How to Document Your Cycling Stunts With a Drone

How to Document Your Cycling Stunts With a Drone

So, you love cycling and all that is related to bicycles, stunts, downhill maybe? Do you love those jaw dropping stunts in the half pipe, or the trick course? Would you like to get a chance to make awesome videos of your stunts and downhill rides? You can actually do that quite easily if you have the right drone with the right camera.

Of course, finding the right drone/camera combo can be quite difficult, especially since there are literally thousands of different camera drones on the market. Not to mention that you need to know how to set up the camera to get the best possible footage, and to really know how to fly the drone to get that perfect shot angle. But, that’s why we decided to create this article to help you out and so that you can have Pro Cycling Stunts Videos to create Buzz on your social media profiles.

In this article, we will first talk about how to find the right drone model, then offer you a few pointers on how to find the perfect angles and how to fly your bird to get the best out of your stunt videos.

Choosing the Right Drone Model and the Camera if Necessary

As we mentioned above, you need to choose the drone that will be able to keep up with your action, but also have a camera that can record high-quality resolution videos. Unfortunately, there are too many models available on the market and most of them come with low res cameras, even though the advertisement tells you FULL HD video.

But, not all is lost, especially since you have us as advisors. The brand you should keep an eye on is definitely DJI, but other brands such as Yuneec, Autel Robotics, AirDog, and a few more. The models that would be ideal for your videos are Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic, Spark (all DJI), Typhoon (from Yuneec, all series), Xstar Premium (Autel Robotics), and AirDog from AirDog, but this model comes without a camera so you will definitely need to buy one additionally.

All of the mentioned models come with advanced features that you will need for your stunt recording, such as follow me, circle around, point of interest, and are unbelievably stable thanks to their high-tech systems and gimbals. And, they come with cameras that can record minimum 1080p and up to 4K resolution videos. You can find out much more about each model and many more if you visit MyDroneLab, a site specialized in drone reviews and everything related to this interesting hobby.

And speaking of cameras, if you get the AirDog, or some other model that doesn’t include a camera, the obvious choice would be the GoPro Hero 4,5, or the latest 6th generation, but they cost a small fortune. Therefore, if you want to save some $200 of your budget but still have pretty much the same 4K resolution, we recommend checking out the Xiaomi 4K, or the 4K Mini. They both offer on pair video quality as the Hero cameras, but cost less, way less.

How to Start With a Drone

You didn’t expect to start making awesome videos the same day you buy the drone, didn’t you? You need to keep in mind that flying a drone, and we mean safely flying and being able to create high-quality videos, takes plenty of practice and airtime.

Okay, you could start recording right away on your first day, but then you wouldn’t be able to get the most out of your drone and the camera, plus, you would risk crashing the drone and wasting a serious amount of cash. Therefore, practice, practice, practice, and after a week or two, when you really know all the tricks with your drone and its features, you can start recording your or your friends bicycle tricks.

Once You Get Familiar With the Drone

After you have some decent airtime under your props, and after you are completely comfortable with all the settings and your flying skills, it‘s time to start making those awesome videos that got you into this topic in the first place.

Downhill Videos

This is a video category that demands having a drone that can follow you and keep you in the center of the frame at all times. Luckily, the models we recommended all have that mode, and you can even place the remote in your backpack and film yourself during the downhill run.

But, there are a few things you should know before taking off with the drone and going down that hill:

Make sure the battery will last the entire ride

This means that the full flight time of your drone has to be at least a minute or two longer than the ride lasts. So, make sure you know how long your drone can stay in the air, make sure you know how long it will take you to finish the ride, so that you have time to stop and get ready to wait for the drone to land or to grab it as it lands to avoid flipping on the landing (drones are not famous for knowing how to land safely on their own so catching it for its landing gear just before it lands is the safest way).

Make sure you have all the settings set properly

By this, we mean to check if on your path, there are some tall trees or any other tall obstacles, and that your flight height is set to fly over those obstacles. Also, if you plan on using the circle around mode, make sure that the radius isn’t too big so that the drone can hit something along the way.

The best way to make sure the path is clear or that you will cover all the possible obstacles and keep your drone safe, is to go down the path, check all the possible dangers, and make sure you set the parameters properly before taking off.

Best modes and angles for downhill videos

Most people make mistakes and when shooting such videos, they set the drone to follow them from behind and from high altitude. Two things are wrong in this situation, first, if you set the drone to follow you from behind, as it accelerates, the front props are bound to enter your frame and ruin your shot. Second, if the drone is too high, then you lose all the small details and mid track tricks you might do, thus the video looks too ordinary and not that interesting.

To avoid this and make your videos jaw dropping, set the Follow Me mode to be in frontal mode, meaning that the drone will fly backwards and film you frontal. This way, the props will go away from the camera, and you don’t have to worry about them ruining your video. Also, set the height of the flight to some 5 to 10 meters, so that the drone is close to the action. But, remember to check for obstacles before the flight.

