With Love I Ride: Two Years On Two Wheels (Part 3)

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Solo cycling around the world has never been short of a challenge for me. Each country that I’d cycled through has different weather conditions and environments. Let me share some of those challenges with you.

Cycling in All Seasons

The weather showed no mercy, I had to cycle in all conditions – rain, shine, and snow.

In Uzbekistan, the weather was extremely hot, at about 37°C to 42°C. To beat the heat, I began cycling as early as 5am to cover as much distance as I could before noon.

In Tajikistan, I cycled through a snowstorm from Murghab to Mamazair. Some may think that cycling through a snowstorm is scary, but it was one of the most amazing cycling experiences for me.

Cycling in snowstorm conditions in Tajikistan.

I always check the weather conditions the day before cycling. Sometimes I wait for a few days for the bad weather to pass. Also, travelers coming from the opposite direction is a good source of information for what lies ahead — road conditions, immigration issues, or good campsites and hostels.

On the switchback road leading up the mountain pass to the Tajikistan immigration checkpoint.

The Road Versus Me

High mountain passes are always a challenge, especially when I have a fully-loaded bicycle.

In Nepal, from Kamalamai to Khurkot, a zigzag switchback road stretches up the mountain as far as the eyes can see. I pushed 14.5km up the steep road, but the last 5km stretch was just too much for me. In the end, I managed to hitch a ride to the top and cycled the remaining 20km downhill to Khurkot town.

This steep zigzag switchback road up a mountain pass was so daunting that I had to push 3⁄4 of a day just to make 14.5km.

While I was cycling from Kawkareik to Mawlamyine in Myanmar, I came face-to-face with a road covered with rocks and stones. Halfway through this rough patch I got off and started pushing my bicycle along the 9km road instead of riding. Thankfully, I was rescued by a local farmer in his pickup truck, who dropped me 7km up the road where the road was paved.

It was impossible to cycle on the road that was under repair so I had to push my bicycle for 9km.

Bike Maintenance

Back home, I don’t have to repair my own bicycle, since there are many bicycle shops. However, on my solo tour, I had to make the repairs myself.

For instance, in Nepal, cycling from Bartung to Banaganga, the downhill road was steep. Before long, my brake pads wore off, dislodged and got jammed up with the disk. The wheel could no longer turn. I had to stop by the roadside to replace the brake pads and, before long, I was on the move again.

Replacing my worn-off brake pads at the roadside in Nepal.

There are times when you would need to repair your bicycle at a shop. That’s when knowing other experienced touring cyclists help. They can recommend a repair shop in your area.

My bicycle hub gave me problems in Thailand as I was cycling from Kamphaeng Phet to Bangkok. The hub is a Chris King Hub, which requires special tools to service. My friends pointed me to a bicycle shop in Bangkok, and I quickly made my way there by bus so that I could continue my journey.

Bok Bok Bike in Bangkok was recommended to me by friends to solve my bicycle hub problem.

Come What May, Pedal On!

No matter how much preparation I’d done prior to the tour, I still need to cope with unexpected situations that may come my way. In times like this, I’ve learned to stay calm and adapt quickly. More importantly, having a goal in mind gives me the determination and focus to push forward. My goal is to raise funds for World Vision’s Education Fund.

Speaking of determination, I would like to share a story about a boy who is determined to go to school despite the long journey he must make.

Though there is a small bridge across the river, Jenel said that most kids walk in the water because it cools their feet after a tiring and dusty walk.

Jenel is an 8-year-old boy who lives in a rural community in the Philippines. He walks about 2 hours daily to reach school before 7.30am. He had to trek uphill and downhill, crossing streams and walking under the hot sun. He makes the long journey “because my father said going to school will give me a better future.” Though the journey to school is long, he is determined to attend classes and achieve that better future.

Help World Vision to equip these schools with adequate learning facilities and resources by contributing to my fundraising initiative at https://www.simplygiving.com/withloveiride. Your giving will enable children like Jenel to have a well-rounded education, hopefully much closer to home!

 

Despite trekking for more than 2 hours to school, Jenel remains focused and motivated in his studies.

Tips for Overcoming Challenges On A Solo Tour

  • Be Prepared: Get the correct attire and equipment to cope with different weather conditions and environments. My rain jacket kept me dry when I was cycling in the rain, and it doubled up as a winter jacket when I was cycling in cold weather.
  • Be Equipped: Learn the basics of repairing your own bicycle prior to a tour. For instance, learn to fix a tire puncture or change a wheel.
  • Be Positive: Have a positive mindset and be open to picking up new knowledge along the way.

About the Author

Peter Yoong, a cycling enthusiast currently on a two-year solo cycling tour around the world. As part of his trip, he will be raising funds to give vulnerable children access to education through World Vision Malaysia’s Education Fund.

Find out more at https://www.simplygiving.com/withloveiride.

Email: withloveiride207@gmail.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peter.yoong/

Join my ‘With Love I Ride’ Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1810195412626719/

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Elaine Lo is the Sports Editor, who writes and edits personality and product features, and news; produces coverage of domestic and international cycling events and races.

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