It’s the final countdown!

Dah, dah, dah daahhh….duh, duh, duh, duh duuurrr, durrr, duh dah!

But it’s not just Europe: it’s the WORLD!

Having started these blogs December 2020, I can barely believe this is the final one before we are off around the World!  The planning and preparation has been an epic feat in itself and I think we will both be relieved ,and very proud, to get to the start line at the in Berlin.

We are definitely on the home straight now though with sponsors in place, a route double and triple checked, vaccines/visas/insurances in place, Guinness registered and set up to receive our evidence, kit obtained and checked on numerous training rides, flights booked and finally we got hold of our beautiful new tandem…

Isn’t she lovely!

We cannot thank Pete and everybody at the Tandem Experience and Shop enough and even if you don’t need a tandem their bespoke service “Bicycles By Design” does everything from E-bikes to racers.

See the video for the full run down but her main features are: a custom built frame courtesy of Co-motion Cycles,  2 interlinking couplings to allow her to be boxed for flying, a steel frame which not only provides comfort but can also be fixed pretty much anywhere in the World (hopefully it will never come to that!) and the crossover belt drive which means we save weight and will only need replacement chains for the drive chain?  The attention to detail though has been exceptional and every fitting and feature has been thought through.

Oh and of course the Brooks saddles look quite the part- they are pretty much broken in now!

Having (finally) got the bike we tried her on “expedition daily distance” long weekend to York covering over 300miles in 3 days and also trying out the new Ordos 3 tent. She rode like a dream, but we did suffer an unexpected puncture which handily highlighted that our travel pump was not quite up to scratch.  Luckily we were just down the road from a petrol station so could get a speedy inflation and have been on contact with Schwalbe to iron out any problems and are confident in their lightweight Aerothan tubes and Marathon Mondial tyres thanks to their help.

So we have the bike… now we need to pack it! It’s taken a long time to research, obtain and trial the kit we will be using but here is the obligatory kit grid:

We are weighing in at 22kg for the bike and 27kg for kit excluding day to day food …. our own weight loss is still ongoing ;p

If you didn’t get it from the video we are taking (*sponsored/part sponsored kit):

