But after asking the others, they also had a similar high price. So now starts the playing one off on the other game. I asked the company to email me the quote, then took that quote to another company in person, and asked if they could beat it, which of course they could.
Then I took this new companies printout to another storage company and asked them to beat it, and yep, they could.
Then I started phoning between the 3 companies, telling them the others could beat their quote. Remember that a lot of companies don’t want other companies to get your business and will ask you who the other company is, and you will tell them. This again will help you get their best deal, eventually.
After doing this over the course of a couple of weeks, I had managed to get the price down to £31. But this was still not good enough for me, so I just stopped contacting anyone for a week or so . It wasn’t long before I got a call telling me I could get another 200 cubic feet of storage for the £31, which was now looking better, but I told them I would think about it.
A few days later I received an email quote of £21 per week for 1000 cubic feet. It all started at £48 per week for 800 cubic feet, and now at £21 for 1000 cubic feet, I accepted this offer.
Over the course of what could be 3 years of me being away, I will save over £4000 from the original quotes.
They will try to sell you their own insurance, which at the place I have agreed to, is £9 PER DAY!!!. I said forget it, I will get my own. Online you will find a lot of companies providing insurance at really cheap prices. The storage companies have insurance included, but it is very basic insurance and will not cover new for old in most cases for instance, so taking out extra insurance is a good idea.
Most of these storage companies will offer better insurance over their basic insurance, but it will be expensive. Like I said, the storage company I have gone with has basic insurance included, but offers old for new insurance at £9 per day. Time to beat the price down..
I managed to find a company online - and there are lots - selling self storage insurance for £3.99 per week, which was the cheapest I could find. I then told the storage company this, and they told me that they will beat it if I provide a printout. It goes to show doesn't it?
But don't get annoyed that these companies don't give you their best price from the start, it's just business and the way things seem to be done, although I hate it when I get a quote for a job to be done at home, and the contractor gives you a price your not happy with, then offers a cheaper price. The difference there is that the contractor might give you a cheaper job in every way possible, which would be horrible. I usually tell these contractors to take a jump.
When I give a price for work, I keep it that price and will not reduce it. If I could have given the customer a cheaper price, I would have done it from the start. But with regard to self storage companies doing this, it is not possible for them to do a cheaper job than simply store your stuff, so it's no problem to me that they can offer a cheaper price if you haggle. A tip too on getting in a contractor, don't be too tempted to knock them down to a crazy low level, as this will be reflected in the quality of the work they carry out. You get what you pay for after all.
And last but not least, about a pound of 20 Mule Team Borax powder is lobbed all over everything from top to bottom. Cover your nose and mouth while doing this. This stuff is an amazing bug killer, including ants, moths, beatles, wasps and even bigger stuff like mice and roaches. It's not the sort of stuff you want to leave in reach of children, as it is harmful and safety instructions are with it.
It's been amazing in my garages and I always put it around the edges of carpets around the house to get rid of spiders and silverfish. You can mix a bit up at home with sugar and water, and leave it in a tray near an ants nest, and it will kill the lot, and that goes for putting a bit near the entrance to a wasps nest too. The fine white powder gets into the lungs (or whatever) of the critters. So when ants or wasps take it back to the nest to feed the mob, anything else that eats it is doomed. Sad, but hey.
Let me know if you have done better, and how, so I can share it here.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on May 6, 2017 at 1:45 PM||comments (0)|
How long does it take to cycle around the world?
Well later this year, Mark Beaumont, a really great cyclist and all super nice guy, is hoping to cycle around the world in just 80 days!! That’s an average of 225 miles per day, every day.
There are rules, if you want to follow rules, or you can look at the rules as a guideline or you can say sod it, I’m doing my own thing my own way, in any direction I want.
In order to qualify as a true circumnavigation, you are required to cycle at least 18000 miles in pretty much one direction, East to West, West to East, and you are required to pass over 2 antipodal points on the Earth, which are 2 points that are exactly opposite each other if you were to tunnel through. There are a few other little conditions too. This is really only for those wanting to feel they have actually completed a true circumnavigation, and those wanting to beat a world record.
For everyone else, its a free-for-all. For the benefit of the question posed, we will look at a true circumnavigation, or thereabouts.
So I started with Mark’s 80 day attempt. This of course is a super human professional effort, and with a rather large support crew and network able to feed and water Mark on the way bless him. They will sort out sleeping arrangements and all the advanced documentation, and pretty much everything Mark needs so that all he has to do is cycle a great bike carrying no kit. I say all, but wow, this will be such an amazing achievement and I'm so looking forward to following him on it.
Then, far away at the very distant other end of the scale, is me. I have estimated that if I don’t spend weeks in one place and all goes well, it will take me between 2 and 3 years to complete, and maybe even longer.
I’m in no rush at all, and want to enjoy everything and every place I cycle through. When working out the mileage and how many miles per day I can do, I took the required 18000 miles of cycling, and divided it by 3 years, allowing for 2 days off each week to chill and enjoy the place I'm in. The mileage I would need to achieve each day of a 5 day week, would be just 24 miles, or 120 miles per week. Actually it's a bit less than that too.