Obstacle course or skate park

This is much easier as you won’t be moving at high speeds and you have time to try many different angles. If you plan on recording your friends tricks, we suggest using the course lock mode. This means that the drone will follow an imaginary line, while you can fly sideways, or turn in the yaw axis without changing the course. This gives you the freedom to focus on camera work and not so much on piloting.

Another useful thing is the Point of Interest mode. In this mode, the camera is pointed at the selected object or subject, no matter what you do with the drone. This can be useful if you want to record your own tricks, as the drone can simply hover in one place, but keep the camera on you. This looks especially effective when you are doing flips, or 360 spins, as you can set the drone just by the side of the jumping ramp, and literally fly just a few inches way from the drone as it shoots.

But, be careful to set the height right so that you don’t end up hitting it.

If you are doing a ride with multiple obstacles and ramps, then the Follow Me mode would be the best choice, but, in this case, set the mode to follow you sideways, for the maximum effect.

Have fun and fly and ride safe!

 

Author Bio:

Jack is a true drone passionate and he focused his education on this amazing field. Thus, he graduated the Drone/UAV Pilot Training Certificate program and now he’s a member of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. His main purpose right now is to find and develop new features and help others discover the wonderful experience of flying a drone. For this, he is the main editor and content creator at MyDroneLab Blog where you can find everything you want to know about drones.

Top 5 European Countries to do on a Bike This Fall

col du lautaret by bicycle, European Countries to do on a Bike This Fall

Biking is exciting regardless of where you’re doing it, but have you ever thought about going on a trip through Europe? Having a different venue to bike it offers a lot of challenge, new terrain and excitement of discovering trails. You can also enjoy the new scenery and vegetation! In this article, we are going to show you the top 5 European countries in which to bike!

Sweden

The Kinnekulle Trail System is a 5 star rated area that is known for Kinnekulle, which is one of the tallest hills in the western part of Sweden. Over 300 meters above sea level, you will have amazing views of the surrounding area and of the largest lake in the country, Lake Vanem.

Besides the views, the biking here is awesome and has the longest downhill trails in the area. While many of the tracks here are great, you will find some with flatter areas on this advanced single track.

Orange Trail in Gatene is also located within the Kinnekulle Trail System and is a 45 km intermediate single track with an elevation of 265 meters. This trail goes all around Kinnekulle, and will take you through farms and all the way up to the top of the mountain and down the opposite side.

Once you get farther along the track, you will see a double track, as well as dirt roads, some paved areas and more. There are a ton of terrains from one side to the other that you will experience.

Austria

Take along your best ultralight backpack because there is a lot of mountain biking to do here! Head to Hinterglemm for Bike Circus Saalbach Hinterglemm, which is the best place for mountain biking in all of Austria. There are hundreds of miles of trails, from cross country to downhill and freeride.

In the Austrian Alps, this is an entire valley with trails of all difficulty levels and many obstacles. If you prefer downhill biking, check out the famous Hacklberg Trail that has many jumps, single trails that will test your limits.

Visit Bikepark Leogang, located in Leogang, Austria. Great for bikers of all ages and skill levels, you can enjoy nature and hit the various trails. The trails are marked and tell you what the difficulty level will be. You can hit up the Flying Gangster Trail or either Hang Man Trails. Bikepark Leogang is home to Europe’s largest bike park for beginners called Riders Playground, which is 10,000 meters squared and has a free ride course.

France

If you want an assortment of terrain and trail types, then Peisey and Les Arcs in Bourg St. Maurice, France, has you covered! With fire roads, single tracks, downhill areas, you will have an adrenaline filled time here! Between trails, take the awesome lift system that gives you a full view of nature, as well as the various villages below.

Haute Route in Chamonix is another great place to bike. This expert trail is over 100 miles long and takes you from this region in France to Zermatt, Switzerland. This is an alpine trek and you will be on a single track. Experts say that you need to take your time and have good weather here, as well as the skills, to make it through Haute Route!

Spain

Morcat Trail is located in Ainsa, Spain, and starts out near an ancient village that has torn down buildings. This trail was used for centuries as a transportation road to go from the village to the valley and back. This is a technical single track that is very steep but tons of fun. It offers lots to see in terms of foliage and scenic views, and takes you downhill.

Camino De Santiago is a trail that is in Santiago De Compostela that is 966 km long and is great for beginners. You will find that most of this trail is a double track that has a lot of gravel, but, as you go along you’ll discover more terrain. The countryside is amazing and stunning, and there are lots of places where you can rest, get a drink or food, and take in the beauty around you.

While you will find this trail has a lot of hills at the start and finish, the middle section is a bit flat. Everything is marked, and easy to access.

Norway

Hafjell Bike Park boasts many trails and has quickly become a haven for all types of cycling enthusiasts. The MTB portion of the park is exhilarating and you can find many heart-pounding downhill trails. The Buldreloypa trail is a bit rocky and has jumps and wall rides and is located in a forest area. Moe’Town Trail is smooth and has many pump sections, rollers, berms and more! It is known as a fun trail that you won’t forget!

