Adventure Does Not Require Any Fancy Gear. (Just Ask Rob & Maria)

I recently received an exasperated comment from a wound-up-sounding man called Rob on an article I published about trip sponsorship.

‘This is really annoying’, wrote Rob, referring to the fact that I’d got a 50% discount on an Extrawheel trailer five years ago. ‘Who needs celebrity bike tourers anyway?’

It’s not often that I find myself on the receiving end of an angry rant. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve dealt a fair few of these in my younger and more obnoxious days, so it’s probably a case of “what goes around comes around”, as my mum would say.

But I was a bit stuck for a response, so I emailed Rob. I didn’t know him, and I didn’t know why he was angry. I asked if he was open to dialogue. Evidently not, as the rhetoric continued:

‘Why should professional tourists expect to pay 50% of RRP while average cycling numpties pay anywhere between 70 and 100% of RRP? … No, I don’t buy the whole ‘sponsored professional adventurer’ model of travelling. It is indeed aggravating.’

At that point, I realised that Rob probably wasn’t interested in listening. He seemed content to read a single article from my advice section, assume from it that I represented his personal pet peeve (“self promoting adventurers” as he put it), lambast me in public on my own blog, and disappear.

(For the record: I’m not bankrolled by anyone. I don’t wear branded clothing. I fund all my journeys from my own pocket, and do these journeys simply because I want to. But, even though I could buy it all myself, I’ve asked a couple of manufacturers to supply a few specific items of equipment, because I value a certain kind of small-scale product sponsorship, for reasons explained in the original article.)

So I replied one last time, saying that he was most welcome to his own opinion, and that I’d be leaving it at that. I didn’t expect a response, and I didn’t get one.

The exchange was quite hurtful in the end, because I constantly try to help and encourage people to get started on their own journeys. I write dozens of emails each month to people requesting bike touring advice, and publish everything I know on the topic, here, for free. Yet Rob had concluded that I deserved to be told that my very existence was a source of aggravation and that I was making cycle touring inaccessible.

Why bother following up with a blog post? After all, it’s just one guy with a bone to pick. I’m probably being over-sensitive and should develop a thicker skin if I’m going to put my thoughts and opinions up for public scrutiny.

Well, Rob made points that I’ve long been making, though he didn’t read around enough to realise it. The most important of these is that ‘bike touring is accessible to everybody, even with very limited means’. This seems like a good opportunity to reiterate that point.

My favourite example is the story of Maria. (I hope she won’t mind me recounting it here.) When I met Maria, she was slightly disillusioned with the backpacking trail she’d been following around Europe. ‘Well, why not give bike touring a go?’ I suggested.

Maybe it was the beer, or the lateness of the hour in that rooftop bar in Budapest, but Maria decided to take my words at face value. Twenty-four hours later, she’d bought an old single-speed shopping bike for fifteen Euros from a local scrapyard, strapped her cheap backpack to the rear rack, Gaffa-taped a bottle of water to the frame, cashed in her Interrail ticket, and was ready to go.

Over the next few weeks, Maria rode that bike across the Hungarian Great Plains, off-road through the Faragas Mountains of Romania, along the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria, and to Istanbul at the far end of Europe in time for the last of the summer sun. (Not just that, but she got there first.)

Hers was of the most spontaneous and raw kind of adventure; one that would bear none of the typical excuses: ‘I’m not ready’ – ‘I’m not fit enough’ – ‘I can’t afford it’ – ‘I don’t have a bike’. 

Her confidence and lack of fear were inspiring, as was the proof of the pudding: ‘I did it anyway!’

Adventures like Maria’s don’t get written about much. But the truth is that most bicycle travellers out on the road are not writing a blog, and don’t have all the latest gizmos. 

You will never hear of much of this kind of spontaneity by browsing the web, because the web is increasingly about selling you shit you don’t need to the exclusion of all else. Product reviews, planning how-tos, preparation guides – these are strictly optional elements of a bicycle adventure.

Rob, I’m guessing, won’t read this post. He’d decided I’m a corporate frontman; a “professional sponsored adventurer”, out to make cycle-touring seem inaccessible. So he probably won’t come back.

But if he does, I hope this post gives him a better idea of where I actually stand.

Still feel that the adventure is inaccessible? I followed this post with an experiment in getting all the gear I needed for a bike tour for £25.17 and then cycling the length of England with no money whatsoever.

