October 18, 2020

The Call to Adventure Podcast - Episode 10 - Adam Hugill

Adam Hugill and George team up to co-host an episode sharing their top bikepacking and cycle touring tips
Podcast Guest
Adam Hugill


Show Notes

  • George and Adam’s bike touring experience
  • Tip 1 - start small, start local
  • Ending up in hospital after 2 days on the road
  • Kross Bike Pure Trail
  • The best bike for cycle touring
  • Test your kit before you go
  • The build up is part of the reward
  • Explore your backyard
  • Tip 2 - get off the roads (or at least off the big roads)
  • Different types of bikepacking set ups
  • Bikepacking bags
  • The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
  • The Baja Divide
  • The joy of tiny backroads
  • Navigating on a bike tour
  • Garmin Oregon 750 GPS
  • Gaia GPS
  • View Ranger
  • Maps.me
  • How to get free OS Maps
  • Bikepacking.com
  • TrailForks app
  • Tip 3 - don’t get caught up in the gear trap
  • It’s better for the wallet and the environment
  • The cost per use
  • The perils of fast fashion
  • Adam’s best bargain on his tour
  • Tip 4 - take more time to cover less distance
  • Why my bike tour ended
  • Embracing not being busy
  • More times means more like - free diving, the worlds most expensive sushi, and good times
  • Being clear on what the aim of your journey is
  • Tip 5 - talk to strangers
  • Accepting help
  • Thumbing a lift
  • Restoring your faith in humanity
  • Road Angels
  • Tip 6 - take a water filter
  • Sawyer Mini Filter
  • George’s top tip!
  • Protect the environment, go further into the backcountry, save cash
  • Steripen
  • Adam’s favourite bottle of water ever
  • Tip 7 - bike your own bike ride
  • Comparison is the thief of joy
  • Carry as much stuff as you want to carry
  • Alastair Humphreys and Sean Conway
  • The power of accepting help
  • Tip 8 - use Warmshowers.org
  • Couchsurfing for bike travellers
  • Tuly Arce - you’re awesome
  • Where best to use Warmshowers
  • The man cave
  • Adam’s offer to stay with him
  • Staying on a marijuana farm
  • Tip 9 - Adam’s bonus tip - careful with those drones
  • Adam’s YouTube Channel
  • Mavic Pro 2
  • Spending a month in a Cambodian jail
  • Tip 10 - George’s bonus tip - never trust a fart in Latin America
  • 2 months of Salmonella
  • Dodgy Doctors
  • Running into the Mexican Cartel
  • George’s epic bike packing guide

Full Transcript

Adam Hugill
A good friend of mine ended up spending a month in jail in Myanmar prison. What? Because he flew his drone above the capital city. So me and my friends don't have a good record of flying drones. Hey, it's

george b
George and welcome to the call to adventure podcast. We're on a mission to help create happier people and a healthier planet. So let's get after it. Hello,welcome to another episode of the call to adventure podcast with me founder of call to adventure, George Beasley and my co host for today. Adam Hugill

Adam Hugill
Hello there.

george b
So today we're doing something completely different. As opposed to a chat digging into an adventure or activists life. This is an in between episode where we'll answer a question or give advice on a topic. Today's is bike packing and cycle touring hardened tips from thousands of miles on and off the road. Some are very tactical and specific, and others are overarching tidbits of advice, and a couple of funny bonus tips here and there. So stick around to the end for those bad boys. But before we get cracking a quick reminder, there's still some space on the wall street thousands trip, which is an epic weekend summiting 15 of the highest peaks in Wales, including the infamous clip golf, which is an awesome peak if you haven't done it. We've also put on an extra date for the make me a mountain air course in the Pyrenees where you'll learn everything you need to know about mountaineering from a world class Everest guide. I'm going on that one. So check out we still got some spaces by the time you hear this, as with all of our trips now, if you book on but the trip can't go ahead due to COVID you will be offered to change to a later date, move to a different trip or get a full refund, no questions asked. So head over to corporate venture.uk if you're keen on joining us on those or any other adventures, but now back on to bike packing and cycle touring tips. Some of you who have listened to the pod for a while know that I biked mainly off road from Alaska to Panama over 18 months. We did a few other bits and bobs along the way to change things up like a 16 day canoe in the Yukon some hiking here and there. And we actually hired an RV for a couple of weeks whilst my girlfriend was sick. But I've spent a long time traveling by bike and I've done loads of smaller trips here and there too. So I'm keen to share what I've learned. Adam, can you give a bit of background to you and your cycle touring experience.