Trysil Bike Arena is the largest winter sports place in Norway. It has new biking facilities and already has over 100 km of single tracks that are in the mountain and forest. Great for families, you can experience a wide range of trails in this park.

 

There is a great Flow Trail here as well as a skills course an pump track. You can find items to balance on, jump off of, and many banked curves. The Mountain Circuit offers trails for all skill levels and has many high mountain trails and some harsh terrain, too. If you take the route around the mountain, you will find it family-friendly, and a good fit for all!

Conclusion

Now that you are aware of not only the best European countries in which to bike, you know specific areas in which you can do so. From beginner to advanced, your skill level can be accommodated with various trails and terrains. Not only are you getting a heart-pounding experience, but you can do so within the beautiful mountains and landscapes that Europe has to offer. Happy travels!

5 of the World’s Most Epic Bike Rides in the Southern Hemisphere

Epic Bike Rides in the Southern Hemisphere

Biking can be a great way to connect with nature and even discover a new city. Still, many of those who enjoy cycling also like to try out various types of trails in all season. From muddy trails in the spring rain to snowing trails in the winter, biking can be a great way to explore and stay healthy. In this article, we are going to show you 5 of the most epic rides you can take in the southern hemisphere, so you can hit up one of these places while on vacation to challenge yourself!

New Zealand

New Zealand is already known as a place where extreme sports thrives. In New Zealand, you can choose either the North or South Islands for mountain biking. On the South Island, you can head to Queenstown for one of the best locations in which to bike in the entire country.

If you head to the Queenstown Bike Park at Ben Lomon Recreational Reserve, you will find some of the best trails out there. Here, you can find many specialist outlets for biking that will inform you about the trails and various bikes.

You can head to cities near Wellington for some awesome trails to bike. You will have your choices of many, including heading to Auckland for the Woodhill Bike Park, or Napier at the Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park. You won’t be disappointed!

Australia

If you have an Enduro bike, then head to Australia for the competitions and events they have for Enduro racing, such as the annual Cross-Country Marathon National Series, which is only held in Australia. This race spans 4 states and 2 territories, at nearly 600 km long!

If you don’t want to compete, you can head to Stromlo Forest Park for some great trails by yourself or with friends. This 5-stars rated park boasts a network of trails that are perfect for beginners or those who are advanced. You can find this bike park in Canberra and you can explore every bit of it!

Sparrow Hill, also in Canberra, is another great park that has many trails to explore. This is an intermediate skill area that has single tracks about 32 km long. The Hillside Dams area of this park is great for those that like a different terrain as it has many rocky areas and winding paths with lots of shrubberies.

Bolivia

If you are an avid mountain biker and you have heard of biking in Bolivia, then you may have heard of Death Road. Located in La Cumbre, an hour from La Paz, Death Road is known as the world’s most dangerous road. You will start out in an area in the Andes that is located over 15,000 feet above sea level. You will see Huayna Potosi, which is the highest peak, and it’s snowcapped.

You will start on Death Road on a 40-mile trek that will decrease your altitude by nearly 12,000 feet. You will be riding through rain, on a mountain where the road is very narrow and only fits 2-way traffic. Safety is a concern, but with a guide, you will be lead safely.

Most of this trail is downhill, and you will pass through villages and see various animals like llamas. You will pass by cliffs, rock overhangs and a ton of beautiful vegetation. Luckily, there are places to stop and rest and get something cool to drink. Just before your biking ends, you will pass by a beautiful, cooling waterfall. Just past that is the end, where you can relax at a wildlife refuge!

Argentina

Argentina is known for its beautiful landscapes and scenery, which you will get a lot of if you go mountain biking here. In San Juan, you will find Tres Marias, an advanced single track that starts at the bottom of the mountain and goes east or west, depending on where you want to go. The trails range in terrain and you will enjoy getting to the top of Tres Marias!

If you choose to take a biking tour, you can go around Buenos Aires, specifically the districts of San Telmo and La Boca. This tour will take you to various landmarks around Casa Rosada and Plaza de Mayo. You explore many of the popular areas as well.

Chile

Head to Santiago, Chile, and bike at Cancha Carrerra! This is a difficult circuit for advanced bikers as it has many types of terrain. It is touted as one of the best downhill trails in Santiago. In many areas, there are rocky areas and rock gardens and many curves. As you continue, you will encounter gaps, jumps, zigzags and sharp turns.

Once you get to the end, you will pass through the forest, where you will continue to zigzag and enter rocky territory. Take your GPS with you as it is easy to miss a turn, and there are several roads that go in other directions!

Enjoy the beautiful views this circuit has to offer. You can see the fog that enters into the mountains, and on clear days you can see for miles and miles!

El Huinganal is also in Santiago and is an advanced single track that is nearly 1,000 feet in elevation. You will start off around Establo el Huingal, where you will pass by horses! On this trail you will cross 3 creeks and enjoy a flat area to bike on that has some rocky parts to it.

Conclusion

Are you ready to plan a trip yet? Hitting up these trails and the many others in the southern hemisphere will excite you and test your limits. Going mountain biking is not only a great way to stay in shape, but to explore nature and different areas. With these trails, you will surely enjoy yourself and maybe learn a thing or two! See you on the trails!