Comments (skip to respond)

66 responses to “Adventure Does Not Require Any Fancy Gear. (Just Ask Rob & Maria)”

  1. “Still feel that the adventure is inaccessible? What do you need that you don’t already have, or can’t easily beg, borrow or steal in the next 24 hours?”

    A tent, a sleeping bag or air matress, cooking implements (though for what I have planned it won’t be much of an issue). Basically, I have my bike, it’s tools, water bottles, waterbag backpack, and a knife.


    Great blog, I just found it and promptly subscribed via my RSS reader.

  2. Bikewalk avatar

    Maria is doing what she wants. Tom is doing what he wants. I don’t know why Rob is so mad about it.

    You have a great blog. You provide a ton of bike touring information. You write well, and seem to think well. And it is all here, free. 

    I hope you make money doing this. I hope you have sponsors and free or discounted gear, if not an actual paycheck or stock options in the gear you talk about.

    Seems faulty to think someone has to be poor to be virtuous. Are you a “sell out”? I doubt it, but only you know. Are you giving us your honest information, or are you a con man trying to make us buy stuff you are getting paid to sell?

    Does the difference even matter? If I go to the local bike shop, they are trying to sell stuff. But the gal working there can still have great information and honest opinions to share about the bikes and gear. She is actually getting paid to sell me stuff. I don’t hold that against her.

    If I don’t fault the bike shop gal, why would I fault you? How much did Rob pay to read your article? And even if he did pay, would that change what you had written in the first place?

    All come down to whether you and bike shop Sally are giving me good information (and in her case, also selling me good products). Judge people by the content of their character and the information they provide, not by the color of their skin or how much they get paid to talk.

  3. John & Jan avatar
    John & Jan

    Hi Tom. My wife Jan and I want to thank you for providing so much useful info and valuable experience for us to access. We recently viewed a video of 2 guys doing the NC500 in 3 days. Inspirational. Throughout Corona virus lockdown we’ve cycled 30–40 miles every Sunday (We’re building our own house.….…. doing it ourselves, so are busy the other 6 days)
    I’m 72. Jan is 77. I bought my Falcon competitor 2nd hand in the 1970’s I think for £100, and have always enjoyed cycling. We’ve always taken our bikes when we holiday.
    Jan now has a new bike since she had a near fatal accident on her brothers cheapo bike just down the road from our city home. The rough surface, potholes and plastic pedals somehow destabilised her and, according to witnesses her pedal hit the tarmac and flung her 40ft+ over the handle bars. Her helmet flew off and she rolled over and over, leaving her in the gutter bleeding from a brain injury, multiple bruising and other injuries.…… her right arm was almost off and her nose fractured. No other vehicle was involved. That was 6 years ago. Her brain injury gave her regular periods of fatigue till we discovered that aerobic exercise helped. Physically she is fine.
    Reading of your experiences and other YouTube stuff has inspired us to get some basic gear and try a couple, maybe a few days bike packing / touring.
    Despite having a small camper van (Romahome), a Berlingo car (and 2 classic 50’s 2CV’s) we hope to get onto our bikes as soon as the house has had it’s final inspection; hopefully this autumn. We’ll let you know how we get on.
    John & Jan

  4. Lovely post, thank you

  5. Debbie Baskett avatar
    Debbie Baskett

    Well said! Some years ago (in my early 20s), looking for an adventure I strapped a couple of rucksacks to a tiny pony I’d long outgrown (we both needed the exercise) and set off to walk along the South Downs Way and through Hampshire. Everything I had was what I already had, no special gear or clothing, although the pack saddle was made by my mum’s mate’s husband from bits of timber in his shed. Both the pony and I had a blast. I’m now in my fifties and having loved biking and camping since the early 60s I intend to take up cycle touring the UK well into old age. My folding bike, my cobbled together camping kit and I are about to get a lot closer. Love your website!

  6. Maria, thank you. The way you did it, is the most simple way. I think that is what most of us need, to keep it simple.

  7. James Cheseldine avatar
    James Cheseldine

    I’m packing for a month tour in Portugal tomorrow, my first tour of over 5 days. I have been feeling pretty worried until I just read this and it made me cry-such a beautiful and inspiring tale. I love that you linked it from your kit list.

