Week 11 Melintang to Cranbrook

Day 71

Was spent checking our wounds and the bike and reassessing the situation. We of course knew an accident was always a risk but it was a good to time to reassess our motivations to make sure we were both happy to continue. We knew we were going to get back on a bicycle again at some point… so it only seemed to make sense to do it sooner rather than later…

Day 72

And we were back on the road!

Thanks to Stevie’s skill making sure the tandem is ok and mounting our fabulous Woho bike adventures courtesy of Cycle Touring Life as front panniers (we didn’t bring the fixings) we could still take all our gear!

We took it steady today and it was a less scenic ride giving Kuala Lumpur a wide berth.  Some morale boosting haribo and our sponsors have saved the day by getting us some new prototype panniers to Singapore!!! What legends!

We had so many offers of help and are so so grateful. The messages of support really spurred us on.

Laura was busy doing admin from the backseat and we’re just about getting sorted!

The most painful thing now wass the cost of changing the flights…
But the good news was, it looks like we might be going business class.

Day 73

A steady start through some busy traffic on the outskirts Kuala Lumpur.  Then getting past the airport it thinned out and the roads got a lot more peaceful.  Acres and acres of palm oil plantations lined the road, dark and empty underneath the dense fronds and where they had been cleared there were large swathes of empty land in contrast with the busy jungle in other parts of the country.

We were tantalisingly near the coast again but didn’t see it until Malacca City where horrendously tempting hotels, restaurants and beach resorts flew past us… it was too early to stop yet!

We caught the rush hour traffic on the way out which was a bit stressful but found a peaceful hotel inland and a nice cafe for dinner.

Day 74

And it’s been a hot one!
Riding parallel to the coast most of the day but seeing nothing of it it was crosswinds against and we sweltered against the hot breeze.
Through small towns most of the day the scenery wasn’t as pretty but we cracked on determined to make good time. A couple of garage stops and by the time we thought about stopping for lunch it seemed too late…so onwards we pushed to get out of the heat.

Our destination for the night though was Pontain and we were rewarded with not only views of the sea but a Seaview hotel for our last night in Malaysia.

Having snacked our way through the Malaysian equivalent of a mixed grill went down a treat.

Now onwards to Singapore!

Day 75

After a serene rooftop breakfast with a sea view it was back on the roads…which were only getting busier towards Singapore. Some weather was looming but we managed to miss the most of it and Singapore was visible across the water.

The flyovers and unders, slips on and off were massively confusing as we got closer and we desperately looked for a “Singapore this way” sign.  Somehow we managed to find our way into the motorcycle queue to get through immigration and over the bridge… not ideal given what happened last week!! They scooted around us, undercutting and overtaking so we were almost glad to get in the queue.

Making it through relatively quickly we were up and over the bridge and into what seemed like a dreamland…it was so quiet!! The roads were quiet and peaceful and after a quick break for a cold drink we were soon at our hotel.  With just an hour to spare we have just enough time for a craft beer and pizza to celebrate our successes so far – it all felt.very Westernised and a wonderful respite from our adventures in Asia.  We are missing a few home comforts!

We met a friend of friend Julio and his lovely wife at the hotel and they had brought us everything we needed to box the tandem up and we were delighted! They also had a host of parcels for us and it felt like Christmas come early: new bike lights, new bib shorts, electrolytes, beard oil, biltong, spare chains and cassette, new tyres and our wonderful replacement panniers -prototypes, not even in the shops yet!!

Exhausted from a must day we finished up about 11pm before the alarm going off at 4:45am

Day 76

And early start and a bit of a diversion getting to the airport (the route Laura planned was fenced off!) The stress began early…
Thankfully there was only a short wait for the boxes following us in a taxi and we were good to box up.  There was a repacking area at Singapore which was perfect but it was a big job this morning as the tyres needed changing too and the bike cleaning to be allowed into Australia.

Three hours later we finally had two neatly packed boxes and we’re ready to check in.  Our hopes for business class were dashed but we did managed to get some more leg room to help with the flight. Half an hour for a quick preflight drink from a local brewery and we were boarding.
Not the best flight we’ve had but we were thankful for no connections this time. Next we had to get bicycle and biltong through customs and after making sure we’d ticked the right boxes and declared everything we were finally entering Australia!!

Country number 14!!
Continent number 3!!
Hemisphere number 2!!

Now to undo all our hard work of the morning by unboxing and also the cassette and chain needed changing. We repacked our existing panniers and brand new Woho panniers and at about 9pm we were on the road.  A fanastic bicycle friendly route provided for us and a short 9mile ride to our hosts who are fellow tandemist.
Rob and his wife were so welcoming and are overwhelmed by their kindness and generously: a home cooked lasagne was heaven after so much Asian food and new shoes for Stevie from were another treat.

Finally we got to bed ready to roll out early in the morning and finally see Australia!

Day 77

We woke up to a blissfully crisp cool morning and after our wonderful hosts had fed us as much as they could fir breakfast and sent us with a second breakfast and packet lunch we were delighted to share the first few miles with them.

We have been astounded by their generosity and hospitality and they guided us out through suburban Perth along serene bike paths along the railway line on their own tandem. 

Eventually they had to turn back (as not many people are a daft as we are to ride >100miles a day) but we were well set up for the day.

A brief loo and tandem tweaking stop before we got into the countryside and excitement mounted as we got our first glimpses of Australian fauna and flora.  None of the trees seemed familiar and the undergrowth was strange, even after our time in Asia.  Weird covids cawed from the branches and parrots swarked and cried occasionally. The race was on for the first to spot a (live) kangaroo and there was a pint of beer in it for the victor!

The road was rolling and with cross-headwinds made for a stiff ride.  There was nothing but forest for miles and we had lunch on a picnic bench just off the road.  Pushing on after that we soaked up the scenery until suddenly Stevie cried “kangaroos!” 

After a few false alarms from Laura for sheep, alpacas and rocks, this turned out to be true and at least three were skipping through the forest, rapidly disappearing into the undergrowth. 

We were pretty excited to have seen kangaroos on our first day and it made up for the first garage we’d seen since Perth being closed.  Luckily there was a roadhouse 5miles on and we pulled in for cups of tea (trying not to wince at the price) and affer a brief chat with a couple from New Zealand (we’re reintegrating slowly!)we pushed on for the last 30 miles.

The forest gave way to field of lurid yellow rapeseed and sheep with lambs at foot reminding us that it is Spring here. We rode until dusk with bright green and turquoise parrots fleeting from the trees and the temperature plummeting to what we were sure were subzero figures.  We’d not felt this cold since Europe but we held on to find a hotel on the second attempt and a pub dinner!


Mileage 467.33

Total mileage 7111.06

Pizza: 5

Punctures: 0

Kangaroo sightings: 1

Week 10 Bang Saphan to Melintang

Day 65

After the excitement of yesterday it was a bit of a late start and no time to enjoy the beach… such are the trials of breaking a record a day at a time…

A bit more seaside riding then we turned inland to plantations of palm oil trees, and rubber trees with slashes in their bark and cups collecting the sap.  Rejoining the main road it got a bit relentless, more traffic and not main enough to have regular 7elevens, but one did crop up eventually.  Rejoining the highway we were able to get our heads down for the remaining miles.

Stores and stores selling durian fruit lined the road.  We were aware of this super  pungent fruit and it being banned from many public places (including our hotel tonight!) but had no idea it a was popular and grown and sold in such quantities.

Moving inland further tomorrow we keep heading down South.

Day 66

Has not been the most exciting day… but we’re good with that!
It has been a “getting there” day, an “a to b” day, miles lost in millions of pedal strokes, every one feel but inevitably forgotten on the road behind.

It was hotter than the past few days and the heat added to the sense of incessancy,  the heat beating down as the tyres roll on hot asphalt. The same food at the same 7elevens, the layout identical. We know instinctively where the drop curb for the wheelchairs will be, the side of the building to lean up the bike, ice creams on the left, cold drinks at the back, microwave food on the way to the till. Loos outside, ladies of course always right…

The thick swathes if palm oil plantations add to the repetition, similar to European conifer plantations and occasionally switch to equally regular rubber trees.  Laura has almost made it to the finshers party on the @thetranscontinental podcasts, days late.

Finally the miles trickle down, a “trip around the lanes” left. A luxurious iced coffee in an air conditioned cafe instead of a luke warm cola on a bench and the usual last minute frantic directions to locate our lodgings.  No restaurant tonight though, but after being chased by a pack of puppies (#worsethingshappenatsea) more 7eleven fare of exothermic self heating noodle may have been the most exciting thing that happened to us all day!

Day 67

And (hopefully) our last full day in Thailand.
Sadly another day missing so much and riding past signs for tourists sites and attractions along the highway.  Even 7eleven fare did little to raise our spirits with another solidly tough day on the road ignoring the sign for the beach.

It turns out bib shorts last 30days and Stevie’s are on the brink of demise leading to drastic action outside a 7eleven with a pair of scissors to try and double up the pad…not convinced by the outcome plenty sudocream has been used and there are 2 new pairs in Singapore courtesy of @huubdesign !

Thailand has been amazing: beautiful and peaceful compared to busy India and the people are just wonderful, so keen to help despite the language barrier and Thai smiles have followed us down the country.  The food has been hit and miss due to our own ignorance but when it is good it is amazing.

And that one night on the beach we will never forget, a brief respite amongst a tough stint in our challenge.

Day 68

Relieved to still be off the main highways of Thailand we enjoyed watching processions of school children along part closed roads in the morning.  The celebration appeared to be Muslim as apposed to the prominent Buddhism we’ve seen throughout Thailand.

Taking some backroads through row upon row of rubber plantations we started to wend our way between large rocky outcrops and hill as the jungle crept in more and more.  A great finale to Thailand and we got up into the hills and reached the Malaysian border.  A very smooth crossing and then we were pretty much into the steepest climb we can remember since Europe with a number of switchbacks.  Drenched in sweat and feeling like we’d conquered a mountain much higher than 1000ft we were treated to a proper descent through the jungle before emerging onto Malaysian roads.

Some things are very similar: paddy fields and cows but the roman script gives a sense of somewhere different.  With the sun starting to dip behind the mountains we plumped for a mainstream looking hotel while we find our feet in country number 12!!

Day 69

After a good night’s sleep and a great start for our first day in Malaysia we set off on quiet roads.  The humidity created a misty atmosphere and we enjoyed a brief respite from the heat as it hung over the paddy fields.

A rather good early lunch/second breakfast and we had someone keeping a close eye on the tandem too (you’ll have to look really closely!)

The roads got busier as we neared Sungai Petani and Butterworth as Laura tried to adapt the routing on the go to keep things smooth…but to no avail! The bigger roads felt busy and frantic, smaller roads too many speed humps and some close passes from lorries and the minor roads turned out to be more minor than road! Stevie was not impressed 2 gravel sections! With missed turns and issues routing thrown in we were getting rather frazzled and unexpectedly and wonderfully we were passed cold drinks from locals on the road which certainly helped raise our spirits!

We had brief views of the misty mountains and harvested paddy fields with white storks but the roads remained busy whereever we were.  Finally taking a major road we thought we might push through the final miles before dark… but set after set of traffic lights put paid to this idea and we rolled in late to our hotel.

The race for Singapore is on and we have another long day tomorrow!

Day 70

A bit of a struggle to get started but better and less busy roads today made for a better pace.  Some gentle rolling through acres and acres of palm oil plantations but with hints of more wildlife abundant near the coast with a sign for tapers crossing (not pictured) and monkeys sat on the fences and rusting the palm fronds as we passed.  There is a mangrove reserve nearby but we couldn’t see it for the thick palm forest.

Having made good progress we treated ourselves to lunch at a roadside cafe and had a wonderfully warm welcome and plates if smoked slow cooked beef in a coconut sauce, beautiful vegetables and ric .  We couldn’t quite believe it when they wouldn’t let us pay for the meal despite our insistences and it was such a wonderful gesture.

