Friday 13 January 2023

We made it!

 We're now back in the UK having completed our ride from Harrow London to Harrow Bangkok (going west). It's been a hell of a ride.

We stayed with some friends right next to the school after that and sorted ourselves out. There were lots of people to catch up with and admin to attend to. It felt very strange not to be moving on every day. 

On flying back to the UK there was a tiny a small bit of finishing off to do to complete an uninterrupted Strava track. We cycled from Heathrow up to Harrow-on-the-Hill, took some photos, met up with an old colleague and then headed to our overnight stop in Eton via Hemel Hemsted to join up with our Strava track.

It was good to be back home after so many months away and be on familiar territory. As we made our final approach to Eton contracts popped through for our next venture at Malvern College Egypt. Things have all worked our rather nicely :-)

Sunday 8 January 2023


The first element of our sabbatical was to cycle home from Switzerland. Having hired a van and taken all our stuff back to the UK, we returned with bikes in the van ready to cycle back.

The route we planned to use would make use of the Rhine Cycleway (Eurovelo 15) for most of the way.

This is how it panned out:


Tuesday 6 December 2022

We made it across the USA :-)

We made it! We cycled all the way from St Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California. 

This was an amazing ride, through an amazing country. Along the way we've been blown away by the scenery and by the generosity and friendliness of the people we've met on the way. Riding a heavily loaded touring bike is a great ice-breaker with people always interested in what it is we're doing.

The full map of our ride so far, with all the Strava segments joined up is here:

Once we'd finished (in the dark) we spent a night at the Youth Hostel in Ocean Beach. The following day, after some admin, we stayed with Maurice and Roni a couple who we'd been put in touch with by a fellow camper (Al) when we were in mid-Texas:

After a restorative evening swapping tales of the road, we hired a car and headed up the West Coast. We had planned to go all over the place, but in the end opted to get to San Francisco and stay put. 



Wednesday 23 November 2022


We have been rather hopeless at blogging as we've cycled along. In part this is because we decided to do without SIM cards and so the internet has been hard to come by, but it's also because freed of the bonds of paid employment for a while the last thing we wanted to do was to sit in front of a computer!

Anyway, after 49 days on the road, we have made it to Phoenix. We are now only 8 days from San Diego and the end of the American leg of our ride. We're taking a few days off in an Airbnb to do some admin, some laundry and, yes, to update our blog. In fact, having had a nagging sense all along that we had better keep moving, we now find ourselves with time to spare before our December 9th flight. We don't want to get to the finish too early and be twiddling our thumbs. It's a very odd feeling to be still for a while, but not an unpleasant one!

So far Strava tells us this is what we've done:


Things we've seen at the side of the road

Americans call two-way roads with ample shoulders like this one 'Country Lanes' which makes me chuckle:

Generally, there's plenty of space for us on our bikes. Motorists (especially truckers) are extremely courteous. We could count on one hand the number of times we've felt unsafe or been treated uncharitably by other road users - it's very rare. 

But we do see a lot of junk at the side of the road, some of it interesting and some even quite useful! Here's a taste of what we've stumbled across:

  • Blown-out tyre rubber
  • A rubber duck
  • Nerf gun pellets
  • A wireless speaker (it worked and we've still got it)
  • A cowboy's spur
  • An elephant soft toy
  • Sunglasses (fake Oakleys and a bit scratched)
  • A pillow
  • A dead racoon holding a helium balloon - I kid you not!
  • Cooler boxes
  • Multiple number plates
  • A Pinocchio toy
  • A skeleton toy
  • A bunch of keys
  • US flags
  • A tablecloth
  • Tyre wire (= punctures)
  • A camping mat
  • Spoons
  • Knives
  • Lots of coins (useful for our laundry)
  • A bra (Jo didn't fancy it!)
  • Lots of shoes both pairs and odd
  • Straws
  • Blankets
  • Take-away food rubbish
  • Spanners
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Hub caps
  • A penknife
  • American-style baseball caps
  • A full cardboard case of beer (yep, we picked them up!)
  • Empty beer cans
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Vaping paraphernalia
  • Loads and loads and loads of roadkill :-( This has included: dead snakes, alligators, spiders, deer, racoons, skunks, tortoises, dogs, cats, turtles, boars, armadillos, porcupines, squirrels, and javelinas... 


Monday 24 October 2022

New Orleans

We've made it to New Orleans. This feels like a bit of a milestone: 15 days in the saddle, 13 since the official start in St Augustine, and something over 1000 miles on the clock. 

We decided to check ourselves into an AirBnB on arrival here for some much-needed admin (read laundry!) 

Arriving at around 5pm we quickly set to work sorting ourselves out. Tonight we're in a campsite again before heading off in the direction of Baton Rouge tomorrow (Wednesday 19th October). We have manged to stick to an average of 60 miles a day which is what we need if we're to be sure of making it for our flight to Hanoi from San Diego on December 9th 2022. It hasn't felt too pressured, but we've been conscious of the need to keep pressing on whilst we're fresh to buy ourselves a comfortable margin for error.

The highlights? Probably the beach leading to Gulfport which we followed for a whole day...