Adam Hugill
My bike touring history really started about six years ago that 2014 I did a few short tours in in Europe. And in the UK, they've nothing longer than two weeks. And then the biggest Bike Tour I've been on to date started in the summer of 2018, where I cycled from Southeast Asia, through China, and South Korea, Japan. And then a cycle from very similar to yourself from the top of Alaska, down through Canada, the United States and I decided to call my journey to an end they're about 20,000 kilometers, and returned back to the UK just before everything went a bit strange with COVID. And so now I've been back in the UK now for nine months and still getting out on the bike. I'm getting much more into bike packing. Now I've got a mountain bike and I really dislike being in traffic really, I think be getting out into the remote areas is what I'm looking for.

george b
Awesome. We've got a few tips, and we'll run through them. So Adam, why don't you kick us off with tip number one.

Adam Hugill
Yeah, tip number one, often people will go on a really big Bay trip is the very first thing they'll ever do. And then probably hate it, especially if you start super big. So I would always say start small, local to yourself and bike touring or backpacking is really just intended to, to get out there and enjoy nature and do it in a really enjoyable fun way. So if your first ever trip something big, there's there's a lot of lessons that will be learned the hard way. Whereas if you start small, I think you'll you'll learn a lot of lessons that will when you choose. And if you choose to go into bigger journeys, you'll carry on through there.

george b
Yeah, I think it can make it a lot more enjoyable. It's interesting because you did start small. And we did well. Alaska to Panama was our first bit of bike packing and cycle touring and I could definitely see how doing a few smaller trips would have been good. We had a whole pallava beforehand with bikes not being delivered and all that kind of jazz. So our bikes arrived two days before we left so we didn't really have the opportunity to do much training beforehand but my girlfriend didn't either enjoy it so much right at the start, because it was a bit of a trial by fire and lots of things went wrong. And I ended up in hospital after two days with inflammation in my knees from knee injuries. So then we ended up I think we only cycle for three, two or three days. And then we had to stay at this lady's house we met along the way for two weeks. Unfortunately, she was great, but we just played cards and didn't cycle anywhere because I was having steroid injections. And when he's and that that was like a really good example of if I'd have done some smaller trips, I would have known that my knees couldn't handle that many days. And then I could have built up to doing a bit bigger distance instead of thinking, Oh, well, you know, 5060 case didn't sound that big a day. But with all the weight on your bike going up hill into wind, it certainly was for me. So I think start small is definitely a goodie,

Adam Hugill
there's so many lessons there, which you've you've pulled out from your first first of a boat tour. And there's probably so many soap, tangents there where you talk about your bikes only arriving two days before. So did you say you you ordered them online and then received them? The first time we saw it in person was when they arrived? Is that?

george b
Yeah, because we got them from Poland. So they were on a partial sponsorship. Right? Which is why we ended up doing that, I can certainly see why you wouldn't do that. I guess that's where you were going to go with it.

Yeah. Like, whenever people ask me what bikes Should I get to do a first bike trip, usually, the first thing I'll say is what bike do you currently have. And if they have a bike to start with, I'd say use that bike, because it's a bike you're already having. And it's the cheapest bike. And usually you'll find out if that bike works or not. And if you want to spend a lot of money. And the second bit of advice, if they don't have one would be is to get a bike that fits correctly. Rather than brands or what metal, you're going to use steel or aluminum. I think like sizing is so important. It's hard to know for sure until you really sit on one and start moving with the bike. I suppose a bike shop can help a lot with that,

definitely. So start small few test rides first, ideally, take all your kit out first and get familiar with it. So I remember we were trying to figure out how to use the MSR cooker, whilst we were there and like the first day, and that was an absolute nightmare, I just couldn't figure this thing out, I didn't realize you had to prime it. And I was like, you know, I'll just watch YouTube video. But we had no signal in the middle of like rural Alaska. So. So I was just trying to figure this thing out. And it's it kind of always makes for fun stories afterwards. But if you want a smoother, more enjoyable time, then then a bit of prep goes a long way. And it also I think a big part of it is that it gets you excited about it before you go like it makes it the build up is part of the reward. Like they're looking forward to it. And they're doing little bits here and there. And then imagining yourself out on the trail in the future like using all of your kit and cycling on your bike. I think that's that's like a big part of the the joy of it all.