Feeling well fuelled we made good progress through the afternoon and pushed onwards hoping to be well-versed 120miles before we finished for the day.  Having just pulled over for a last roadside stop we were on a fairly main but not too busy main road…


There was an impact from behind and yellow panniers went skidding down the road as we had thankfully soft landing in the ditch.  The moped that hit us skidded to a stop down the road.  Laura was rather winded and has a bad scuff on her elbow and Stevie a sore hand (and both bruised bums!) but we were lucky to be pretty much otherwise unscsthed and poor Stella the tandem had a bent derailieur hanger and a few other bits bent out if position but otherwise well. Our lovely erro panniers were another story though…both right side pannier ripped from their fittings.

The kids on the moped were a bit scuffed too but soon got up to ride off… but passers by stopped to help including one amazing lady who called her husband and got our panniers taken to the nearest hotel which we rolled slowly down the rod. She then got materials to clean and dress our scrapes and also bought us a massive kfc for dinner!  We checked in with the medical support we have and decided there was nothing concerning enough to need to go to hospital but knew we would need the next day off to rest, recover and replan… there was no way we were getting to Singapore in three days!


Total mileage: 6643.9 miles

Mileage: 643.19 miles

Punctures: 0 just two destroyed panniers 🙄

Pizza: 3 slices 2 whole Domino’s

Week 9 Kolkata to a beach in Thailand somewhere (Bang Saphan)

Day 58

Country number 11!

Waiting at the airport in Kolkata we had felt slightly stunned to have made it there with our boxes and GI systems intact were delighted to see the 2nd European faces we’d seen in India- and they we cycle Touring too! Although not on the same flights, but heading to the same destination it was great to swap tales from the road with the couple who were not going a dissimilar route from us but at much more sensible pace.

The first flight was at 2am local time so a bit of a tiresome wait but it went relatively smoothly and we both dozed around being served what we think was a meal of congee?

Landing in Bangkok at 6am local time we had to get straight on it to get through customs and collect the boxes/bike before checking in again for the next flight.  The second flight from Bangkok to  Chiang Mai was booked on the road to add distance to Thailand to help make up our deficit so we had no connection.

Bangkok Airport felt like a completely different World after a month in India with so many different nationalities and cultures.  We managed to negotiate the boxes onto the second flight and crossed everything again we would see them intact at the other end.  Departures gave a breathe if fresh air: Western food and drink and even a Boots pharmacy to stock up on supplies.  A short flight followed and Thai Smile is not only a friendly but very efficient airline and as if by magic our precious luggage arrived safe and sound.

We found a much quiter, if still warm, place to unpack and rebuild and it was much less stressful than Ahmedabad.  Stevie did a great job getting everything sorted for the bike and Laura got the iced coffees in‐ luxury!!

Feeling it was all too good to be true we set off from the airport along a reason but relatively quiet road along the river Ping which was rather beautiful and a short day of 25 miles to allow recovery time.

Our first hotel in Thailand was brand new and spotless.set back from the main road it was an oasis of calm and the staff were lovely and friendly in typical Thai fashion. Cold welcome drinks and everything we needed in the room- including loo roll and we felt completely spoilt!

Once a thunderstorm had cleared (good thing we missed that on the bike) Laura splashed out on a dip in the pool to ease tired muscles before we headed to the restaurant for dinner. What we had failed to check was the restaurant closing time, used to everything staying open late in India, and we were 10 minutes after closing. The family who owned the hotel had sat down to eat and we were a bit embarrassed to intrude. Despite this the waitresses still offered us a seat and was kind enough to let us get some dinner. The next problem was what to eat- we negotiated a menu by pictures and after figuring out she was having to check every choice we made with the kitchen optedto keep it simple with fried rice and chicken. This was soon rustled up and came with a complimentary local dish too! The family dining offered us both a whisky and soda too and we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome despite intruding on their evening.

A wonderful first night and Thailand and we slept very well.

Day 59

We struggled to get going a bit, still sleep deficient and far too comfortable in our wonderful hotel!
But not too late getting on the road we tackled the first moderate climb of the day up to 2000ft.
Paddy fields gave way to forest and jungle and elephant crossing warning signs appeared again.  We kept our eyes peeled, but to no avail and on the glorious descent passed an elephant conversation centre but didn’t have time to stop for a chat.

A field of wallowing buffalo was a second best and the roads remained good and the countryside scenic so we couldn’t complain.
The novelty of a KFC sign played on our need for familiarity/Westernisation and we had an early unhealthy early lunch. 

It temporarily got hotter but then we got drenched in a warm downpour before drying off again, not minding the fluctuating climate too much after the incessant heat in India. Another stop at a petrol station to refresh and Stevie came dashing out of the mens saying there was the biggest insect he had ever seen and it was green and had 4 legs…further investigation proved it to be  a stick insect and had 6 legs..

With rolling roads our progress wasn’t good enough to make it through the Mai Wa national park to find lodgings so we stopped earlier at an old but beautiful  lodge resort next to the river for the night.

After we had got used to our shared room guests of ants we followed directions to a restaurant 2km down the road. 2km is a lot further than you think when you are tired so we were relived when we spotted a basic place with an outdoor kitchen  buoyed with confidence from our adventures at Indian dhabas we walked in and weren’t too phased by the language barrier.  Opting for what looked like fish soup from.the photos on the menu and using Google translate to say “beef” and “vegetables ” we sat down and watched them work in the open air kitchen.  It didn’t take long for the soup to arrive but it didn’t appear to be fish…

Laura’s veterinary anatomical knowledge identified white and grey matter, afferent and efferent nerves and prominent spinal arteries…the size suggesting bovine in nature.  There was no avoiding the fact it was spinal cord soup!! Also lacking in spoons Stevie managed to spill a fair portion of the broth over the table trying to pour it over his rice and we were getting nervous this would be the whole of our dinner.  Just in time a lovely platter of stir fried beef and veggies arrived and it turned out they had forgotten the spoons instead of it being a culturally different way to eat soup.  We finished off everything else including the soup broth but  neither of us could bear to chew put ways through they chunks  so we had to high tail it out of there feeling guilty for leaving food that had been so kindly prepared for us.

We found a corner shop for more snacks and another beer for the potter home.  Feeding our pet ants a piece if popcorn to keep them out of the bed we were soon asleep but Stevie was plagued by dreams of soup and ants…

Day 60

Thailand: no filters!

After a rather satisfying petrol station breakfast of rice and basil chicken set us up for the first stint and although rolling we made reasonable progress into a headwind.  The breezes just about stopped it getting too hot but it was still pretty toasty when the sun came out. Having a lane designated for mopeds and cyclists made a great difference.

Treated to views of the forested hills in the national park it was a great ride and we were very excited by the range of things 7eleven will microwave for you for lunch!

It flattened slightly and the wind move for the last part of the ride allowing us to push our average up and arrive at a lovely resort with just enough time for Laura to have a quick splash in the pool before dinner.  The resort was owned by an Austrian gentleman and his Thai wife and Laura never expected to be speaking so much German before getting back to Berlin.

It was only later we found they were technically closed due to ill health on the husbands part and they let us stay without making any fuss! We were even treated to spag bol for dinner and having such a friendly stay certainly helped take the pressure off.

Day 61

A solid “Americanische” breakfast helped us get a good start.  We crossed the River Ping to get a break from the highway for a bit but the road was still good and we got to see the village life along the side of the road. Lots of smiley faces as you would expect from the country of smiles.
We could have counted on a 7eleven for second breakfast and we are already familiar with the layout and options making our stops efficient.

Rolling on there were less paddy fields and more maize, sugarcane and bananas.  We pushed on well barring a stop for cold drinks in a supermarket which was remarkably similar to Wetsern ones and yet another 7eleven for lunch where Stevie almost got trapped in the massage chair due to his calves of steel. It has caused him significant injury…but he doesn’t want to go put about it…or so he says…

Earlier in the day there had been a rustle in the bushes and Stevie cried “massive lizard” but Laura only got glance of a tail disappearing and wasn’t convinced the sun hadn’t got to him and it was another dog, but then another dived across the road before Laura could grab the camera. On lookout now we had no chance of missing the massive beast sauntering across the road, so large he couldn’t be bothered to sprint!! Close to 2 metres in length we definitely were lucky to escape with our toes and agreed that stopping at 7elevens was definitely the safe option.

A riverside hotel in Chai Nat is not quite the luxury we are used to in Thailand but has a lovely view over the river.  Dinner was a quiet affair with us being the only ones in the restaurant and a soup so spicy we were both left choking!  It was very tasty but considering we’ve been a month in India you would have thought our heat tolerance was higher.

Day 62

A tired mornings groan out of bed and and eclectic mix of Thai and western breakfast got us onto the road and straight into headwinds, which were then to persitst all day.  It was to be one of those days where the miles dragged, every stop was too frequent and too long and we’re struggled  chat light heartedly with conversation quickly turning to how many miles we needed to average on this leg and whether we’d get the boxes we need to pack the tandem.

But we pushed on and tried to be grateful for the opportunity to ride in such a beautiful country with such good facilities for cyclists.  You can probably guess where we stopped for food and liquids…it wasn’t 9-5…

Paddy fields were more common again and bit waterlogged fields with curious lines of little boats with paddles to aerate the water- maybe some kind of fish farm? We spotted fishermen on the bridges posed with spearguns and the bird life was a plenty. No more giant reptilians today though, but as it gets more populated near Bangkok dog chases have started again.  Something about India we were really grateful for was the “good dog” dogs, but some of these Thai dogs mean business and a knee jerk reaction from Laura on hearing the scamper of paws caused Stevie a severe jolt and injury just as he was freewheeling.

A slog into Nakhon Pathom, a big town near Bangkok, and we were ready to call if a day. But in a horrible flashback to Bratislava the first 3 hotels were full but we were finally lucky other fourth!

There was no restaurant though so we had time ventured put into the town.  Laura’s ability to find pizza anywhere kicked I but the restaurant was closing when we got there, they seem.to close early here so we knew we had to make up our minds quickly. The next place along was very much open but looked very tradional with people sitting corssd legged on cushions eating and we were concerned if we even got Stevie into that position we’d never get him  back out of it! The third place was a rather greasy mix of fried chicken and rice and we felt we needed something more nutritious so just plumped for a restaurant with lights on, people in, tables and big bowls of steaming soup.

What we didn’t count on was having to cook our own dinner!  When a pot of stock was plonked on the induction hob in front of us and plates of raw meat and vegetables arrived the waitress obviously sensed our dilemma and quickly helped us out. She deftly used the chopsticks to make little parcels of beef and cheese and we cooked up a feast in our lot of stock.  Certainly an experience when we were just after a quick bite to eat but we enjoyed it!

Day 63

A bit of a faffy start from the hotel but we at least were set up with a breakfast of cornflakes and chocolate ball cereal and a banana.

Despite the weather forecast the wind seemed to have dropped and we were able to power on along the highway.  Not the most scenic riding but at least directional and getting past Bangkok.  We’d almost made 50 miles by midday when the familiar sign of the golden arches was too much of a lure for us.
Admittedly we potentially over ordered slightly in our excitement and mistakenly ordered double chips too so left feeling rather stuffed.

At least we had calories to ride with and we’re heading for Cha Am on the East Coast. Finally a bit more scenery but busy streets and towns replaced the quiet countryside of the North.  The beach was within half a mile but we could barely glimpse the sea between the buildings lining the front.  At about 80-90 miles there were plenty of holiday resorts, spas and seafood restaurants temptingly off the main road, but all too early in the day for us.  We’re not sure if it would better the best or the worst thing to join in with  the holidaymakers.

Branching inland slightly we opted for a basic hotel at the right distance and still managed to find a bit of protein recovery fish for dinner.

Day 64


What a day…

It was definitely not the best of starts with Stevie having a tough night battling fatigue from the flight, indigestion and struggling to get enough liquid in during the night and Laura up too late doing admin. We were both pretty knackered and grumpy.  There was talk of a short day, looking for the nearest decent hotel and even the implications of moving flights… we were not in a good place!

