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Budgeting & Finance News

Get Funding For Your Next Big Cycle Tour With The Next Challenge Expedition Grant

Set up by my good friend Tim Moss, The Next Challenge Expedition Grant has just opened for applications. Up to £1,300 of funding is available for a big adventure, whether by bicycle or otherwise. The deadline for applications is Wednesday 26th August 2015. I caught up with Tim to ask about the grant and why he set it up.

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1. What is your main reason for setting up the grant?

Six years ago I started a website to encourage and help other people have adventures. I’ve written lots of articles and responded to lots of emails but sometimes what people really need is a wad of cash.

I’ve never made much money from my website but last year it turned a small profit and, since I’m about to start a normal job, I decided to give away the cash I made in advertising revenue in 2014. That’s how the grant was born.

2. What exactly is on offer, and how do you think it’ll benefit the recipient?

The tangible benefits are as follows:

  1. Cash – £1,300 made up of donations from me, six other adventurers and 100 members of the public.
  2. Kit – from sponsors like Primus, Berghaus, Exped, Ortlieb and BAM.
  3. Advice – from me, if you want it.

Obviously being given money and a shiny Goretex jacket should help anyone with their expedition plans. But when I was awarded my first expedition grant, it wasn’t just about the money (which only covered a third of the cost), it was a huge confidence boost to have experienced expeditioners tell me that they liked my idea, thought it was possible and wanted me to do it.

3. Can you try and describe the ideal kind of application you’d receive?

I’m keen to get slightly novel projects – rather than just cycling from A to B or doing something many people have done before – but prefer simple ideas to anything too contrived.

I’d like the grant to make a real difference to someone and their expedition, which is to say that it’s aimed at someone who would struggle to complete their adventure without our support and who has not done much of this sort of stuff before.

Unlike most grants and sponsorship applications, you do not need prior experience to apply. As long as your idea’s realistic, being new to the adventure world will probably be an advantage rather than a hindrance.

4. Some would argue that adventures are whimsical and self-indulgent – why put cash into this as opposed to something more ‘worthy’?

Adventures can indeed be whimsical and self-indulgent and that’s one of the reasons I no longer dedicate all of my time to them. However, I decided to offer this money for a grant rather than to something ‘more worthy’ for two main reasons:

  1. Adventures changed my life. I would not be the person I am today without having the privilege of going on some fantastic expeditions. By finding someone new to the adventure world who needs a helping hand, I hope we can have a real impact.
  2. I have an adventure website so can have a far greater effect in this industry. If I gave £200 to a worthy charity, it would be put to good use but it would be no better than anyone else’s £200. But by offering a £200 grant on my blog, I’ve received £1,100 in matched funding from other adventurers and members of the public, reached thousands of people, and received hundreds of applications already.

5. Going forward, what do you hope that the grant will achieve in the grand scheme of things?

Everything I do with my website is aimed at encouraging people to have adventures and helping them to do so. If we give two, three or four people a few hundred quid and some bamboo t‑shirts then that’s two, three or four people we’ve helped.

But I’d also hope that of the several hundred applications that aren’t successful in getting money, some will be motivated to do their adventures anyway. Plus, yet more people will hear about the grant and read about all the great ideas, and perhaps some of those will be inspired to head off into the sunset too.

The grant will be annual and I hope its impact will go far beyond the small number of winners.

Thanks Tim! Visit thenextchallenge.org/grant to find out more. I’d encourage you to spread the word about the grant by sharing this article on social media – the more potential applicants it can reach, the better.

Categories
Guest Posts Product Launches

Introducing CyclingTouring.org, A Social Network For Solo Cycle Tourists To Find Partners In Adventure

Today’s Q&A‑style guest post comes from Pete Ashford, founder of CyclingTouring.org, a new (free) social networking website aimed at finding cycle touring partners to join your trip wherever and whenever you happen to be riding.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I have been riding bikes all my life – BMXs, mountain bikes, road bikes, single speed, just about anything with two wheels. I dream about bikes, I scan the internet for them, I read cycling books/magazines, I listen to podcasts… at the moment I’m wondering if I need a fold up bike, just because I think they look cool and great fun to ride!

So I’m pretty obsessed with these two wheeled, pedal powered modes of transport. They make me happy. I think everyone should ride them, especially when it comes to travelling and discovering new places.

What is CyclingTouring.org and why did you start it?

The idea came to me whilst cycling alone one morning. It was early in the morning and shortly after packing up camp, I was looking for a bakery to feed me some great pastries.

Leading up to this tour, I had been chatting to a friend about joining me. It seemed like he wanted to come along on his first tour. I talked about not needing all the gear and his old mountain bike would be fine, making the point that cycle touring can be cheap to get started. Not long after, the excuses started to come and I knew that was the end of that. I didn’t push it and went alone.

