Cycle Touring Videos

Cycle Touring Videos

 

Welcome to our Cycle Touring Videos from our France to China cycle trip, Canada trip and other cycle trips. I hope you enjoy them. The photos and videos are shot on a GoPro Hero 2, a Lumix GF1 camera and an iphone SE.

Safe travels!

Kelly & Michael x

France to China by bike Cycle Touring Videos

  1. France
  2. Italy
  3. The first 5000km (France to Iran)
  4. Iran
  5. Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan
  6. Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan
  7. Kazakhstan & China
  8. A Day in the Life of a Cycle Tourist

Other Cycle Touring Videos

  1. Canada
  2. Snapshot Canada: every 100km across Canada
  3. Farewell Canada
  4. Cycling the USA

The Cycle Touring Videos

France to China by bike Cycle Touring Videos

France

This is where the journey began at Sty Foy ski station in the Alps! We were working a ski season in the French Alps, when Kelly was in a ski accident, and was no longer able to ski, run, walk, or do anything, except cook and eat. The doctor advised her, that cycling would be good rehab for the knee… and so, with that, the idea of cycling to China was born. With absolutely no experience, next to no planning, and several injuries, we headed off – feeling… confident! Lucky for us the first few days were all down hill, followed by the rest of the week conquering 2 mountains passes. Read more about our cycle trip through France.

Italy

When we made it to Italy, we knew that we would be able to make it the whole way to China – despite what others thought. This was the first country we cycle the whole way across. Read more about our cycle across Italy.

The first 5000km from France to China

Unfortunately, we lost all our original video footage from the first half of our trip. This happened at some point during the trip, but we didn’t realise until we got home, and by this time it was too late to do much about it. We did however manage to retrieve this video about the first 5000km cycling through FranceItalyCroatiaMontenegroAlbaniaMacedoniaGreeceTurkey and Iran. Click on the country name to read more about our cycle trip through those countries.

 

Iran

We didn’t know what to expect when cycling through Iran, but as soon as we crossed the border from Turkey, we were welcomed by friendly and extremely generous people. A day didn’t go by where we weren’t given gifts of fresh fruit, water, smiles and waves. One of the hottest, but also one of my favourite countries on the cycle trip.

Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan

We were only able to get a 5 day transit visa for Turkmenistan, which meant 5 days to cycle 600km across a very hot desert on a very bad road. Luckily, we made it to the border in time. After Turkmenistan was Uzbekistan. The most challenging country during our cycle trip. Bad roads, injured dogs, boring scenery, a killer headwind, but some amazing people. Read more about our adventures in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan

When we arrived into Kyrgyzstan we were greeted with smooth highways, beautiful scenery and lots of cows, oh and mountains. We made it to Bishkek, and then from there cycled into the last Stan of the trip, Kazakhstan. Read more about our adventures in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan & China

The last few days cycling in Kazakhstan were cold! We were looking forward to getting to China and exchanging our bikes for backpacks. The cycle into China was easy, however the bad pollution lead us to hitchhike to Urumqi. Once in Urumqi we sold the bikes, and made our way to Beijing as backpackers. Read more about our China experience.

A Day in the Life of a Cycle Tourist

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a cycling nomad? This video gives a glimpse into the life of a cycle tourist, while we cycled through the Kazakh desert, during our France to China cycle trip.

Other Cycle Touring Videos

Canada

The cycle journey started on 27th June 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia. We then spent the next 3.5 months cycling 7000km across Canada to Halifax. The cycle trip took us through the Rocky Mountains, the Prairie lands, the lake lands of Ontario, French Canada and finally the Maritimes.

Click here to read about our cycle trip across Canada.

Snapshot Canada: every 100km across Canada 

We decided to take a photo every 100km that we cycled across Canada. The idea was to put the photos together as a slide show in the hope that it will give a perspective of how the Canadian landscape changes coast to coast. I think it definitely puts the prairies and also Ontario into perspective in terms of distance. The road quality also changes drastically. In total we cycled 7000km across the country.

Farewell Canada: Cycling Canada to the USA

After spending the winter in Halifax, we were ready to start the next leg of our cycle trip, cycling to the US! This video is about our last week in Canada, cycling from Halifax to the US border.

Cycling the USA

Michael and I, entered the USA in Maine, then headed down the coast to Boston. We spent about 3 weeks cycling in New England, before heading West to New York state. From there we had a ‘slight’ change in plan!