Oh, it's huge. And I think you're always changing what you're going to be packing and what you're going to take. And I suppose whenever you write a kit list and you start packing all your gear, that's going to change almost certainly. And see by doing smaller tours, right? If you're going to do a big tour overseas is going to be quite expensive to ship gear back and forth or stuff like that. So doing a small tour where you live, I think there's so many positives that can come from it. And I think seeing where you live where you live through different eyes is also a huge part of the start small. I like seeing way your own back roads and maybe streets in areas you've never been to you'll you'll get a new new appreciation of the way you live, I think

yeah, definitely right tip to get off the road, or at least the big roads whenever you can. So you kind of hinted at it before as you've moved into bikepacking like away from cycle touring. And we have mountain bikes and kind of went for a hybrid setup. So bikepacking very lightweight, like ultra light for 18 months is not that practical. Ideally, you want to be on something a couple of months, two or three years kind of doable, ultra light, but for a year and a half. It's quite a long time to not really have any comforts with you. So we had panniers on the back. But then a roll bag on the front and a frame bag. So it was and then mount mountain bikes. 29 years it was cross bikes, by the way who sponsored us I should, I should give them a shout out. So that allowed us to go off road whenever we wanted. And obviously you can stay on the road, but I'm cycling through really busy places like Mexico City on really dangerous roads with 18 wheelers everywhere and it's kind of smelly and polluted. That certainly was some of the least enjoyable times for our trip and I'm not a road biker, some people love that kind of stuff. So I think cycling on the road can still be good, especially if you find little backroads. But if you have the opportunity To get off the road, I think that's where most people will find the most fun and enjoy riding because then you're actually out in nature and feels much more adventurous, like the Great Divide mountain bike route and the Baja divide, were two of the highlights of our trip for riding the Baja is just amazing. You can get super remote through parts of it days cycle away from the nearest town and camping under the stars. And it really feels like what I wanted on a on a backpacking adventure, whereas we would have to often take roads to connect the trails. And yeah, with drunk drivers and people who don't have driver's licenses and just being very busy. It's a very different experience. So sometimes it can be good like to take small backroads like when I did from Paris down to Toulouse, when I was headed down to the Pyrenees, that was amazing. I was on the road for most of that, but they were really tiny little roads that nobody was on. And it was still beautiful and felt fairly remote. So my advice would just be get off the road when you can give it a go, even if it's just gravel doesn't have to be full trails. But I think most people would, would really enjoy that if they gave it a chance.

Something that often stops people getting off the roads is navigating, most people will use their phone. And I've got my own answers. It's very interesting to know what you How will you navigate off road and what tools you'd use to find these off road routes?

Just mapping comm person stars? Yeah, keep the see on the right. No, we used a bit of a mixed setup. So I had a Garmin, I think Oregon 850. That was amazing. And that had maps downloaded to it that we're really, really detailed. And you can get them from for free from openstreetmaps. I think there's something in my bikepacking article about how to get them for free. But if not just google how to get biking match for free and stick that on your GPS. And the GPS was great. But it's also good to have a couple of backups and sometimes it didn't get it quite right. So we also had the phone as as a kind of backup and I used Gaia Gaia GPS and occasionally view Ranger I think Gaia GPS is is my favorite, but I know loads of people use view Ranger

if you Rangers gray, I use that, like iOS maps,

yeah, iOS maps for the UK. But you really realize how lucky we are with good maps in the UK when you go somewhere like Guatemala, and that they'll sell you a map but there's not really anything on it. There's just like a few high points here and there. Well loads of those but further kind of ins and outs proper navigating Gaya was definitely useful. And then plotting stuff on the on the Garmin, how about