24 Miles a day is not a lot at all. In fact it is just 2 hours or so of cycling per day, 5 days per week, for 3 years. Of course, there will be days when the miles might be just a few due to hills or weather, but there will be days when miles might be twice that or much more. Or days when I am flying or travelling between countries, but I could simply class those days as my days off that week.
My answer therefore to be able to really enjoy your cycle around the world, having a couple of days off each and every week to enjoy the sights and regroup, and doing just a couple of hours of cycling each day, is 3 years.
Now, if I were to average 48 miles per day 5 days per week, it would only take me just under a year and a half to complete. But averaging 48 miles per day 5 days out of seven would be a bit of a slog for me I think, maybe. For some people it would be a breeze. Still, 48 miles a day is like setting off at 5am each day, cycling until lunch, then having 19 hours off until 5am the next day, and 2 days off completely on weekends, and would save thousands of £'s in the process
It will be very interesting to see how my actual cycle compares with what I have said here, but the bottom line, it’s up to you how long it takes.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on May 6, 2017 at 2:20 AM||comments (1)|
Mental or Physical?
Could cycling around the world be considered a more mental or physical challenge?
Sure, it’s going to be physically demanding, punishing even, but nothing can compare to what is going on in our heads. l believe that the mental side of things is going to be far harder than the physical.
These days, prior to the adventure, I will set my alarm to go to the gym to do an hour of strength training, and later in the day I will cycle for a couple of hours on paths and roads. There are times when training, that I feel I have done enough, I’m bored or tired, and I might leave out a set of an exercise, or even a whole exercise, but most of the time I will push myself mentally to complete my workout.
While carrying out my workout, my mind can be on all sorts of things, life, work, bills, relationships. And the moment, my mind is on all of those things, as well as sadness about leaving for so long and missing people, things, and a quite comfortable way of life.
Working out is pretty much a case of just leaving my body to it while I cabbage my head with all kinds of thinking, unrelated to the exercise I’m doing. I know that the mind should be working with the body when training, but all our minds wander, don't they.
Cycling day after day will be physically demanding of course, but pushing yourself to cycle day after day will take far more effort. Rain, wind, sleeping arrangements. Strange places and maybe strange people and animals. Nothing familiar or comforting that will remind you of home will make you homesick. Wondering what is happen back home and what you might be missing out on, and just hoping that everyone back home are OK and in good health.
Every minute of every day, your mind will be challenged, while only a few hours a day will be physically challenging, if that. Having read about and spoken with others on long trips, especially solo trips, there are so many stories about people crying themselves to sleep at night, of being scared and nervous at times, feeling so lonely and alone that they end up giving up, despite being more than physically capable of carrying on, and yes, there are others that were of course mentally fine but unable to continue physically.
Even all the wonderful things and experiences you will have can be exhausting to the mind, and body. Think of the times you may have driven your car for hours in a day on a day out or to get somewhere, then been so mentally exhausted that you are desperate to stop, and when you do, you fall into a deep sleep.
Your mind has been focused on the road, other traffic, dangers and hazards, as well as whatever else is going on in your life, while your body has not really done very much at all other than change a few gears and press a couple of pedals. Hardly physically demanding, but definitely mentally demanding. And that’s just driving for a few hours.
For sure, to push yourself day after day, month after month, and year after year to complete a cycle tour, is going to be far more mental than physical.
Let me know your own experiences.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on May 3, 2017 at 5:25 AM||comments (0)|
Solid State Drive (SSD) vs Hard Disk Drive (HDD) for Travel
Thinking about what sort of laptop to take on my around the world cycle, and at first it was quite confusing. Should it be Mac or Windows, larger than 13” or smaller, SSD or HDD, how long does the battery last, how fast to boot up, is it vibration resistant or shockproof, and how fast does it have to be to cope with 4k video editing, how much should I pay. Oh man, the list went on and on.
First it became obvious that it should be as small and as light as possible, without it being too hard to use, given I have hands like shovels. So I have created here a list of all the things I feel would be ideal for travelling light.
The size should be under 14”
This is because it has to fit in my panniers and be as light as possible. I don’t want some huge clunky thing weighing me down and forcing me to cycle around in circles. After all, I will be literally dragging this thing around with me everywhere I go, for years. I also don’t want it to be too small so that I struggle to find the keys or see the screen, as I don’t want my photography and videography to suffer. So somewhere between 11” and 14” will be just right.
(Actual size I ended up with is a 15 inch screen. Much bigger than I wanted, well, 2 inches bigger, which is still quite a big bigger as it also makes the whole unit deeper and not just wider. The thickness of this Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is very thin though, and the whole thing is really light, and at over £500 cheaper than the 13 inch Dell I was looking at, is a huge saving which will allow me to purchase an external SSD or 2)
I’m not a fan of Apple, but maybe that’s sort of unfair, because I have never had an Apple Computer. I have an iphone 5s, and hate it. I only bought it because both my daughters have iphones and we can Facetime each other. Sure, I use it as a phone and it’s great for that, but for anything else it’s a pain. To me anyway, as I really miss the ability to be able to just drag and drop music and other files into my old Samsung Galaxy, or insert a memory card loaded with music or video.