  8. Churyl avatar

    Tom, This is a note of thanks from a marginal bicycle commuter who has just been looking around your website (I am looking at getting an internal gear hub bike — lots of big hills here). I know nothing about bikes except that I love being on them. It’s very difficult for me, when faced with a number of purchase options, to evaluate them. I don’t ride enough, know bike people, or want to dig into the technical, functional, maintenance issues and whatnot. So, I check around the internet to see what other people who do know and care about this stuff say. I think about whether the things that concern them apply to my situation, and then go to the shops with the options narrowed down. I recognize that the web pages I surf around (for free!) take a crazy amount of time, care and energy to put together and maintain. This work is very obviously a labour of love. The resulting web pages are a gift from people like you to people like me. So, thank-you. Very much.

  9. Hi Tom, great stuff you put out on your blog. I have found some useful, inspirational information and it is fun to read. Keep up the good work! Greetings from the Netherlands.

  10. Josepth Gastaldi avatar
    Josepth Gastaldi

    Thanks for sharing that story. I am visiting my family in Colombia and planning, for the first time ever, to get a bicycle and explore parts of this country that I left more than 20 years ago.

    This is inspirational and hit me in the right spot. Although I enjoy all the research and planning (we consultants can’t help it) this has given me the green light to just go.

    If you ever think of coming to South America, please let me know I’d love to help you out.

    Good travels!

    1. Hope you have a fantastic experience – I’d love to visit Columbia some day!

  11. Nice article. Here in Australia my state-wide bike organisation’s magazine is focused on people with fancy bikes and expensive gear, rather than great stories like Maria’s and your commentators. I have come to think that this is because this brings in advertising money. Those of us who get around on solid old clunkers don’t spend much, even if like me you ride every day.

  12. Chris Greenwood avatar
    Chris Greenwood

    Inspiring stuff, we had never done any cycle touring until last summer, and we looked at the Eurovelo site and eventually decided on following the Rhine Route, as it would be fairly flat. We combined it with trains and ferries and covered 666 miles in 3 weeks, every night bar one in the tent (we are both in our late 50’s). Now we are planning to cycle across Denmark this summer.

  13. Looking at the varied EuroVelo routes is enough to inspire anyone to get out there really…in doing so i also wanted to find out others experiences of cycling along these. Here’s one young man that really did it without making the excuses of lack of equipment and money:-
    The BushBiker-England to Switzerland, distance 632 miles, cost £26, Time 8 days…and on a Raleigh without panniers. 🙂

  14. That’s the beauty of cycle touring, it is accessible for anybody if they really want to experience it. Maria’s got more balls than most men. 🙂

    1. Hillary, there is more than a grain of truth in what you say. It makes you wonder, what is there to worry about regarding cyle touring long-term. When you are dead you are gone for good, and it is too late.

      1. True, that’s one way to look at it Michael. 🙂

  15. Hi Tom,

    I like the story about Maria but that’s not a single-speed in the photo’s. Did she change it later?

    1. There were several bikes involved at various times… I get mixed up now, given it was 6 years ago… but the point is that all of them were blagged or bought for next to nothing.

  16. Hi! I just came across your site via twitter by chance. I skim read the story about Maria — I like it, because it mirrors my own adventure in 2011 when I bought a second hand bike off a friend and rode solo down the coast of Thailand (I was living in Bangkok at that time). As I set off, I had no idea whether or not I would make it — plan B was to jump on the train that runs a similar route, as I had to get to Krabi province. Day 1 was tough… I will never forget the moment I thought “I may actually be able to pull this one off” … and I did! It was the best 10 days of my life and without doubt the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done for myself. 😀

  17. Rebecca avatar

    I just stumbled across this blog and find it incredibly helpful and inspiring. I’m planning on backpacking/bicycling with my boyfriend after I graduate and your blog is giving me loads of ideas. Thank you! 🙂

  18. […] that it sounds too easy to simply grab a bike and leave (even though it really is that easy — just ask Maria). Because of that, I’m beginning work on a new storytelling […]

  19. » The Pros And Cons Of Travelling By Bicycle Apply for Vietnam Visa in Taiwan

    […] Extensive Planning Required: It’s not as easy as throwing some garments and a toothbrush into a backpack. For a prolonged tenure bicycle tour, covering a basement of what we need for we as good as your wheels can be an strenuous task. We had lists and databases entrance out of a ears! Of march there are opposite strokes for opposite folks, we could keep it elementary Like the story of Maria. […]