you, I used my phone, I didn't have a GPS as you did. So my phone was my GPS in a way like that. And so I would use maps.me for when navigating on roads. But often and again, it's an open street mapping app is maps dot m e free, and you can download all the tiles for free, which is brilliant. But there's not a lot of detail. Often though, there's no topographical detail. So you don't know where you're going to be climbing or not, which often can be quite a bit of a shock. But you did take a side road. Yeah, it can be go wrong. But Google Maps can be great in satellite view for Google Maps. And people don't know this within the UK, I don't think a lot but Bing Maps, that very well known search engine, Bing, and bi n g, they have OS maps for free as a layer on the desktop. So if you ever want to access unlimited OS mapping, as of 2020, I don't know if I'll be there forever. But that's brilliant to use again in the UK. But there's so many other websites out there with dedicated routes, which are dedicated off road routes. And the website, which I think is probably one of the best resources for bikepacking is bikepacking.com. He's got so many great photographs and routes which have been up there by users. And I think in the UK, there's I don't know exactly how many but maybe between 10 and 15 different backpacking routes. I know in the US There's loads and most countries now are starting to have their own bike packing dedicated routes, which can be a great starting point before you start venturing off and making your own route. So

definitely bike packing comm is amazing. We use that a lot. And for women on establish routes, I just downloaded the GPS x which is the type of file that the GPS reads or it can be read by quite a few apps on your phone as well. So we had that and then sometimes use trail finders which is another app to read the download from there. So for all of the Great Divide mountain by route and the Baja divide, Baja divides about 1700 kilometres and the Great Divide mountain bike is even even longer. And yeah, we just followed the followed route for that. So you just stick it on your on your phone, you sat nav, and then it's easy breezy. And that was a that was a decent amount of mileage just between those two routes and a few others here and there. So yeah, that's a really good tip Adam.

It's the same in the UK. I did the same with the GPS files for maps.me. And just like only five miles from where I live in Yorkshire in England, I ended up on the Pennine bridleway and I'm now discovering all these old horse tracks, which were used for being used for last few hundred years. And I'm like, seeing where I live in a whole different way and discovering history in a way that, oh, this would have been a main road maybe 400 years ago, and now it's it's overgrown bridleway, which is another really good way to kind of just go the way you live.

Hit us with tip three, what have you got.

So tip three, we've talked a lot there about some bits of gear already. And my tip would be just don't get caught up in the gear trap, too many people end up talking a lot about what type of tend to need, what bait Do I need, what are the expensive bits of kit Do I need, and you can spend literally thousands of pounds or dollars on gear, and it will make your life sometimes a bit easier. But I really do think that usually the best bit of gear is out is the gear you've got. And there's something about getting some cheap gear secondhand either from a Craigslist or from Facebook marketplace or eBay. And sometimes if you get lucky and managed to find a deal, but getting some cheap bit of gear that last year, a long time can really make you feel like you've you've got really good value out of something. So I wouldn't get too caught up on what gear you've got. And it's also good environmentally as well, that stuff's already been produced, then you're not buying new things that require new resources. So buying secondhand is really good COVID I think some people a bit more worried about it now, but you can definitely still do it. And I'm a member of a few of the forums bikepacking and wild camping and my goodness, there's the people who are just so into gear and I get it like that's that's their thing, like some people are into cars, or, or whatever. There they are into gear, bike packing gear, or ultralight camping gear hiking gear,

I think some people use it as a bit of an excuse to not get started, or maybe not consciously. But if there's something holding them back from, say, their first wild camp or their first tour, then they'll justify not going because they don't have all of this expensive gear or fancy new stuff. And like you said, there's a time and a place for it. And if you're doing something particularly hardcore or dangerous, then you probably should at least have the right safety stuff for it. bikepacking doesn't really matter so much. If you're going climbing or mountaineering, then you probably don't want to scrimp on your quickdraws or on your ice axe or on your crampons. But for bikepacking you're basically just sitting on your bike and going camping sleeping outdoors. So pretty much anything that will get you through. Having said that, I'm also not one of those people who is a completely against buying outdoor gear or even more expensive gear, we have a hilleberg 10. And it's horrendously expensive. But a good way that I've been thinking about outdoor gear is not and kind of clothing more generally is the cost per use, as opposed to the absolute cost. Because fast fashion has trained us to think that a pair of jeans could cost eight or nine quid or a T shirt should cost four quid. And there's just so many problems with that. And so I'm happy to pay a bit more for something as long as it's well built. It has like minimal environmental cost. And the supply chain is all done in an ethical way people are being paid how much they should do at each stage. And ultimately that is going to last and not end up on a in a landfill after a few uses. So the cost per use whilst the 10 was whatever 700 quid if you sleep in it 500 times, then it will probably slept in it. Yeah, more than that probably 700 times maybe even more a pound per use is not bad at all. That's brilliant. Yeah,

