England to China: About a Ride

It’s taken me six and a half months to reach my destination in China.  The main aim of a trip like this is always the journey itself rather than the destination, so it’s good to look back at that journey and see how it unfolded.  So far, my journey has involved:

  • Roughly 20,000 kilometres
  • 142 cycling days
  • 52 non-cycling days – including the ‘other halves’ of half days
  • Rides averaging 140 km per full riding day and 102 km per day overall
  • 16 punctures

You can see my progress on the graph below: I made fairly steady progress, slightly declining over the course of the ride, with my biggest times off in Anchorage and Hong Kong.  Most of my days were between 50 km (my baseline ‘half day’) and about 170 km, with a few long days around Nevada and one extra long day in Japan.

Cycle touring England to China: Daily and cumulative riding distances

Things I never had to do on this ride:

  • My Alu frame never cracked under me so I never had to do a Eugene Christophe
  • My carbon fork never failed either, despite my being warned I don’t know how many times by ‘knowing’ fellow tourists.
  • I never ran out of change in my power banks – though during a dynamo is still tempting for the reduced stress factor.
  • My wheels never disintegrated from under me, despite having ‘only’ 32 spokes.

Things I did have to do

  • I’ve had sixteen punctures, i.e. one every 800 miles.
  • I did break one spoke, somewhere in California.
  • I also had to rebuild the rear wheel after the Gator Incident, though you can hardly blame the wheel for that one.
  • I once had to divert from my route to get a gas cylinder, somewhere in Canada.  It was a round trip of 15 miles, and I could probably have got away without it anyway.
  • I replaced my bottom bracket in Florida, after the European washout weather penetrated it and caused it to creak.
  • I’ve fitted seven replacement tyres on the road.  One was an emergency spare which got replaced after four days, so I’ve effectively got through six, i.e. three sets.
  • I’ve replaced my chain and cassette twice, in Palo Alto and again in Anchorage.
  • I bought some new shorts in San Francisco, and some more in Hong Kong.

Where I’ve stayed

If you look below you can see what sorts of places I’ve been staying on this trip.  I did a USA-specific version of this post a while back, but here’s the full deal.

Just to explain a few of the labels in that graph:

  • ‘Campsite’ is quite a wide category, which can range from a fully-featured RV park to a patch of land with at least one out of running water, electricity or toilet.  If it’s got none of those, I’m quite likely to have counted it as …
  • Wild camping, which definitely includes anything slightly illegal, but also setting up my tent anywhere I’ve had to cart in all my water and loo roll.  It may also include …
  • Parks.  These get their own category in places like Kansas and Japan where this is explicitly allowed and catered for, or at least widely tolerated.  Otherwise they probably count as urban wild camping.
  • Hotels / Motels / Guest Houses and Youth Hostels: Uptake on these has been quite patchy.  Hostels are mostly concentrated round Europe and Japan where this is a big market sector.  Hotels have been pushed up a lot by China where I’ve stayed in one every night, as they’re much cheaper here than the cost of most American campsites.

There are then the more minor categories:

  • I’ve made less use of Warmshowers than I’d  hoped.  Arranging a stay can be hard and uncertain, and you need to know when you’re going to rock up in town.   They can be very pleasant when they do work out though.
  • My one Japanese Rider House should probably go under the youth hostel umbrella but it’s such a fun concept that it merits a category all of its own.
  • I haven’t been very good at finding Audax Hotels like the one in the picture below.  Must try harder next time.
  • I’ve spent a couple of nights on Japanese overnight ferries, a night in an airport departure lounge in Seoul and yes, a night in a homeless hostel in Canada.  That last one was a slightly awkward experience, and one of the few things I’d try not to repeat next time.
Audax Hotels, a.k.a. manmade structures that were just designed for the tired cyclist to sleep in. I haven't been very good about finding these.
Audax Hotels, a.k.a. man-made structures that were just designed for the tired cyclist to sleep in. I haven’t been very good about finding these.