  20. Just reading through your older posts Tom. Pity about the hate mail! Is this the bar you were at: ? I was there in 2009, pretty cool spot 🙂

    1. That looks extremely familiar! 🙂

      1. Jim Osage avatar

        There is a fact of life that exists for everyone: You can have anything you want, you just have to be willing to give up everything else to get it. If what you want is the real thing then it’s worth going for, hardships and all. I don’t like quoting Don Juan much, but what he says is true: “Follow the path with heart”. There are countless people following adventures, unheralded, unfunded, and a lot of times hungry, (Well, long distance cyclists are always hungry) and they find a way. It is up to each individual to do whatever they can to further their dream.
        Great stuff on your site. Great site.

  21. Good work Tom, enjoy reading your posts even with trolls.

    1. Cheers Matt. They spice things up a little at least!

  22. I met a German fellow once, at the end of the Mawson Trail in South Australia who was heading up the opposite way to me along the trail and up through the Simpson Desert, about 1900km of not a lot. He was maybe 60 years old, quietly friendly and built like a whippet. I have worked in bike stores as a mechanic/manager for the last few years and so, am a well equipped cycle tourer and also know the Australian environment well, and was amazed that this fellows second hand “tourney” equipped Shogun had already made it the 350 km from Adelaide to the bottom of the trail. He had with him for the 2000km journey, an old canvas tent, a few days food, about 2L of water and of course a multi-tool. He assured me that he had done this kind of thing many times and that you did indeed not need all the fancy equipment. An email received from him a month later confirmed that despite a few minor mishaps he had made it through the desert to Mt Isa. Something I probably would have spent a month planning and more on dehydrated food and batteries for my steripen than he did on his entire bike. It has inspired me to similarly lowly equipped (although not quite as hardcore) journeys over the last year living abroad, taking my three speed 2003 giant many thousands of kms around europe. Dont feel bad about your heckler, everybody has a bad day. 🙂

    1. That’s an awesome story — thank you for sharing it! Do you mind if I quote this later?

  23. Spontaneity. At the beginning of October 2012 I was given some news that changed my life, in that I’ve finally decided to ‘live it’. I set off on a world cycling tour on the 12th November. Friends say I’m crazy, but I at last feel free. I’ve no doubt there is much to learn, but thanks to people like Tom and Maria who inspire adventure I have already learned much. And anyway, planning takes all the fun out of it!

  24. The “professionals” with sponsored gear and such can also be a massive inspiration for the less planned trips. Not that you two are anywhere near the same on support and gear but I was hugely inspired by you and Ewan McGregor. You ended up watching a hockey game at my house in Victoria just when I was going back and forth on ideas for a trip. Long Way Round and Down have been a gigantic help as well. While they were riding expensive BMW adventures (sponsored as well) their storied inspired me to take a 125 cc commuter with street tires 3000 kms around Bolivia on every type of road and weather conditions. From 500 km on sand to 5000 m above sea level. Keep it up, the stories from the professionals are what gets people into these activities.


    1. Awesome story. Thanks again for your hospitality in Victoria, and safe travels!

  25. Oh no, I missed the party!
    Good on Maria. I’m all for stories like that (though you really don’t have to broadcast that you were her inspiration…)

    But Tom, if you were trying to avoid a ‘Rob-bashing session’, you probably would have handled this differently, wouldn’t you?

    I’m amused by the wide range of tags you’ve given me: ‘wound-up sounding man’, ‘probably not interested in listening’, even defender of the ‘retail paradigm’! That’s a ripper.

    First things first: a personal opinion is just that. No more, no less. It doesn’t even necessarily apply to you. I’m not obliged to read through your entire blog to ascertain that.

    Secondly: it’s not about me. (Or you in particular.) 

    But I’ve worked on this, for my own spiritual relief. I feel it’s fair that I expand a little.
    Sure, I had a go at you, and you responded a little bitchily, but credit to you for furthering the discussion.

    The key ideas I would like to convey are:

    Anybody can go bike touring, especially anybody from the First World.
    Nobody needs sponsorship for bike touring.
    Old gear still works.
    Old gear never stopped anybody from going bike touring.
    Knowing how to fix and maintain old gear, and making it last for ever, is much more interesting then owning ‘the ultimate’ thingo.
    Gear freaks are boring.
    Because gear is not a limiting factor, the argument that ‘I like to be involved in gear development’ is a furphy. We know it works.