But back to the laptop, and what I’m saying is that my experience with Apple and the iphone, has put me right off wanting to work with an Apple laptop in case I encounter the same problems and restrictions, so a windows based system it is.
(Windows 10 is what I got with the Dell, and I'm getting used to it much quicker than I thought I would. I'm just so glad it is nothing like windows 8, and a bit more like windows 7.)
Hard Disk Drive or Solid State Drive
Now this is a really important are for me. My new laptop will be upside down, on its side, going over bumps and gravel roads. It will need to be super thin and light, and boot up really quickly. It will need to be able to handle 4k video and imaging really quickly too, and this is why I am going for the SSD rather than HDD. HDD has spinning disks that won’t handle being jolted about as well as SSD. It stands to reason that SSD will be far better being manhandled than HDD.
I am going for a laptop with no moving parts. This has to be the way to go, although and SSD drive laptop will up the price quite a bit if I want at least 512gb. Now, I have no idea how data is recovered if the SSD drive goes down. When I have had problems with my HDD drives not working, I have taken them to the shop and have usually managed to rescue the data.
The price difference is quite huge. I wondered why at first, considering flash drives and SD Cards are so cheap, but on further investigation, it appears the flash memory used in SSD’s is much different to that of flash and SD Cards, and is said to be much faster and more reliable, and so more expensive.
Speed is important, not just for editing, but for making use of every available second of battery life. Given that it maybe some time between charges while travelling, a super fast boot up, fast file transfers, program opening and use. HDD scatters files all over the place, and regular defragmenting is required, but no such thing with SSD.
Other than wanting as much ram as possible and good connectivity, I think I have covered my reasons for feeling that a small, windows based, SSD laptop will be my ideal choice for this kind of travel.
(My new Dell has 256mb SSD, which is fine, as I will be forced to transfer photos and video to an external SSD instead of just leaving on the computer, slowing it down. Speaking of speed, I am so impressed with tthe speed of which this thing works with the help of the SSD. It flies. Just a few seconds from turning it on to everything ready. Opening programs like Word and Excel is almost instant. I'm looking forward to editing on it. It has 8 hours battery life too, which might not sound massive, but you have to remember there is no lag, it is so fast so no waiting around. I can get work done quicker and shut it down. The i7, 16gb ram, and dedicated graphics card make a whole world of difference too.)
Got to be able to see those keys in the dark. As it happens, I can touch type pretty well, but when adding a few numbers and symbols, being in the dark is will be quite hard, so backlit keyboard it is.
(Yes, I got the backlit keyboard.)
OK, so I didn't get the 13 inch model, but I'm really happy with this 15 inch model, up to now. I will let you know how I get on
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series
7th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-7500U Processor (4M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)
Windows 10 Home 64-bit
16GB Single Channel DDR4 2400MHz
NVIDIA® GeForce® 940MX with 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Truelife LED-Backlit Display
1 HDMITM 1.4a - 1 USB 3.0 - 1 USB 3.0 with PowerShare - 1 USB 2.0 - 1 Noble lock slot - Media Card Reader 1 SD card (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on April 22, 2017 at 12:20 AM||comments (0)|
Being a Free Spirit is not always so easy!
Without a doubt, I am a free spirit, and although free spirit sounds OK, it isn’t necessarily so. In fact, I often wish I wasn't like this, but over all I am really happy with who I am, it's who I am, and I sure wouldn't want to be anyone else.
Everyone wants a little freedom and to do something their own way, but that doesn't make them a free spirit. It wasn't so long ago that humans were nomadic, and the urge to travel and move on is still there just under the surface in all of us, and it's completely normal and does not make you a free spirit. Free spirits do not conform much to convention, and suppressing anything, including that nomad in us, will simply not do.
Those who are not free spirits will obviously not understand what it feels like to be that way, and the same applies the other way around, as I often wonder what it would be like in the mind of someone who lives that "normal" and "typical" life.
Some feel that you are reckless and should be conforming to the norm, and there is nothing wrong with life like that, Most people live like that and couldn't imagine living any other way.
A conformist life is sometimes a lifestyle which free spirits wish they could live, but they just can’t. Well, they can, but they will never be truly happy. They will feel trapped by rules and social conventions. Ideally, being able to live the “normal” life while still getting those free spirit feelings satisfied would be perfect, but really not possible without some kind of treatment
The lust for life is almost too overwhelming. It can be all consuming, sometimes to the point of being destructive. Free spirits aren’t jealous of what you have or how you live, they are happy for you that you are living the life you want to live, and can even respect that. After all, it’s all a free spirit wants too, just not in the same way as you do. They will push boundaries and even accept that this way of life might not result in a secure and stable future. They struggle with clingy or needy people, while at the same time want to be loved and appreciated just like everyone else.