that cost per use is is really interesting to look at it in that way and have miles as well. And when you're using a piece of gear that's gonna get you further or is going to wear down eventually, like foot. One of the best examples of my best bargain was was a real wheel that I broke in China. I had a strong wheel to start with that the the surly destructor I was riding came with. And in China, the roads were actually the roads are quite good, but I think it was the weight that caused the rear wheel to crack and manage to get a replacement wheel in China. And it costs me a total of a total of five pounds equivalent. And they go ahead with Nick I asked the guy that I only knew maybe about 10 different words in Chinese, like terrible Chinese and how much was dough Shao Chen as I asked him how they answered me Well she cry, which I'm definitely murdering that, which means 50 cry. And as a 50 as they as nothing, that rear wheel lasted me for so long, I think I got about 10 15,000 kilometers. But I could have done when I was in Alaska with a new wheel that was strong, because that will broke in the worst possible place. So there is definitely an argument for buying good quality gear. But I think my real tipping point is, is whatever gear you've got will do the job to start with. And as you get more into it, then you can really lock us down to buy gear. So it's like if you're into any hobby, buying the most expensive gear to start with, will probably not really be that valued or appreciated. It's really when you start putting miles and distance into that gear.

Okay, tip four, take more time to cover less distance. When we were doing Alaska to what was planned to be Argentina, we plan to do it in 18 months. And that seems like a really long time, like a year and a half of riding your bike that seems outrageously long, but uh, we only ended up getting to Panama. And then yeah, my girlfriend fell off a bike injured her knee needed knee surgery, and then we ran out of travel insurance. So we ended up coming back. But that felt almost rushed. Even just getting to that I wouldn't say rushed. But we certainly wouldn't have liked to have done it any quicker. Some people are into just smashing out the miles. And like they they just love looking at this driver and just being like I've done so many miles today, and that that for them is the reward. But I think for most people, it's more about the experience and the adventure. And a big part for me was embracing not being busy. Because in our normal Western lives to go from like a normal job where you have a lot of responsibility and loads of work. And life is just so hectic. One of the best parts about being on a bike packing or cycle touring trip, even if it's just a short one is that you're not inundated with stuff that you have to do. So just giving yourself enough time to not feel like you're always rushed was for me certainly one of the big rewards. And the other part is the longer time you have or give yourself, the more time you have for serendipity. So there were countless times when something amazing and unexpected came up. But one that springs to mind as we were trying to when we'd finished the Baja divide. And we were at the bottom of the Baja Peninsula in Japan trying to get a boat over to the mainland, we spent, I think a week or two there and couldn't find anyone. And then we met this guy. And he was just like, ah, I can't help you go there. But you can just come on my boat for a week. And we're going north. So the way that you've just come but you can come for free. And it's going to be great. And we had an amazing time. So we just left the bikes there and jumped on his boat. And then when free diving, and one of the guys was an instructor. So we took a bit of free diving did some spear fishing and ate this amazing tuner and incredible fish that the guys had like spear fished. And then the do do own the ship was a chef sushi chef. So he just busted that out 10 minutes after coming out of the water. And it was absolutely phenomenal. So some of the best times that we had were not planned. And I think most people I talked to say exactly the same thing, stumbling upon something random giving yourself that extra time is one of the most rewarding parts of the journey. Did you find that

exactly that? Yeah, we're really lucky that we both had 18 months or possibly longer on our journeys. And we I still feel that mine wasn't that long either. 18 months flew by, but some people may only have a week or two weeks to go on their trips. So if you had a week, I think what you're probably saying there is, is if you have a name to I don't know, they say if you've got two weeks, and your aim is to cycle the length of the United Kingdom, that could be great and amazing. But if it was me, I'd probably spend two weeks doing half that or even less. But I think that's because I like to rest and stuff that afternoon, afternoon snoozes and, and when you talk about the freedom to do those things that you haven't planned, if you're on a tight schedule, and you've got to cycle you know, right, we have to do 70 miles today, and yet our hundred miles today and you are really just, I think almost doing ticking it off by numbers and you might feel a sense of achievement at the end. And if that is a name you have set yourself out for that can be really rewarding. And it really depends before you start. What is the aim of your journey? is it to have fun to enjoy yourselves to to build yourself as a person or is it to achieve a tangible goal of cycling from A to B? And I think me and you fit more in that traveler category rather than we're gonna go out and break the land speed record.