    If you want to demonstrate that anybody can go bike touring, you should start by not seeking sponsorship. (Call me a purist!)

    I’m glad you agree, though, that you could do trips without sponsorship.

    Allow me to contrast:
    ‘Old school’, DIY bike touring — is simply an extension of a bike riding lifestyle. Maybe you rode a bike to school, were involved with the local bike club, learnt bike handling skills, basic maintenance, and at some point tried out a tour or two, with whatever gear was to hand. Maybe you didn’t have access to a car, and limited funds, and went on holiday with your bike. You learnt the finer points of touring over time. On the road you wrote a diary, letters to friends, and maybe lots of pics, for a slide show when you got home. Then you went back to whatever else you did, for a while.

    The ‘epic, transcendental, sponsored adventurer’ model, on the other hand, involves looking for sponsors who will support a massively ambitious trip, regardless of minimal prior experience. Initial adventures, of course, have plenty of tears, the type eagerly lapped up by reality TV. It’s derived from the epic mountaineering expedition model, except experience is optional. Charity involvement, or a cause is semi-compulsory. Identifying with the sponsoring ‘adventurer’ brands (‘proud to be supported by…’) is also common.
    On returning, the range of options include a well developed website, presentations, corporate speaking or ‘motivational’ engagements, more sponsorship, and more efforts to become a professional tourist (sorry, ‘adventurer’) involving lots of self promotion. Subsequent trips then have to be even more ambitious and involve maximal hardship, e.g. riding naked across Siberia (backwards) in mid winter during a civil war in record time, or maybe naked through Iran.

    I personally find the second model boring, obsolete, and annoying (because it is everywhere, despite being obsolete).

    In no particular order:
    — Everything has already been done before, by intrepid souls with much heavier, older gear, on much worse roads, under much more difficult circumstances. Many of them wrote compellingly.
    — Anyone can do it. We don’t need sponsored, professional tourists doing it.
    — Gear freaks are boring.
    — Sponsored professional adventurers are (surprisingly?) often boring writers.

    By the way, this is where the epic mountaineering model has led :

    May I make one other point?
    If Kona give you a bike for free, you don’t do a ‘review’ on it. The title should be ‘advertisement’, or ‘promotion’.
    A ‘review’ is independent and impartial. You could be lent a bike for a while, then give it back and write a ‘review’.

    As for the question of where sponsorship funds should go — another story. Into grass roots cycling?

    Regards, on me bike now,

    1. Hi Rob — thanks for dropping by again.

      I agree with some of your arguments, and disagree with others. But “a personal opinion is just that”, as you put it, so it doesn’t really matter. Nice to have your thoughts here.

      Can I send you a copy of my book when it’s finished? Then you can decide whether I’m a boring writer or not. Maybe you could write a review of it. Or more correctly an advertisement/promotion, since it’d be free 😉

      Let me know,


      P.S. Regarding your remark about Kona, I fully disclaim every review I write, from the outset, if the item was given to me for free.

    2. Hi Bob
      You are able to review an item of gear and give an informed opinion even if you have a conflict of interests. Tom has clearly stated on a number of occasions where any conflict may exist. It is then up to us, the reader to make our own judgement about the review. I think it is generous of Tom to share his experiences with us.
      Kind regards

    3. I know it’s an old post BUT THIS GUY ROB is unbelievable
      Yes people years ago did things the hard way because they were pioneers but progress matey
      Maybe next time you go on holiday you can row the hand made little cockle shell tub to where you are going
      Tom is trying to enlighten encourage and invigorate the procrastinating semi-active public into getting off their collective slightly overweight arses and having some fun where as you are just a stuck in the past type with the attitude to match i.e. I know this kit/bike is way overweight & unsuitable for what I am doing BUT I’m hard me and I don’t care how hard life is I’ll make it twice as hard next time
      Go and vent your moronic views elsewhere and leave this guy alone
      Manufacturers will continue to churn out substandard gear if they get no intelligent and relevant feedback the beancounters make sure of that
      I love older gear and am continually fixing stuff but that doesn’t mean to say I don’t appreciate lighter faster more suited gear that usually ends up cheaper in the end
      And yes I despise the way manufacturers churn out the latest model complete with biased reviews but it is simply that if you are going to get a bit of kit that you trust your life to then check it out personally DO NOT REPLY ON REVIEWS
      Try it out

  26. Your original post showed two ends of the spectrum and rather ironically I think the large corporate example demonstrates exactly why you wouldn’t want corporate sponsoring. 

