I went to a dinner party last Saturday and, on one side, found myself sitting next to a guy I couldn’t help but be rather impressed by: about three years ago he jacked in his job (he was an accountant) and, slightly chubby, set off on his bicycle from Buckingham Place to…Hong Kong. As you do. Four month later the lean and mean Humphrey never looked back and now organises bike trips around the world, but mainly in Asia. Sapporo to Russia, anyone?
I love the idea of getting somewhere entirely under my own steam. It must be immensely satisfying. After too much wine I put my hand up for Hong Kong to Hanoi until my host, who knows me quite well, said he thought it might be a bit much for me to tackle from a complete standstill (I last got on a bike when I was about 15).
Hong Kong to Hanoi takes seven days and breaks down as being about 170km a day.
For those that can’t cover all the ground there is a bus to scoop up the stragglers – my face lit up – but it’s meant to be a last resort rather than the ideal option. Its name says it all: The Bus of Shame (I think if I did ever make it on the trip, a quick rename would be in order; what’s wrong with Bus of Salvation?).
The other good thing about this particular leg is that it’s relatively flat.
There are a bunch of other options and destinations including the shortest journey, a four day ride where you can cycle the length of Taiwan: Taipei to Kenting (140km a day). But – and it’s a big but – it is hilly as hell. Or don’t bother with a flight and go Singapore to Krabi.
Macau to Guilin also sounds extremely cool.
If anyone’s looking for a way to kick start a fitness regime, maybe this one’s for you. Let me know how you get on please, if you do go, and whether granny-pants here might be able to manage it.
For more info on Humphrey (below) and his company, Mad Dogs Adventure, click here.
For Humph’s top bike-buying tips here in Singapore, see below.
Where is a good place to start for a novice like me? Rodalink is a good place to buy bikes. They will also hire them out.
What’s the best type of bike to go for? You are best off going for a hybrid one because while Mad Dog’s routes do follow roads, there is the inevitable rougher patch. In terms of saddles I always recommend Brooks leather saddles. These are hard, which may seem counter-intuitive, but the idea is that your weight is transmitted through your bones to the saddle. A soft saddle will make the weight pass through your soft body tissue on its way down, which will mean an extremely painful derrière. While a soft saddle will be more comfortable for a 10 minute trip to the shops, a hard leather saddle will be far better if you are planning to ride for several hours and days!