Anyway, in a space of half an hour, I came across two separate people riding along on their touring bikes, fully laden with all the kit. They were clearly on an adventure, like me, and were also by themselves, like me.

I’m pretty comfortable in my own company for long periods of time. But not everyone is. I thought that there must be plenty of other people who’d had similar experiences to me – people who wanted to go cycle touring, but couldn’t find anyone to go with them. That’s where the initial idea came from.

What’s the goal of CyclingTouring.org and how does it work?

The simple goal is to bring people together to share their cycle touring adventures. It’s free for anyone to use, and it’s fun and engaging.

I haven’t just created a simple forum where people post about their cycle tour, though. That’s been done before. I wanted a social web site that is simple to use. I also wanted a big map of cycle tours, as well as a well formatted list of available tours to join.

These initial ideas turned into two key functions for the site. The first allows people to upload details of their own planned cycling tour. Complete a simple form with some basic details; it is then approved and added to the list of tours which are neatly displayed on a world map and central list that can be filtered. People can register interest in joining you, and exchange messages to sort out the details before meeting up.

The second is for cyclists already out on a tour. Riders log on and pin their current or future location on a map, including details of what they are up to and where they are heading to. These pins are visible on a world map for people to view. Anyone interested in meeting up clicks a ‘Contact’ button, exchanges messages and meets up.

This is great for people who don’t necessarily want to spend a whole tour with one person and maybe fancy some company for part of the trip, or for people who didn’t manage to find someone to join them from the start.

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How has the project been received so far?

The site went live 8 weeks ago and since then always has around 20 cycle tours available to join at any given time. The positive feedback from people has been awesome and it is great to see people using the services.

Over the past few weeks, I have been fortunate enough to receive help from some experienced cycle tourists. Positive words on social media is an amazing thing that brings the site to the attention of far more people.

My aim is eventually to bring the site to each and every cycle tourist. We need people to spread the word about what we do; to share it with friends, family, local bike clubs and anyone who likes cycling. It isn’t just about experienced cycle tourists either – if we can engage newly converted cycle tourists too, then that would be great.

Who is the site aimed at?

Anyone! Really, anyone can be involved. You don’t have to be die hard lycra-clad cyclist with a garage full bicycles. All you need is a desire to travel, a bicycle and some basic kit.

Multi month/year adventures are not the only kind of cycle touring, so the site is aimed at all kinds of tour. Even a single ride in a new area could count as a cycle tour. It’s about exploring on your bicycle, not how far you travel, and sometimes that can mean a quick night away cycling somewhere new.

Why should people join?

Anyone with a passion for cycle touring should sign up and give it a go. You’ll make new friends, and it is highly likely you will find someone to share in your next great adventure.

Whether you’re going for a 1‑night tour in the local area, stepping out on a year long adventure across a continent, or you have a touring holiday idea that you cannot buy anywhere, being a member of CyclingTouring.org will almost certainly help you connect with like-minded people.

Where is the project going from here?

Promoting what we do is taking much of my time right now. I’m always looking at new areas to encourage people to get into cycle touring – for example, people taking gap years. What a great to spend a year out that would be!

Ultimately, I want the site to become a hub for people to hook up and go cycle touring together, exchange touring photos/videos, talk cycle touring and tell the world about their cycle tours. Cycle touring is cool and I want everyone to share it!

Thanks Pete! Check out his excellent project and join up for free at CyclingTouring.org. You can also connect with the project on Facebook and Twitter.

Categories
Bikes Product Launches

Just Announced – Kona’s Updated 2016 Sutra Touring Bike + New Sutra LTD

I’ve been a fan of Kona’s bikes and their corporate ethos for donkey’s years. Today they’re announcing their new season bike line-up, which includes not just an updated 2016 Kona Sutra (their mid-range disc-equipped 700C tourer) but also a brand new variant, the 2016 Kona Sutra LTD, aimed even more squarely at short-haul adventures on mixed terrain.

Both the 2016 Kona Sutra and the Sutra LTD share an updated frameset, similar to last season’s frame (which was shared with the gravel-racing Rove), but this year with heavier-gauge tubing, acknowledging the benefits of a burlier build for luggage-carrying applications.

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Other improvements to the 2016 Sutra’s frameset include better tyre clearance, a replaceable gear hanger, and more options for lowrider mounting, including the ability to mount bottle cages on the forks, which will undoubtedly please bikepackers no end.

The basic Kona Sutra 2016 specifications remain broadly the same as 2015’s model; just a couple of minor differences of little consequence. The switch from an 11–32t cassette to an 11–34t, however, will be a welcome one – as we all know, tourers can never have a low enough bottom gear.

Here’s Kona chief designer Ian Schmitt’s personal take on the updates:

“From the outset we sought to develop a new touring bike that checked all the boxes we felt necessary for touring in a variety of conditions: wider tire clearance, better handling when loaded, improved ride feel and improved carrier compatibility. The frame’s geometry uses a lower bottom bracket (72mm drop all sizes), consistent head tube angle (71° all sizes) and 50mm offset fork to improve carrying with a front load as well as improving tire clearance on smaller frame sizes.

