In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.


14 November 2011

The tent donated to me by Jane and Karyn has arrived and since they requested that I call it 'Two Gay Girls' I have done so and will refer to it in my text as this.

Out of the bag it all looked pretty straight forward and once I'd figured out where some curiously shaped bits went  she was up and ready to be inhabited. 'Two gay Girls' I think will be perfect for my trip just enough room for a single guy to feel comfortable although the literature supplied suggest that its a two man. I personally think that would be stretching it and am happy that there will just be room for me and my stuff. Two gay Girls is also as light as a feather so I will be able to throw it on the rack and pedal it with ease. Unlike the previous models I've had that certainly add to your load.

I Tried 'Two Gay Girls' in the Paddock then then Packed Her Away For the Trip.
Thanks again guys for the gift. Hopefully you'll see her pitched all over the world. She's big enough for the job but not so big that she'll draw attention to herself when freedom camping. And because I'm a stickler for detail and because I know that some of my fellow competitors are either from the army or x-marines or delta force? And that they may be reading my blog or getting their buddies to do intel on me. I would like to say that I can erect and disassemble 'Two gay Girls' so that we are ready for transit in 5mins flat! Not that that will help me win the Global Bike Race but it might get me away from an angry French farmer when he finds out I've helped myself to his corn.

October 2011

This might seem like a strange picture to have on my around the world cycle blog but I have found from past cycle tours that there's one piece of kit that is almost as essential as my own bicycle and that is my wife's transport.

On most of my past trips Adi has cycled with me on her trusty stead. However now and then I come up with a scheme that quite frankly she feels would be more torture than vacation so she opts for the next best thing. And we have found that that is a 200cc Vespa.

The mighty Vespa px200 is almost as ubiquitous as a bicycle, has more pulling power than a Honda Goldwing per cc, and can be stripped down and rebuilt on the side of the road. A fact usually tested on most long trips. It also makes a good tent anchor in a storm.

One of the cons to having a Vespa along on the trip is it's rather low range on a tank of petrol. Less than 200km. I kid you not. So while I'm looking for that Coca Cola sign in the distance Adi will be looking for BP signs.

My Adi wants to be part of my Around the World Cycle Race so she will follow on her Vespa carrying all her gear. The rules of my race require that I am self sufficient so I will be carrying all my gear on my bike. This is just as well since there's not a lot of space on a Vespa scooter.

Since writing the above paragraph Adi and I have come to the realisation that for me to compete successfully in the Global Bike Race I will need to be competing alone and she will have to help me from home. Along with the logistical problems involved with the Vespa we really need someone to hold fort at Potters-End so that I needn't worry about anything except peddling through foreign lands.

The photo shown is actually my Vespa not Adi's. As you can see I have cunningly devised a way to put my bicycle on the back. When I'm sick of my usual training circuits I can zoom off to a different location and then get on the cycle. The mountain in the background is Mt Ruapehu. A volcano in New Zealand.

Call me old fashioned but when it comes to bike and some other stuff, I like to have quality between my legs. No crappy junk for me. Some of you cyclists of lesser years might be surprised as to what I mean when I say quality.

I'm a romantic so when I say quality I'm envisaging not only a bike component that performs the task repeatedly and efficiently but one that looks good to me and cries out "I was created by someone that understands cycling's passion and actually cares".

Real cyclists are a family. I don't want someone outside the family making my bike stuff.

So what frame for my bike? Well it had to be steel because although aluminium makes perfectly good Coke cans I wanted my frame to be around for longer than that.(actually it doesn't even make good Coke containers. The old bottles looked so sexy people still collect them you know.)

Carbon fibre is great! Carbon fibre is leading edge technology. One design leading quickly to the next endlessly trying to perfect something resembling a steel frame but not quite getting there. You've got to give them plenty of points for trying though.

 Catastrophic failure. Not a term I'd associated with any of my bikes in the past. Once the dust clears and you pick yourself up off the road there's usually so many pieces you don't know where to start gluing.

A steel frame was the go. but which one? I had lots of old friends hanging up in the bike shed shouting "take me around the world".

My mates are constantly cheating on their bikes by lusting after the newer model!. I don't think you'll ever be fulfilled living like that.

Mercian Cycles were contracted to build me my new frame and a spare. A spare you say? Am I admitting therefore that they don't last forever?

Well, no. At the last minute I couldn't decide on the preferred colour combo so ordered one of each.

Fillet brazed Reynolds 853, from a company that has been making frames since the 1940's. I wanted to be able to single track on my frame,tour on my frame and sneak into the back of the Sunday bunch ride.

In fact my frame looks so good my wife lets me park it just about anywhere in the house without complaint! Not many blokes can get away with that.

Wheel sets with Hub Gears.