 

China: the transition from cyclist to backpacker

transition from cyclist to backpacker, The summit at Emei Shan National Park

It all happened so quickly!

One second we were cycle tourists, where the most important things in our lives were our bikes, our panniers, our camping stuff and food and water. The next second we were just backpackers. We no longer owned bikes and were throwing out our tattered panniers and old reused ziplock bags, something that once seemed so important to us. It was a strange feeling, like losing a limb. It all just felt so wrong and so surreal – the transition from cyclist to backpacker!

Rules are really just guidelines!

We reorganised our bags and made our way, via public bus, to the train station, to catch the 2 day train to Chengdu. The one place in China I’ve always wanted to visit. We didn’t have any problems with our bags during the entire cycle trip until we reached the train station at Urumqi. For those of you that don’t know, there was a terrorist attack at the train station in Urumqi about 2 years ago, so security there is quite high.

After going through several check points and security screenings we were asked to step aside and have our bags searched. This resulted in them removing our camping knives, my Swiss army knife, our bike multitools and our camp gas. They tried to explain to us in Chinese that these items could not be taken on the train and there was no check in luggage. I loudly protested in English, obviously drawing the attention of others and soon we had a crowd. Eventually we did come to an agreement. I got to keep the knives, they got to keep our camping gas. A fair, but rather strange agreement, which is just one example of the flexibility of laws and rules in China.

Emei Shan National Park
Emei Shan National Park

Riding the trains in China

We were in the economy sleeper, which had no door and slept 6 people. Unfortunately for us, (like in the whole of China) smoking was permitted, though admittedly only at the far end of the train. It didn’t take long for the smoke to whiff down the entire carriage.

After spending 7 months traveling and being ‘on show.’ Having limited privacy to people, whom think you are an ‘exotic species,’ you might think we would be used to all the attention by now, however, our patience had worn thin. We seemed to draw the attention of people wherever we went. We assumed this would stop after getting rid of the bikes, but we were wrong. It wasn’t long before we had people taking sneaky (or not so sneaky) photos and video of us. Not something you want when you’re trying to sleep. Overall people seemed quite friendly and attempted to make conversation with us. Though, all we really craved with some privacy and some normality.

The 2 days on the sleeper train dragged. We feasted on pot noodles (China knows how to do a really good pot noodle box) and snacks that we picked up from the supermarket before catching the train. A healthy assortment of packaged dry cakes, nuts and freeze wrapped foods – extremely healthy!

Chinese food
More Chinese food

Chengdu: the transition from cyclist to backpacker, complete!

Finally we made it to Chengdu! Stinking like cigarette smoke and feeling more drained than after a week of solid cycling. Chengdu was a paradise compared to the polluted city of Urumqi. It was a modern, pretty and unpolluted (in Chinese standards) city. There were lots of parks, Western and even vegetarian restaurants and it was very easy to navigate around without the bikes. This was just what we needed.

I can honestly say, I loved Chengdu. We visited the pandas, explore the ancient towns, the markets and of course the restaurants. We also decided to visit the nearby Emei Shan National Park – a Buddhist monastery mountain/ jungle national park, which was extremely touristic and quite expensive (as was everything related to tourism in China). Finally, we got to do some hiking! Though hiking up ancient stairs for hours on end isn’t quite the same as hiking on a mountain trail. It was still an awesome place, which I definitely recommend. We were feeling happy for the transition from cyclist to backpacker, though we still felt a bit ‘lost.’

From Emei Shan we visited Leshan and the giant Buddha, before jumping back on another 2 night sleeper train to Beijing – our final destination.

Baby pandas
Baby pandas

Our final destination: Beijing!

I was happy to finally arrive in Beijing. We made our way to our hotel, and I couldn’t help but reflect on my life since the last time I was in China. 5 years has passed and a lot had happened since then. I definitely couldn’t have predicted any of it, but that’s life. Wouldn’t it be boring if you knew where you’d be in 5 or 10 years?

By chance, my brother, Michael (yes, another Michael), just happened to be in Beijing for work at the same time as us. If you know my brother then it wouldn’t surprise you that he just randomly turned up a day early at our hotel, unannounced and with no money to pay for the cab. Luckily for him (and he does tend to be quite lucky) we just happened to be at the hotel when he arrived.