Absolutely, really well put. So hit us with tip number five,

tip number five and This is something that you get told what to do when you're younger, which I think it makes sense, but, but it's talking to strangers, like, ah, if I didn't talk to strangers on the journey, it'd be a very lonely journey when I was biking by myself through even countries like Japan or South Korea, where I understand hard that none of the language of me and yes, the the interactions I had with people if you had to speak their language, or if you don't, and they make your day lights, again, so many instances, and there can be so many little things that somebody can offer you be a smile via a piece of food, a place to sleep, and these real basic human needs that a stranger can just offer you a read, I, I fully believe that 99% of the world has good people that wants to provide for their families. And it's not just a belief, it's like, I think I've witnessed it and seen it. And for sure, there are truly bad people in this world. But I'm really fortunate that I've not stumbled across many of them. So talk to strangers, and and especially accept help, it's really hard to accept, I found it really hard to accept help, because I'm this very independently headed person that thinks I can do everything. And then sometimes you get stuck. And you're like, what am I gonna do, and just putting your hand up sometimes, and filming a lift, I had to do that I had to do that I had to do a couple of times I had to do most recently in the in England. And that was when my rear mech hanger, which is a piece of metal that keeps your rear derailleur attached to your your bike snapped. And it was during COVID at that times, and there was no ability to get a replacement. And the guy who was happened to have a bike rack on the back of his car drove past me and offered to give me a lift to the nearest train station. And if I would have just been like, No, it's okay. I wouldn't have had a really wonderful interaction with a stranger. But yeah, or talk to strangers? Have you had any good experiences of talking to strangers? George,

where do we even start? But yeah, lots of lifts that were needed when I was sick or goobie was sick. And yeah, I had very much the same experience. And 99% of people are just really nice and cool. And there's it's only a few bad apples. One of the best things is the change in perspective. And that faith in humanity that's brought back but one that sticks out is actually probably because we were just talking about it before when we left Anchorage. We literally stayed at this blokes house. And then the next day, packed, everything started cycling, and we'd probably gone 50 meters. And I was like really pumped first day of the bike tour. We're on our way to Argentina, and this American couple were standing there and you've got all of your all of your stuff on your bikes, you're obviously doing something with the panniers on. This lady just said, oh, we're wearing off too. And we said Argentina, like super excited of it. And she was like No way. And we said yeah, so she was like, Oh, can we buy you breakfast? We'd love to have a chat about that. That sounds great. It would kind of 5050 something 60 something and we thought I really I really want to get going but but they were so excited and and so we said yeah, okay, let's go. They said yeah, there's there's cafe just around the corner. So we ended up going and having having breakfast with them. And they were really really kind good. people bought some coffee and and some brekkie. And this, this lady said just before we went she was like, oh, I've got a friend called Karen up in Willow. And if you if you need anything, just give her a ring. her kids are bikers, and they always have people staying at the house. There's this lady. She's 70 something. She lives by herself, but she's super friendly. And I said oh, well, we're not really going that way. But thanks anyway. And she said no, no, no, just just take the number just in case. So we ended up taking the number. And then yeah, it was two days later, we ended up changing our route because my knees were inflamed and I couldn't cycle anymore. And where did we happen to stop just next to Willow Alaska. So I gave this lady a ring. I said Hi, Karen. My name is George. I met some people who I can't remember the name of and a Starbucks two days ago. They said maybe we could come and stay at your house. And she said yeah, that sounds great. Just Just come on over. So she was absolutely amazing like to have a call out of the blue like that and we ended up staying yet for a week or so. We kind of just played cards every day and and drank sitting out on the porch with the American flag draped over it was it was amazing is really really fine.

I called them road angels. Yeah, people that came up to me on the road and just imparted wisdom or a bit of food or like just just some guidance and I'm like you like wherever you come from.