It’s not about possessions or thing’s, it’s about feeling free and un-tethered. Put a wild animal in a cage and it will likely pace up and down, pull its hair or feathers out, and maybe even just roll over and die.
You can have a loving and happy relationship with a free spirit, even if you are not a free spirit yourself, but you have to understand that they need time to themselves once in a while. Time to do their own thing their own way. Not all the time, just sometimes. They respect that you want to live your own life your way, and demand the same respect in return. They will treat you as an equal that you are, and expect to be treated as an equal too.
Above anything else, the free spirit longs to feel free. Not be free, as in without a partner, but just to feel they have choices they can make for themselves, and not be controlled or pushed. They long for a full and rewarding life, filled with adventure and travel, meeting new people and experiencing new things, and sharing their experiences with others, and would love nothing more than a partner to be able to share those experiences with.
Routine, now that's almost a dirty word to a free spirit. Routine in the short term is fine. Routine by choice is fine too, but if a free spirit is forced into routine without an end in sight, there will be tears, which is why so few free spirits will ever be content working 9 to 5 for someone else. The vast majority of free spirits are self-employed or change jobs quite often. The thought of this day, being exactly like a day a year from now, sends shivers up their spines. Nobody wants to feel trapped in a boring day to day life and job, nobody, but to the free spirit it is never going to happen, for long anyway.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on April 10, 2017 at 7:35 PM||comments (1)|
Cycle Touring Insurance
And so, as the day I leave on this amazing adventure draws near, I am struggling to find an insurance company that will insure me for more than 12 months at a time, without me having to return to the UK to renew it.
Yep, so much harder than I thought. I have tried so many, and they all say the same thing, that they can give me as long as 12 months, but if I want to renew it or extend it, I have to return back to the UK.
I do have a European Health Insurance Card for Europe obviously, but that is limited to my health mostly, and not equipment or losses, and I also have to make sure I have this tag around my neck so that I don't get a bill if I'm treated without anyone noticing I had the card.
This is crazy and is proving to be a real problem. Not only are there limits to the time you can be away, but also because I have pre-existing health issues, the prices for these limited covers are pure extortion.
So which companies have I tried? Well my first option believe it or not, was the Post Office, as they offer all sorts of insurance, but none for any real length of time.
Then there was Holiday Safe, a company specializing in niche, long stay, winter sports, backpacking, but sadly the maximum stay for cycle touring is less than 100 days. Over 200 days for backpacking, but does not cover bicycle or equipment losses related to cycling, and it is still way less than a year.
BIBA British Insurance Brokers Association
So then I contacted the BIBA, and after trying to explain what it was I was looking for, came away with nothing but a dial tone.
I put out the question to a couple of well known world cyclists, who I believe might look into it.
Still waiting for their return call, not holding my breath. I went through their site and found that although they cover cycle touring, they don’t cover solo cycle touring.
Well I'm just this minute going through a very simple online form on trailfinders.com. Filled out a few details such as age, address, duration (12 months to just see where the form takes me), date leaving date back, and click pay. This took me to pay, which of course I didn't want to simply do without first finding out on the telephone more about this policy. They never asked about pre-condition or even what the travel was about.
I'm going to ring them now. Oh, and the price for Worldwide for 12 months they quoted at over £600.
30 minutes later
This is what I got from this:
Well OK, they cover just 12 months max at each time. If you return during that time, the policy ends and you have to take out another. Fine
You don't have to return to the country of residence to take out another policy, you can do it online wherever you are in the world. Great
It is basic cover, meaning your gear is not covered, or any pre-existing health issues, but life cover and accident and medical cover is. Fine
Worldwide cover including everywhere other than those countries instructed as too dangerous or simply no go countries by government. Fine
All that said, the feeling of at least being covered in case of accident or injury is worth the cost, and not only that, but you can't travel without insurance after all.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on April 1, 2017 at 11:50 PM||comments (1)|
After many months of should I shouldn't I, I have decided that I should. I will be going with the belt, rather than the chain.
After doing a lot of research and being no bike mechanic, I feel I am making the right choice. Sure, I have heard horror stories of people being stranded with short visa’s and no way of getting parts in some countries, but I have also heard that from people using derailleur and chains too.
The cost difference from the belt and hub system to that of derailleur and chain, is pretty huge, somewhere in the region of another grand, so let me tell you why the belt is a good option for me.
I’m not bothered about the extra money. This is a onetime deal for me, and I want to go all guns blazing.
I hate oil, dirt and grime, and the thought of every time I get a puncture or the chain slips off, I have to get all oily and messed up is really off putting. It wouldn’t be such a problem if I was close to home and I could clean up really easily, but to be out in the sticks for weeks on end, wild camping with a tent and little in the way of washing facilities if I can't find digs, I would not be very happy, especially if I were to get oil and grime on my clothes and equipment.
Taking my bike into hotels or other digs, with an oily chain that has also covered my clothing and leg with oil and grime, might not go down too well either. So yes, the cleanliness part is a big issue.
I want the internal hub for the same clean reasons, and of course would not want to couple the hub with a chain, as I would be back to square one.
