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Charlie Guest Posts

The Adventures of Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike: Iceland

This is a guest post from Kelly Diggle, a traveller and blogger who in 2015 became the 4th owner of Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike (read Charlie’s full story here). Here’s her account of pedalling Charlie around the perimeter of Iceland…

In the spring of 2015 I found myself boarding a plane to Spain. It wasn’t for a holiday, however, but to collect Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike. Tegan had recently finished her tour across the country, and now it was my turn to take him on an adventure.

To start, I needed to get him back to England. I deliberately booked my ticket home from a different airport 80km away, and gave myself one day to get there. This mini adventure resulted in getting lost, arriving 3 hours late at my host’s home and then subsequently locking myself in with no food (unless you count a fun-size packet of crunchy nut). But the real adventure was yet to come – a month circumnavigating Iceland alone – was I really cut out for this?!

Finally the time came and I felt as ready as I’d ever be. On the run up to this trip, I’d done everything possible to support the idea that travel doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. With the main component of my adventure – Charlie — costing no more than £25, surely I could keep costs down elsewhere. I set myself a £1,000 spend limit (flights, food, accommodation, missing gear), which became easy when a friend gave me an iPhone to document with and I spent most of my nights free-camping around the island.

Once again day one proved interesting; I reached Iceland to find Charlie was still in London. Having opted to wrap the bike in a clear plastic travel bag, rather than a box, we had problems fitting him in the scanning machine before departure. Either the man carrying him to the plane got lost, or he couldn’t resist a short tour himself before putting him on a flight a few days later. But of course with dark clouds there is a silver lining. This slight mishap meant I was able to take a bus to the city and avoid the face-on downpour, and I ended up cycling with a hilarious Texan during my first week as our departure day now matched up.

I soon realised that Iceland was a perfect destination for a first-time-tour. The wild camping options were endless, the roads quiet, the scenery stunning and as long as the sea remained on my left; I wasn’t lost. It was thanks to a cut-short trip I took to Iceland the year before that I returned with the idea to see more. Summer was an amazing time to explore, as I had 24 hour daylight and zero worry about time – I could cycle at my own pace, for as long as I wanted.

During the four weeks I experienced many new things and never let the somewhat changeable weather get me down. Well, aside from one day I remember well that had me cycling slower than walking pace face-first in to the wind (on a flat road, I might add). There were highs; climbing dormant volcanoes, swimming in a natural hot river and being invited in by strangers on soaking wet days. Of course there are always low points – that’s why it is called an adventure – but I’ve never been one to focus on them. If anything, I think it is important to turn a low into a funny memory, learn from it or push it aside and make way for the positives.

As it turns out, I was cut out for the trip. I had no previous experience cycle touring or wild camping alone. What I did have however, was sheer determination, enthusiasm and an open mind. My love for cycling has grown hugely, and I learnt many things including; the generosity of strangers and the capabilities of myself. It also prides me to mention that my total outgoings came to just £859 for this 4 week trip.

As for Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike? I got the pleasure of handing him over to Charlie (human) whom recently finished her 8 month tour from England to Hong Kong. Wherever he ends up going next, I can’t wait to continue following his journey, and feel genuinely honoured to be a part of it.

Thanks Kelly! For those interested to read more, do head over to blueyedview.com. By the way, Charlie did indeed make it to Hong Kong, but is now AWOL – the last reported sighting was a few months ago in Southeast Asia. Have you seen him by any chance…?

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Charlie Inspiration Other People's Adventures

How Charlie The Scrapyard Touring Bike Made It Halfway Round The World (And How You Can Take Him Further)

This is a guest post by Charlie Rowen, the fifth in a series of owner-riders of Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike, who I rescued from my local tip and refurbished back in 2013. The following year, at the end of his maiden voyage, I nonchalantly launched him into the world with a new owner, Tegan, on a brand new adventure.

Little did I know that I was putting into a motion a train of events that would eventually see him arriving in Hong Kong in time for Christmas 2016 – and in need of a new rider to take him further round the globe!

Could this rider be you? Do you have an inkling for a South-East Asian bike trip in the near future, but don’t have a bike to do it on? Read on to find out how you could write the next chapter of this fantastic little story…

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In May this year, my sister Louise and I set off from our home in Hartford, UK, to cycle to our childhood home in Hong Kong. After 8 months on the road, crossing countries and continents, we are now just a few short weeks away from the end of our trip. Hong Kong is tantalisingly close.

It is hard to believe that just over a year ago I was sat having a cup of tea with Kelly, the previous owner of Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike, chatting about her adventures and our plans. I remember thinking, “oh my gosh, this is actually happening!”. It all of a sudden became very real. I had a bike and kit, and more and more people knew about our plan. I handed in my resignation and a few short months later we set off from home, heading East.

Cycling away from home was very emotional, especially because of how long it took to get out of sight of the house. The day we left was the first time we had cycled with our bikes fully loaded. Only then did we realise that we had massively over-packed. A quick about turn to take out the second towel, hair conditioner, and a few T‑shirts, and we were off again.

We had a fantastic few months cycling through Europe. One day in Austria we met four American girls. They were cycling the length of the Danube and we shared a lovely breakfast with them sheltering from the rain. Upon seeing my bike, they gasped and exclaimed, “you have Charlie the bike!” Turns out he has some fans from across the Pond!