Good. It is really amazing. Okay, tip six, something a bit different. This one was just a very practical one. very tactical says that we've got some of those in there too. So mine is too Take a water filter like the Sawyer Mini filter and a water bladder. So you avoid buying and throwing away loads of plastic bottles. We ended up taking one anyway, we wanted to take a water filter, often take it out one, we're just kind of backpacking or that kind of thing and knew that we wanted to get as remote as possible. So obviously you need water, but there's loads of water and creeks and that kind of thing, but you need to filter it so we just had it with us anyway. And then we'd seen loads of people buying all this plastic bottled water along the way and then just kind of throwing it away. And I just really loved the feeling of filtering water and just knowing that we weren't creating any more trash and then also Yeah, it allowed us to go really remote and then not have to worry about not having water. One big tip is to keep the plunger that comes with it. Because after you said

sure. Oh yeah. Oh

really is that thing god that was an absolute we lost it somewhere. And I thought I we probably won't need that. But there's all of the backwash. Yeah, yeah. All the sediment that goes through it and all of the stuff that you have to filter out, it becomes unusable after a couple of weeks. So keep protect that plunger with your life. And yeah, we save money didn't buy as many bottles and got to go really remote. So yeah, highly recommended. Did you use one of those,

I used that exact same filter, the Sawyer Mini and that little plunger thing was worth its weight in gold themselves. When I was ecosys, it can take quite a long time to filter with a Sawyer Mini, there's a there's a few of the soils are a bit more expensive, that have a quicker flow rate. But uh, I've recently started using a steri pen, which, which my girlfriend happened to have one, so I'd like to buy it. She She used that she also went on a 14 month long bike trip through Central Asia and from the UK, and he swears by a stereo pedal and it's always something I never have used and has uses batteries because it's an older model, but now they make them where you charge it via USB. And they're, they're expensive. I think they're about 100 pounds. So compared to the mini Sawyer, which is a lot cheaper, I think that's probably more like 20 pounds. But um, yeah, I really prided myself on not ever buying water. I never buy water. And unless my water bottle that I was using, because I use just kind of the gist of what I meant to be single use plastic water bottles, but a 1.5 liter bottle, I'd buy one of them and I'd make it last six months. And I would like use it until it was like at if I had a Cambodian water bottle in America, which I use all the time. And I used to squeeze the bottle and because rather than you know this Sawyer filters come with a bag. Yeah, which you can fold up so I my bag broke quite early on. And the thread on these Cambodian water bottles just happened to fit a thread on this oil filter. And it was quite a cheap plastic that was quite squeezable. So I could squeeze a liter and a half through it in one go. But that meant that we can do that. Yeah, when that broke, I think out of all the gear which I became attached to that water bottle, which was the most attached to a piece of kit. Like probably a lot of cost less than 10 pens for our because of the memories. I think it can be a lot. But it's Yeah, sounds a bit ridiculous. But But yeah, remember that, that going and having to discard it and being like, Ah, no, the ball is gone. But yeah, but and also links into another point is if you want to get water, you're usually going to have to talk to a stranger. So if like you're in again, say Cambodia, the middle of of a rural area, and you want some water and there's no rivers or there's no streams, you're going to have to go up to somebody and says, Okay, if I have some water and and these people genuinely would love the fact you've come over to talk and would pour you some water and give you a bottle and a few of you and you'd have a really good conversation. And often it would end up leading to them probably making you making a cup of tea, you'll have some tea together some Chai, and you'd have this like another good experience just because you went and asked for some water. So there's so many knock ons that can be positive from from not buying water.

Yeah, what about number seven?

number seven. So I think this is something I've been thinking about a lot recently myself, and it's definitely something that stuck with me on my own bike trip. But tip seven is to bake your own bike ride. There's a saying, I don't know why I heard this but it's and comparison is the thief of joy. And to compare yourself to somebody else or to anybody else doesn't make you happy. And I think quite a lot of the time you'll see either on social media In real life, you'll meet other bytes hearing people. And you can often find yourself comparing yourself either your gear, either how far they're cycling, or if you're looking through social media, you might see somebody doing something amazing is to not really worry about what other people are doing. And really focus on yourself, ride your bicycle in your way. And in a way that makes you happy. Like I've got friends that carry an like an extortionate amount of gear, by they carry camping chairs, they carry all their clothes that they would want to carry, like, and be a smart pair a casual, and they will get criticized by people sometimes for carrying too much gear. But the people this this person, I'm thinking of phobia, like, No, I'm happy. And he bakes his own ride. And then the other people that want to go do world records and go superfast, and other people will criticize them to say, all you need to stop and enjoy yourself. And they could be like, No, I mean, I want to go really fast. So do what you want to do. And don't worry about anybody else.