Cycling in Europe: The Best Routes to Try According To Your Level of Experience

cycle trekkers about us

Cycling in Europe has a lot to offer: wonderful vistas, friendly people, and a rich cultural background. You can experience the Old Continent in a new way, traveling by your bike, on different routes. That’s why we found the best trails for you, regardless whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced cyclist.

Brittany to Normandy

This is a great route if you’re intermediate to biking because of the medium elevation gain during this 8-day long journey. But it’s totally worth it, considering you’ll see some of the most beautiful beaches in France. Not to mention the historical charge, given the pit stops of this route. So this 8 day tour starts in Saint-Malo, where you can visit the walled city. The second day ends in Cancale, but on the road there, you’ll see the coast, plenty of fisherman villages, as well as oyster farms. Over the next few days, you can visit Roman-age towns, spend the night in beach hotels, learn more about the Battle of Normandy and about medieval history in general. The coastline is stunning and you’ll breathe in a lot of fresh air.

Paris to Moscow

This is a longer route that lasts for approximately 45 days during which you’ll travel more than 2700 miles, but you’ll get to experience a lot of different countries along the way. This is an advanced journey, during which you’ll travel through the places where Napoleon went in 1812, during his Russian Campaign.  It’s a good idea to take the best hydration bladder you can find, considering you’ll be on the move so much. You’ll travel through Germany with its deep forests, through the medieval villages of Poland, and the rolling vineyards of Lithuania and Latvia. These last two countries, along with Estonia have an Eastern culture that’s visible throughout their streets, buildings, and monasteries. The end point is Moscow, where you can rest your weary legs.

The Danube river tour

This is another one of the most popular rides, and it’s definitely for beginners. That’s because you’ll have little to no elevation gain, and you’ll be cycling on paved paths, following the Danube. So there won’t be any rocky terrain or traveling through forests, but you’ll get to travel through four different countries. You’ll start in Germany with its Alemannic history and Bavarian monasteries. After that, you’ll travel through Austria, where you can marvel at its impressive vineyards. Slovakia is a country with lots of memories from the two World Wars, as well as from the Ancient times. And lastly, you’ll get to Budapest, Hungary, with its green villages. The whole journey will take you about 13 days, and you’ll travel about 500 miles total.

The Alps to the Adriatic

This is definitely an epic journey, and it’s more appropriate for advanced cyclists. You’ll pedal through various heritage sites and alpine cities, but you’ll start in Venice. After cycling through the long green plains in Venice, you’ll bask your eyes in the crystal clear water of the Adriatic sea. You’ll travel through hills and beaches, through plateaus and baroque cities. You’ll see various cities in the countries of Italy and Austria, as well as other highlights in the course of this 27 days route. The 1155 miles total are a long way to go, but you’ll be traveling an average of 52 miles each day.

The Moselle to Mozart

This amazing tour covers a part of Germany and Austria, but the route will take you to the border with Luxembourg as well. You’ll see various historic cities, and pedal on the shore of different rivers, the most renowned ones being the Rhine and the impetuous Danube. Other impressive vistas are offered courtesy of deep forests, green valleys, and quaint villages. Bask your eyes at the poetic vineyards along the way, and enjoy the magnificent old river beds, timbered houses, churches, and castles. The medieval villages and towns, filled with monasteries and ancient castles will lead you to Vienna, where you can go for a nice stroll or a guided tour of the city. This 16 days journey mostly runs on even terrain, so you won’t have to strain yourself too much. However, you’ll be pedaling an average of 60 miles daily, and that’s what makes it an intermediate tour.

What will it be?

With so many choices at your disposal, it’s not easy to pick one. All these tours have a lot to offer in terms of sceneries and history, but they all challenge you differently. So in the end, your choice depends on your skill level and time frame. Don’t be shy and tell us what you picked. And if you have other, better tour suggestions, we’re happy to hear them! The comments are right below.

Hacienda Merida: Ecotourism in Nicaragua

ecotourism in nicaragua

Hacienda Merida: Ecotourism in Nicaragua

For my birthday this year, we had the pleasure of discovering some ecotourism in Nicaragua, while staying at Haceinda Merida on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. Though the last 7km cycling down the dirt road to the hotel was a bit of a challenge, it was worth it in the end.

Hacienda Merida is a unique hotel, as it provides funding to a number of different projects, as well as using eco-bricks to build a free, bilingual school for the kids in the area.

We spent 4 nights at the hotel, and had the opportunity to explore the school as well as visit the Ometepe Biological Station, which is the starting point for the hike to San Ramon waterfall.

The San Ramon Waterfall ecotourism in nicaragua
The San Ramon Waterfall – another good example of ecotourism in Nicaragua.

What are Eco-Bricks? 