Even the hotel fish was having an identity crisis…

But we got going, Stevie steadily to try and preserve hydration and energy and Laura trying to take some of the slack.  With both of us making sure we drank every half hour things improved a bit but Stevie still didn’t have much of an appetite and the 7eleven fare is getting a bit tiresome.

A long drag along the highway did neither of us any favours and morale was rock bottom. But onwards we rode.
Turning off onto some rougher roads added some interest and then finally we were in full view of the sea and could hear the waves crashing!  Feeling like this was a bit of a reward for our efforts helped and we even got over the fact the pizza cafe was closed and had a late lunch on the seafront.  We could now chat on the quieter roads and Stevie was feeling better too.

Stopping again briefly, a bit of wd40 and a clean up sorted the noise that had been coming from the cassette for the past few days and we were starting to win again…

And then came the big one!

The fact we’d almost ignored due to how rubbish we were feeling and a milestone it seemed we would never reach today:

6000 miles
A THIRD of the distance around the World!

Our perseverance and hard work had paid off, on this day especially but on everyday before.
There are no easy days on this record, but some are harder than others.

Our final reward for the day is a cabin at a beachside resort we somehow managed to find at dusk with the waves crashing metres away in the darkness.  Our luck really was in as we though a hot dinner was unlikely but we figured out there was a restaurant a mere 500metres up the beach and we’re delighted to find them still serving. A delicious meal and a couple of beers and a beautifully peaceful stumble back along the beach. Laura couldn’t resist a skinny dip in the bath water temperature sea and for a moment we were in another World. A brief respite before it all starts again tomorrow, and we are still very tired but hopefully in a much better place to continue to take on the challenge.


Total mileage 6000miles!!!

Mileage: 697.68 miles

Pizza: 2 slices

Punctures: 0 !!!

With special thanks to @huubdesign.com for this video…it seems a long time ago now we filmed it!

Week 8 Tekkali to Kolkata

Day 51

Looks like a better ride for Laura…

We managed to get on the road earlier today but with only some leftover garlic naan and a few biscuits we knew we would need to stop again soon…

The look of a man who’s not had second breakfast…

Unfortunately stops were not forthcoming and it was over 35miles we finally found a Dhaba that looked like it wouldn’t leave us with “danger-pants”. Some of the staff were obviously still to come on shift and napping under the fans in the corner but an authoritarian older man quickly established we wanted feeding and whipped the kitchen staff into shape. 

As has been the case with the more basic places the curries were some of the best yet: a rich paneer tikka masala and and unidentified mushroom and aubergine served piping hot with freshly cooked roti.

The meaĺ sustained us most if the rest if the ride but the heat rose making a couple more stops for liquid essential.  We were quite jealous of the buffalo nose deep in ponds.  As the day closed we were treated to some cloud cover and then a sharp climb followed by a swooping descent with views over Lake Chilika.  We were spoilt for choice with hotel and chose a pricy (£28) on with views over the massive lake.

A curry in the restaurant and a catch up on WiFi (it didn’t reach the room) and we were ready for bed pretty early.

Day 52

It was a good start from the hotel and Laura spent most of the morning trying to spot elephants in the forest (there were elephant crossing signs…) but to no avail.

Having had a reasonable breakfast at the hotel we managed to make it to midmorning before a break and stopped for vada (like a savoury doughnut) with chutney and cheesecake with a burnt sugar topping for pudding…it was a bit good and Stevie had 2.5 portions!

A quiet lady sat down opposite and watched us eat, never saying a word and then followed us to the bike silently watching. We suspect she didn’t speak any English so we just gave her a wave and a smile as we left.

The food keep us going well into the afternoon, which was just as well as we hit Bhubaneswar and Cuttark with crazy traffic and drivers.  We got our heads down to get out of there asap and a few close passes were a bit nerve racking. Back on quieter roads again we stopped for a green mango juice and we’re soon surrounded by a crowd- Laura decided it was her turn for a selfie!

We pushed on to try and find lodgings on the main road but the first one was filthy and weirdly Ste got queried where his facemask was (despite the hotel owner and nobody else wearing one) and refusing to tell us the price and the second saying he was full (despite looking distinctly empty).

We went to plan B and veered off the main highway to a nearby town. We stopped at the first hotel we saw which was delightfully upmarket, reassuringly priced and even had a bar!

The staff were as ever keen to help but seemed to insist we had dinner and drinks in the room. We couldn’t figure out if they genuinely thought we would be more comfortable or if there was some reason they didn’t want us in the var and the restaurant. The process of ordering drinks, ordering food, getting 1st drink, waiting for food, paying for drinks, getting starters, getting 2nd drink, getting main course, almost immediately clearing main course and then paying for the food meant our room felt rather busy with people coming and going. Finally we said we were going to bed and locked the door!

Day 53

We had complimentary breakfast at the hotel and were offered omlettes which were small but tasty and Laura went to finishing packing while Stevie went to the bike. Immediately there was a knock at the door and 3 porters offering to take our luggage…at this point we had realised we had gone in rather high with the tip for taking the luggage to the room last night due to lack of change and were becoming suspicious that the over attentiveness had ulterior motives.

On checking out we were asked for an extra 300rupees for omelette and juice. “You said breakfast included and we dudnt have any juice” Laura pointed out but to no avail… The waiter/porter that had been most keen to serve us didn’t speak English but it was clear from the conversation he was insisting we had had juice! Spitting feathers we settled for the two most expensive omlettes in India and left before we were expected to tip anyone else!!

The whole incident left us feeling a bit deflated, we know we are probably paying a bit above and beyond as foreigners but it did feel we’d been taken advantage of somewhat.

We had an early lunch in a basic dhaba but it was spotlessly clean and decorated with lovely hangings with shade and a cool fan. What started as a simple meal of rice and daal was topped up with roasted vegetables and pickles and it seemed to be a bottomless brunch as the food just kept coming! Our faith in humanity was restored by such kind people and a wonderful meal.

Back on the road it was pretty warm and hitting a section of roadworks dropped our average speed, but at least nothing like NH66. Another brief dhaba stop for drinks and an old lady was busy trying to keep the goat out if the rice drying outside. Laura spotted a waterproof phone cover at the stall next door and came back to find Stevie sat with the elderly couple apparently having a conversation in a mix if English and Hindi (or maybe another Indian language). Something seemed to come across and we left feeling refreshed and also like we might have been their first customers in a long time as the gentleman had rather ceremoniously searched for change (even when we refused) and proudly presented us with a 10rupee coin he’d been saving for this occasion!

Finding a cheap/basic but again very clean hotel (on of the cleanest bathrooms of India!) we avoided going into Jaleswar centre to save time.  There was a short walk to the nearest restaurant and when we got in the mosquitoes descended!  We must be extra tasty as tourists but with extra bug spray and incense supplied but the restaurant they were chased off.
There was no official menu but we were happy to have whatever veg dishes we were given and a paneer and veg curry were delicious, but the portion sizes tiny! Too British to ask for the sane again we headed back to the hotel and managed to order takeaway daal and chapatis to eat in bed (followed by pudding chocolate) before a solid night’s sleep.

Day 54

We were feeling tired and road weary and Stevie in particular was suffering with the mental strain of trying to navigate a tandem safely through India. Kolkata was still days away…

It was hot to start and we soon hit roadworks sapping our average speed.  Having had biscuits for first breakfast we were delighted with chips for second breakfast!  Ordering now consists of asking for “veg” and seeing what they come up with-its always good! We are encountering more people who are surprised, or even don’t understand, we don’t speak hindi which is a bit embarrassing given we’ve rocked up in their country ignorant of their language!

The roads and traffic continued to be crazy- allsorts passed us today: multiple buses full of orange clad Hindis blasting out music, coaches with dozens of people on the roof, some rather unfazed looking chicks on the back of a moped and a 6 legged calf being displayed and we think celebrated on the back of a truck!!

The road works subsided to be replaced by frequent sets of vicious speed humps, apparently designs to exacerbated all our aches, pains and niggles.

Another dhaba stop for late lunch and another tremendous meal was rustled up from a basic order of “rice + veg + egg”. The kind owner kept bringing us more and more delicious things until again we were stuffed! On asking for the bill we’re sure he undercharged us as he stated a higher figure then knocked it down and refused to take any more. So humbling when we are so privileged.

The school run 😊

The weather broke in the afternoon with rumbles of thunder and lighter flashes ahead of us, luckily it moved faster than us and we only got a light dousing. Pushing onto Bankura paid off with a nice hotel and not long before we turn around and head for Kolkata having taken the long way around to squeeze in a few more miles.

Another dinner in the room but much more relaxed this time and another wonderful curry. We still failed to get an easy drinking beer though and ended up with an elephant strong 8% Calsberg which is not ideal!

Day 55

Another tempting option for Laura…

Started hot. Even before we set foot outside the hotel…venturing into the foyer in search of WiFi from our 24’c a/c room we immediately sweated.  After a substantial breakfast from the buffet we packed the bike quickly to ge launched into the busy town streets where everything was happening all at once.

Escaping back to the highway we had a few more bumpy miles of speed humps as the sun shone and the temperature rose. Just before our turn to Kolkata (and after several people asking where we were going told us we were going the wrong way) we pulled over for a cold drink.

Within a minute Laura and the bike were surrounded and Stevie had to battle back through with the refreshments. The crowd were very polite though and didn’t interfer with the bike or demand selfies and mutterings of “Eng-lisch” went around.

We parted the crowds (not unlike moses) and made it back to the highway.  The heat and humidity continued to mount and another stop for liquid, bit with no shade left Laura dizzy and nauseous. As soon as we stopped the breeze stopped and the heat was oppressive. 

Sweat tash!

Finally finding a restaurant with a/c we cooled off enough to feel better in the afternoon when it thankfully clouded over too.

As posh 4 star hotel to celebrate our penultimate night in India and we’re Kolkata bound tomorrow.

Day 56

Plate 1
Plate 2!

After a tremendous hotel breakfast we were more than a bit put out to find the bicycle had been meddled with despite being in the gated hotel carpark with 24hour security guards.  Nothing was damaged and it wasn’t malicious but the cycle computer had been dislodged and the bike moved despite having locks on. We know the bicycle is a point if interest and understand people why people want to touch it but it’s really worrying that it could be unintentionally damaged causing us a catastrophe trying to getvit fixed…We let the manager know but needed to get on our way having had a relatively late start.

The national highway towards Kolkata was smooth riding and we got our heads down for the last leg in India.  Just when we thought it was too good to be true we hit a toll that wouldn’t allow cyclists and we’re diverted onto the busy city roads.  Missing the original main road it was easier to dogleg as the heat and noise rose and it became harder to communicate.

Finally approaching the airport we followed the GPS to the Holiday Inn we had booked.  On reaching the airport the heat had got to Laura again and she couldn’t spot the hotel.  Checking Google maps we appeared to have over shot significantly so had to back track down the busy dusty roads.  Finally seeing the familiar signs (Holiday Inn is in the UK too) we pulled in.

It wasn’t until after we checked in we realised there were two Airport Holiday Inn hotels and we were at the second but as we had reached the airport we were pleased to finish our leg in India.

It all feels surreal, so much has happened and it has gone so quickly and yet so slow! We’ve suffered some of our toughest times of the trip with illness and rough roads and weather and some of the best meeting wonderful people.

One of these is Sumanta who had made a massive difference to our trip obtaining bicycle boxes, packaging and tape and delivering them to the hotel for us!! We had a great chat about India, cycling and Audax with him and his friend ahead if packing up tomorrow.

A wonderful weak 5% beer to celebrate and some downtime before we fly in the early hours of the 1st August.

Day 57

It’s not over yet…
We had a lie in until almost 8am this morning and a leisurely breakfast and start with the full day ahead of us until our flight.  As the wonderful Sumanta had dropped the boxes off this night before all we needed to do was split the bike and fill them…or so we thought!