  • A tandem*
  • 2 racks: 1 tubus titanium, 1 alloy
  • 2 brooks saddles*
  • 1 Woho frame bag*
  • 1 Woho top tube bag*
  • 2 x Almighty cups*
  • 1 foam mat (cut in two)
  • Bungies and straps
  • 4 x Erros panniers*
  • 1 x Ordos tent
  • 2 x Cloudbase mats*
  • 1 long, 1 standard Pipedream sleeping bags*
  • 2 x silk liners
  • 2 x air pump inflator/dry bags
  • 2 x dry bags
  • 1 x combi hiplok
  • 2 x small hiploks
  • Washkit: Sudocream, toothbrushes x 2, toothpaste, hairbrush, beard brush, moisturiser, toothpicks, soap, shampoos, cottonbuds.
  • First aid kit:4x wound dressings, sterile swabs, triangular bandage, superglue, skin suture, 4 x wound wipes, steristrips, 2 x bandages, gloves, tape, tick hook, thermometer, bite cream, sleeping mat/tent repair.
  • Meds bag: needles/syringes, pulse oximeter, antihistamines, pain relief, anti-inflammatories, immodium, rehydration sachets, anti-malarials, water purifiers, travel sickness meds.
  • SAM splint
  • Combat tourniquet
  • Nasopharyngeal tube
  • Menstrual cup (L)
  • Ibuprofen gel
  • Space blanket
  • Sunblock
  • Smidge
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Prebiotics
  • Electrolytes
  • Emergency rations (dehydrated 2 main meals, 2 breakfasts)
  • 2 tupperwares
  • Food bags
  • 2 x sporks
  • 2 x mugs/cups
  • Gas canister
  • Kraku stove*
  • Water purifier
  • Kettle
  • Pot
  • Pot handle
  • 1/3 of a sponge
  • 2 x SteLa tandem caps
  • 1 x thick hat (S)
  • 1x buff (L)
  • 2 x flipflops
  • 2 x leggings/PJs
  • 1 x vest (S)
  • 1 x swimwear (L)
  • 1 x headscarf (L)
  • 1 x causal shorts (S)
  • 1 x pants (S)
  • 1,2 x socks (L,S)
  • 1 x sealskin socks (S)
  • 2 x Huub toe covers*
  • 2 x Huub leg warmers*
  • 2 x Huub bib shorts* (S)
  • 2 x Alpkit shorts (L)
  • 2 x sports bra (S)
  • 2 x Huub baselayers
  • 2 x Huub long sleeve Thunderbirds jerseys
  • 4 x Huub short sleeve Thunderbirds jerseys
  • 1 x Huub gillet (S)
  • 1 x Huub mitts (L)
  • 1 x Mitts (S)
  • 2 x thin gloves
  • 1 x thicker gloves (S)
  • 2 x canvas clothes bags
  • 2 x Exustar windproofs*
  • 2 x Waterproofs
  • 2 x HiVis gilets
  • 2 x Down jackets
  • 1 x pair down booties (S)
  • 1 x Sports towel
  • 2 x Exustar SPD sandals*
  • 2 x Exustar helmets*
  • 2 x Exustar transition sunglasses*
  • 1 x Solar panel
  • 1 x USB multiplug
  • 1 x powerbank
  • Charging leads
  • Go pro and go pro stick/stand/phone mount
  • Spare Go Pro battery
  • Headphones
  • 2 x Memory cards
  • Garmin GPS
  • 4 x rechargable AA batteries
  • 2 x AA batteries
  • 1 x spot tracker
  • 1 x kobo reader
  • Pen/sharpie
  • Laminated sheet A4
  • Hairbands, braid cotton
  • 2 x Facemasks 
  • Hand disinfectant
  • Diary and logbook
  • Card reader
  • Wallet + dollars
  • 2 x debit cards, 1 x credit card
  • Head torch
  • Musette sack
  • Coros GPS watch
  • Paperwork (passport copies, insurance docs, visas, magic letters, control sheets)
  • 2 x Passports
  • 2 x EHIC/GHIC
  • Tissues
  • 2 x Ear plugs/eye masks
  • Shoe covers
  • Light
  • Cable ties (lots)
  • Spare Schwalbe Mondial tyre*
  • Turbo morph mini floor pump
  • 20 x alcohol wipes and sandpaper patches
  • 2 x spare chains
  • Flat duct tape
  • Rubber gloves
  • 1 bottle rack container
  • 2 x chain lube
  • 2 x long gear cable
  • Electrical tape
  • Mini penknife
  • Disc pad spacing tool
  • Presta-schreader valve adapter
  • 4 x bottom bracket bearings
  • Bird cassette hypercracker
  • Ultralight custom chain whip
  • Spoke key
  • 11 speed power chain link
  • 2 x spare pulley wheels
  • 1 x spare carbon crossover belt
  • Belt lube
  • Multitool
  • Reduced brooks tension spanner
  • Chainset peg spanner
  • Chain extractor
  • Chain wear indicator
  • 3 x tyre levers
  • Small adjustable wench
  • Alan keys 2,3,4,5,6,8mm
  • S&S coupling tightening wrench
  • 25 x glueless patches
  • 6 x spare brake pads
  • 4 x Schwalbe aerothan inner tubes*
  • 2 x mobile phones
  • 1 x captain
  • 1 x stoker

So that looks like we’re all set! (Do let us know if we’ve forgotten anything…)

We have also rounded up our podcast “Stoked to be here” and with two tremendous episodes from female and male World circumnavigation by bicycle record holders Jenny Graham and Mark Beaumont we felt the only way to finish everything off was to turn the tables and get interviewed ourselves.  So if you haven’t already, listen in to see who we would have as our dream tandem partner…

Stoked to be here (podbean.com)

We also asked for questions on our social media and at our leaving do and the answers are as follows:

How many bags? Frame or pannier?

We have 4 Erro panniers, 1 Woho frame bag, 1 Woho top tube bag and 2 Almighty cups (nosebags) all very kindly from Cycle Touring Life

Where will you be when Cropredy Folk Festival is on?

We will likely have just entered Malaysia and heading down to Singapore.  If you want to see our route (although please don’t use this for riding, it’s not quite the final one) or track us check our the Where is SteLa? tab above.

Do you have to give the bike back at the end?

No way! Stela is ours!! Co-motion and Huub have assisted with the custom build and parts expenditure but we have covered the majority of what she costs. Similarly as much as we are really grateful to have so much support in terms of kits, we are covering the day to day expenses, flights, insurance etc ourselves so it is a big outlay for a once in a lifetime opportunity.

What is happening to Geoffrey and Doxy?

Geoffrey is going on an extended holiday to Aunty Adele where he spends all his time while we are off riding bicycles, being pampered, having nice gentle walks and helping her win at cards! We’re pretty sure he won’t want to come home! Doxy will remain in residence in the Cat Castle being cared for by a range of minions who are staying/ visiting the house and will undoubtedly attend to her every need while she oversees the running of the household whilst we are away. She is still in remarkable good health so we are delighted she’ll have the Summer sunbathing on the decking!

How far will you travel everyday? Do you have a place to stay every night?

Our daily average (taking into account days for flights and ferries) is 108 miles but this will vary dependant on terrain, weather and other circumstances. Some “legs” of the trip we anticipate covering a bit more mileage and some we have allowed more time but we hope to stay on track by aiming for 100-110 miles a day. We do not have specific places to stop each day but instead have control sheets of places to stop and stay, we will be using a mixture of hotels, warm showers hosts and camping.

We have a strategy for riding everyday where we will ride for 3 hours or 35 miles, whichever comes first, have a break and then repeat. This worked well on our “Around Wales in 8 days” tour so we hope to repeat!

What are you doing for food?

Eating it. A lot.

We will be picking up food along route and are carrying a small stove to russle up a pot of noodles or a morning brew for morale. In some countries we should be well supplied along the way so will ditch the gas canister to save weight and live off the land. We are carrying dehydrated rations of 2 main meals and 2 breakfasts just in case. You will (hopefully) be able to see how we are fuelling ourselves on SteLa_fuel on Instagram!

How can we follow you?

Please don’t actually follow us… it’s a long way and you may violate the Guinness rules….Our tracking map from Follow my Challenge is now online so check out the “Where is SteLa?” tab above.

Once live the “Dot” will be updated every 15 minutes so give us a shout out in the comments if you will be “dot-watching”.  Some areas e.g. the Nullabor Desert in Australia may have poor signal so don’t panic if we appear to stop, we’ll keep you updated on social media if there’s any problems.

Laura also hopes to continue the blog weekly, post on social media daily/internet permitting and take you all (virtually) along for the ride.

How do we donate to your charities?

Here!

Where do you start from? When do you start? When do you leave the UK?

We get the overnight ferry to Holland 2nd-3rd June to arrive in Berlin on Friday evening.  We opted not to fly as it would be pretty disappointing if the bike got damaged before we start.  We start pedalling from the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin at 7am (local time, 6am UK time!) Sunday 5th June.

You should be able to login to watch our “Grand Depart” live from Facebook and Instagram.

Why didn’t you start from home?

Starting on the continent meant we could avoid another ferry crossing and also means we will potentially spend 6 months cycling roads we have never ridden before! Jenny Graham chose the Brandenberg Gate as her start point and we think she’s pretty cool and also Stevie’s brother lives near Berlin.

Can’t wait to get there now!

How do you expect to feel at the finish?

Tired.

Actually I (Laura) have only just been able to imagine getting to the start line it’s been such an immense task! From there we will be focusing on taking it a day at a time a breaking the ride down into manageable chunks (no one can imagine cycling 18,000miles). We have no idea how we will get home from Berlin at the end yet!

Where are you looking forward to most?

We are both just really excited about seeing the World at the speed of a bicycle!

5 thoughts on “It’s the final countdown!

  1. Can’t wait to follow your progress on social media. Please tag in Tandem Club if you can! Will happily share your posts. Good luck 👍

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