Hacienda Merida buys eco-bricks from the community. An eco-brick is essential a 1.5L plastic bottles, filled with rubbish. Each brick cost US0.50 cents, and contains 500g of non-organic waste. This incentive helps to educate the local community about non-organic waste, as well as reducing the amount of waste that ends up in the environment, or being burnt in the streets. These bricks are then used to build the walls of the school, and other structures such as outdoor tables and chairs.

eco brick table ecotourism in nicaragua
Eco-bricks being used to make some tables and chairs.

The School

Public education is free in Nicaragua, however it’s generally not very good, and definitely not bilingual. The Ometepe Bilingual School is funded solely by Hacienda Merida, and offers free quality education to children. The school currently has 84 students, and is bilingual, with the aim to educate children in environmental awareness, sustainability and ecotourism.

bilingual school ecotourism in nicaragua
The bilingual school at Hacienda Merida.

Haceinda Merida: The Hotel

The hotel was established in a pre-existing building, so no land was cleared to create the hotel. The hotel also promotes sustainable activities such as cycling, hiking and kayaking, opposed to renting a motorcycle. It was also one of the few places I discovered in Nicaragua that actually separates recyclables and organic waste. All organic waste (such as left overs from the hotel restaurant) is used to feed the hotel’s pigs and chickens. The food served in the hotel is locally sourced, reducing the carbon emissions generated from transportation. I believe they also have a generator that runs off solar panels.

Recycled flowers made from coke bottles ecotourism in nicaragua
These flowers are made out of old coke bottles, and were used to decorate the classrooms. It thought they looked really cool! I might even try this at home.

Get Involved:

Volunteering at the School

The school offers a volunteer program to either long or short-term visitors. Contact Hacienda Merida to find out more.

school eco bricks
You can still see the eco-bricks in the wall – some of the walls have also being plastered over.

Send Emails, Blog or Vlog

I briefly met the owner, who told me about his concerns about the pollution and rubbish in Nicaragua. He believes that tourists provide an opportunity to make a difference, by putting pressure on the government to invest in a better wastage/ recycling system in Nicaragua. So, instead of just bitching about the rubbish you see, amongst your friends and family, write to the country’s politicians or governing body and voice your opinion. He believes if enough people do this, then change will happen. Whether this is true or not, there is only one-way to find out.

Admittedly, I’ve travelled through a lot of countries that have issues with rubbish, and I’ve never considered writing about it before. So this time, I will take 5 minutes and send an email voicing my opinion, and I urge others to do the same. After all what’s 5 minutes of your time.

Stay at the hotel

Currently 40% of the profits generated by the hotel goes towards funding the bilingual school, eco-bricks and a few other sustainable projects on the island. By staying at the hotel you are supporting a great cause, and ensuring your money goes towards protecting the island and promoting sustainability.

If you enjoyed this article about ecotourism in Nicaragua, check our some of our other ecodiscoveries.

We spent about 5 weeks cycling around Nicaragua – check out our Nica post to find out what else we’ve been up to!

Discovering you don’t want to be long term cycle touring

cycling the erie canal trail, don't want to be long term cycle touring

And that’s a wrap! 

I know this might come as a shock to some, but while having time to think and discuss our trip, our expectations and what we want from the cycle trip, we actually discovered that we don’t want to be long term cycle touring. We’ve both travelled to around 70 countries, on and off for the last 10 years – it was time for something else!

This was a very sudden change in plan. We had no way that we would feel like this when we left Halifax. In fact, the entire time we were in Halifax we were so excited about starting cycling, that this is the last thing we thought was going to happen. But, sometimes you just don’t know how you will feel or how things will end up until you’re in that situation.

nova scotia sign, Cycling Nova Scotia: Halifax
We made it to Nova Scotia!

So, how and why did we come to the conclusion that we don’t want to be long term cycle touring anymore?

#1 There is more to life than just exploring the world by bicycle

I love travelling, I love cycling, I love seeing the world… but, as hard as it might be to admit this, there is more to life than travel and exploring. I once thought I could be one of those wandering nomads, off discovering new places and people, letting the road take me where it wants, but in reality I want more in my life than that.

Our priorities had changed and I know wanted the things that travel cannot provide, like the possibility of having chickens, a dog, and a veggie patch. I don’t want to be living on a strict budget each day, worrying about the pennies, where we’re going to sleep that night and whether we’ll get a shower that week. I know there are people out there that live like this either by choice or not, but in my case, I know I don’t have to live like this – there are other options.

Though travel and cycle touring is great for the short term, I don’t think it’s healthy to do constantly. You end up missing out on other important things, like weddings, birthdays and family events, and you aren’t able to maintain a healthy life balance. In the end, there is more to life than travel and cycle touring and that is a huge reason why we don’t want to be long term cycle touring anymore.

Cycling Kazakhstan
Wild camping in the desert of Kazakhstan.

#2 I lost my purpose

I am a person that needs to find meaning or a purpose in everything I do, and one day while riding in the US, I realised that I couldn’t find any meaning in what I was doing. This triggered more thoughts and feelings about the trip… thoughts I eventually shared with Michael. I thought that perhaps it had something to do with cycling in the US, and that these feelings will leave once we make it to Latin America. It was pretty clear once we arrived in Nicaragua that it wasn’t the place that was the issue.