I believe the belt can outlast a chain by quite a lot. I will carry an extra belt just in case and if I lose one I will then be able to order another to be delivered to my next destination so that I try to keep a spare or even 2 most of the time.
It looks good. I know that sounds a bit of a crappy reason to own a hub and belt, but hey, it may just be a talking point that gets me chatting with people who might then know where I can crash, or just to chat with other people will be good, as long as they don't start pulling and tugging on my belt.
No grinding or noise to speak of. I suppose this will be a little weird at first, but no doubt I will grow to love that about it. I hate it when my chain and derailleur get clogged up with crap and it all starts grinding and clunking. With the belt, it throws out the crap to the sides and rarely gets clunky.
There are 2 types of belts really, with one being the new CenterTrack belt. This has a separation line through the middle of the bumps in the belt, and that separation line sits on a track on the cogs. The benefit of this is that you don’t need anything either side of the belt to keep it on the cogs, as it is prevented from moving to the sides because of the separation line and the tension on the belt.
Keeping the belt dead centre to the cogs is even more important with this belt, as any slight out of alignment could shred the belt in no time or throw it off the cogs, so I’m told. The other benefit of the CenterTrack is that there is less chance the cogs will clog, as the crap is pushed out of the cogs.
Finding maintenance and replacement parts in some countries is going to be really hard, but as long as I get everything serviced and replaced in the last country before moving on to a country with little in the way of support, I believe I will be just fine. If I’m not fine, I will put it all down to just part of my wonderful adventure.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on March 31, 2017 at 9:25 AM||comments (0)|
KOGA Atalanta Handlebars
When deciding on the spec of my KOGA Worldtraveller Signature, I wanted a handlebar that would give me the choice of hand positioning when pins and needles or boredom set in, and also sitting positions for different terrain.
The minute I looked at the Atalanta as an option, I knew this would be the handlebar for me. Something I hadn’t thought of until I saw this bar, was the protection of the brakes and gears.
The Atalanta surrounds these bits, so if the bike was to lay on its side, or even fall, the bits would stand a great chance of surviving intact.
How this bar works out for me out on the road though, is yet to be seen.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on March 29, 2017 at 9:25 AM||comments (3)|
Brooks Imperial ab17 VS Rido R2 Saddles
Being a stocky and strongly built guy, and not the usual wisp of a cyclist you find huddled in a peloton, flying over the Swiss Alps, I find I need a more robust saddle, not a razorblade trying to lengthen my legs.
I require a saddle that can cope with a bit more weight, and plenty of bumps on tracks and some off-road. Not to mention myriad potholes in faraway lands.
After trying a Gel type saddle for over a year on the North Wales coast, I found it OK, but still had pain in the perineum area. Even trying to edge the saddle down so that my weight was more on the back of the saddle, didn’t seem to do much.
At one point I was so concerned about the pain, that I went to the doctors about it, which lead to a an uncomfortable investigation that left me feeling like I needed a shower afterwards, and the doctor didn't even buy me a drink :). As a result of that investigation, my doctor felt I need to go straight to the hospital for further investigation.
Blood tests, urine tests, 2 separate ultrasounds, and plenty of unwelcomed fondling over the course of 3 months, and I was given the all clear from prostate cancer. But it was scary to say the least, and a really quite upsetting few months to be honest. I have to admit to feeling it was all over at one point, but then reminded myself that I have more lives than 10 cats.
Anyway, I was encouraged to seek out a saddle that took the pressure off that very tender area, so I did a bit of study and had seen plenty of writeups on Brooks saddles, with many cycle tourists swearing by them.
I had thought about a saddle with no nose, just the back end for resting my sit bones, but then after some study, found that you need the nose to help you steer and stabilise the bike, and it’s something to rest your thighs on.
I chose the Brooks B17 Imperial at £80. It looks good, but that’s about it really for me. After 12 months on this saddle, it was actually worse than my previous cheap gel saddle.
A friend from South Africa recently told me to try the Rido R2 Comfort Saddle, he said I wouldn’t look back. So today my Rido arrived and is now mounted in place of the Brooks. I will test it out over the next few weeks. It looks quite weird to be honest, but I am hopeful. After just one quick ride in the street, the pressure was off my perineum. Here’s hoping. Oh, and it’s £45.
Rido Saddle #ridosaddle http://www.rido-cyclesaddles.com/sensational-new-r2-c100064.html
Brooks Imperial Saddle #brooksimperialsaddle http://www.brooksengland.com/en_uk/b17-imperial-3.html
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on March 28, 2017 at 4:50 AM||comments (0)|
Each of the maps below, show world cyclist routes, and the first think you notice is how they use planes or boats to get from place to place, when there is actually a possibility of cycling much of what they have missed out.
This is due to a number of reasons, such as war, too short a visa to allow for cycling, to harsh a landscape to pass safely through, and so on. And so its perfectly acceptable to skip those countries altogether, and they do.
Each one of these maps below, shows countries completely bypassed. And when trying to work around this when coming up with how The Guinness World Record Rules should be written, they came up with a few simple but rigid rules, and here are some as follows:
- The journey should be in one direction (East to West or West to East).