“We based the sizing of the Sutra off of our new cyclocross geometry. The Sutra features higher stack and longer reach and is designed to pair with a slightly wider bar and slightly shorter stem compared to our cyclocross offering, which helps with stability and ride feel. The new Sutra frame also uses a specific tube set (thicker than Rove) to maintain stiffness when loaded.”

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The new Sutra LTD, on the other hand, looks to have diverged considerably from your standard tourer, with hydraulic disc brakes and no racks supplied, though given that the frameset is shared with the Sutra, it wouldn’t take much to kit it out for light touring.

The drivetrain choice is the most interesting feature, doing away with a front derailleur entirely in favour of a ludicrously wide-ranged 10–42t cassette, with a single 36t chainring up front. Doing the maths reveals that you’ll get a surprisingly wide range of useful gears out of this setup.

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While it won’t be much good for winning road races or lugging tons of luggage around the planet, that clearly isn’t the point of the Sutra LTD. I can certainly imagine fitting it out with some minimal frame luggage and taking it off for a long weekend of fun and fast-paced trail riding with a wild-camp or two thrown in.

Here’s Ian again on the new Kona Sutra LTD:

“The Sutra LTD represents the nexus of mountain bike and road bike drivetrains. I had personally been playing around with 1x drivetrains on my touring bike for several months before SRAM had told us they were developing a derailleur to work with their XD driver and 10–42t cassette. I had spent an appreciable amount of time toying with various gear ranges and had found that for my personal use a bike with an 11–40t cassette and a 38t chainring afforded me pretty much all of the gearing options I required. The addition of 10t and 42t cogs plus an additional gear in the middle was enough to push the concept into production.

“The LTD is aimed at a variety of riders. It is a bike that can be used for week long tours, month long tours, gravel rides, single track, commuting etc. We wanted to highlight the fun of big tires, simple gearing and hydraulic brakes and feel that this bike has done it on all fronts. I’m not joking when I say that this is the most fun drop bar bike I’ve had the pleasure of riding.”

Expect the 2016 Kona Sutra and Sutra LTD to hit stores in a few weeks’ time.

Categories
Audio & Podcasts

3 Adventure Travel Podcasts Worth Checking Out This Summer

Podcasts come and go pretty frequently, so good ones are worth keeping bookmarked, as smartphones make it easier than ever before to listen to on-demand radio shows as you travel or whenever else the opportunity arises.

Rather than overwhelm you with a massive listing that you’ll never get round to sifting through, here are three podcast suggestions on the topic of travel and adventure I’ve come across over the last few months, all of which are well worth checking out if you’re looking for new listening material on the theme of travel, adventure, expeditions and the great outdoors.

(You may notice that I’ve previously been invited as a guest on these shows; needless to say there are plenty of far more interesting contributors in their back catalogues whose episodes you can listen to as well!)

1. The Paul Kirtley Podcast

After working for one of the best-known bushcraft schools in the UK, bushcraft instructor Paul Kirtley set up his own school, Frontier Bushcraft, and now runs a highly successful blog on the subject of survival skills and outdoor living.

Paul is less interested in bushcraft for its own sake than as a set of skills for making journeys. And so don’t expect to find in-depth discussions on knife sharpening and firelighting. Instead, the interview-style podcast revolves around the stories of Paul’s adventurous contributors, what drives them, and what they’ve learned from their experiences.

His podcast is still quite new, but judging by the success of his first few episodes, which include interviews with hugely respected figures like Ray Goodwin, Tristan Gooley and Chris Townsend, I imagine it’ll quickly become one to watch. Or listen to. You know what I mean.

2. Zero To Travel

Jason Moore’s approach with Zero To Travel is focused on sharing the experiences and knowledge of seasoned travellers in order to help newcomers to the world of travel tackle their concerns and get started with their adventures, as well as those who want to transition to living on the road full time.

Also an interview-style podcast, Jason’s contributors are mainly experts on those topic which surround travel and adventure and enable it to happen more often, including travel hacking (for free and cheap flights and accommodation), self employment or so-called ‘digital nomadic’ living.

With over a hundred episodes to date and a five-star rating on iTunes, you won’t be running out of worthwhile listening material any time soon.

3. Walking The Earth

The host and creator of Walking The Earth, Mike Margolies, also set up his podcast to explore the full-time travel lifestyles of contributors around the world.

His approach is very open-minded – you’ll hear more about lifestyle philosophy and spirituality from his interviewees than travel tips and techniques.

Because of this, his show (now 72 episodes strong and counting) and the projects and passions of his contributors are hugely diverse and meandering.

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What’s your favourite travel and adventure podcast? Let us know in the comments.