    I wonder if people realize how much time and effort goes into writing blog posts. Especially the ones dishing out free info and tips.

    I think the worst comment I’ve had so far was “aren’t you the W.….er that wrote this and that on a forum long ago”, and naturally used a fake name and email so a dialogue was impossible.

    Luckily these incidences are few and far between and most people can appreciate the time and effort you put into your blog for their benefit. Keep it up 🙂


    1. Thanks for the encouragement!

  27. Hi
    I can understand the frustration that sometimes come with trying to help finance a bike tour, and it seems that you got the brunt of his anger, unnecessarily so.
    I certainly wouldn’t take it personally, and he probably thought you wouldn’t. As a recent convert to bike touring, I have learnt very quickly to have thick skin for all the put down and open mocking.
    If you get help and assistance, good on you, I wish I could and he probably wishes he could.
    I found your site and emails a great help and also may I add, a source of inspiration.
    Your site and emails have helped me decide and push on with my next tour from Malta to Norway.

    So in summary, I am glad sites like this are around and long may they continue. You might annoy hundreds of people a day, but as long as you inspire just one person, surely it is worth it. You have inspired me!!!

    1. Thank you for saying so — that does indeed make it worthwhile. All the best for your tour!

  28. Enjoyed the story of Maria, very inspirational! On Amaya William’s world biking info site – she also posted pictures of a retired Indian man who is having a great time touring his homeland on a very low tech set up.

    1. Nice — another great story of low-tech spontaneity!

  29. “Marias” are great. I got talking to an Israeli bloke about cycling the Careterra Austral and he promptly went out and bought a cheap mtb and cycled it (breaking the bike’s frame in the process) and seemed to have a whale of a time. Also met several south-american cycle tourists with dreadful bikes and panniers lashed together from old plastic containers. They’re out there doing it. No blogs. No self-promotion. Their own experience is what they care about. For me, cycling is cheap travel and equipment doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think. In some ways I think all my flashy Ortlieb, Schwalbe, Brooks, SKS, Tubus, MSR are just fashion labels. More fool me.

    1. It is indeed sad that most people fall the for more expensive end of the scale rather than just getting on with it (myself included). speak to anyone that was cycling 20 years ago and then a “lightweight” tent was 8kg, and they got by just fine too.

      I guess we’re all victims of good marketing and keeping up with the Jones’s 🙂

      1. I think we’re also culturally conditioned to want to gather as much information as possible before making a decision, in order to be assured of the competitive edge and to make sure we don’t lose face. So we seek discussions about ‘the best tent’ and ‘the best bike’, and we naturally end up at the pricier end of things, because that’s where any rational measure of quality leads. We often forget from the very outset that — in reality — any tent or bike would still do the job.

        1. Yup that’s about the size of it.

    2. As with so many things, there’s more than one way to go about bike touring. None intrinsically better or worse than the other. The experience is what counts!

  30. Dan Goodwin avatar
    Dan Goodwin

    Interesting response from that guy, I dont think you should worry though Tom and its likley you may meet that response again.
    For anyone who is into an adventurous sport such as this, climbing and mountaineering, skiing etc and decides to make it ‘professional’ will soon realize that unless you are independently wealthy you will have to go for sponsership. That means sticking your head above the parapet and making some noise about your en devours which annoys some people. Some people resent that and its usually those who wish it was them the most ! Rarely does sponsership mean an actual wage in these sports instead its discounted or free kit, maybe some funding towards a trip and in return make their kit look good on the web and in the public domain. Without that then it would be simply to expensive for someone to do, unless the sport is with a ball then there is little support out there to those who are trying to make a living from it !

  31. “We are living in a material world and I am a material girl. Or boy.” — Robbie Hart, from the film The Wedding Singer.

    I am not too proud to confess I do spend time pouring over the internet, looking at kit, reviews of kit, prices of kit and making never ending lists of wants/wishes etc. I’d also happily admit that it is a frivolous waste of time, erm, other than finding your blog…

    So many people I’ve hiked, biked and done various other activities with who I’m inspired by don’t have all the newfangled toys, clothes or other bits and bobs. They have one thing in common which you cannot buy, and I think it is the only thing you need, rather than want. The sense of adventure itself.