Sumanta had come to lend a hand too bit as soon as we started dissembling the heavens opened and we had to rush for cover before the boxes got soaked.  Ending up packing up in the doorway to the electrical room for the hotel was less than ideal and the stench from the drains and kitchen waste didn’t help matters.  The storm hit in full force with thunder and lightning but we had no choice but to get the bike packed as quickly as possible.

Finally having taken much longer than expected we’d lost what was meant to be an afternoon of chilling out and napping but managed to get clean and fed (one last pizza!) before entering the choas of the airport.  It took two attempts to get through security but now we are in we just have everything crossed for a smooth couple of flights before landing in Chiang Mai tomorrow morning…


Distance: 616.10miles

Overall distance: 5304miles

Punctures: 0!!

Pizza: 1

Week 7: Tiruvannamalai to Tekkali

Day 44

A very comfortable nights stay at Thaali Residence at the foot of the mountain in Tiruvannamalai.  It was a shame we didn’t have more time to explore in what is obviously a very important religious site and as we rolled through the town in the morning we saw lots if orange robed pilgrims lining the streets, looking unkempt and road weary…we kind of knew how they felt!

We were soon back into the country again with sugar cane and bananas growing now, but still the ubiquitous palm trees.  The sugar canes is pressed fresh on the side of the road with slightly alarming belt driven machines but we’ve yet to be brave enough to try it.

We got peckish a few hours in a picked the most upmarket hotel/restaurant we could find.  It all looked clean and everything was being cooked fresh but the look on Stevie’s face when it was all served on a banana leaf was priceless!! We had idli and puri but the Stevie got talked into a dosa as well which were the massive paper dosas about a foot and a half long!  We left feeling rather stuffed…

A steady ride down towards the coast and we opted to take the more coastal highway in hope of some sea views and breezes.  It was massively humid and we were both sweltering again, apart from the estuaries we only got a couple of glimpses of the Bay of Bengal.

We’d found a nice looking hotel on Google maps but when we got there the gate was firmly shut and there was just a phone number.  As we dithered whether to push on or not some locals made the call for us and the hotel manager appeared in a tuk tuk before we opted to leave.  He got out a pen a wrote a figure on his hand, which was a moderate price for a room.  He only spoke tamil (which through our ignorance we understand none of) so just kept repeating himself in the hope we would understand.  He showed us the first room which we turned down after Laura spotted rat droppings on the table.  The second room appeared cleaner and we felt we had little choice- it would have probably been a nice place in high season, but it was unkempt with a swimming pool full of green algae.

The hotel manager didn’t seem best pleased with our custom so we went out to the local pizza place for a junk food dinner.  These people we much friendlier and we ate our fill, just missing a downpour on the way back.

Day 45

A breakfast of bananas, bread rolls and dairy milk in the hotel room was a good start but it all got a bit odd when the hotel manager started hovering over us loading up the bicycle.  As we went to leave he chattered at us again blocking the bike from leaving and the gate was firmly shut. Eventually he came out with “cleaning” and we were confused as the room had been left pretty clean…and the out came the pen and he wrote another figure on his hand.  Even though it was a small amount we still felt like we were being held hostage to wring more cash out if us and left with a rather bitter taste about the whole experience.

Some lovely morning views over the estuaries cheered us up though, and breakfast got us 20 miles down the road before Stevie’s head started turning at every cafe we passed.
We has to order twice as I think the cafe owner didn’t quite believe we each wanted a bread omlette and a grilled sandwich each!

We turned away from the coast to avoid Chennai central and the heat just kept rising.  We stopped again for more liquid and salty chips to keep us going as by this point we were both covered in a dusting of salt crystals.

Making the other side of Chennai we were tracked down by Dinesh who builds tandems and had a spare tyre for us to replace the one that blew. Not only were we massively grateful to him for coming out and saving us a trip into Chennai but he also came with ice cold water, melon juice and cake!!

What a superstar!!

After we pushed on into the furnace to much nicer hotel and were very pleased with our performance on a tough day in the saddle.

Day 46

Was another hot one!
Our decision to have breakfast at the nice hotel unfortunately resulted in excess faffage, despite being told we could have it and check out early so we lost a valuable cooler hour on the road.

Breakfast in India

But having filled up on puri and noodles we had calories to burn and made a strong start, just stopping at a petrol station to get cold drinks (which seems an option in these parts!)

Selfies and ” what country? Where are you going? Where did you come from?” was out in force today and at one point I seemed to be answering the same questions half a dozen times in a row.

The heat probably affected our patience levels but when we pulled in at the peak of the heat of the day desperate for drinks and a cool down we were not impressed to have a lady pounce on us immediately for “photo! photo!”  Pleading a minute to at least sit down she was straight back again, shoved her children in front of our table and proceeded to take photos.  No questions, no interest in us, just wanted a photo with her kids in it.

It’s these encounters we find the hardest- what is the point? It’s not like she can even tell anyone anything about the weird looking people she took photos of!

Our faith was restored somewhat at the next break when a very polite man came over and said he’d been slowly following us for miles as he wanted to speak to us but didn’t want to interrupt our ride.  We don’t always tell people the whole story, sometimes just that we’re cycling around India but it’s nice at least to have some interaction.

After such a sweltering day we bailed to the hot early, determined for an early start tomorrow.

The hotel we chose was reasonably, except the floor we were on didn’t have working wifi but the major plus point was a woodfired pizza oven!  It says something about how absolutely exhausted by the heat we were that Laura wasn’t doing cartwheels at this news (and in fact hadn’t even noticed when she picked the hotel).  Her obsession with pizza is legendary and this was certainly the best pizza we’d had in India.  We ordered 2 soups, 2 juices, 2 pizzas and a plate if chips…only for the waiter to ask “are you sure that’s not too much food sir?” He’s obviously never cycled 200km in the blistering heat before! We had 3 slices of pizza left (a good effort I think) and ordered extra garlic bread for breakfast so we could get away early.

Day 47

The pizza went down a treat for breakfast and we rolled out of the hotel relatively early, but not before we couldn’t avoid a selfie with a local teacher who got tips from his students on how to angle the camera.

Much welcome cloud cover soon evaporated and when we stopped for second breakfast Laura was already too hot to eat (and guess who ate the most pizza…) and we accidentally doubled ordered on puri so Stevie wolfed down 4.  After being queried last night a dinner we suspect we’re creating a bit of a stir with our portions.

It was heads down then, the road too noisy and both too hot to talk much.  Salt encrusted our skin making it sore and tingling and we drank litre upon litre of water the temperature of tea.  Laura plugged into a few podcasts while Stevie kept his focus on the road.

We managed to find Western food for lunch and had veggie burgers and deliciously salty chips before getting our heads down again.

Delightfully the route and wind turned at the end of the day giving Ste a break from bring pummelled from the side by crosswinds but then the clouds gathered.  We raced to our hotel in Guntur, finally cool enough to put some effort in. Making it just in time to avoid the storm we struggled at first to get checked in but then got some help from a friendly bunch of English speaking men and even got a room upgrade.

We had just settled into our new room when there was a flash of lightning followed immediately by one of the biggest claps of thunder we’ve heard.  So the storm was overhead and we gave it a few minutes before venturing out.  There was a coffee shop just across the road/River so we paddled over and had pizza (surprise…surprise…) and pasta; which was a real treat!  Also getting in the sandwiches for the next day we were well-stocked.

Day 48

Was a pretty standard day..  we’re in the rhythm now, but it starts to feel like groundhog day every morning.

6am alarm. Laura gets up, checks socials. Stevie snoozes. Unplug things charging. Pack panniers. Fill water bottles. Take vitamins/prebiotics/anti malarial.  Put on kit hanging drying last night. Eat something. Drink something.  Load up tandem. Start garmin and GPS watch. Start peddling. Get hungry 20-30miles in. Stop to eat, refill water. Peddle. Get hungry 60-70miles in. Stop to eat, refill water. Peddle. Try not to count down miles. Lose patience with peopel juar wanting selfies. Count every miles in last 10 if not busy trying to find  hotel. Find hotel after usually some rubbish roads. Negotiate where tandem is safe.  Unload bags, Stevie checks bike, Laura checks in. Investigate room for wifi, hot water, clean sheets, number towel coat hangers. Unpack. Get everythingon charge. Laura showers and washes cycling kit. Stevie showers and washes cycling kit while Laura does socials and strava. Both roll kit in towels and hang to dry. Go fond food. Come back checks route and hotel for next day. Pass out 9-10pm.

Today’s points of interest were that it actually was cooler but did rain all day. Stevie thought he spotted a KFC sign, Laura thought he was hallucinating and that it said A/C… Stevie was right!! We got overtaken (briefly) by another cyclists. Stevie’s sandal broke.

We have  MUCH posher hotel tonight…most expensive so far in India.  There was even a bar, with weirdly low lightning and not quite the relaxed feel we’re used to in the UK but we enjoyed a beer before dinner.

Day 49

Waking up to big views over the massive river estuary   took it a bit easier to pack up.

After eating as we could from the rather good hotel buffet breakfast we actually felt ready to plunge into the melee outside to get out of town.

The wind was behind us, it wasn’t raining and wasn’t too hot either and we made great progress…keen to hit a major milestone: 4500 miles, a quarter of the way around the World!

Spurred on by this achievement (and the wind) the miles flew by. Stevie stoked up on biryani for lunch and we finally felt like we were getting to grips with India and really enjoying it.  The views over forested hills and mountains helped and the paddy fields are back with palm oil plantations too, while look a bit dark and oppressive compared to the vibrancy everywhere else.

We hit Anakapalle just in time for the school rush and lots of grinning faces from the back of tuktuks.

Finishing a bit earlier today gives us the chance to consider what we have achieved so far, and the challenges we have to come!

Day 50

After the excitement of yesterday it was also time for SteLa the Tandem to celebrate by swapping her belt and chain.  We’re on the third chain now and needed to mesh the second chain to the cassette so made for a slightly later start. It’s a massive benefit to have onsite bike mechanic in the form of Stevie though to save time finding bike shops for servicing.

The roads were horrendous for the first 20miles and we had only just made low 30s before stopping for lunch.

We found a rather nice restaurant for curry bit were slightly taken aback when a you girl plonked herself next to Stevie.  At first we thought it was another selfie taking incident but it turned out she’d been sent in as place saver to get the table after we left.  She sat very meekly next to Stevie as he finished his naan bread and then her sister came to join Laura.  They still wanted selfies but we got our own back by taking selfies too! 

It was heads down for the rest of the day then along gently rolling roads past more paddy fields and banana plantations.  The scenery here is some of the best so far with misty green rolling hills…they just don’t seem to show up on photos well.

Making our planned stop at Tekkali just  at dusk we were relieved to find a basic yet comfortable hotel. We ventured out in search of pizza but quickly gave up after we ended up down an unlit side street. A scooter pulled up and a cheerful young software engineer asked where we were from/going and gave us his number in case we needed any help in India. We made it back to the hotel and ordered our typical array of veg and egg curries to eat in bed …and possibly for breakfast!


Mileage: 771.62 miles

Total mileage: 4688 miles

Pizza: 4

Punctures: 0 😁

Week 6 Kankavli to Tiruvannamalai

Day 37

And we were still stuck in the hotel…

This time it was Laura’s turn to take a turn for the worse and although we had both started antibiotics, they weren’t agreeing with her. Yet again the alarm went off early, amd yet again it got switched off with Laura barely getting out if bed until midday.

But with more rest we finally started to get on the mend and by the evening we were tucking into yet more pizza and the toasted sandwiches we had meant to save for breakfast. And early night, bags packed and we were feeling optimistic about the next day…

Day 38

We awoke the following morning feel much better and we started the day with a bounty chocolate bars in lieu of the toasties we’d already eaten.
It felt amazing to get back on the road and finally be heading to Goa.

We both had our appetites back so stopped for omlettes and grilled sandwiches to build our strength back up.  We then pushed on to the becoming golden arches in the main town 40 miles on.