- The minimum distance ridden should be 18,000 miles (29,000 km).
- The total distance travelled by the bicycle and rider should exceed an Equator's length.
- The clock does not stop for any waiting time for transit flights or ferries or for the duration of the transit.
- Pass through 2 antipodal points on the Earth. Points exactly opposite each other.
Most do this supported when trying for a record, but for self-supported, look at it as follows:
- Do it all yourself, under your own power.
- Carry all your own gear (i.e. no domestiques)
- No outside support (deliveries only to public addresses such a post offices, courier depots, shops, 'open' homes such as those in warmshowers.org,
- No support vehicles of any kind meeting the rider along the way to provide supplies).
- 'Pure' unsupported rides also preclude any visits from friends or others along the way.
- Riders to be alone for the entire ride, with a minimum 5-bicycle-length distance from any other riders or support vehicles.
My own route and plans
I don't plan on breaking any records, and would not have a hope in hell anyway. Well, I might qualify for the slowest circumnavigation, or the oldest person, or maybe even nicest :). OK so I may be pushing it with that last one. Actually, I might have to inquire about that
My rules are as follows:
- Have a bloody good time.
- Not be in any rush.
- I will cover at least the 18,000 miles through all the countries I want to travel through, and none that I don't.
- Follow the sunshine whenever possible, as I really hate the cold, the wind, and the rain :).
- Pass through those pesky antipodal points, likely to be in Spain and New Zealand.
- Take as many photos and film as many videos as I can.
- Smile as much as I can, and try try try to stay out of trouble :). This will be the hardest part
I am out to circumnavigate the world while enjoying places that I also want to see. I am also not stuck on any planned route. If I want to set off in another direction at any time, I will.
This is my own planned route (for now), but for lots of others who have actually completed, click the link here: CLICK and it will take you to my other page in more detail than I can fit in this blog post.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on March 27, 2017 at 10:35 AM||comments (3)|
KOGA Worldtraveller Signature - Discbrake
KOGA Worldtraveller Review after just 3 months into a World Tour
After just 3 months use and 3329 km's of my Charity World Cycle, the bike and I had to return to the UK due to mechanical issues.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on March 23, 2017 at 4:45 AM||comments (0)|
Koga team up with Ortlieb for Signature Pannier and Handlebar Bags
When pre-ordering my Koga Worldtraveler S this last week, I expressed my preference for Ortlieb pannier bags front and back, and was happy to find out that Koga had teamed up with Ortlieb to create panniers and bags for Koga. So I have included front and rear bags and handle bag. The total cost for the bike including pannier bags, is £4100.
A lot of money I know, but I have to say a lot of bike too. This is a lifelong dream of mine to attempt, so skimping is not how I want to go. I may live to regret spending so much money, but I also actually may live, because I have invested in such great equipment.
Ortlieb is so well known to touring cyclists, and it seems that most would prefer Ortlieb over any other brand. Waterproof panniers are a must, and Ortlieb are said to offer the best protecting there.
Ortlieb’s Back-Roller is hermetically-sealed with roll closure means if your bike falls into a river, your stuff will stand its best chance at staying dry. So important when I think about the value of my equipment inside them. They also include shoulder straps so you can carry them as a backpack. Created for Koga Signature, the Back-Rollercomes with the Quick-Lock2 attachment system. The bags can also be combined with the Ortlieb Rack-Pack (sizes S or M) on the rear rack, so that tent, sleeping bags or sleeping mats can also be safely packed.
• In PVC coating polyester fabric
• Quick-Lock2 attachment system
• With integrated inner bag
• Capacity per set: 40 litres, 20 litres each
• Dimensions per pannier: 42 x 23/32 x 17 cm
Universal, waterproof panniers (a pair) in polyester fabric, with roll closure. Suitable for low-rider racks on the front wheel or as rear panniers. The Front-Roller comes specially for Signature with the practical Quick-Lock2 attachment system. As with the Back-Rollers, here too it’s possible to combine them with the Ortlieb Rack-Pack, sizes S and M, on the rear rack, so as to be able to transport extra equipment.
• For lowrider racks on the front wheel, or for rear racks
• In PVC coating polyester fabric
• Quick-Lock2 attachment system
• With integrated inner bag
• Capacity per set: 25 litres, 12,5 litres each
• Dimensions per pannier: 30 x 25 x 14 cm
Ultimate5: this handlebar bag holds its shape exceptionally well and is highly durable, with reinforced lid and internal stiffening. Available in size M, it delights users with versatile storage options, including the integrated valuables compartment. It can carry up to 3 kg, and it is designed to fit handlebars up to 31.8 mm diameter. A map case can be attached to the top of the lid closure on the Ultimate5, and this is included when ordered through Signature.