And the generosity of those we have met along the way (including having our restaurant meal paid for on two separate occasions!) 


Sunday 2 October 2022

And we're off...

The last ten days have involved a whirlwind of activity to get things ready for our extended absence from normal life. We've set things up to work on auto-pilot whilst we're away and got in a few days' supply teaching to top up the coffers before Le Grand Depart.

Bike boxes were squeezed into a taxi at 0645 in the morning and we set off for Manchester airport. At the airport there followed a period of being passed from pillar to post as the authorities scratched their heads wondering what to do with our unfeasibly large bike boxes. But we got through in the end and are now ensconced in a cute little AirBnB in Orlando whilst we get ourselves set up.

You can follow our progress on Strava and we'll post here occasionally too of course.

The main purpose of this trip is for personal enjoyment/fulfilment. But we do have the ambition to raise a little money for two Far East-based charities that have links to Bangkok where this will all wind up sometime in January. If you feel inclined to show your support with a small donation it would be much appreciated :-) Here's the link to click to donate.


Wednesday 21 September 2022


As a prelude to the big ride we have planned for later this autumn, we decided to test our mettle by cycling from Malvern College Switzerland to Malvern College UK. 

With all our belongings safely transplanted from Switzerland to the UK, we returned to MCS one last time - this time with our bikes - to say our goodbyes.

The route we chose would follow the Rhine Cycleway (Eurovelo 15) from Leysin to Rotterdam. Once in Rotterdam, we'd catch the ferry to Harwich and finish our ride with a three-day dash across the south of England to Malvern.

By way of statistical summary, here's how it all panned out:

  • 23 days of riding
  • 7 countries passed through (Switzerland, France, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, Netherlands and England) 
  • 1832 km covered
  • 9193 of ascent (though it was mostly flat or downhill!)
  • 21 days camping; 2 days in hotels
  • zero punctures
  • 2 worn out brake pads

It was a fantastic ride and we are very grateful to the staff both at MCS and MCUK for humouring us in the endeavour. Cycling is a wonderful way to travel: slow enough to take things in and to meet people, fast enough to cover a significant distance over time. As a way to draw to a close our time in Switzerland and to underscore the ties between MCS and MCSUK it proved a very fruitful exercise.

We took a picture of our departure/arrival at the two schools that bookended our ride. As we head off to the US we leave with very happy memories of both:


Wednesday 3 August 2022

We're back on...!

This blog has been sitting in digital purdah for eighteen months or so. COVID put paid to our original plan to cycle from Harrow Bangkok to Harrow London

Back in November 2019, I left John Standen's office with a spring in my stride having informed him of our intention to cycle back to the UK. The idea was to see out the 2019-20 academic year and then stay on for one further term so that we could cycle out of Thailand in January when it's drier and somewhat cooler.

None of that ever happened, of course. In my final term at Harrow Bangkok, it dawned on me that I'd better stop dreaming and get another job instead; and so it was that Jo and I spent the next 18 months on a totally different kind of adventure: helping to set up Malvern College Switzerland

But the stars have aligned such that now is the right time for us to get back on our bikes again. For me, a big cycle ride is an itch I've been wanting to scratch for years. Added to this we're not getting any younger, COVID is less of a problem than it was, and I've got a sneaking suspicion that if we don't do it now we never will. As my son says: 'It's time to **** or get off the pot!'

So this is it. We're doing it. We're doing it very soon - starting in September, in fact.

I've spent the last few days poring over the maps and looking at visas. First off I realised that being in Europe now means it would make more sense to reverse the original route. Then it became clear that the original route is pretty much impassable at the moment: China was always going to be difficult but Turkmenistan and Myanmar look to be totally off limits and we can't use Russia as a get-out-of-jail-free card if visas prove unobtainable. 

So the new plan - considerably tamer, but a huge adventure nonetheless - is to go west instead of east: 

This will take us a couple of months less than the original route would have taken (4 instead of 6) and so will be a bit easier on the wallet. It also takes advantage of the fact that we're leaving in autumn; the Southern Tier USA route should be perfect at this time added to which we'll arrive in Bangkok during the cooler dry season.

All being well we'll be done sometime in January 2023, ready to return home fitter, leaner and otherwise rejuvenated. Primed for whatever comes next...


Saturday 15 August 2020

Getting time in the saddle

This summer we've been stuck in Thailand due to COVID-19. It's been wonderful. Thailand seems to have dealt with the pandemic extremely well and so there are very few restrictions in place. The only exception to this being that tourists can't come into the country so we've had the place almost entirely to ourselves.

As luck would have it we've fallen in with the cycling crowd at work and so have got many more miles in the saddle over the summer than we ever would have bothered with if it had been just down to us. This particular ride used to completely knacker me out; now both Jo and I can do it with relative ease. It's just 10k short of what I hope will be the daily average on our big trip and takes about 4hrs (including a brownie stop halfway). 

Of course, 100k will take us longer fully loaded and almost no days will be as supremely flat, but this shows that 100k/day is a perfectly doable average, leaving plenty of time for stops and ensuring that we'll arrive at our destination early enough to get on with some admin and relax a bit. 

Here are the stats for the ride as done this morning: