TWO YEARS ON A BIKE 1/3
hey guys, bit of a different video, i wanted to talk about my book two years on the bike, which is about my trip from vancouver to patagonia. it released in november in europe and it's going to be available worldwide end of the month, I'm selling signed editions from my website, only a small batch also available with a beautiful big map of the of the entire route, drawn by Alex Hotchin, you can see the two is in italic, which refers to my first journey, which was from amsterdam to singapore the book one year on a bike, there's also a documentary, available through the same channels i got into bike travel about seven years ago, i had a full-time job, i lived in a city freelanced after that, but i had quite a regular life, nothing to complain about, really, i think it's a good life, i'm very grateful for it, but at the same time i was just missing a lot of things, i missed the connection with the natural world, being in the city, i missed working with my hands and using my body, and i missed getting physically tired, instead of mentally tired, from watching screens all day and sitting inside ,and it just dulled me down, also, the the continuous rhythm of everything being the same at some point, like five days going to work, then there's a weekend and monday everything starts over again, the same place, same kind of people, i needed to break the pattern. i think the bicycle is a great way to travel, because it's sort of fast enough to to take you somewhere, you could easily do 70 to 100 kilometers per day and it carries all your luggage, you got nothing on your back and you can go on the big roads, you can take small roads ,you can just park it next to a cafe when you take a break, and it's just a very flexible way of traveling, it really spoke to me you're more connected to nature, obviously, because you're outside all the time and i was fully independent, so meaning i had a tent, sleeping back and everything, i could sleep in the wild, wild camp, life became just very simple i would cycle every day, and take photos and write a diary, and that that was what i was doing every day, but the thing that changed was the location, every day i was in a new place. so, fast forward i finished the trip to singapore, it took me a year, i came back to amsterdam and i made a book about it which wasn't the plan at first, first i wanted to make a movie, because at the time i was more into videography, but i had so many photos and and all of the stories, so i compiled this book one year on a bike, and when that was finished i just got back into city life, which wasn't bad because i was refreshed and i had just another perspective on life, and i was just more grateful for what i had, i think it was one of the things i took with me from my travels but after a year i was kind of getting back into the the old life and i thought, let's do it again. this time i wanted to do it differently, i would try to
also have my working life on the road, so i would bring my laptop and the hard disks, and keep my freelance contacts sort of warm, so when there was work to do, i would take a break i had a very rough idea of the complete route but you can't plan it in detail ahead, it's just impossible, because it's simply too much, i knew i had destinations, like the salt lake in bolivia was on the list, i knew about a mountain bike route in ecuador all of the national parks, the desert and utah, the redwood forest in california, those were things that were on my list, so i knew it would need to be on the pacific side, of both of the continents but i made small plannings, the first destination was san francisco, i didn't look further ahead, after that i started thinking about how to go further, and because it was after summer, it was actually very good to go into the desert because the temperatures were nice but otherwise i planned a bit like by these distances. when i reached mexico city, i got to know a lot of people and they were saying, you should go here, you should go there, and that's how i planned the route, so that's how i planned mexico, and after that, you know, that's kind of how it worked out so i moved to vancouver, i got a new bicycle there and started to gather all of the all of the gear i needed, a lot of the gear i used from my my previous journey, and yeah, i was getting ready it was quite a different bike from the one i had to singapore, because that was more of a classic touring bike, a surly long-haul trucker, a very simple bike, but sturdy built, a lot of gears but like normal, old-school, v-brakes this one was also a bike from surly but it's the surlu ecr, i think it's they don't sell it anymore, but the one which is very similar is the ogre, yeah a big bicycle, because it has thick tires, three inch, eight centimeters, it was a 29er, so 29+ is what they call that. there's many ways to rig a bicycle, but i think there's roughly three categories: endurance racing, traditional bike traveling with panniers, and off-road bike packing. these two are similar in style of packing, but here the focus is on being as lightweight as possible, because it's about speed and performance, i met guys doing the trans-am ,which crossed america from east to west on these kind of setups, you're still independent, you bring a tent and everything, but everything is just focused to be as small and lightweight as possible, if you want to cross bolivia on such bike, it might be more tricky, because it's less robust, i've never seen these kind of bikes in remote countries. this is the classic bicycle touring setup with panniers, and it's just focused
on being comfortable on your bike and being able to bring as much luggage as possible i think there's advantages to the panniers, because you can easily take them off, for example when you check in a hotel, you just click off the bags and you have everything with you, and you can store your bike somewhere, with these kind of setups you probably have to bring your bike in the hotel room which i've done very often as well, i think there's also an advantage of having the bags and your luggage quite low on the bike, it makes you very steady on the road but when you go off-road, it could become a problem and that's why these setups are very high, so when you're doing trail riding and there's bushes and all kinds of things, you have a lot of clearance on the underside of the bike and also with this setup you're not able to lean back, for example if you're doing a trail and you've got a very steep downhill, you need to lean back to disperse your weight and that's the reason i fell one time in peru where i wasn't able to lean back this setup is called bike packing, but i think everything is bike packing but it's more focused to being off-road, mountain biking with luggage basically that's what it is, i think my setup now is sort of in between those, because i need the back panniers to bring all my stuff, but on the front i've got the racks let's start on the front, here i got my camera in this handlebar back my camera and one lens which is easily accessible, because these are magnets, so i could flip it open and take out my camera, basically i could take photos while cycling. this one contains my macbook, drone, hard disks, wires all the electronics and all the valuable items are in these two, also, these two backs have quick-release so they're easy and quick to take off, for example if i go in a supermarket or i have to leave the bike alone outside i always take these two bags off you can see there's two, how do you call these... handlebar stems, usually this one is attached to the handlebar, but then it would sit quite high, so i've added a second one so it's more in line with the bicycle, the saddle and the handlebar which i think is just more balanced, on the front here this is my tent, some extra shoes there's racks here which fit these dry bags, they're on both sides one has my sleeping bag and the other one has clothes and the jacket i had a rain jacket or a wind jacket on top, so i could easily take it out these touring bikes have a lot of ways to bolt on and braze on racks which is basically the main difference from a normal bike, so you could screw these in, but these are actually leaning on the rack, and i just zip tied it on there, you know, with zip ties there's a lot of ways to strap things on the bike when you're building the bike you'll find a lot of opportunities to because this is not designed, i was just building it up, i found this rack and i thought, okay, the tent could go here, yeah, that works, this is resting on the tent otherwise this could dangle a bit, it's kind of a trial and error here i got a rain jacket, i believe, then there's a tripod here, the two panniers they carry clothes, food, more camping gear, tools, some spare tools will be in here, like allen keys, because you need these very often to secure things, there will be snacks in here, my sunglasses, sunscreen in here there could be food and all kinds of other things, on the bottom i had two liters of water and there were two liters on each side here, so four liters i could bring comfortably, and then underneath these bungee cords i could put more water or just other things day five, not so beautiful here on the pacific coast, yesterday was nice, but today it's raining, and tomorrow probably too, so it's cold now, i'm making some breakfast here six eggs..! i'll bring some with me. the beginning of such a journey is always hard your body is getting used to all of the physical, everyday cycling i got a pain in my back, pain in my my right knee, it was always kind of hurting, so i needed to take it slow because it's not a contest, everyone can do this if you just start in your own pace when i had the bike finished i started from vancouver, route 101, is where i started which is sort of the main highway from north to south on the pacific coast there's little traffic up there it's very quiet, you got the logging trucks which are dangerous though! because they pass you just very close on the bike I met another cyclist, a young girl from... where was she from? new orleans, i believe yeah she was 23, she was cycling from seattle to san francisco. there's a lot of people doing the the pacific coast route in summer, so i met a lot of cyclists on the way staying at couchsurfing addresses, or warmshowers, which is basically like couchsurfing for the cyclist community, a very big community which you see all over the world, which is just amazing from the us to... in iran there's a lot of people on warmshowers surprisingly,
but also in malaysia, and in thailand and basically everywhere i met a lot of great people, if you don't have time to travel or you're bound to home, because you have a family or a job, you could sign up to warmshowers.org and invite travelers to your home, it's a way of traveling too, meeting people from all over the world, without leaving your house. my first goal was san francisco, and i thought i would follow the coast straight away, but pretty soon i made the decision to go inland. in portland people were mentioning the painted hills,
which are some beautifully colored hills in high desert in oregon, so i headed inland through the columbia river gorge and then you climb up in the desert, because the desert is much higher in oregon, about 1500 meters, and it's a complete change of scenery, you got the dry yellow grass it's very quiet, there's a lot less people living there, it's very dry, and quite warm as well, and i went through some ghost towns, i think silver mining that was being done there nobody living there, and then i reached painted hills, where you have mitchell, it's a small western town, it looks like you're cycling through a movie set, but it was an actual town where people were living, there was a church that welcomed people who are cycling, because there's a lot of cyclists from the trans-am passing through there, then i continued back to the coast via crater lake a beautiful ride, and descended to crescent city which was the beginning of california the redwood forest were a big highlight for me with those giant trees, i mean, they're so incredibly large, and when you see the cars, like toys, disappearing in those forests, it's mesmerizing... i think it took like three days to get through these forests. there was this couple living deep in the forest, they were the parents of some some people i knew in portland and i visited them, it was quite a climb up the hill, they had a huge amount of land, with beautiful old grown forest, they made a living there about 35 years ago and they lived there with their child, completely independent, and this guy... kent was his name, i think he was 73 at the time, and they slept at the little bed on a vide... how do you call this? a mezzanine? and he had a letter to climb up there, but when he was younger he would always swing himself up there, so he was trying to impress me, and said, "yeah i think i still i can still do it" so he took off his shirt, jumped up, grabbed the beam and he swung himself up there. he was so strong. yeah, beautiful couple. he passed away last year they're one of the people that really inspired me to live off the grid san francisco! on a misty afternoon, beginning of the evening i was just up there, on hawk hill, the view got worse and worse and now it's just very gray and misty it's beautiful, we made it i've got very strong memories to san francisco, it's such an enchanting place...
i arrived over the golden gate bridge, it was foggy, very rough weather, and i had a place in bernal heights, on a hill overlooking the city it's a beautiful place, you could see over the mission district, and then downtown, you could see twin peaks in the fog, it was always foggy... and the victorian houses everywhere, and the steep hilltops — san francisco has its own vibe i had a bit of work to do , so i had to stay for some days and i needed to take a break, and one day i went to this cafe, cafe deluxe, a jazz cafe there was a great band, and i met this girl, her name was rachel, and she was living in the castro and we started hanging out, and pretty soon we were all over the place, we went for some road trips we went to the coast, camped on the beach, visited yosemite, did some hiking trips at some point i was just going to work every day, i'd rented a desk at wework which is a co-working space in downtown, and i went to work every day, i had made other friends and we went out and, i just had a life in the city and almost forgot i was on a bicycle trip at some point rachel needed to leave the city for work and also my work was kind of finishing up so we made plans to meet each other again in utah because we both wanted to go there, the season was great summer was almost over, it was the end of august and the desert would cool down, which would be perfect for me to cycle through wow, a bend the road... finally, look at that i came from a little town up on the hills there, on the end of the road you can't see it, of course, it is about 26 kilometers from here one straight end, it's going down for a long bit and then slowly it goes up, and now i'm climbing up over these hills and then there will be another part like that so, not much happening here heading to utah, there was about 2000 kilometers of desert ahead of me and leaving from san francisco, i was looking forward to it, i needed to clear my mind and get things into perspective, about my life goals, about the goals of the journey why i was doing this, what i wanted from it, i thought the desert would be a good opportunity to internalize things, and take the time to be quiet, and i can tell you i got plenty of time for that, maybe a bit too much, because it's an overwhelming situation... the scary thing about the desert is not the silence, it's not the fear of having no water, the drought, and it's not the thunderstorms, it's the lack of control over what you're going to do because i've been in the desert before this, but it was usually with a car, and it was exciting, you know, because it's dark, and it's super quiet, and you go on the side of the road with your car, you turn off the lights, and you just take a deep breath and there's just nothing there, but you and the stars, and it can kind of freak you out but then you get back in your car and you put the radio on, and you just drive and within an hour or two you're probably somewhere on the grid, where people are.
with the bicycle you don't have that choice, i was just in the middle of the desert, it took me two days to cycle to a place, and i camped there and there were those thunderstorms, and you are physically very alone and if you freak out, you don't have the choice to get in your car and put radio on and just drive, because it will take you another day or two of cycling to get back in there, and that lack of control is sometimes very frightening it's gonna come..! this is such a big storm, i'm excited and a bit nervous the lightning is... it's big lightning, so it's not safe but i have no choice, i can't go anywhere brace for impact! it was crazy, because it was nothing like i've ever experienced before because in the distance you could hear the rumble, it was just like a firework show, very far away you could see the lightning and the thunder and it, was everywhere around me and slowly it closed into me and i was in this flat desert, there was nothing there, just me and my bike and my little tent it's this pretty scary night, i'm in a desert, it's a really beautiful place but far from anything, but there's thunder going on, i don't know if you can see it look at that..! it's kind of all around me on the horizon it's scary you know, because i'm so exposed here, because i'm the highest point in this desert look at that it's amazing, it's beautiful too, but it's scary if you see those big beams of light getting down i'm a little bit excited and i'm also scared, here you can see it in the background in my tent i don't like this... i'm gonna stick my arm out, see if you can see something how does that look? all right...
the one solution here, just go drinking, drink yourself nuts, that's what i'm gonna do