Cycling New England
Cycling New England, USA.

#3 Exhausted…

Cycling, travelling, living on a budget and being a nomad is exhausting. Even when you take a break (like we did in Halifax) you are still mentally on the move, planning for the next stage or trip. You’re also not able to make any long-term plans, because you’re only there for a short time. This along with constantly being on a strict budget, taking note of the pennies you spend, and trying to figure out how to make your money stretch to the next “rest” spot where you can work, is quite tiring. We had just had enough of skimping on things that we otherwise wouldn’t have to.

I was also diagnosed with an eye condition in Halifax, which meant I was supposed to keep my eye completely clean and put a heat pack on it twice a day – if you’re a cycle tourist, you’d probably understand how difficult that can be. This was just another thing to worry about.

about us
Cycling in the snow in Canada.

#4 Sights losing the “wow” factor

You know this is starting to happen when you start compare everything you are seeing for the first time, to something or somewhere you have already been. You’ll hear yourself say things like, “This city is just like Antigua in Guatemala.” or, “This lake isn’t as pretty as Lake Atitlan.”

For us as well, we felt like this cycle trip was never going to compare to the France to China cycle trip, where everything was new and exciting. We were also cycling through a lot of countries that we had already been too. Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time travelling there a few years ago, but the feeling wasn’t the same as exploring somewhere for the first time.

exploring nicaragua granada Nicaragua
The sunset in Granada.

#5 I don’t like saying “goodbye” constantly

Cycle touring and travelling you do get to meet so many wonderful people, and I can say I’m lucky enough to have friends all over the world, but while constantly being on the move you can still be limited to how strong a connection you make or keep with those friends. At times you feel like you have all the friends in the world, other times you can feel so isolated and alone.

I also hate saying goodbye. I feel like with the number of times I’ve had to say “goodbye” in my life, it should be easier to say it by now. In fact, I feel like the more I say “goodbye” the harder it gets.

One thing that cycle touring has taught me is how important family and friends are, and instead of spending months, sometimes years without seeing my loved ones, I would rather have the option to see them whenever I like. Why? Because I miss my friends and family.

pedalling the prairies
Jacque, Luisa, Me and Michael having lunch somewhere in the Prairies!

What now?

No, I’m not having babies! Sorry, Mum and Dad, but I’m afraid I’ll only be giving you fur-grandchildren.

At first we had no idea what we would do. Michael and I are both from Perth, but have spent a large portion of our lives in other countries. I’ve spent just as long living in England as Australia, and already feel a bit torn between two countries. Though, at the same time, if we could pick absolutely anywhere to live, we would probably go with British Columbia in Canada. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to get sponsorship and move there permanently, so with the assumption that New Zealand is supposed to be similar to Canada, this was the first place we picked to move to. This also meant I didn’t have to choose between my two homes, England and Australia. We eventually rethought this idea and decided to give England a go – mostly due to family, and being located in Europe.

So on June 13th 2017 Michael and I will be moving to the UK to start our next adventure. To some this may not seem like much of an adventure, but it’s all about perspective, and to us a life of stability and routine, really will be an adventure.

Will we cycle tour again?

Absolutely! Cycle touring is still our preferred way of travelling, and we’ve already discussed plans to take a week or two cycle trip around Norway and Iceland, and within the UK.

No, we won’t be planning any future long term cycle trip. I think we’ve said goodbye to our budget/ long term travel days. We hope that by living a more stable life, and taking only the occasional cycle trip, our lives will rebalance, and we will become more excited about travel and appreciate our future trips a bit more.

Cycling France, don't want to be long term cycle touring
Just not as exciting as cycling France – one of the reasons why we don’t want to be long term cycle touring anymore.

What does this mean for Cycle Trekkers?

Nothing. Just because we don’t want to be long term cycle touring, it doesn’t mean we won’t still cycle tour, so Cycle trekkers will continue as usual. We’ll continue to add our cycle blogs, gear reviews, eco-discoveries and anything else bicycle related, to the site.

Long term cycle touring is a bit glorified, just like budget travelling is, and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that think Michael and I have the easiest life in the world. Well, no actually it’s bloody hard work and very exhausting. Usually the rewards of beautiful sights and new experiences is enough to make it worth while, but when you’re not excited by this like you used to be, then you start to wonder what is the point – why are we still cycling? So that’s why we don’t want to be long term cycle touring anymore, and why we are ending our trip early. Have you every experienced something similar, and ended a tour early? Or are you set on exploring the world by bicycle for the rest of your life? Would love to hear about your experience.

Exploring Nicaragua with bicycles!

exploring nicaragua granada Nicaragua

Our first day exploring Nicaragua was spent mostly sleeping, eating and procrastinating over putting the bikes back together after the long flight to Latin America – ok so not much exploring. This resulted in us spending an extra day in country’s capital though, which I don’t really recommend.

So, did our bikes make it?

