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!