Author Archive

India: Sharing the road / 06.02.13

We’re on the road at first light. 6:30am is a good time to bike because you beat the heat and the traffic. Mornings are even better because they’re quiet- a scarcity in India. There’s minimal honking and the only people you see are off in the distance taking a dump in a field. 

We finish the day by pulling into a town and looking for lunch and a hotel. Sometimes we see other white people and it’s weird, because it’s been a while. We’re in a strange place here because we’re not Indian, but we don’t fit into the typical “tourist” category either. 

When we tell other foreigners that we’re biking in India, their face converts from a smile to an expression of pure horror. “Biking?! On THESE ROADS?! How has it been?!?!” They seem a little tentative for our response.

“Actually, it’s been pretty good!” I respond. “The great thing about India is that they share the road with everyone: people, bicycles, motorcycles, rickshaws, cars, buses, trucks, cows- you just have to know you place on the food chain! I actually feel safer biking here than I do in America.”

While training for the trip last summer in the US, it was a normal occurrence to receive angry honks or middle fingers. Occasionally someone would stick their head of their window and yell “GET OFF THE ROAD!” or “GET ON THE SIDEWALK! IT’S NOT SAFE!”

In America, or at least Michigan, the mentality is that “roads are for cars.” Bikes should be on a bike path or the sidewalk. Sidewalks are great if you’re seven years old and learning how to ride a bike. Otherwise, it’s pretty dangerous to pedestrians. Bike paths are an ok solution, but I’ve by far had more close calls with cars pulling out of driveways on bike paths than I have riding on the road. 

Over the past 5,000 kilometers we’ve experienced bike paths, bike lanes, bicycle tunnels, small roads, big roads, and some that didn’t seem like roads at all. If you drive by a cyclist biking in the road, please be respectful and slow down, give plenty of space, and you will be rewarded someday for your bicycle karma :)

The Biker Beatitudes / 04.02.13


When you are biking for four to five hours a day, you create space to think. Thoughts tend to bounce around in your head and they get amplified when you start to pedal uphill. On a couple occasions, I thought about the Beatitudes  and how they might adapt to a bicycle tourist. Andrew and I tried to do just that.

Blessed are those who are sore in the arse,
for they shall know the shape of the land.

Blessed are those who are pedaling uphill,
for they shall soon coast down.

Blessed are those who are dirty and sweaty,
for they shall relish a simple shower.

Blessed are those who are hungry from a day of biking,
for they shall truly enjoy their meal.

Blessed are those who toss and turn on the hard ground,
for they shall sink deep in a soft bed.

Blessed are the frugal,
for they shall find free treasures everywhere.

Blessed are the homesick,
for they shall value ordinary life.

Blessed are those who travel by their own strength,
for at the end of the day they will be satisfied.

News clippings from India / 31.01.13

Much of the news in India has revolved around the gang-rape case that happened this past December in New Delhi. Other news topics include President Obama’s re-inauguration, record breaking sub-zero temperatures in North India, the green movement (India is transitioning to cloth bags instead of plastic), cricket, and the ongoing conflict with Pakastan. Here are a few clippings…


Back to India / 05.01.13

It was the end of the hot season in June 2010 and I was exhausted after a day of last-minute shopping and haggling in the dry Delhi heat. A man sitting in a plastic chair asked me for a minute of my time. I had seen him in the exact same place when I arrived six weeks earlier. It was a trap. It was my last day in India before returning home to the US, so I SHOULD have known better to fall into it, but I was weak and plopped down in the seat next to him.
“I’m not giving you any money.” I declared.
“I just want to look at your hand.” He insisted. After a few questions he scribbled some numbers on a small piece of paper. “Yes. Long life. Happy life. Ve’ddy happy. Good love. Ve’ddy good love.” he paused and released my hand “You have good heart, but you are too hard on yourself.” I faked a smile.
“Sure, a nice generic answer that anyone wants to hear.” I told myself.
“You want to know when you be back in India?”
“Yeah.” I tried to withhold my curiosity/excitement.
“You be back- 2012,” I looked up at him and met his eyes “with your man!”


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In the news in Kerala / 29.12.12


Interview on the road side.

Indian Visa in Istanbul / 04.12.12

Our experience at the Indian consulate in Istanbul resulted in a lot of scrambling, anxiety and running to copy centers to print off extra information. We had a hard time finding application requirements for a tourist visa off the consulate website, so thought we would share what we were required to have (Dec 2012). As an American, here’s what you need:

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Bob Yak Trailer Review / 30.11.12

It is here in Turkey where we will part ways and say goodbye to our Bob Yak Trailer. “Bob” has been a trooper and has gone above and behind the call of duty, carrying twice as much as he’s rated for and going twice as fast too. We are only sending him back to the states because we are shedding some weight and for the next portion of the trip- so we will go “Bob-less” and see how it compares. Here are some of our initial impressions at 3600km of the Bob Yak trailer (about $320 at REI).

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Video: shepherd’s call / 28.11.12

Video: Andrew’s Goat Call / 23.11.12

Travelers we’ve met on the road / 16.11.12

Surprisingly enough, we haven’t ran into that many other bicycle tourists. In Germany, we saw hundreds of people out for a weekend ride, but it wasn’t until Pisa where we met our first long-distance biker. We pulled up next to him and noticed his freshly-laundered socks strapped on his luggage to dry. We complimented his system (we usually have a couple pairs of underwear flapping in the wind as we bike). Keegan is from California and was biking and wwoofing throughout Europe (“wwoofing” is volunteering on organic farms). He was on his way to a farm, so we unfortunately didn’t get the chance to bike with Keegan.

The next cyclist we met while sitting down eating pitas in Metsovo, Greece. We flagged Wouter down and instantly liked him. He just graduated with a Masters degree in engineering and was celebrating by taking a one year bike trip from Switzerland to China. We biked with Wouter for a few days and were sad when the day came that we had to part ways.

We stayed in Meteora for a few days to hike around the famous monasteries. While we were there we met two couples set out to travel the world. The first couple were Americans. Ashley was a recent graduate of Vanderbilt and had received a 14-month travel fellowship. She and her husband (also newlyweds) are documenting people and their stories via photo and video. Their work is beautiful, so make sure you check out their site:

Last but not least, we ran into Christian on his bicycle and stopped to say hello to a fellow biker. We learned that he and his wife, Anja, quit their jobs, sold their car, left their house and children (now grown) in pursuit of their dream to travel the world. They hope to take two years to travel the silk road east to China. We met up for drinks, swapped travel stories and found comfort sharing similar beliefs and reasons for traveling. Christian and Anja have a great philosophy and are great people.

Today we arrived in Thessaloniki. We are being hosted by Gael, a Frenchman who cycled around the world from 2006-2009 with Elena. He and Elena were working for Unesco, photographing all of the world heritage sites. Elena is now working on a project in Siberia for national geographic.