• In PVC coating polyester fabric
• Carry strap
• Lockable handlebar mount
• Map case
• Capacity: 7 litres
• Dimensions: 21 x 23,5 x 14 cm
• Accessory: GPS case
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on March 21, 2017 at 2:25 AM||comments (2)|
Rohloff and Belt vs Deore XT and Chain
I took a drive with my youngest daughter Chloe up to Leeds to CycleSense, a bike shop that deals with Koga bikes. It was an 80 mile drive out but worth it. Dave - the owner - checked out my requirements and based on my height and size, we worked out what we felt would be the best bike for me.
The Koga Worldtraveler Signature and quite a large frame in forest green. Trouble is, after we talked through the specs and the pros and cons of the Rohloff 14 speed hub and Gates belt drive, I came away feeling confident I had the right bike at £4100. But, when I actually got home after my daughter and I went for lunch, I started to really think about the fact that for what appears roughly £1500 extra over a Deore XT setup, I started to question whether or not the hub would be a good idea.
Don't get me wrong, there would be no question if all I was doing was taking off for a few weeks or months every now and then on a cycle tour somewhere, where I could just call my trip short if I was having a few problems with the bike, get home and get it sorted. But because I am planning to be away for years, passing through some countries with really tight visa restrictions, and with calling my trip short and returning home not an option, I'm rethinking the idea of the hub and belt.
Also, it turns out that according to Dave, the hub is only under warranty for 2 years, meaning if it goes pear shaped 2 years into my cycle, I'm screwed and will have to fork out another grand or more for a new hub. Fixing punctures and taking the wheel on and off is a concern to me too, as I like cycling along the coast and have had as many as 3 punctures in one day due to shards of seashells going through the tires on my Giant Escape 2. The thought of having to tension and mess around with the belt on the hub every day - if I'm unlucky - would spoil my fun, and I'm told sand a grit and seashells could shred a belt or send it out.
You can't carry a spare belt either in a pannier, as they come in the position they are meant to be fitted in, as you can't bend or twist or fold a belt. And so, if I were to just be taking the odd tour from time to time, I wouldn't have to think like this, but to be away for what could be many years, its far too greater risk.
The bike also comes with disk brakes, and I'm no longer happy about that either and will likely replace them with just simple cantilever breaks. The bike will be ordered once this house has completed and not before, so I have a little bit of time to change my mind again.
July 4 2017, and had the bike for a few days now. After a few clunky rides, I realised that I had to actually pause for a split second to change gears, as changing under load was not good. In fact, trying to change under load in the middle range, would lock it up, like I had hit a wall, so easing off and pausing for that very slight time it takes to turn the gear shift, is all it takes. Changing gears while not turning the pedals is the only way, and it's nice to be able to do this from a stopped position. I'm getting used to it, and will keep updating.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on November 11, 2016 at 8:35 AM||comments (1)|
I have taken some amazing images with my current Nikon DSLR, but I do find it limited for what I feel I'm going to need. I want to video the experience in 4K, not just photograph it, and I don't want a separate video camera and don't feel a GoPro 4k would be enough.
Technology has moved on so far that I’m not really bothered whether it is Full-Frame or not, but I do require some degree of weather sealing, really good 4k quality video, Bracketing for HDR as I am tired of creating HDR from a single shot, and I want something not overly chunky.
This is a onetime experience and not just a week away or a short break. I will never get this chance again to do this, ever.
So my first choice will be the Sony Alpha 7r ll
Sony a7R II Highlight specifications
42MP Full Frame BSI CMOS sensor
399 on-sensor Phase Detection points
5-axis image stabilization
Internal 4K recording from full sensor width or 'Super' 35 crop
Full magnesium alloy construction
2.36m dot OLED viewfinder with 0.7x magnification
High speed AF with non-native lenses
Lens (pictured above)
Sony 55mm F1.8 Sonnar T FE ZA Full Frame Prime Lens - Fixed. Weather sealed.
Lens (pictured below)
Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS telephoto. Weather sealed.
DJI Mavic Pro Drone
H83mm x W83mm x L198mm
Diagonal Size (Propellers Excluded) 335 mm
Weight (Battery & Propellers Included) 1.62 lbs
Max Ascent Speed 16.4 ft/s (5 m/s) in Sport mode
Max Descent Speed 9.8 ft/s (3 m/s)
Max Speed 40 mph (65 kph) in Sport mode without wind
Max Service Ceiling Above Sea Level 16404 feet (5000 m)
Max Flight Time 27 minutes (0 wind at a consistent 15.5 mph (25 kph))
Max Hovering Time 24 minutes (0 wind)
Overall Flight Time 21 minutes ( In normal flight, 15% remaining battery level )
Max Flight Distance 8 mi (13 km, 0 wind)
Operating Temperature Range 32° to 104° F (0° to 40° C)
Satellite Positioning Systems GPS / GLONASS
I want to film as much of this cycle as possible and in high quality, as I will upload to YouTube and maybe even make a video once I return, so some drone footage would be amazing. If I get lost and want the direction of the nearest town, I might be able to send it up high and have a look around. If I get stuck or I’m unable to move do to my back and spine turning really bad as it does from time to time, I might be able to use the drone to try to get help. But of course a big reason is that I just love gadgets, and this is going to be a load of fun no doubt.