Yes, they did. There was a minor issue with my bike, but we managed to resolve that issue a couple of days later. Michael and I spent around 3 hours piecing the bikes back together in the carport of our guesthouse. We even had some young kids join in with the rebuilding of the bikes.

bikes nicaragua
The kids in the guesthouse got their bikes out to work on…

My cough

My cough still hadn’t improved since arriving in Managua. In fact we were actually worried that it had got worse after I coughed up some blood the day after we arrived. I might not know a lot about injuries and illness, but I know coughing up blood is definitely not a good thing, so I spent the morning visiting doctors, getting x-rays and picking up prescriptions. Everything seemed to look fine and I was told it should clear up with time. As you can imagine, I was pretty relieved over this news.

The next day, we packed up and cycled about 60km to Granada. We planned to take Spanish classes (at a chocolate mansion – I know, I have a chocolate addiction) and rest until I was well enough really start exploring Nicaragua and to cycle long distances again.

On the road exploring Nicaragua y bicycle… breifly

Nicaragua was definitely a lot more humid and hotter than New York State, so we decided to get an early start cycling. This proved to be pretty much pointless. I decided it would be a great idea to follow google map’s shortest route to Granada. This route took us down some pretty questionable roads, and into what we think was a sketchy part of town. It took us an hour to cycle 5km from the guesthouse, and we were nowhere near getting out of the city limits. In the end, we backtracked to the main road where the guesthouse, was and took the longer route towards Granada, sticking only to the main roads.

Lesson 1 learnt: stick to the main roads, especially when leaving big cities. Don’t be tempted to take the shorter route – it won’t be quicker.

The rest of the day’s cycle was actually awesome. We passed local properties, farms, plantations, volcanos and mountains. The main road was surprisingly well paved, with a good-sized hard shoulder. Even the drivers seemed courteous to cyclists, and we felt no aggression on the road. Originally, we had planned to take it slow to make sure I didn’t over do it. We thought the 60km cycle would take most of the day, but we ended up arriving in Granada around lunchtime – also the hottest part of the day. We checked into our Airbnb, hit the showers and had a siesta.

swimming pool
Michael chilling out by the pool at our Spanish school in Granada

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada is a beautiful, colonial town, but extremely touristy, and therefore, also a little bit more expensive than we were expecting. The colourful buildings, and rustic doorways give a lot of character to the city, and I can definitely see why the city is known to be a photographer’s dream.

For the most part, I rest in Granada, though we did decide to cycle to a nearby lake, which actually turned out to be 15km up a volcano to a CRATER lake. It was beautiful, but it was definitely a hot, sweaty and very difficult cycle day. Surprisingly we saw loads of local cyclists out on the main road between Granada and Masaya (this was before the turn off up the volcano). These cyclists were not the usual commuting cyclists we had seen, but road cyclists.

Leon exploring nicaragua
The cathedral rooftop in Leon

Leon, Nicaragua

After our time in Granada, we planned to leave the bikes at the Airbnb and head into El Salvador and maybe Honduras for a week. This plan changed once we arrived in Leon. For some reason, I’ve started to get a bit motion sickness in anything that goes faster than my bike. The 3 hour shuttle we took to Leon, proved not to be too enjoyable, and I couldn’t think of anything worse than a 10+ hour trip to El Salvador. On top of this, Michael wasn’t too phased about visiting either country, so we decided to stay in Leon, do an overnight hike and visit the Flor de Cana rum distillery before heading back to Granada to pick up the bikes and continue exploring Nicaragua.

During this time Michael and I were discussing our plans for the trip. We made a few realisations and ended up changing our plans once again!

Flying with bicycles: the USA to Nicaragua

flying with bicycles

The first stage: Buffalo to Toronto

Overall the flight to Nicaragua was a bit of a nightmare. This was the first time we had ever tried flying with bicycles, and unfortunately it didn’t go completely smoothly.

First, we caught the greyhound from Buffalo to Toronto. This was probably the only part of the trip that went smoothly. There were only 4 people on the bus and the Greyhound staff didn’t even charge us extra for the bikes – score! We had no issues headed back through the Canadian border. They didn’t even want to x-ray our bike boxes, or any of our bags – double score! At this stage, I was quite hopeful and thought the smooth bus trip was a positive sign for things to come…

Toronto Airport: Flying with bicycles!

It was all downhill from the moment we arrived at Toronto Airport! Once we arrived at the airport, we started to make our way to the departure hall. This turned out to be unnecessarily difficult, when we discovered that the elevators aren’t actually wide enough for our bike boxes. This meant, holding the elevator open while Michael pushed each box into the elevator along with all our bags. Taking up the lift for so long, doesn’t make us too popular with the other passengers. It also turned out we were departing from a different terminal, so we had plenty of small elevators and a train to overcome.

When we finally made it to departures, we checked in then proceeded to the oversized luggage. Now being oversized, you think that would mean they have x-ray machines large enough for oversized baggage. Well, they don’t! The customs officer actually tried to squeeze our bike boxes through the small x-ray machine. Mine managed to fit through. Michael’s on the other hand got stuck. We then spent the next 30 minutes trying to push Michael’s bike out of the x-ray.