Lou and I have found that travelling by bike is a fantastic way to see the world, discover interesting cultures and explore unknown parts of the map. However, as with all of the best adventures, things worked out quite differently to our original plan. Every twist, turn and visa rejection brought new experiences and actually led to some of our favourite moments of the whole trip, including meeting the wonderful Nina, a German cycle tourer who we spent 3 weeks with cycling through Europe; staying with an old Greek couple who had us helping pick vegetables in their garden; and trying camels’ milk (it’s fizzy!) with a local family in Kazakhstan.

Before we set off, we were asked if we were worried about travelling through certain countries, if it was dangerous, and if it was safe for two women alone. We understood that people might be concerned but we were confident that we were prepared and had enough common sense to not put ourselves in any unnecessary danger. What we learnt along the way is that the countries that people at home were most worried about were some of the most fun, friendly and welcoming. We found that travelling (and especially cycling) as two women opened a lot of doors. People want to help you, sometimes whether you want it or not! When we needed water in the desert or a place to sleep in the middle of the mountains, we found people to be lovely, helpful and genuinely interested in what we were doing, making for a really heart-warming experience.

It has been a fantastic trip and we have met many amazing people, including lots of fellow bike tourers, confirming that cyclists are the best kind of people! It was a scary decision to leave our jobs and set out on this adventure but it has been the most exciting, challenging and eye opening 8 months. We both plan to continue cycle touring and exploring the world on two wheels.

Now that our trip is almost over, Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike is in need of a new adventure. I hope I won’t be jinxing our last few weeks by saying that Charlie has been an excellent two wheeled companion… as long as you overlook his tendency to break kickstands!

If you want to be Charlie’s new owner and have an adventure in mind, no matter how big or small, drop me an email telling me about yourself and your plan, and I shall pick someone to be his new owner. You will need to pick Charlie up from Cheshire in January/February, or if you live in Bath I may be able to bring him to you, depending on timing.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our trip! You can find out more about us at awheelylongjourney.weebly.com. I look forward to seeing where Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike will go next!

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Since Charlie (the human!) wrote this article, I’ve discussed with her an even more exciting idea than bringing Charlie the Bike back home: might we find a new rider to continue Charlie the Bike’s round-the-world adventure from Hong Kong itself?

If this might be you, or if you are based in Hong Kong and would be willing to look after Charlie until we find him a new owner, please get in touch with his current owner by email before December 25th to make arrangements. Let’s keep this little bike’s trip rolling!

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Charlie Guest Posts Other People's Adventures

The Continuing Adventures Of Charlie The Scrapyard Touring Bike, By Kelly Diggle (Rider #4)

Today’s guest post is from Kelly Diggle, who has just come into ownership of Charlie the Scrapyard Touring Bike. Read about how Charlie was born, as well as the stories of his first and second big journeys. Take it away, Kelly…

I’d be lying if I said cycle touring has always been a dream of mine.

In fact, I blame my wanderlust and itchy-feet-syndrome on the books, blogs and adventurers that tell me over and over again that pedalling off into the distance is an absolute must!

This year I decided to listen. Having had my heart stolen during a 10 day trip to Iceland last year, I promised myself I’d return to find out what the island really had to offer – and what better way than exploring by bicycle for one whole month!

Following Tegan’s adventures with Charlie was what really set my motivation into full swing. Here was a girl, very similar to me, who had no experience but the sheer drive and passion to get on that bike and cycle across Spain (alone) to see her sister. Suddenly one of my biggest fears of travelling alone as a young female seemed irrational – if Tegan could do it, why couldn’t I?

After exchanging a few emails and by successfully portraying in earnest my desire – heck – my need to be the next person to take Charlie for a spin (mainly to remove all possible chance of changing my mind), Tegan happily gave me the address to go and collect the bike from Spain.

Too many people questioned my logic in going all that way for a bike and gear that cost no more than £25. As I answered for the 100th time: “because it’s an excuse to visit somewhere I have never been before!”

I started to believe that was the main thing I would get out of it. I was so very wrong. That 2 day trip taught me that strangers are incredibly helpful (they let you use their phone and give you lifts when you are lost), that travelling alone isn’t scary as long as you’re approachable, and that cycle touring is one of the most exciting, liberating means of travel that there is.

The ride between Alicante and Murcia airport was a straightforward route that hugged the coast. Albeit a small taster of what cycle touring is about, it gave me reassurance that I could do it and enjoy it and that Iceland is possible – all I have to do is get on the bike and ride.

This trip is about more than personal ambition. I want to promote solo female travel and support the belief that big adventure needn’t cost big money. With this in mind, I aim to spend no more than £1000 on the entire trip, including return flights. My choice in wild camping and stove-cooking is not only to keep the cost down but to encourage others to do the same. I hope my social media updates will highlight the positives to simple living, even for a short time on the road.

I have also pledged to fundraise for Tree Aid through this adventure, supporting their aim of planting 1 million seedlings. Through their work, people will be able to unlock the potential of trees to pull them out of poverty and help protect the environment — a cause I deem significant in this current time.

With less than 6 weeks to go, the fears are trying to trump my dream. Will I be safe camping alone with no trees for camouflage? What if I run out of water? Will I have a miserable time if it rains constantly? And will I make it round Iceland in time to catch my flight home?

I imagine most of these worries are normal and I will not let them stop me. In reality, what’s the worst that could happen?

Thanks, Kelly! Follow her journey on her blog and via @blue_eyed_view on Twitter, and if you’d like to support her cause, visit her Justgiving page to get involved.