We had a great few days catching up, eating lots of food and exploring the sites of Beijing and the surroundings. Though, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t tired. Really I was just looking forward to getting home and back to a ‘normal’ life.

Great wall of China
Great wall of China

The small things in life

Even after a few weeks of living as normal backpackers, we were still adjusting to the simple things in life, such as having access to toilets, and for that matter, western toilets, as well as having access to water, shops, food, internet, beds. We were slowly making the transition from cyclist to backpacker. All the things that most people take for granted in everyday life. Even meeting people that spoke English seemed strange, and even stranger was seeing other Western tourists. It was hard to believe that just over a week ago we were cycling in the middle of the desert. That life already seemed a million miles away.

On top of tha was returning to a world of materialism. After living with the essentials for so long. The ‘luxury’ items just seemed so pointless. The other thing that got me was the amount of waste. Waste itself is a ‘luxury’ item and we had been living in conditions that meant we limited our waste. Nothing from food, to plastic bags, to clothes was wasted. We made everything last (though admittedly packaging from food was still waste – except for our recycled bowls that were actually chocolate spread containers). We didn’t do all this to save money, but rather because we didn’t know when we could get more of something, or replace the old one. So just made do with what we had. I guess the transition from cyclist to backpacker is not an easy one, especially when factoring in the culture shock and readjustments.

Even as I try and explain how surreal the entire transition was. I’m a bit lost for words. Unless you experience first hand the transition from cyclist to backpacker, I don’t think someone can truly understand. The transition isn’t over yet. Returning to ‘normality’ aka Australian life is the next. step.

We made it to China by bicycle… what the?!?

China by bicycle

We made it to China by bicycle!!!

We cycled over 8,000km, from France to China by bicycle!!! WTF?!? It’s been over a week now, and I’m still in shock. It was a rather surreal, but extremely rewarding feeling when we crossed the border into China. We had finally made it. It just didn’t feel real. We had been working towards this goal for over 6 months. The longest marathon of my life, and we finally crossed the finish line.

I’d be lying if I said it was easy, or that I enjoyed the cycle tour the entire time. But, if I was to go back in time, I would make the same decision again (only maybe with better panniers).

We crossed at the Khorgas border crossing.

This is apparently the busiest border crossing between the 2 countries. For once we got lucky, and crossed both borders within 2 hours. We were even allowed to cycle the 5km of no-man’s land, which is not always possible.

The Chinese border town was extremely modern with skyscrapers, shopping centers, wide and flat roads. There were even bicycle lanes. We checked into a hotel, washed then headed to the shop to get some celebration beers!

After spending a couple of nights recovering at the border town, we headed off on the bikes to discover China by bicycle. Our aim was to make it to Urumqi (about 750km from the border), then catch the train to Beijing.

China by bicycle
Loving life! We made it!

The roads in China are amazing.

The first couple of days on our route through China by bicycle, took us through a valley with beautiful scenery, and the occasional yurt. Despite this we just didn’t have the motivation to cycle. We made it to China, why are we still cycling? Our bodies were also objecting to cycling, or so we thought. It actually turned out we were gradually ascending up a mountain pass for the entire day, only we didn’t realize – possibly due to the smooth road that we weren’t used to?

We were making rather slow progress, which was slowed down even more when the road was closed for about an hour due to a rock fall. It was starting to get dark, and we were nowhere near the lake that we had planned to camp at. This is where we discovered we had been ascending the entire day (over a 1300m ascended and still climbing). We were surrounded by snow and couldn’t find anywhere suitable to set up camp. Lost for what to do, we came across an emergency outpost. Luckily the outpost was manned and we were welcomed to stay in one of the spare rooms, and even given tea and breakfast the following morning.

There was a mixture of different people living at the outpost, (Han) Chinese, Uhguir (the Turkic, nomad people that lived in the province), Kazakhs and Mongols. Though we couldn’t speak any Chinese, it turned out we could communicate (with everyone except the Chinese people) using some Turkish. Who would have guessed that Turkish would come in handy this far East? In fact, Michael had managed to communicate (somewhat) with Turkish, in every country we had been in, since we left Turkey – crazy ay!

