Well here we are; sitting waiting for a flight back from New Zealand to Scotland. The tent has been rolled up for one last time, the bicycles are boxed up and (hopefully) in the hold, and our sun-kissed legs are now covered by trousers ready for Scotland in December.
It’s hard to believe that just nine months ago we cycled down the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle, our legs jangling with a mixture of nerves and excitement. The tent was smelling fresh, brand new in its bag, the bikes sparkling with only a few kms in their tyres. Now the tent smells fusty and weather beaten while the bikes need some serious attention after being battered half way around the world.
Our travel tips
Sadly that means this is our last Substack. We’ve really enjoyed sending the updates and hope we have inspired one or two of you to start planning new adventures. If you are inspired, we thought it would be helpful to pull together a few tips from our travels:
Tip 1: Rotund Georgian men are known to be affectionate and a little bit handsy (regardless of gender). If accosted by one, explain that you don’t speak Russian and run away or you’ll be nuzzled in the neck with a bristly kiss
Tip 2: If you use a long-drop toilet in Kyrgyzstan, make sure you have a firm grasp of your loo roll, because if it slips down the hole you’ll be calling Matt Hancock for another bushtucker trial
Tip 3: Never take ‘no’ for an answer, except if you’re at the Tajikistan border without a visa. That’s going to be a definite no and an armed escort away from the border
Tip 4: Buddhist monks in Thailand can be surprisingly flamboyant, so embrace it, dahling! 💅🏼
Tip 5: If you need a quick wee, try to avoid going for it over the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan international border
Tip 6: Locals in Kazakhstan will tell you that fermented camel’s milk provides all kinds of health benefits. Whatever the health benefits are, they cannot POSSIBLY be worth it for the taste you have to endure
Tip 7: If someone offers you grandma’s soup in Albania, ask if “grandma” has an up-to-date food hygiene certificate. We discovered “grandma” had been cutting corners in the kitchen. Makes you wonder what else she’s been cutting corners with…
Tip 8: When you’re packing up in the morning, always check your bags to see if a frog has jumped in. Otherwise, you may squash a frog to death with your sleeping bag, then the dead carcass will bake all day inside the bag and everything will smell of dead frog for months. Months…
Tip 9: Always double check where the Schengen border is before you’re past it
Tip 10: And finally, never ever underestimate people’s capacity for kindness; even in the most unlikely places
If you’re interested in the numbers for our trip, here are some key figures:
Kilometres cycled: 17,015
Countries cycled through: 26
Highest point: 3,190m (Kyrgyzstan)
Lowest point: -116m (Kazakhstan)
Highest temperature: 44 degrees (India)
Lowest temperature: -2 degrees (Scotland)
Nights in a tent: 141
Nights in a police station: 2
Nights in hospital: 2
Kilos of pasta consumed (estimated): 50kg
Ways of saying ‘thank you’ in different languages: 13
Phone screens smashed: 5
Punctures: Don’t ask
All that remains for us to say is thanks so much for joining us on this journey. We’ve loved all the supportive messages along the way which have kept us peddling and peddling and peddling.
It’s easy to feel far from home cycling in so many foreign countries, but the kindness we’ve experienced from so many people has meant that we’ve never really felt far from home.
Wishing you tailwinds and bon courage… until the next adventure! 🚲🚲🌍