Cycle Touring Videos

Cycle Touring Videos

Welcome to our Cycle Touring Videos from our France to China cycle trip and our World Cycle Tour. 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

World Cycle Tour Cycle Touring Videos

  1. Canada
  2. Snapshot Canada: every 100km across Canada
  3. Farewell Canada

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.

World Cycle Touring Videos

In June 2016, we decided to head off on a world cycle tour. This epic journey started in Vancouver, Canada, where we first headed across Canada to Halifax. After Canada the plan is to head south across the USA and continuing south through Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

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 Argentina

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

France to China by toilet: World Toilet Day

france to china by toilet

In honour of World Toilet Day, I’m reposting my ‘France to China by toilet‘ blog post, which I posted on my other site last year during our France to China cycle tour. During the cycle trip I was raising money and awareness about the global sanitation crisis, through the charity, Wateraid.

In 2014, I was cycling to raise money and awareness for the global sanitation crisis, however it never really occurred to me that while cycling I would find myself face to face with some of the issues related to this global crisis, such as open deification, no running water and poor hygiene.

The countries I cycled through aren’t necessarily the world’s poorest countries, however many of the countries (Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and even China), are still developing and though many of the major cities in these countries have incredibly high tech, hygienic toilets with running water and soap available, this contrasted greatly with the more rural communities. The ‘average’ tourist that’s visits these countries are unlikely to see, experience or even be aware of some of the sanitation issues that the country is experiencing. I could even go as far as saying, most locals that live in the developed cities of these countries, in cities such as Almaty or Beijing, are unlikely to even be aware of the sanitation issues in their own countries. The extremes of toilet quality within one country is just unbelievable.

From France to Turkey, Iran, China and Australia, here is France to China by toilet.

EUROPEAN TOILETS:

We started our France to China by toilet journey in the French Alps. The standard Western toilet, clean, hygienic and private – they tick all the boxes on safe sanitation. My only complaint in Europe was, why do men always leave the toilet seat up? We also came across a ‘drop toilet’ on a hike in the French Alps. Though no running water, it still offers privacy and is in a much better condition than most the toilets I have used since.

 

TURKEY:

After Europe our France to China by toilet journey took us through Turkey. This is where we started to notice a difference in toilet quality throughout the country. We also were introduced to the ‘squat toilet’. With sore legs, ‘squats’ aren’t really that great for cycle tourists. Turkey is also a country where you couldn’t always flush your toilet paper. Toilets ranged from ultimate hygienic, with toilet seat covers, soap, air fresheners (this includes public toilets), to absolutely disgusting squat toilets. I even have my suspicions that a lot of the gas stations (that are mostly run by men), only clean the bloke’s toilets. Turkey was also the first country where we would sometimes cycle for an entire day before coming across a toile. So open defication became more frequent (hence the landscape pic).

IRAN:

More ‘squats’! Some people believe it’s healthier to use a squat toilet. There might be some truth in that, but I still prefer the Western. My worse memory of going to the toilet in Iran was using a public toilet in a park. The ground in the toilet block was soaking wet and dirty. Each cubicle has a hose, as people tend to use a hose instead of toilet paper and unfortunately, someone left the hose running.

All toilets are private and most are clean and have soap and running water. The ‘hole in the ground’ toilet photo below, was actually in a house of a family near the Turkmenistan border. It was the first toilet I had ever seen like that (and this one was actually really clean), but it wasn’t the last. I discovered, though they are rare in Iran and Turkey, they were common in Central Asia.

CENTRAL ASIA (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan):

It’s funny that I didn’t actually take any photos of the squat toilets. I feared I was going to accidentally drop my phone into the hole. The Western toilet was in a hotel (yes, most hotels that cater for Westerners), but the majority of toilets are ‘squats’. Similar to the ‘hole in the ground’ photo above, and usually in outhouses like the ones below. They usually don’t have a cubicle doors. I discovered this as I entered the shack below to find a girl staring at me, while squatting and ‘doing her business’. I screamed in shock, then retreated out of the toilet.

The lack of hygiene and privacy in these toilets actually meant I felt more comfortable ‘doing my business’ in the open. Strangely, this is now a issue in many of the slums in India where toilets have been installed. One thing that I always had that some people in these areas didn’t was hand sanitiser and toilet paper!

CHINA:

The country where there was the most extreme and noticeable difference in toilet quality. It was in China where I experienced the best toilet of my life and probably some of the worst. The fancy toilets, with heated toilet seat options and massage facilities, in contrast to the mould covered squat toilets. One thing about China is that there are plenty of public toilets. Probably more so than in any of the Western countries we cycled through. It was just the standard of toilet tended to vary largely. So, we made it from France to China by toilet, as well as by bike.

 

That sums up my toilet experience while cycling from France to China by toilet. One thing that I have gained from this experience is an appreciation of clean, private (and Western) toilets.

Find out how to get involved in World Toilet Day. Without access to a safe toilets, women and children (and even men) are forced to put themselves at risk of sexual abuse, disease and illness each and every day.

Happy World Toilet day!!!

Cycling Kyrgyzstan

Cycling Kyrgyzstan

Hello Kyrgyzstan!

The border crossing into Kyrgyzstan was one of the quietest border crossings I have ever been through. A little shack on the side of a road with an old car barrier across the road and 2 friendly guards that spoke no English, but were amused by Michael’s attempt of communicating using his Turkish. Other than Russian, the languages in the Stan’s were a form of Turkic so some words were the same. After 5 minutes our passports were stamped, and we were cycling Kyrgyzstan. I have never been happier to leave one country and enter another, to the point that though the week to come everything went against me, the fact I was no longer in Uzbekistan kept my spirits up.