The weather was better than it had been and with the break in the rain we could almost see a faint blue tinge to the sky and lots more wildlife was out.  Little kingfishers perched on telegraph wires ready to dive and some birds of prey swooped to catch fish from the lakes of monsoon  rains.  We stopped to check the bike briefly and the other side of the road there were trees full of large black birds making a right ruckus.  I looked more closely and they looked odd…they seemed to be hanging instead of perching…they were massive bats!!  Trees and trees full of bats!! (Look closely at the photo)

A bit of miscommunication resulted in us missing the first Maccy D’s but everything was saved by a Domino’s not much further down the road.  Making up for lost calories two pizzas went down a treat!

With 20 miles to go we were keen to push on and put the foot down once we got clear of the last few towns.


The side wall of the rear tyre had blown.
Maybe too many changes in #puncturegate2022 or maybe the attritional road surface of NH66.  Stevie had the new one out and on in a flash but it still cost us time a we ended up doing the last descent through a remote stretch of forest in the darks surrounded by a cacophony of frogs croaking and our light reflecting off the submerged paddy fields. 

Arriving at our hotel we were still delighted with our progress for the first day back on the road and we’re looking forward to a well earned rest in a boutique looking hotel and soa not far from the beach. I fear covid has hit the tourist industry and therefore Goa hard though and it quickly became apparent the hotel was not what it once was. A traipse up 3 flights of stairs due to the broken lift and a basic room with a window themat rattled in the frame and did nothing to keep the noise if the road (or the mam herding his buffalo at 5am) out, ait con the switched off all through the night only to come back on just before we got up, a luke warm shower and WiFi that didn’t reach the room. To top it all off they didn’t accept card leaving us with 90 rupees (approx 90p).

We decided to venture out anyway and quickly found the atm dark and no use. There was harsh angry words and gestures outside the liquor store- the first we’ve seen in Indja abd the restaurant that temptingly promise pasta, burgers and pizza from the photos on Google maps was having a private function. Disheartened we went back to the hotel where they offered to drive us to an atm but we were to tired by this point so just got more water and are leftover garlic bread and cereal bars before bed.

Day 39

The excitement of yesterday has worn off a bit with not the best nights sleep.
But we were determined to make an early start and a snack of leftover garlic bread and cereal bars and we got on the road.
For the first time we finally got glimpses of the Arabian Sea between the palms trees.  It looked dark and tumultuous, with pounding waves as if it was overflowing with the monsoon rains too.  We decided to skip the beach…

We felt quite pleased with ourselves at finding somewhere to get a freshly cooked omlette (these are quickly becoming a staple) and wolfed it down (despite the added chilli!) We were joined by some chickens sheltering from the rain before the restaurant owner chased them out.

The weather stayed remarkably dry through the day and plodding along we almost missed the turn we had been waiting for… finally leaving National Highway 66!!  It has not been our favourite road of the trip…

A crisp sandwich was in order and we weaved into the jungle, spotting a monkey on the road and seeing signs for “protect the tigers”!

Midafternoon we were peckish again and stopped in hope of another omlette…but no luck. It was curry or curry so we took our chances on some white rice, chapattis and daal.  We even found the Indian equivalent of smarties for pudding! Once we moved the cow blocking the bike in and has some selfies we were climbing up the mountain.

A long slog for about 10 miles of steady climbing where we beat a couple of lorries to the top and we had already planned to stop at Yellapur, being a reasonable sized town with a few options for lodgings. We plumped for one reasonable looking hotel and initially were in doubt about leaving the tandem directly outside, but the hotel said there was 24 hour security there and cameras.

The room was basic as ever: the shower initially warm, the WiFi almost reached the room and there was only dust where Stevie could see… We decided to eat at the hotel restaurant as it was “multicultural” so we hoped for an option other than curry while we broke our guts back in. No sooner had we sat down than the selfie requests started and just as well we had a good view of the bike as that was getting just as much attention. Our soup arrived but Stevie was getting increasingly twitchy as people got closer and closer to our precious machine checking the tyres and inspecting the mechanics… he soon cracked and went over only to be barraged by questions. One man in particular was especially insistent to know how much it cost which did nothing to allay our fears about its safety.

Stevie finally managed to extricate himself and we tried to eat dinner between more selfies but the veggie noodles/rice was greasy and pretty horrible and we both felt stressed about the bike and situation. We decided to stage Stevie storming upstairs while Laura informed the manager her husband was very upset and worried the bike would be tampered with and could we please have his assurance that it would be safe and no one would touch it. With promises of 24 hour security and that it would be 100% safe we both went to bed.

Day 40

We awoke to find the tandem safe and sound…and the 24hour security sound asleep on the couch on reception. Leaving the key on the desk we slipped put (we had paid the night before) and went in search of breakfast as we were both hungry after such a poor meal the night before. Our theory that places with eggs outside would make us an fresh omlette quickly fully flat so we settled for bananas, snickers and mango juice for breakfast.

7Some more rolling hills in the jungle made for slow progress to begin with and we passed little villages and towns interspersed between the undergrowth where termite mounds lined the sides of the road and monkeys ventured into it.

Stopping at a restaurant optimistically for omlettes as our bellies started to rumble there was only one option on the menu: idli, a sort of ground rice patty served with sambar (lentil sauce) and coconut chutney.  We made donand these actually went down a treat.

Skirting the edge of Hubbali we missed any chance at Western food to avoid the traffic and thought we were saved by seen the second petrol station in India serving food. Promises of noodles and toasted sandwiches sounded too good to be true…and it was! Only tea and coffee was available so more crisp sandwiches and chocolate bars it was.

The terrain certainly changed as we moved inland from paddy fields and jungle to flatlands and cotton amd corn fields with much bigger views.  Patches of blue skies and glimmers of sunshine gave us hope of better weather and even the occasional drizzle was less intense than the monsoon rains had been on previous days.

A solid afternoon along a National Highway more like the one we started on buoyed our spirits too and Stela was relieved to stretch her legs again. We made good time to Ranebennur and started the nightly hotel finding process. We managed to get the bike safely locked away in a garage after staging a walk out and checked in feeling like we’d done well… until a new curved ball: the hotel had no WiFi! Not just useful for Instagram but also checking out the accommodation for the next night and doing research like where to find a new spare tyre.

We checked in anyway and yet another shabby room with no hot water and no clean sheets. We bailed out pretty quick for dinner, aiming for a pizza. We trudged through muddy streets dodging puddles and mopeds and the first one was closed but the second was a glimmering beacon of hope.

Slightly more compact than we anticipated (3 small tables) it wasn’t exactly stone-baked/wood-fired but we order a pizza and a portion of Maggi noodles each regardless. The young lads in there were quick to ask the usual questions but spoke good English and were genuinely interested in our travels so we fielded questions between bites of pizza. They also helped us get on the WiFi so we juggled doing the admin with eating, selfies and making videos for the owners of the restaurant. It made for a rather surreal but fun experience and we felt like part of the gang by the time we left.

Slightly high on sugar from too much mango juice and the ice creams the restaurant had given us we decided to relax with a beer and Laura also tried to get some uncooked rice as as she had water ingress problems with her phone. Both requests proved trickier than expected with a tour if the kitchens which revealed plenty of cooked rice but no uncooked rive (it was pretty hard to explain what we wanted it for) and buying a beer was only apparently possible through room service, which we then had to call up twice before 3 people came to take our order (not that we had a clue what we wanted apart from beer) and then two people delivered it with a tray of salad that we’d paid for but couldn’t eat and then another had to return with a bottle opener. We just sat back and relaxed when the door went again with another man with the bill and to make sure we were sure we didn’t want any other snacks. Finally left in peace we got the sleeping bag liners out and rested up.

Day 41

After escaping from the hotel (it was all locked up still and the man was asleep on the seating…) We started to make good progress on smooth roads with a tailwind.

The banana sandwiches we’d had for breakfast saw us through the first 35 miles but more sustenance was needed. Failing in the omlette front again the restaurant we stopped at had one option: paratha. But it was freshly cooked, with piping hot filling and came with milk curd and a lentil sauce and was amazing! We were entertained by a pair of young kittens who had obviously just learnt the ropes of climbing and scaled everything in sight, including the tandem.

Feeling pleased with our second breakfast we pushed on and the weather continued to improved going from light showers to proper sunshine. We could hardly believe we were seeing blue skies finally!

The highway made for great progress but tricker to find stops but we managed to pick up some crisps, chocolate and coke (basically were living off the diet of teenagers…) mid afternoon and had the usual crowd for selfies.

We were trying to find more cash as well finding that fewer and fewer places were accepting card but to no avail so decided to make a break for Sira where we were planning to stay and sort it out there. We were delighted to make Sira not too long after 5pm having done just over 115 miles and spotting a couple of likely hotels on the way in went to get cash.

This was where things didn’t go to plan, as it seems there’s never any easy day in India.

The first cash point was dark and switched off so getting directed to the second Laura queued while Stevie and the bike got swamped by school children. After a while it became apparent no cash was available here either despite people still queueing up so we decided to move on. One you lad on a moped asked the normal questions but then offered to show us to a cash point. After a few hundred metres we ask how far and he said 1km and continued on. We headed our of town and smelt a rat so stopped the bike.

“Where is the ATM?”

We asked

“Selfie! Selfie!”

He replied grinning like a fool. We were livid!

It was 6pm by this point and he was leading us on a merry goosechase for blooming selfies which we’d have just done to begin with if he’d ask but now we’d lost an hour of hard earnt recovery trying to find cash. We went to plan B to see rhe hotels would accept card but the first was a no so we went further out of town to the poshest hotel we’d seen in a long time thinking if anywhere takes card they would. But the hotel was brand new, if even open yet, and they had no WiFi, no card machine and no restaurant. They did have a garage for the bike however so Stevie was keen to stop where it was safe. This meant we didn’t even have enough cash to cover the room so had to go put again to get cash and dinner. A couple of miles walk up the road to the town and 8 atms later we finally got some rupees!

Feeling relieved we stopped for dinner on the way back to the hotel and then finally once we had got clean and settled it was gone 10pm, so all advantage from our hard work earlier in the day was lost!

Day 42

Feeling a bit worn out after the drama the night before we still pushed for an early start and ate plain rolls to get on the road.  The sun was soon put though and the miles passed as we searched for second breakfast.  We finally came across an open “hotel” (which now translates as restaurant, not lodgings) serving traditional South Indian fare and had idli, masala and onion dosas to fill our bellies.
Stevie’s assessment of the toilet being “quite clean” showed pur standards have changed somewhat…

We were keen to get back on the road though as we were hoping to meet up with some Audax India riders including the lovely Meera who not only is a fellow tandemist but also has given us so much help and advice already.  We got closer to Bengaluru (or Bangalore, it’s old name) and the traffic built up.  But we came across the 2nd serious cyclist we had seen in India who helped us stay on the right road and took some great photos of us.

The rain had started to come down and with no Internet to help find them we were worried we’d miss them in the traffic. But Meera and Deepak who organises the Tour of Nil Giris, India’s premier ultra-distance cycling event, were waiting patiently for us and advised us to stop early and start early tomorrow to avoid the traffic. They had arranged a fantastic hotel which is a complete luxury compared to some of the places we have found of our own accord and sorted everything out for us! We’ve now got much needed break before they will help us get out of the city early tomorrow morning.

It’s been absolutely fantastic to meet fellow audax/long distance cyclists and we’re so grateful for all their help.

Day 43

Feeling massively refreshed after such a great night stay we were up early and ready to go for 6am. 
Deepak and his daughter from were ready to escort us through Bengaluru on moped and with light traffic we made tremendous time through the city thanks to their help.

We we soon on the main highway andcwith tailwinds and a steady descent the miles were flying by. Eventually turning off the main road the road works started again on the road to Puducherry but to our relief were much ĺess of a problem than they had been on NH 66.