Flying with bicycles
Michael attempting to push the bike box out of the x-ray machine with another smaller box, at the “oversized” baggage check in at Toronto Airport. I kid you not – this is the oversized x-ray machine and Michael’s box got stuck inside.

At one point, Michael had the end of a broom, and was pushing the box from one end, the customs officer was messing around with the belt… reversing it and then moving it forward again, and another lady was trying to pull the box from the back. It almost seemed to comical to be reality, and part of me was waiting for the “You’ve Been Framed” camera crew to appear around the corner. After 30 minutes had passed, I was convinced that they would have to dismantle the machine to get Michael’s bike out… but, finally, somehow the box was freed and popped out the machine.

After all this, the officer then told Michael he had to open the box to search it – so much for the 4 rolls of duct tape we used to tape up the box. Finally the officer was happy and our bikes disappeared along the conveyer belt. We hoped the next time we seen our bikes would be in Nicaragua – this turned out not to be the case!

Connecting in Mexico City

We were flying from Toronto to Managua via Mexico City. Originally, when I booked the flights I thought that since it was all with Aeromexico, our bags would be checked all the way through. There was no mention ANYWHERE on the ticket on website, that this wasn’t the case. During check out, we were informed that we would have to pick up the bikes and re-check them in for our next flight. Bummer!

When we arrived into Mexico City, we proceeded to the baggage claim and collected our bikes and bags. FYI in Mexico City you need to pay for the baggage carts – great when you are only planning on being in the airport for 2 hours and have no Mexico pesos on you. Luckily, a local came to our rescue and gave us money for a cart – seriously, an amazing random act of kindness, which put me in a good, positive mood.

The airport staff told us that our bike boxes would need to be checked at customs, so after collected our boxes, we headed to departures! Luckily, Mexico Airport has wider elevators, so getting around the airport wasn’t so much of a drama as it was at Toronto. Once we arrived at the oversized luggage check in, we were told we had to wrap the boxes in plastic wrap. Even now this makes no sense to me, as we were told they would have to open the boxes up and check inside – so wrapping them in plastic before the check really seemed pointless and wasteful. Regardless of our attempts of reasoning with the customs officer, we paid $50 (no joke) to get each box wrapped in plastic. Then we headed back to the oversized baggage, and said “goodbye” to our bikes, once again.

Later, when I did open my bike box, I discovered a piece of paper inside informing me my box had been checked by security – so I guess they just paid for the bike to be rewrapped again? At least I didn’t have to pay for the “plastic waste” again.

Flying with bicycles: the last leg

The flight from Mexico City to Managua was extremely rough and I was extremely happy to be on the ground when we arrived in Managua. On the plus side, the views flying over El Salvador and Nicaragua were amazing. Lots of volcanos, lakes, mountains and beaches greeted us as we made the descent through the clouds.

Flying into Managua, Nicaragua
Flying into Managua, Nicaragua

Clearing border security was easy – we weren’t even asked about an onwards flight (which is great, as we didn’t have one)! We headed over to baggage collection to pick up our bikes – hopeful that our bikes made it ok!

I think from being wrapped in plastic, the ground staff couldn’t tell what were in the boxes and they had been thrown around A LOT! The boxes were extremely beaten up, with several metal parts protruding from the box.

Initially we had planned to put the bikes together at the airport, and then ride to the guesthouse we had booked. I don’t know what we were thinking. It was stinking hot, we hadn’t slept for over 24 hours and we weren’t 100% sure that our bikes were going to be functional ever again! Eventually, we decided to jump in a taxi, squeeze the bikes and all our gear in, and head to the guesthouse to deal with the situation there, instead of in the arrivals hall, with hundreds of touts harassing us.

I had booked a guesthouse that was only 2km from the airport. Our boxes were squeezed into the back of a taxi, and tied down with some rope! After a 5 minutes ride, we arrived at the guesthouse and paid our overpriced taxi fare (got to love that “gringo” tax – man, I hate airport taxis!) We ended up spending 2 days in Managua to put the bikes together and sort our shit out!

So that was our first experience flying with bicycles! Did our bikes survive the trip? Was I well enough to start cycling again? How was it going to be cycling in Nicaragua? You’ll have to wait until the next post to find out.

Lessons Learnt from our experience flying with bicycles:

  • Don’t use a cardboard bike box when flying with bicycles! I think next time we’re going to just try wrapping it in plastic (though my environmentalist instinct hates this wasteful idea).
  • Try and get a direct flight, if this isn’t possible, double check with the airline whether the flight will connect your baggage, or whether you will need to collect it during transit.
  • Riding from the airport when you haven’t slept for 24 hours is never a great idea! Don’t fool yourself!
  • Aeromexico has shit customer service – no way around this!
  • Don’t count on being able to put the bikes together at the airport! Even if you want to try and put them together, have a back up plan in place, in case it’s not possible.
  • If ground staff can’t tell it’s a bike, then they will probably toss it around, A LOT!

If you have some tips on flying with bicycles, then let us know! We definitely appreciate any advise to help make our next experience not so stressful.