Just For Fun

Coolest adventure plan gets a free touring bike & gear. One week to enter!

Over the last few weeks I’ve been blogging about my biggest challenge yet. It has nothing to do with distance, speed, mileage, or any other kind of challenge we traditionally construct for ourselves. No; the challenge was to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats without any money whatsoever.

What I hoped to achieve was an insight into the world of free travel. People have been wandering pennilessly for as long as journeys have existed, but nowadays the perceived barriers to travelling — or doing anything — if you don’t have much money are bigger than ever. I wanted to see if those barriers were real or imagined, and how you might not just overcome them but enjoy yourself in the process too.

If you haven’t read the blog series and want to know what happened, start here and follow the journey from start to finish (or get on the mailing list for the forthcoming ebook version, which subscribers will get for free).

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In the meantime, I want to give the bicycle I did it on and all of the gear to another adventurous soul — someone who’s up for taking the reins and heading off on an adventurous bicycle journey this summer.

(Almost free) complete bike

No-budget cycle touring packing list

Leaving Worcester

The bike and gear cost less than the price of a round of drinks (that’s another story), and I’ve proven it’s capable of taking you across a country. And if it can cross one country, it can cross a great many more.

It’s a simple machine, a steel frame with basic parts you’ll be able to fix and replace anywhere very cheaply — which makes it a fantastic choice for taking off into the great unknown.

What’s included

  • Bike
  • Granny basket
  • Panniers & rain covers
  • Lights
  • 2‑man tent
  • Camping mat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Drybags
  • Tarp
  • Beer-can stove and tin mug
  • Basic tools & spares (inc. Gaffa Tape and cable ties)
  • Various other useful bits and bobs
  • As much help and advice from me (in person, phone, Skype, email, etc) as you like.

What’s not included

  • Spirit of adventure (bring your own)
  • Any guarantee about what will happen!

The Rules

Because I have just the one bike, I’m obliged to run a competition of sorts to choose who gets it. The rules are very simple:

  • Just tell me and the rest of the community here about the plans you’ve got for it. Anything at all.
  • Do this by posting your ideas in the comments section of this post.
  • Finally, share this article (social media buttons below) to spread the word and make things fair.

The terms and conditions are equally simple:

  • You’ll send me a write-up and photos of your trip (to be published here),
  • You’ll pass on all the gear to somebody else (for free) when you no longer need it,
  • You’ll ideally collect the bike from me in either Bristol or London, but if you can’t, I’ll pay for it to be couriered anywhere in mainland Britain.
  • Lastly, the bike will suit a bloke of average height, with a bit of room for adjustment. Don’t enter if you won’t be able to ride it!

Coolest Most appropriate plan submitted before midnight on Sunday 13th July 2014 wins everything. (Not sure what’s appropriate? Read the #freeLEJOG blog series — I’m looking for plans made in a similar spirit!)

And if you don’t win, remember that you’re still a winner — because you now know how to get a free touring bike and gear and then carry out your trip for free as well. No more excuses!

Just For Fun

5 Dream Trips I’d Take This Year If Time & Money Were No Object

For the first time in my adult life I have more or less definite plans for the next 12 months. Almost all of them revolve around adventures, creative storytelling, and sharing knowledge, so I can’t complain.

Perhaps it’s in response to the existential tyranny of ‘future planning’, though, that I often find myself daydreaming about the trips I’d do if I hadn’t already made these plans!

Here are a few dream trips I’d take in 2014 if time and money were no object:

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1. Walk across Armenia

Reminder of eternal anguish and suffering

Much of the back country of my adoptive homeland remains unexplored (at least by me). Given the elevation and the terrain — and the diminutive scale of the nation — it’d make a lot of sense to do it on foot. I’d begin from Georgia and avoid the roads, heading cross-country, taking a detour through Nagorno-Karabakh and continuing to the opposing border with Iran.

It’d be tough, but it’d be a fantastic exploration of the significant geography of the region — particularly the parts the Soviets couldn’t reach. 

Just For Fun

How To Keep An Irish Cyclist Happy At Christmas Time

As any cycle-tourist will tell you, feeding a cycle tourist is no easy task. The demands of a stomach that processes a minimum of 5,000 calories per day must not be underestimated — indeed, such needs can often be a source of great embarassment for the hungry cyclist when invited in at the end of the day and presented with a portion sized for a mere mortal.

Masters of campcraft

Last Christmas I was staying in Yerevan, Armenia, and I had the pleasure of hosting two very hungry cyclists — Fearghal and Simon of Revolution Cycle, the journey which they triumphantly and heroically completed earlier this year. The lads were expecting the full traditional Christmas spread — as well they should, after detouring so many hundreds of kilometres through the snowy mountains on the sole promise of mince-pies — and it was clear that this would be a truly formidable challenge.