Time to talk about wheels. What wheels for niel to use for this epic trip? Well here's where its lucky that I have no wheel sponsor or in fact any sponsor. This is lucky because I can choose the best wheels  to use on a 29000km journey over varied terrain, through countries with limited resources, pulling a loaded BOB trailer. Will now use panniers and racks as stricter airline requirements mean I would have to pay extra to take the BOB trailer.

 Many of my fellow competitors will be using hub gear systems. How do I know this? I eaves drop on Facebook

36 Spoke Small Flange Cassette  Wheels.
These babies above are proven technology and I have used them in many of my past tours. The exception being that I have generally used Campag sealed bearing hubs. But now realise that getting a Campag freewheel body in India or a new set of sprockets would be probably harder than getting a new crankshaft for my wife's Vespa! It grieves me to say it but campag is out. These Shimano ones would be good as long as I take a spare freewheel body and allen key to put it on with. With an 8 speed cluster and chain they'd be tough as nuts and easy to repair in my tent at night, even after swigging a cup or two of vodka.

Retro Wheels For a Retro Man
Ok this is where I may go one step to far. I built these wheels above for winter commuting and because I love the K.I.S.S ( keep it simple stupid) philosophy. They are large flange 36 spoke mavic rims on 1970's Normandy hubs. (Screw on cluster). If my fellow competitors are reading this I'm lucky because they wont know what I'm talking about. These hubs are older than most of them are. They even have threading both sides so that you can screw on a single speed freewheel to the left side to be used when your main freewheel explodes spitting ball bearings everywhere. If I take a few spare parts I should be able to rebuild these suckers anywhere. Even while being distracted by stone throwing little people.

My Mercian will take 700c wheels or 26" but for this trip I'll definitely use 26". I think they will be stronger and I will have a better range of tyres to choose from.

Some of the parts I'm going to use for my Global challenge bike have been stock piled for some time. I was so happy to find a Campag triple chain wheel set some years ago that when I heard that they were on special I had to have another one. I've had such a good run out of these campag triples that I will have to have one on my bike for the trip. I wish I could say the same for the B/B that goes with it. The B/B bearing unit is great, however the alloy cups holding it in the frame develop play which is a curse for someone like me because the bearings fine so I refuse to replace it just because the cups don't fit tightly anymore.So now I've ridden at least 15000kms with play in the cranks. The guys at the bike shop tell me  not be such a tight arse and to replace it. I've even gone to the expense of buying two new B/B bearing sets. (You never know when you might need one). But can't replace the old one just yet. I just wish Campag would make units with steel or titanium cups. In  fact what I've been waiting for for years is for Campag to make a carbon triple so I could really bling up the transmission.(Totally inappropriate for cycle touring but shit I'd like one!)

O' Glorious Campag.
The rear derailleur is sorted as well. About two years ago I had a bit of a problem with my rear changer spitting its springs all over the place while I was out riding gravel mountain roads. After fully reading the Campag warranty pages supplied with said unit I discovered that Campag gear of any sense is expressly not guaranteed for anything even mildly resembling mountain biking.

So I promptly went into the bike shop the next day after single speeding my Mercian to get home, to order another one.(I'm a sucker for the good looking Italian stuff). Low and behold. Just like everything these days they couldn't get me another one. So I ordered the closest I could get. This turned out to be a Campag Record long arm rear changer that had to come from Italy. Expecting to never see this pretty rare beast I then went home and fixed my old changer.Imagine my surprise 4months later when new changer turned up from Italy. Imagine my double surprise when I was informed that it was the most expensive rear derailleur ever sold in the bike shop. After picking myself up of the floor I marvelled at its mechanical beauty.

Italian Bling.

My repair job on the old one is still holding strong. And I may be tempted to use it for the trip and keep my new one as a piece of fine art. Or as a reminder of the extravagance of the pre recession years.

Time for me to start putting a list together of stuff to take with me on Global Bike Race. I'll continue to add and subtract from this list as I approach take off time.


The Mercian                                            cluster remover                               
2x rear panniers                                       chain tool                                        
2x front panniers                                      spoke key                                       
mudguards                                               2x drink bottles                               
low rider rack                                            polish for Brooks saddle                
rear rack                                                   cone spanners/pedal                        
h/bar bag                                                  front axle/cones
1x spare folding tyre                                rear axle/cones/bearings
4x tubes                                                   freewheel body
3x puncture kit                                        freehub body allen key
2x metal tyre levers                                 long 8mm allen key
adjustable spanner                                   6x spare spokes
multi tool                                                 rear qr skewer
insulation tape                                         crank remover
lock                                                          spare brake blocks
gear cable                                                 brake cable
front light                                                 rear lights
bike bag                                                   pump
front light bracket                                    pulley wheel derr
2x chain ring bolts                                   oil



Off the Bike

On the Bike