I think that's probably the most important of all of them. And I completely echo all of that nobody really gives a shit that you're doing it do it for you. Unless you're breaking a record, then then you obviously do need to bike every bit of the trail. But it's so easy. It's kind of like this little microcosm of people almost competing to like, Who's got the lightest bike and the amount of times that people said exactly what you said, then, oh, they've got way too much weight on their bike, and then and it's just like they, they have as much weight as they want on there. And then they'll soon realize if they don't want all that stuff, then they'll take it off. But there's no right amount to have all right way to do it. And I think we talked about this once before, when we'd seen each other maybe up in Scotland or something about I felt really bad when we had to get our first ride may


Kubi. My girlfriend was ill. And she she was she had h pylori bacteria and infection in the stomach. And she was like, bent over on a bike in rural Montana. And I was pulling her with an orange cord off road back to the road, and I was just grinding it out. And we got to the road. And I was like, looking how far it was another 20 K to the hospital, we'll be there soon. And she was just like, let's just, let's just get a ride. And I was just like, No, no, no, no, no, then then we weren't upcycled at all. And, and then she just kind of getting really in it. She was just like, Who gives a shit? And I'll say, Yeah, I guess who who does give a shit. And then we put put the thumb out. There was also not many people around, but fortunately put them out. The next lady who drove past had a big old truck drove to hospital. And like, it doesn't have to be anything that extreme either. But that really helped me to realize, like, do whatever you want to do. Don't care what other people are doing. And don't don't judge yourself against them. And you're you that that quotes. Really good comparison is the thief of joy. I think that's very pithy way to sum it up.

I think you and I have both been inspired to travel and to go on bike Tours by people like Alastair Humphreys, and Sean Conway, who you've previously interviewed and other people that we kind of see have done these amazing things. And I find myself comparing myself to them. And I know that their answer would be don't, they would say, though, they'd be like, do your own thing. Like it's not about the things they've done, but I know that they've probably been in the same trap, where they have either continued on with something because of some rule that they've set themselves. And I think there's this, like toughness of being an adventurer, that we think that you are the kind of bike that like I can I have to cycle all the way and never take a lift. For me it was those exact similar circumstance, I took a lift for the first time, after about a bean it was halfway through Canada, and it was to go is very different circumstances it was to go to a music festival. It was the the offer of have been by myself cycling through Canada, by that point for weeks. And I just wanted company, I'd wanted to be with people. It was on the island of Haida gwaii, which is on the west coast of Canada. A really special place which I'd been advised to go there a couple of times and didn't think I'd be able to make it and met somebody who was happened to be driving to this festival. And she broken down. And I happen to be camping at this library where she was trying to get a breakout breakdown service and she got back vehicle was working. And then she was like, Well, I'm going to this festival and would you like to come with me and I chose to go and that decision changed my journey. It changed everything in my head. It was all about our cycle as much as I want to and I cycled a lot like after that. I didn't take another Journey until after Death Valley in California. And after it's cycled that it's okay, a small ride to the edge of Las Vegas from the edge of Death Valley just to cut a day out because I again wanted to go to Death Valley. But the reason you the reason you take that ride and has so many different reasons, but I think setting yourself rules and being strict and rigid on it can sometimes lead to you not enjoying it. And it's kind of work out what's the point? And that was the growth for me on my journey. And it sounds like it for you. It happened early, early days, rather than for me. It was like 10 months in

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PodCast Host
George Beesley
Adventurer & Founder of Call To Adventure
George just bloody loves a bit of adventure! Imagine someone who not only hikes up mountains for breakfast but also bikes across continents. Got a case of wanderlust? This guy's been to over 50 countries and comes back with stories that'll make your grandma want to go bungee jumping.

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