Having only stopped for a snack for breakfast in a highway lay by we somehow managed to find some pizza at 90miles!  It was only just gone 2:30pm by the time we hit 100miles!!

Keen to make up distance we finished late afternoon at 130miles and even managed to score a very nice hotel for the night.

And… it didn’t even rain today!!


Week 5 Vadodara to Kankavli


It’s amazing how much better you can feel after 10 hours sleep…

A solid breakfast of eggs, toast and masala dosa with sambar and coconut chutney and we were set to go!  We left the calm of the spa hotel complex and dived headfirst into busy roads to get through Vadodara.  Getting back onto the national highway was a relief as there was more room for the same number of cars/mopeds/cows etc.
We made good progress and felt a bit more prepared to take India on.  The roads were good, until we hit unmarked road works and everything ground to a halt and everyone is still cheery but we had less hassle than yesterday.
We have ended up in one of the few states in India with an alcohol ban and even the beer shop was alcohol free!  Our first IPA will go down a treat but for now the food has been tremendous with lunchtimes aloo gobi being amazing.

The weather today was overcast and we were relieved it wasn’t so hot but it was certainly dusty so didn’t mind too much when we got caught in a monsoon 10 miles from the end of the day. It felt like being in a warm shower!

We’ve plumped for Hotel fun city which was great (except a cold shower) with nice rooms, WiFi, a/c and had another great curry dinner in the restaurant with portions even we couldn’t finish.

Day 31

After a not quite so curry based breakfast of grilled cheese sandwiches we rolled straight onto the National Highway again to join the chaos.  We made good progress but soon had to stop for cash and lunch in Vapi….and then Stevie crumbled at the sign of the golden arches!

After a slightly spicier Maccy D’s than in the UK and selfies with the manager we rolled off again. It started to drizzle a bit… and then rain… and the pour… and then torrential…

Soaked through we pushed on further than we would have absolutely drenched.  We had also got into the hills and there were signs warning to slow down for the local wildlife… with a picture of a leopard  on which was more than a bit alarming!!
Safe to say, we did not slow down but carried on quickly and after a few “no room at the inn” at roadside hotels eventually plumped for a rather opulent hotel in Vasai-Virar.  It could have almost had a tired charm but with staff that weren’t so friendly and rooms that weren’t spotlessly clean.  Dinner was OK, but not as fantastic as we have been having and the a/c was full blast or had to be turned off. 

Day 32

The next day we stayed for breakfast so started late. We started in light rain and we umm’d and arr’d about waterproofs on or off.  We were hot within a couple of miles and striping off already and the traffic was starting to build up.

The plan was a skirt around Mumbai but potentially we didn’t skirt enough as the rain got heavier so did the traffic.  And then it rained more and got busier still…and so on until it felt like we were standing under a tap in a gridlock of traffic.  When we could move a few metres it was treacherous due to the potholes hidden by the road that had become a river.

Some tricky rerouting to try and escape asap was made even harder with the rain  and we kept missing the endless flyovers we needed.

Finally getting onto a more sensible road the traffic and the rain didn’t let up and we bailed into a biryani restaurant for lunch where they promptly provided newspaper for us to sit on. The young waiter was delighted to practice his English with us and we had the inevitable selfie with him.

It looked like it was going to ease up as we were about to leave and then without warning the heavens opened again to leave water flowing down the windows.  Waiting out the worst of the shower cost us more time and we’d already lost hours in the city rush.

Braving the roads once more we were treated to some beautiful scenery of misty green hills and waterfalls cascading down.  We even spotted monkeys just chilling out on the side of the road.

Just as we were starting to enjoy ourselves any descents were ruined by speed humps and then the roads deteriorated into a random mix of cobblestones, potholes and lose surface.

Fearing tackling these conditions in the dark we opted to stop at the next hotel to dry out everything… including our poor saddles that still go damp despite double bagging!!

We ended up in what would be a holiday resort in the dry season with basic cabins, cleaner than last night but not exactly luxurious.  We frantically tried to get all our kit out to dry then a quick dinner before bed!

Day 33

Has not been a great day.

Despite taking all the advice and heeding every precaution (no meat, no salads, no uncooked food, religious handwashing, prebiotics, bottled water etc etc) both our stomachs started gurgling yesterday evening and then through the night we both suffered, Laura more so than Stevie and combined with the phone randomly ringing in the middle of the night and power cuts made for a terrible night’s sleep.

The following morning we were both washed out and found water seems to have seeped in everywhere so Stevie ended up doing more drying will Laura fell in and out of sleep again.

The rain was torrential to start in and at least the saddles had been preserved by Stevie’s ingenuity last night and were tightly wrapped now. 

The roads were still horrendous to begin with but did improve eventually.   The rain continued to pour and we had to take a break to get something to eat, Stevie having eaten most of a pack of biscuits and Laura nothing all day. 

Some sweet masala tea went down a treat though and Laura managed a small omelette.   The rain eased it bit in the afternoon but never really stopped and a moderate 1300ft climb felt like a mountain pass.  Rain and roads made for a tricky descent and after our late start we were chasing the daylight again to find a hotel.  A last kick in the teeth of another hill and another downpour and we pulled over at the first place we saw, a basic but friendly restaurant/ hotel. The rooms were clean but a bit dilapidated and certainly not the kind of Western comforts we are used to.  They looked after us really well and let us lock up the bicycle safe and dry without us even asking.

Still trying to recover from our GI upsets we were under mileage for the second day running and it’s not getting any easier…

Day 34

When it doesn’t rain it pours…

Still a bit iffy on the digestive front we made a slow start out from the hotel, especially because the road was in the same condition as before.  Dodging the potholes we made slow progress but at least the rain wasn’t quite as torrential.  A new road is in the process of being built but this seems to be all at once with random sections being paved and others descending into gritty gravel and potholes.

We made a break for lunch despite having only made 40 miles but knew we had to push on to try and get the mileage in.  The jungle and paddy fields were briefly visible through gaps in the rain with farmers up to their knees planting rice.  It was a day of hills and the descents were lost to poor surface and road humps. 

We briefly tried to cut a corner off along a road that wasn’t a national highway but soon backtracked after it turned into gravel track.  Losing more time with the more roundabout route we rejoined just in time to start looking for hotels.  These were few and far between in this more remote area and we were yet again battling the light after such a slow day.  Determined there must be something just around the corner we felt we had no choice but to carry on.

Starting to panic about the lack of daylight disaster happened and we got a flat on the back wheel!   A speedy pull over (to somewhere which was ironically a dilated hotel) Stevie performed and extremely quick change of tube but not before the heavens opened again.  Changing a tyre in that sort of downpour with no ideas where would sound the night was a bit if a low point…

But we got sorted, put the lights on and tried to see how far we could go. After a few false alarms we finally stumbled across somewhere with an “ac/non-ac” sign; a dead give away for a hotel. But initially enquiries drew a blank, the we must have looked desperate as some more phone calls were made and then our saviour arrived in the form of a physics teacher and new Pricipal to the local school who not only helped us get a hotel 1.5km down the road with electricity (this one didn’t) and sorted us with dinner and a couple of beers!! He absolutely couldn’t do enough for us!

More clothes drying

The hotel was basic though and we felt very remote at this point. With issues with the roaming sim card too we had been without Internet so checking up on what was to come was tricky.

Day 35

The monsoon and roads had knocked us for 6… given this was a last minute plan we’d not fully researched the implications of the route and as left feeling somewhat daft in the middle of nowhere in a bit of a predicament.

It was Stevie’s turn to be up all night to the loo and Laura’s feet were in tatters, rotting with excessive moisture. We desperately needed rest and a bit of familiarity so knew we needed to push on to Goa but with this being 120 miles down the road we decided enough was enough and to have a “rest day” riding to the nearest bigger town.

Getting ready yet again to get on the bike felt like too much effort and we had some many worries it’s hard to stay focused, but we knew for sure something has to change to have any hope of continuing with our health intact.

50 miles was plenty today with Stevie struggling to fuel and both of us surviving on biscuits and crisps until a sweet shop lady offered us chai tea*. We took a break and were joined by a really friendly and keen cyclist from Goa who reassured us the horrendous few days of monsoon we have had are exceptional even for this region with a lot of places on red alert and also reassured us if we divert inland the weather and roads should get easier. He even bought our chai for us!

Finally we got smoother (if not flatter) roads as the roadworks on NH66 finally stopped.

We got into town with time to relax, replan and eat pizza and are feeling better already.  We’re looking to be underdistance for India, but for now we need to focus on the challenges in hand and get ourselves back on track.

Day 36

Another night with broken sleep and we made the descion to rest properly while we had a decent hotel, some Western food and a pharmacy around the corner.

We’ve been able to seek some medical advice and got stocked up on meds and sleep. But there’s always more to do… kit to wash, inner tubes to mend, brake blocks to change, routes to plan etc etc.

But the break has put us in a much better state to continue with feet and tummies on the mend, better prepared to deal with the Monsoon but with a plan to find better roads and weather.


Mileage: 537.59 miles

Punctures: 2 (1 back, 1 slow front)

Currys: 5 Pizza: 2

* yes, we have been warned about roadside chai too now! We’re hyperanalysing everything but it’s so hard to find “safe” things to eat! Not sure how we’ll fare for a month on biscuits, crisps and bananas!

Week 4 Lesa to Vadodara, India

Day 23

Wonderful Georgian hotel/motel-chesapest room yet at ~£8

A steady start in the countryside where they seemed to be more animals on the road than cars or humans.  We stopped a couple of times to sample more of the bakes goods of Georgia.  Then some tough sharp climbs with some of the steepest gradients we’ve had this trip to wake to quads up then a short fast descent before hitting the main road again.

At one town we took a break right outside a bakers where they were using a deep clay oven to back the traditional delicious breads and let us in for a look.

Anyone following the tracker may have noticed we made an executive decision to try the main road up and over a high pass today instead of the more minor road Laura had plotted.  The road suralfaces were variable enough already and the original showed off road sections that would likely  be “challenging” on a fully ladened tandem.

The climb was tough enough and the road was full of trucks and pollution. There is a massive job building whole new road where the construction went on for miles and miles but in the meantime the old road surface was poor and everybody was on the same road as us.  Reaching the top there was a surprise tunnel but it was well light and quiet enough enough blasted through and finally got a bit of descent before getting into Khashuri quite late on.

We rolled into a guesthouse up a back alley just as it was getting dark and we’re delighted to be greeted by a lovely friendly host and shown to a rather opulent room.  Everything seems to stay open late in Georgia so we still had time to get to a local restaurant for dinner.  There was a birthparty with a rather exuberant karaoke set on, which.left us feeling completely out of place.  There was no English menu but we managed via Google translate to order a traditional Georgian chicken dish which was very creamy and garlic but not quite as much meat as we would have liked.  We finally got to bed quite late but with the carrot of Tbilisi in our sights!

Day 24

We had a great breakfast in the guesthouse rounded off by the hostess giving us crepes to eat on the road and having a photo with us.  We got on the bike determined to get through the final distance to Tbilisi in good time.  We were soon on quieter back roads bit apart from some dubious road surface in places it was a beautiful road.  We made an emergency stop for more Georgian baked good before pushing on through the last few miles.

The road then merged onto the highway and we were suddenly in the this of Tbilisi rush hour.  We wended our way through the traffic to the hotel and are looking forward to putting our feet up for a few days before our flight.

The hotel didn’t quite have a faulty towers feel but our first disappointment was that the restaurant was closed/non-existent and the “bar” had no beer, just local Georgian wine (and only white…if you can call that colour white…)

But the wine was free, courtesy of quirky manager David and we soon found the restaurant next door for kebabs and dumplings.

Days 25

We treated ourselves to a lie in beyond 6am in the hotel and definitely felt better for it.

But there was no more time to put our feet up and we started the search for bike boxes, packaging, tape and a means for me to reroute on a computer.  I’ve been using ride with GPS with does have a mobile app but too fiddle to route the over 3000 miles we needed.

The hotel was helpful to some extent and happy to let us bring boxes back and store them but the computer situation was a bit beyond them.  It’s a few decades too late for Internet cafes and the only one we found by googling did not look like a place I wanted spend several hours… the next plan was computer/electronic shops to see if anyone would hire us one.  The first shop we had to be buzzed in then tentatively knocked on a dingy door a few flights I stairs up.  It opened to a rather smart shop but once it was clear we weren’t buying they were keen to get rid if us.  The next place spoke no English and also couldn’t help and we wracked our brains and asked a contact we had from Tbilisi but to no avail.

We changed tack and went to the bike shop instead to find they were fresh out of new boxes and we had to investigate their dark damp garage to pick the best of a bad bunch.  But we were grateful to have them sorted and returned triumphantly to the hotel. 

And so we persisted with the laptop saga and having the door not even opened when we went back to the first shop with the intention of buying one and reselling it a few days later we had a brainwave when we came across a pawnbrokers and we’re able to secure a deal to buy a second hand laptop and resell it a day or so later relatively cheaply.

And so Laura started rerouting, only to get dragged away by Stevie for dinner hours later and a meat kebab platter and some more fine Georgian wine.

Day 26

We had a early start, but for a good reason: massages! These along with massive jacuzzi bath managed to sort out most of our aches and pain and Laura even squeezed in a bit of yoga too. But then it was back to the grind to get the route finished  and go tape shopping before anymore fun could be had.

A successful mission re-pawning the laptop and finding a hardware store for the tape and we made what was left of the test of the evening by visiting Turtle Lake on the cable car.

We had a lovely dinner overlooking the lake with a Ajaruli khakapuri (pizza egg boat as Laura likes to call them) before Laura headed back down on the cable car and Stevie took the longest zip line in Europe! No prizes for guessing who was first time the bottom!

Day 27

With still a whole day left before pur rescheduled flight we had not choice but to celebrate our wedding anniversary and Laura’s Birthday!

Finally able to take a break we did a bit of sightseeing around Tbilisi. We wandered the old town and climbed the 144 (and the rest steps) up to the fortress and Mother of Georgia statue.
The old town is beautiful and the views over the city were amazing.

We fuelled up on a plate full of Khinikali dumplings before wandering some morebacross the Freedom bridge and Rustaveli Street before having gained enough of an appetite for dinner if wood fired pizza: Laura’s favourite!

Day 28

We got up even earlier than a ride day to get to the airport 14 miles away ahead of the bike boxes that were being dropped by taxi. One last token chase by Georgian Street dogs (they’re not a scary as some of the Turkish ones) and we were there before 8am. Feeling nervous we went straight to dissembling the bike as not only did the couplings need to very split but the back brake detached, the gears disconnected, both saddles off, stoker bars off, captain bars rotated, both front and back racks off, pedals off and tyres deflated.

The whole process “only” took 3hours so we had plenty of time to wait nervously to check I and make sure the boxes were accepted. After more hoops to jump through of paperwork and fees we finally waved them goodbye and had everything crossed to see them at the other end.

The first flight was not the most comfortable and we didn’t manage to sleep but did get a curry! Arriving at Abu Dhabi without enough time to get a hotel we dozed in the recliner seats in the incredibly bustling airport for a hour before the gate opened. and we took off just before midnight.

Day 29

I’m not sure where day 28 ended and day 29 began to be honest!  After a more comfortable but all to short flight (and more curry!) we landed in Ahmedabad at 4:15am and somehow manged to negotiate visas, covid certificates and immigration the make it to baggage reclaim. A bit of a kerfuffle trying to figure out oversized baggage and as if by magic the boxes appeared!! Safe and sound!!

Landing in India was about the culture shock we expected and feeling dazed and exhausted we rebuilt the bike in the airport carpark to a small audience before braving the chaos of motorcycles, tuktuks, cars, bicycles and cows on the road.  The heat rose quickly despite our early start and we took a while to find our feet in terms of shops and where to eat having our first curry in India for lunch about 50 miles downnthe Road.

But the people are so friendly and beautiful! Everyone on motorbikes/scooters and tuktuks smiles and waves and they often pull over to ask where we are from and going. Thre are usually two people and the ladies sit side saddle on the back with beautiful saris billowing, usually on their phones (assumably Instagram!) Lots of people drive by making visors too or taking selfies and we get requests to pull over for a selfie but are learning to ignore these. The exception was one lovely bloke who spoke fluent English on his way to an anniversary night out with his wife. They were both so welcoming and pleased to meet us.

We made it to the hotel we’d precooked relatively early but completely exhausted. More curry for dinner then off to bed!

Mileage: 283.63

Punctures: ZERO 🥳

Currys: 3 Pizza: 2

Week 3 Düzce to Lesa, Georgia

Day 16

We skipped the hotel breakfast as the room had a kettle and hob so had eggs and noodles to get an early start for the big climb up to Bolu and then two more after!

Ideally, we’ve have split this over yesterday and today but with the spoke issues we had little choice.

We settled in for a slow haul up and the misty views (you can just about see them in the photos) gave us a real sense of how far up we’d come.  It was hot going and we needed plenty of breaks to stay cool and rest our sore bums!

The next two drags went on and on and there were more undulations which weren’t evident on the scale the elevation profile was at  before an epic and fast descent to Gebreze topping 50 mph on smooth open roads. Laura couldn’t decide whether to keep her eyes open or shut and unsurprisingly there’s not go pro footage!

Feeling like we needed to catch up on miles from yesterday we pushed on grabbing a rather unsatisfactory lunch from a petrol station including a dürem wrap that started Laura’s guts rolling and with the heat made fuelling tricky for the rest of the day.

The fatal dürem wrap…

The scenery was mountainous, even alpine like, as we hit the last few hilly blips in the afternoon heat.  Finally some more descent and a love evening with favourable winds convinced us to push the mileage wee bit further despite such a hilly day. We’ve spotted a spa hotel at about the right distance for a very reasonable price and the reviews mentioning a buffet dinner cinched the deal. Laura got to work booking a room from the backseat and we pushed on to roll in at 8:30pm having done 119miles and over 7700ft of climbing. The buffet was closed and we raced through the shower to there convince the grumbly waiter to feed us and had a rather nice meal of grilled chicken, salad and dips. The main issue was although the hotel had a bar, it had no alcohol so Stevie was heartbroken not to have a well earned refreshing beer after such as long day. We made do with çay instead and rolled into bed as soon as dinner was done.

Day 17

I woke up before the alarm to the patter of rain and rumble of thunder, but rolled over and thought nothing of it and it had stopped when we got up.

Helping pack up

Skipping the thermal spa at the hotel we did manage to get let into breakfast early and filled our bellies and pockets.  But then the rain started again with a vengeance and as the clouds rolled so did Laura’s stomach again… things had not settled overnight. The hotel staff looked horrified as we mounted the bike in the rain but we cheerily waved goodbye as we are eased to this sort of weather…

Turned out we were slightly over confident as what should have been a glorious morning descent, hard earnt after yesterday, soon became a sodden, cold misery with Stevie having to navigate a particularly vicious rumble strip and both of us getting cold. Laura was feeling even worse at this point and after 25 miles we needed an emergency stop.

We pulled into a cafe just as the sun broke through and ordered çay tea to warm up.  The was snow on the peaks surrounding us but the sun was hot.  A lovely lady took pity on our bedraggled state and gave us borek (cheese pastry) and vine leaves.  3 cups of çay later we were recuperated enough to push on, stopping at various garages and cafes to top up our çay levels and Laura to try and resolve her GI issues. It was a comparatively flat day but with Laura on electrolytes we weren’t able to push the pace and focused hydration and turning the pedals.

We continued to descend but with the wind picking up there were strong crosswinds ruining our advantage and the storms continued to rumble overhead.  The terrain changed from dry and sparse brush to forested slopes with rough mountain peaks but a valley full of paddy fields with storks wading through. Who knew they grew rice in Turkey!
We had to opt to leave the climb put of the valley until tomorrow and stayed in Ordu with a lovely riverside. A cheap but very friendly hotel was just what we needed and with Laura feeling a bit better we managed a dinner near the river front before getting rested up. The waitresses thought Stevie’s beard was quite exceptional and took selfies! We were joined by a local street cat for dinner and after Stevie bought some sweet coated chickpeas from a local shop…to risky for Laura’s stomach but a nice local treat.

Day 18

After a good nights sleep Laura was feeling better and even managed some chips for breakfast.

We were ready to climb and steady gradients and cloud cover made the first peak of the day well.  A bit of descent to boost the morale and then we were climbing again but this time in the heat.

Finally within sight of the top we seemed to lose momentum and then I realised I was bouncing on a soft back tyre.  So into the verge we went and a new tube went in.  We were still a bit cautious after the weird day of punctures earlier in the trip but Stevie still check the tyre carefully.

As Stevie finished putting the wheel back in Laura had been watching the clouds gather and a fork of lightning hit the hillside behind us with a rumble of thunder not long after.  As we got on the bicycle it started to spot with rain and rather than stop to put waterproofs on we tried to make the summit and out run the storm on the descent.

This didn’t work.
A mile or so later we pulled over and got clothed against the new heavy rain.  Lightning struck the hillside next to us almost simultaneously as thunder clapped again so we made a hasty retreat down the hill.  The rain hindered our progress and we were relieved when it eased off for the final climbs.  Finally we had a massively long descent into Samsun and went from mountains to city in what seemed like no time.  A small routing misdemeanor and we were climbing the last tiny hill out if the city before what was meant to be an easy flat roll in.

Then we went flat again.  Tyre off and checked, tube checked but neither of us could find the culprit and another tube went in and we pushed to the top before a last descent at sunset.  It felt good to see the Black Sea finally but we were racing the light to get to the next hotel after the delays.

And then we punctured again.

At the end of our tethers a 3rd tube went in in the dark on acentral reservation and with 6 miles to go we agreed to walk it if we had anymore problems.  Arriving at about 9:30pm we almost didn’t get the bike in (it took some persuading) and then the hotel only took cash but we eventually paid in dollars.  Quick kofte sandwich, inner tube fixing and bed.

Day 19

Another day…another challenge…

We weren’t overly surprised to find another flat tyre when we got up. But we’d also been checking up on the land borders to Azerbaijan to get the Caspian sea ferry and despite them having appeared to open after covid but were now closed again, we suspect due to the conflict with Armenia more than anything else.

We now had to fix a puncture, figure out how to get to the ‘Stans, figure out what was going on with the tyre and get more inner tubes. We started with the flat first, meticulously checking the tyre both inside and out in the daylight. Feeling the inside neither Stevie or Laura could find anything sharp but Stevie did flick a bit of metal out of the outside so we desperately hoped this was it. Tyre pumped up and we were on our way to find inner tubes.

A trad bikeshop in the morning was fascinating but didn’t quite cut it but it was a lovely roll out until the punctures started again.  We first pulled into a bus shelter to get some shade and got the sharpie and pan of water out determined to find what was in the tyre.

Desperately picking anything we could see out!

Still not 100% satisfied we had no choice but to ride on but this time only made it another 10 miles! We pulled over in a garden centre and a lovely German lady helped us and let us use their air compressor to save more pumping. Using the marks on the inner tube and the tyre we had located the exact area where the problem was. Scrutinising the tyre in direct sunlight there was only the tiniest of nicks but when squeezed really hard something just glinted in the sun… we had to cut down with a penknife to get to the tiniest bit of metal wire But this was definitely the culprit and we were delighted!

We were relieved our woes were over and set off determined to make food progress along the sunny coastline. This was meant to be a short day with an early finish and time to recover after a tough few days prior now we knew we weren’t racing to the sea ferry. But we nearly lost the plot when plot when tyre went down again. Questioning our sanity we pulled over and got the pot out again (to be filled with water from the Black Sea this time!)and got the tyre off again.Thanks to the meticulous marking of the tube we found this was a differential puncture on the rim side directly in line with where the electrical tape Stevie had placed had slipped from the rim tape. Now we were even more adamant to get normal butane inner tubes asap as even though the aerothans are great to ride on and super light we were concerned we were doing something wrong to have had 3 potential punctures on the rim side.

All advantage lost and the hotel booked already it was all we could do to roll in for late evening (as apposed to late afternoon as we’d hoped). We go a much needed break from the traffic with a diversion through Persembe to avoid tunnels and it was one of the most beautiful roads we have been on so far.  Apart from a couple of bitey Turkish dogs we loved it!
Finally rolling into Ordu later than planned we were delighted to find a bike shop still open to help us with some spare tubes and made it to what was meant to be the swankiest hotel in days… but apparently with the worst WiFi!

We got clean and changed a plumped for what turned out to be a seafood restaurant before heading to the first pub we e seen for days to try and figure out flights from Tbilisi to Kazahkstan.

The culture here is so much different from the past few days. Instead of Laura feeling like the odd one out for not wearing  a headscarf, this is very much a multicultural holiday destination, even if were speaking more German than we expected!

Day 20

A suitably dull day to suit our ride…but we were quite happy not to have any more excitement after the past few days!!
A drizzly start but it dried up through the day and after a late start haivng been trying to book flights in the morning, only to get an email to say our booking was cancelled.  We rolled off regardless and enlisted the help of Trail Finders Laura got arranging flights from the back seat.

The road most lightly rolling and  we made good progress along the coast.  There were a few tunnels to contend with but we had anticipated these and diverted when necessary.  Lunch on the hoof with the aim of an early roll in and after a “no bikes inside” at the first hotel we managed to get the tandem safe, us and bed and a bit of dinner all before 8:30pm!

We had a call back from Trail Finders and flight times were not looking promising for the connecting flight in Kyrgyzstan so a late evening of frantic back up plan making before collapsing to much needed rest again.

Day 21

And time to change our first chain! So a bit of a later start (and we had a lie in until 7am) but help from @safarimotorbike we were promptly back on the road.

Our last day in Turkey today and it’s been amazing! The driving took a bit of getting used to, but no-one is angry, just eager.  99% of dogs are fine, the others a  bit scary and we’re definitely not digging the noisy tunnels.

But everyone is so friendly!  Beeps are always for a wave, not in rage! 

Everyone waves and we’ve had so much generosity from bananas to buffs to baklava, pears and puddings even 7 day croissants; we’ve been given so much despite our complete incompetence to speak the language.
People seem to sense we are on a mission and have a purpose.
It’s all rounded off with a beautiful rooftop room above a wonderful restaurant @falezarhavi serving great Turkish food.
And of course çay! Always the çay…
Then into Georgia…

Day 22

An intentionally slow start and our last Turkish breakfast before (walking) down the steep hill to the road.  We rolled past the queues of trucks and before we knew it we were at the border.
A wonderfully quick passage through where the biggest delay was getting the tandem through the passenger passport control!

And just like that we were in Georgia!
We hit Batumi pretty quick and it was busy, chaotic with awful roads.  We pulled into a cafe for a break and some lunch and had a tremendous meal of soup, salad and a boat shaped bread filled with cheese and an egg!

Feeling full we were soon uphill and the scenery was lusciously green with thick leaved vines covering everything and unexpectedly bamboo growing. We then descended to lovely seaside towns before heading East onto more rural roads where a couple of dogs chased and people we busy herding their cattle home for the evening.  The cows, dogs and horses all roam free here.

Heading for the next major town with hotel potential pushed on.  We flew past one hotel sign above a restaurant but Laura was so confident we’d find better we didn’t stop.  However on reaching the town, Google maps failed us and the hotel has turned into a supermarket.

The choices were to push on into the unknown or backtrack to the last hotel.  We decided to roll back and what hadn’t looked like a lot from the outside was a lovely friendly family run place that served us soup and salad for dinner with a beautiful Georgian wine.

We have a flight booked (finally) from 2nd July from Tbilisi but not quite where we hoped but it gives us plenty of time to replan…


Mileage: 2481 miles (on bike Garmin)

Punctures: 7 in 24 hours

Cups of çay: lost count

Week 2, Timişoara to Düzce

Day 9


So we just need to repeat that 18 times now…

We had a good start from the hotel fueled by pizza and with peacocks watching us pack up.

It was essentially the same road all day and we initially enjoyed the quaint Romanian villages before the trafficbuilt up.

It was a bit busier with trucks than we would have liked but Stevie did an amazing job keeping is safe and we diverted as necessary.  A steady climb for the first part of the day saw us moving from fields to hills to a more mountainous region.  It was a hot hot day with the sun beating down and we made plenty of stops for cold drinks and a break from the road.

Finally reaching the high point we started to descend down the green valleys past haystacks and fields of corn. One last set of grinding switchbacks as a last kick and we followed the rivers down the valleys to the town of Orşova where we stopped at a garage. No sooner were we inside the heavens opened and thunder and lightning crashed around. 

Sheltering from the storm we made a break for it once the rain eased, riding in along the now massive 1 to a hotel with a tremendous view in Dorbeta Turnu Severin.

We had a lovely waiter called Boby who had worked on  chicken farm in England, which unfortunately hadn’t given him the best impression of the place but he still served a surprise dessert! We also met another cycle tourist who was nice to chat to but certainly taking things steadier than us.

Day 10

An 18th of the time done!

A long day in the saddle making the most of the tailwinds. A fond farewell to Romania waving to children, old ladies and everybody  in between on the roadside. 

Before we knew if we were whizzing past the long queue of lorries at the border and into Bulgaria.

This being the seventh country in 10 days, making the cultural adjustment if getting tiring. We were on more minor roads which probably didn’t help but the first garage/ restaurant didn’t take card and we hadn’t got any Lev yet.  We pushed on with only 1 bottle of water left to the next town and fuelled up there. 

We decided to make the finally push over two small climbs to Kozloduy and we’re soon baking in the late afternoon heat.  We had not expect the first few miles to be cobbles which definitely hindered our progress and then the road completely disintegrated into a mess of potholes, ruts and cracks. We still managed to gain some time of the descents and we’re treated to a cracking view of the Danube on the way down the hill.

Finding the main large hotel in Kozloduy it was a surprise to find it fully booked and we feared a repeat of Bratislava!  Being decisive we booked the next hotel on booking.com before back tracking about 3miles.  We checked in, made sure there was spaces for the bike, had our passports registered and then went to pay… to find it was cash only again!! So another 3 mile trip back to town on the unladen tandem to get cash and dinner (the restaurant was closed too) to return to the rather shaby hotel room to at least get clean and rested before doing it all again tomorrow!

At least the food was good and the view wasnt bad. A lovely young student got roped in (we suspect on her night off from waitressing) to help us decipher the menu. Google translates photo function was amazing where we could just hover the phone over the words and figure out what they ment!

Day 11

We woke up in not the best hotel in Bulgaria and beat a hasty retreat.  Stopping at a bakery we dinned on pizza and bread with hot dogs in for breakfast, washed down with peach juice.

Setting off we soon realised our mistake…no caffeine!! No tea, no coffee.

After struggling through the morning we made an emergency stop at a garage for coffee and iced tea. Feeling slightly more human we rolled into Pleven in time for a cafe for a late lunch. 

We knew the hills were coming and two stiff climbs later we were flying down pretty countryside to Sevlievo where we had prebooked a much better hotel and did the evening ritual of shower, wash clothes, charge things before getting dinner at the nearest Taverna.

Day 12

A steady start and an epic slice of pizza saw us on our way to the foothills of the Shipka Pass… 30 miles of uphill with 12 miles on the pass is not to be sniffed a full laden tandem as all we could do was take it slow and steady.  Luckily it was mostly under the shade of lovely green forests and we reached the summit gone midday in the cool.  A break to admire the view and and early lunch and then we were speeding down the mountainside through a series of switchbacks.  We were super grateful for the disc brakes recommended by the Tandem shop!

Safely at the bottom thanks to Stevie’s competency as captian we still had a long way to go and a bit more descent (and coffee) sped us on our way.  Bulgaria has changed a lot as we’ve moved through from the traditional North with basic but friendly shops and garages and lots of horse down carts still being used to the more modern interior with some of the poshest garages we’ve seen and lots more people speaking English to a more traditional but different feeling (more Asian?!) South of the country. The landscape was more arod and crickets chirped loud as we seemed to be climbing again.  It was getting hot again and a long empty stretch had us diving into a local shop for ice creaks and cold drinks.  With 22 miles still to go it felt like an age after such a long day.  We’ve climbed higher passes in the tandem; but not normally as part of a 120mile+ ride!

Finally getting close to the Turkish border we stopped in a basic traditional hotel but with a lovely friendly lady who helped look after the bike and find a restaurant.

Day 13

Into Turkey!
We made an early start and grabbed a garage breakfast to get to the border.
A fantastically smooth crossing and we were rapidly heading to Asia!

A rollercoaster of road made for a solid ride but we were enjoying the rolling hillsides of Turkey with sheephearders and friendly people. We were launched into Turkish culture in Edrine with the hustle and bustle of a town. Stopping at local cafe for brunch/lunch we were served soup, bottomless bread and of course chai tea.

We pushed on and it was a tough ride and only got tougher with the relentless ups and downs.  The traffic got busier and we hit Çorlu around rush hour which was a bit frantic.  We had a really long day to finally finish at a warmshowers within sight of Istanbul to cross the city tomorrow!

Day 14
Wow! What a day!!

A bit of a rocky start had us diving into a local bakery for boreks and baklava for breakfast, the crispy pastry instantly making us feel better as we rolled through the lat few hills before launching ourselves into the chaos that is Istanbul.  We thought it was busy to begin with but it only got busier and busier with people, cars and mopeds everywhere.  We managed to find a coastal cycle route and the was beautifully peaceful in contrast with families out picnicking and people swimming in the turquoise Marmara sea. Sadly not time for a dip we pushed on and on to reach the ferry across the Bosphorus.

A scramble to get ticket and before we knew it we were heading to Asia!!

Continent no. 2
We met a lovely teacher on the ferry who pointed out to us all the mosques, places and monuments we were missing, so at least we got a glimpse of the old town nestled amongst the towering tower blocks.

It was no quieter the other side of the river.  We pushed through and managed to get close to the coast again but were feeling overwhelmed by passing through the whole city in a day with the sights and sounds and hustle and bustle.  One final iced tea stop and we headed up the hill and into the suburbs.  Feeling worn out we stopped at the first hotel we saw and it turned out to have a tremendous view of the city and sea.  A couple of what we suspect are some sort of bean based kofte wrap for tea and the call to prayer from the minarets are echoing around as we are about to finally rest.
Not a high mileage day but completely exhausting!

Day 15

Not quite to plan…

After waking up to a beautiful view over the town of Gebze we had a solid breakfast and we’re ready to hit the road… only to find out that the slight softness to the rear tyre we’d be tactful ignoring was definitely a miniscule puncture and we decide to ignore it no further!
Stevie had the back wheel out in a flash and a new tube went in.  A later start than planned but at least problem solved…

So we went rolling along to the tip of the Marmara sea after a cracking descent out of Gebze and then started to pick up the pace on the flat.  Just as we were really getting going.. pssstt!! And emergency stop on the descent the front tyre was completely flat.

The culprit was quickly identified as a sharp shard of metal and another new tube went in… thankful Schwalbe supporting us with lots of spares.

So we set off again determined to keep the speed up and make it up the big climb to Bolu.

And then “twang”!!

A spoke had broken. Weirdly near the nipple and inconveniently in the back wheel in a place which needed cassette, brake rota, tyre, tube and rim tape to all come off.  We were very grateful for the the Bird Hypercracker that allowed us to tackle this on the roadside instead of risking the wheel or finding a shop but our ambitions of pushing further in were shot and we settled for a stay in Düzce.

The race to get to the Caspian sea ferry is now on so we hope we can make up mileage tomorrow!!



2 punctures, 1 broken spoke (all same day)

6 large slices