The following morning the weather was terrible

It was freezing, foggy and rainy. We discovered we still had another 40km ascent, to reach the top of the pass at about 2200m, which meant a long, horrible day of cycling, and most likely, an icy night sleep. Already feeling fluey, we decided to do what most sane people would do. We hitchhiked over the pass! After 10 minutes, a truck stopped, we tied the bikes to the top of a truck. Michael lost his helmet, my pannier strap broke, but at least we didn’t have to suffer the cold.

We got off the truck after the pass, had lunch and set off on the bikes again. After the pass, the scenery became very bland. It almost looked like we were back in Uzbekistan again, only this time with good roads. The wind picked up, so we made very poor progress. Cycling in wind is like cycling up an invisible hill. What little motivation we had left, quickly disappeared. We just wanted to be in Urumqi. We didn’t want to be exploring China by bicycle!

After weighing up the pros and cons we decided to not cycle the whole way to Urumqi.

The scenery was boring (grey desert, cotton fields, rubbish, power plants), the air was polluted (yes, even this far out in the middle of nowhere) and we weren’t enjoying it anymore. We had reached our goal and now it just felt like we were wasting time – and for what? Just to say we cycled to Urumqi? It made no sense to us to continue when we could use that extra time to actually see some sights in China. So the following day we ended up hitchhiking the rest of the way to Urumqi.

Arriving in China with the bikes
Arriving in China with the bikes

We arrived in Urumqi feeling accomplished!

8,500km cycled, through 14 countries, and in only 6.5 months. To celebrate we checked into a 5 star hotel. This turned out to be a great idea, as Urumqi was too polluted to explore by foot or bike, and we ended up spending a lot of time in the hotel room.

Our next mission was to get rid of the bikes, sort through our gear, try and fit everything into one backpack, then decide what we are going to do for the next 3 weeks.

Saying “goodbye” to the bikes. No more China by bicycle!

I had spent the past 3 weeks trying to contact charities and orphanages in China to see if they wanted a donation of 2 bicycles, without any success. Who would have guessed it would be so difficult to try and give away a couple of bikes for free? Apparently there is a lot of corruption in government charities, and other NGO’s have lots of red tape, including red tape on receiving donations – so maybe this is the reason I had no responses.

We decided we would try and sell the bikes, not thinking we would have much luck, and would end up having to leave them in the hotel lobby. Surprisingly, we actually sold them, one to a hotel guest and the other to the hotel security guard. We only got $80 for them, but hey, we were going to give them away for free anyway, and if we were try and take them on the train with us, it would have cost us $50-100 each.

Suddenly we were bikeless!

It was a very strange feeling. The bicycles had been with us for so long, they were an extension of ourselves, a friend, a family member. They had been with us through thick and thin and now they were gone. Just like that, we were normal backpackers again.

We threw away my panniers, bags, ground sheets, extra tubes. Items that had seemed so important to us throughout the trip, we discarded as rubbish. It felt so wrong. One of Michael’s bike bags was actually a backpack, so we had to cram most of our remaining gear into the one bag, which was a bit like a puzzle.

Though we didn’t particularly enjoy exploring China by bicycle, I believe there are some really nice places in China to cycle. Just not where we were. It’s easy to forget how big China is, and that discovering China by bicycle takes A LOT of time and some planning!

Looking back, when I suggested the cycle trip to Michael, I didn’t think we would actually make it this far.

No experience. Shit equipment. Extremely tight budget. Buggered knee. People were questioning our sanity, and putting doubts in our heads. It’s true the odds were probably against us, yet we still made it! What did that prove? It proves that you can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If someone doubts your ability to succeed, prove him or her wrong! You’re the only person preventing yourself from achieving your goals and dreams. We need to accept that there will always be someone questioning our life decisions: ‘The haters’ or ‘The worriers.’ Use that negative energy to fuel your determination to succeed, instead of doubting your decisions.

As I mentioned earlier, the odds were against us, and there were many ‘excuses’ not to attempt the cycle trip, but there will always be ‘excuses’ not to do something! I learnt this a few years ago, when I was living and working in the UK. I was constantly making excuses not to leave my job and go traveling, though I knew if I didn’t go, then later in life I would regret it.

Yes, it may be scary at first, but one day you will look back and wonder what you were so worried about.

Our France to China trip made us realise how awesome travelling by bicycle is. This has lead to our current trip, a world cycle tour. First starting in the Americas and then taking on the rest of the world.