  32. I think you’ve noted the balancing act and you pull it off very well. I have, however, seen at least one adventure start off with a huge fund-raising effort for a laundry list of expensive gear that seems far above what would be realistically necessary. This leaves me feeling that either they’re looking for someone to sponsor a cool vacation or they think their adventure is a little more epic than it really is. Neither is particularly attractive, but if it works for them I don’t know that I should have any reason to complain.

    1. That sounds very much like my first trip five years ago, the thought of which still makes me cringe! (I don’t regret it, because it allowed me to learn the hard way. But I wouldn’t do it again.)

  33. Agree with everything said here, to the max. I am also what I guess some people would call a “sponsored professional adventurer” although I don’t see it that way. A few years a go I started writing magazine articles to go with a blog, and along the way I’ve jagged a bit of support here and there. The way I see it is companies choose to add value to my travels through gear / whatever, and I can add value to their product as well through feedback, incidental inclusion in articles, photos they can use — whatever it is. I still end up donig exactly what I would have done anyhow, it’s not like I’m a corporate sellout riding around in a Hello Kitty outfit handing out Beiber CDs to everyone I see… It’s a two way street and I like to think that maybe the companies actually do believe in what they do, and if them supporting me to write about stuff encourages one other person to get on a bike and give it a go, then great — mission accomplished.

    After all, it’s not about the gear, it’s about the vibe — something you have and communicate perfectly Tom. And props to Maria — what a superb adventure!

    1. “It’s a two way street” — my thoughts exactly. And it’s not a case of one-size-fits-all.

  34. Who needs Rob. We want more of Maria!

    1. You’ll be able to meet her in the book, once I’ve dotted the last ‘i’…!

  35. Ditto Andy and Anthony’s comments: you’re clearly a force for good Tom. And definitely inspiring (which is why I follow your posts): I’ve always erred on the side of relatively fancy equipment when touring, but your attitude and reporting of stories like Maria’s makes me wonder why I don’t just start going further afield on my sit-up-and-beg, 25 kg Dutch city bike, whose durability and practicality puts my fancy recumbent to shame.

    Rob’s comment is also clearly completely out of proportion. We’re talking about one piece of equipment here. Out of how many you’ve used over the duration of your several tours? Who cares?!

    1. More than one, but certainly no more than a handful! I bought most of the kit I own (which isn’t much). And hopefully the disclosure statements at the start of my gear-related articles won’t go unnoticed!

      Happy to hear that you got some inspiration out of Maria’s tale — that’s really what I’d hoped for.

  36. Wow. I don’t see how you getting a discount on some bike gear hurt Rob in any way. He’s just jealous and projecting that on you with anger. Great story about Maria. Wish I’d done that before I undertook kids and a mortgage. It’s delightful that folks like you and Maria live it.

    1. I don’t know either… but I also don’t want to turn this post into a Rob-bashing session!

      Have you seen 😉

  37. Brilliant post and very well handled.
    Thank you, too, for bringing Maria’s story to my attention. Hugely inspiring! I remember reading a snippet of her story on another post of yours and it piqued my attention. Glad to have had another snippet!

    1. I’ve been revisiting this time while writing the book. I didn’t realise until later what her story really demonstrated, so I’m glad to be able to publish it now!

  38. I know this isn’t even your topic, but the notion that sponsored adventurers are not needed is completely ridiculous. Sponsored athletes/adventurers are at the forefront of their sports and continue to open doors that make the sports more accessible. 

    If we take cycling as an example, the sponsored guys have the ear of the manufacturers and have improved the gear the non-sponsored masses use on a daily basis. They’ve also pushed the price point down by acting as the companies’ R&D departments and streamlining improvements that otherwise may have taken another 10 years to arrive.

    Most sponsored “adventurers” are like sales people. They are selling you an experience. The car salesman sold you a Fiat. There is no difference, except the car salesman is only trying to line his pockets. The adventurer likely has a passion for his sport and a desire to get you to enjoy it too.…

    1. I didn’t want to engage the original argument directly, as it was based on false premises which didn’t need a rebuttal anyway. But you’ve made a great point, and indeed the only sponsorship agreements I enter into are the ones that will result in product development and lead to improved gear for those who choose to buy it (and it is a choice, after all).

      Extrawheel is a prime example — their Voyager design is largely based on several rounds of testing and feedback I gave them over the years.

Something to add?