GoPro Hero 5
Image Recording Format JPEG, RAW
Max Video Resolution 3840 x 2160
Photo Resolution 12.0 MP
Widescreen Video Capture
Waterproof to 10 m
Focus Adjustment focus free
Digital image rotation
Takes photos while film recording
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR)
Low Lux / Night Mode Yes
Microphone Features wind noise reduction
Microphone Operation Mode Stereo
Continuous Shooting Speed 30 frames per second
Frame Rate (Max Resolution) 30 fps
High Definition Video Support 4K
AV Interfaces HDMI
Wireless Interface Bluetooth, Wireless LAN
I live the idea of just being able to yank out this little 2" camera from my pocket to take unexpected shots when needed. Or to attack to lid and bike, but underwater shots will be great to take.
So as you can see, this list is a lot camera equipement and a lot of money. It must be nice for those adventurers who get everything through sponsorship. Total weight will be about 6 or 7lb's when chargers and other bits added.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on November 9, 2016 at 9:25 AM||comments (0)|
Having not had a bike for over 20 years, a couple of years ago I decided that as I lived on the coast, I would get myself a bike that could take my weight of 20+ stone, and of course the abuse it would be getting due to my not only my poor fitness, but also because I didn't have a clue regarding bike maintenance.
I spent £400 on my Giant Escape 2, and it was worth every penny. After 2 years of riding along salt and sand coastal pathways, bumps and lumps, and more than 400 days of 20 miles a day, I have done no maintenance to the bike, other than pumping up the tubes and giving it a rinse with a hosepipe once in a while if it was covered in mud, and it is still going strong to this day.
Oh, I forgot, the only problem I did find, was a loose brake cable which took me couple of weeks to get around to getting a spanner and giving it a tighten :), and that's it. What a great bike this has been. I love it. Its big and chunky too, with 700c wheels and a thick alloy frame, it feels like a tank of a bike, and my ass doesn't look big on it
Highly recommended, and no matter which bike I get for my around the world cycle, I will never let go of my Giant Escape 2.
I receive nothing for reviewing this bike, so I am not bias in any way, I just love it.
|Posted by Stephen Peel - Cycling Around the World on November 8, 2016 at 2:00 AM||comments (1)|
Image by Stephen Peel
Reading about other solo travellers about how they deal with loneliness, I find that most of these travellers already have an element of liking being alone for short times. To be with themsleves and their own thoughts for a while is important, and with some saying they have always been loners. They actually like and appreciate alone time. Maybe not for months or years on end though.
Of course, there are those that feel they will just meet people all the time and get on with everyone, and with that attitude, they just might. There are others who have never been alone while travelling but feel they will never feel alone on a long trip, so when those people actually do find themselves alone, some don’t like it, it is a shock. The romance died a death within days, and that's fine, they have given it a shot and can stop wondering, and have learned a little bit more about themselves in the process.
People are mostly good, and most people who interact with you first will mostly be wanting to sell you something or want something from you, and a few will have a real interest in what you are doing, but that's OK, as not everyone has the time and lifestyle you have. For most people around the world, making money to put food on the table is the most important thing, so don't take it too personal when someone you have been chatting with for half an hour, suddenly asks you for something or tries to sell you something. This will happen to you all the time, and instead of getting offended, just move on. Eventually you will be able to pick up the signals and move on much quicker.
I love alone time and would go as far as to say that I need to be alone from time to time. Although alone time is good and I like to get my fix, I don't like to overdose on it. I feel everyone needs alone time, to spend just a day or two or more, by themselves.
If you love photography and wildlife, you already have a great start at keeping yourself busy travelling. Video and photograph everything you can, this might be the only chance you get. Create a detailed diary you can look through in the future and share with others. Upload the day to social media when you get a signal, and even looking for a place to get a signal can keep you busy. I have followers on Social Media that I can interact with. Sure, they may not be close family, but so many do actually have an interest in what you are doing, and will interact with you in a friendly way, and I consider many of my followers to be really good freinds. Facetime or video chat with a family member or friend when you get the chance too.
Staying in a hostel is something I have never done, and given my age I don’t know whether I will be able to either, unless I can get a separate room on my own or the dorm is not full. I know many people swear by hostels as a way of fighting loneliness, but these are usually young people mixing with more young people. If traveling continually, stopping for a few days at a time in nice places you arrive at will help too.
A couple of years ago I was going through a bit of a bad time and I just had to get away to be on my own for a week somewhere I had never been. So I booked a week in Egypt in a nice hotel on the coast, where I could just chill, be with my own thoughts, and away from everyone else. It had been many years since I even had a day to myself. I thought I would just relax on this short trip and read a book or two, then come back refreshed. That didn't quite work out like that.
Minutes after arriving in my hotel, I sat at a poolside bar for a cold one, and in no time at all I was chatting with another guy who was doing exacly what I was doing, having alone time. Shortly after that we were talking to 2 other guys from the UK, and that was that, we were a gang for the week, and had the most amazing time. I hadn't laughed so much in years, and actually had pain in my ribs as a result.
Let me know your experiences.