As soon as we started cycling Kyrgyzstan the scenery changed – gorges, mountains, canyons, rivers, lakes welcomed us into the country. A nice change to the desolate and rather boring Uzbekistan deserts and cotton fields. The roads also changed for the better – no more potholes and no more gravel, instead we had a newly paved bitumen road. Even the weather seemed to change for the better. Since we left Tashkent, it rained and even stormed everyday. It was hard to believe that just a week earlier we were cycling in 35-40 degrees heat. The days were also getting shorter, as well as colder, which meant changing our daily cycle routine and no more 5am starts, or midday siestas. The day we crossed the border was actually the first sunny day for over a week.

Unfortunately, the driver’s attitude to cyclists also changed.

In Uzbekistan it was the roads that made me feel unsafe cycling. In Kyrgyzstan, the roads were great, it was the drivers I was scared of! We found that in most countries, a honk of the horn is a friendly gesture, usually followed by a wave or ‘thumbs up’. Not in Kyrgyzstan. In Kyrgyzstan a honk of the horn means, “Get the fuck out of the way or I’ll run you down” – and they mean it! I almost learnt this the hard way when coming into Bishkek.

Overall, I didn’t find the Kyrgyz people that friendly. Maybe that’s because I was coming from countries with unbelievable hospitality or maybe it is because Kyrgyz do have a chip on their shoulder, who knows? Admittedly, we didn’t have as much interaction with the locals as we had done in the other countries. At the same time, we weren’t given the same welcoming (friendly honks, waves, thumbs up, high-fives etc.) and the people we did have interaction with, either were rude, trying to rip us off, or had just ripped us off.

The exception to this was the old deaf couple in a rural village – they spent 10 minutes communicating with me through sign language, and no, I don’t know any sign language. This isn’t the first time on this trip that I’ve met some deaf people, and I actually find them easier to communicate with, as obviously, they use a lot of hand gestures, which is a lot easier to understand than someone just repeating the same thing over and over again, in a language you don’t understand.

Cycling Kyrgyzstan
Amazing view of the valley near the Uzbek border

We got off to a good start.

We crossed the border with no problems, the sun was out, the scenery was beautiful, the road was good, and we even bumped into another cyclist heading the same way. A rarity for us as we’d managed to avoid cyclists the entire trip. He gave us a few tips and cycled on. Cycling Kyrgyzstan involved several mountains passes to climb to get to Bishkek, including two mountain passes of 3100m plus, so it was great to get some tips from another cyclist. With the fast approaching winter, we wanted to get to the passes before the snow did. We really weren’t equipped for snow. A bit of a challenge, but we were feeling confident we could do it. Overall, things were looking good and we were on a high. That was probably where our luck turned, well my luck anyway.

Rocks falling from the skies.

After enjoying an afternoon of cycling we started to look for a camping spot. Just as the road narrowed and we started to climb a mountain, leaving us with very few options. We ended up camping in a very rocky gully, where we discovered Michael’s tyre was completely wrecked, and needed to be changed. A job for the morning we decided. At about 7pm the storm started and went on until about 10am the following day, so we stayed in the tent for most of the morning.

When the rain did stop, while packing up, a huge rock fell right onto my bare foot, my foot instantly swelled up and bruised. Obviously, a foot injury isn’t ideal while cycling. Anyway, despite this, I soldiered on for another 200km (which took about another 5 days) with the swollen foot. Cycling on flat ground didn’t seem to be an issue, but uphill, was not good, and with the approaching mountain passes I was worried. Then gastro returned and my dodgy knee started playing up, and that was it for me. No more cycling Kyrgyzstan!

Cycling Kyrgyzstan
Camping on the mountain side

Mini bus to Bishkek it was!

Just before the start of the pass climb, we caught an overpriced mini bus to Bishkek (about 200km). Bikes, bags, boyfriend and all. The driver was crazy, and almost made me regret taking the mini bus all together. Flying along narrow, icy roads. I was on edge the entire time.

The highest pass (3600m) already had a tonne of snow on. It was also snowing very heavy while we were up there. The wind was very strong and it was extremely cold. We would have frozen! That’s if we even made it that far!

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. While cycling Kyrgyzstan we got to see some of the most beautiful cycling scenery, and the views and wild camping were awesome. I also felt bad for Michael, as it was clear that he was disappointed in missing out on the stupidly high mountain passes. Sometimes however you have to face the music. I was not making it up that hill in the condition I was in, and honestly, after seeing the actual pass I think it was for the best. Sometimes things happen for a reason, even if the reason isn’t apparent at the time!

We finally got to Bishkek and I could breath again!

Eventually we got a place sorted out for a few nights, and I could rest my foot properly. The following day the weather was horrible, it snowed, it rained and it snowed some more. The temperature also dropped by about 10 degrees. I dread to think what it would have been like cycling up the pass in a snowstorm. The weather finally started to clear up the day we left, though it was still freezing! So much for a late autumn in Kyrgyzstan. Winter had arrived early!

We didn’t do a whole lot in Bishkek, just chilled out, recovered, cleaned, and caught up with people via the internet. One morning, we did go for a wander when the weather wasn’t too bad. After Bishkek, we had planned to head to Issyk Lake and cross the border into Kazakhstan from there, but it turned out that border crossing was already closed for the season. This meant we had to cross into Kazakhstan from the nearest border crossing, which was only 20km from the city. So, when it was time to leave Bishkek, it was also time to say goodbye to Kyrgyzstan, and hello to the next country, Kazakhstan!

Cycling Kyrgyzstan!

We spent just over a week cycling Kyrgyzstan, and to be honest I feel like we didn’t see much of the country. Though I didn’t find the people particularly friendly, I would like go back one day. Though next time we visit it won’t be in autumn/winter.

Cycling Kyrgyzstan
Happy to be climbing mountains

Check out this article to find out what made our first cycle trip different?