Ontario by bicycle: “I WAS BORN IN ONTARIO”

Ontario by bicycle.

Michael’s write up of crossing Ontario by bicycle during our 7000km cycle trip across Canada in Sept 2016.  Click here to read Kelly’s write up of cycling Ontario to Thunder Bay, cycling Lake Superior and cycling to Ottawa.

No I in fact was not born in Ontario, but as soon we entered this freaking huge province Neil Young’s ‘born in Ontario’ was playing on repeat in my head. This became our theme song for our epic 32 day stint crossing this huge beautiful beast! I spent the next month exploring Ontario by bicycle, annoying Kelly by constantly singing, humming and playing this song on my speakers. Sorry about that!

To get from Manitoba to Ontario we had to dip into the good ‘ol U.S.A (just the way the road was) for a quick 60km detour through Minnesota and directly into the path of a huge storm that apparently blew some trucks off the road into a ditch. As we were on bikes, and not quiet as heavy and stable as trucks, we took shelter in a bar to dry ourselves off. This is where I ordered the most disappointing snack of my life! Never order cheesy chips in the states. It will crush your soul. Not an actual potato in sight, merely some weird shitty circular corn chips with poisonous orange cheese whizz spunked on top. Saddest day of my life.

I recovered from my shit chip experience and we hopped the border back into Canada to begin penetrating the moist mass that is Ontario!

Emo, Ontario by bicycle

We passed through friendly little towns including the hilariously named (I thought so at the time) ‘Emo’ in which I took a picture of pretty every street sign and advertisement with ‘Emo’ written on it.

We managed to bump into our German friends Jacque and Luisa again! Had fun camping in Fort Francis at a weird massive public park that also doubled up as a campsite next to the train tracks and river. We had a few beers to relax and catch up with our friends in the third province we’d seen them in!

Fort Francis was the point we had to decide if we wanted to cycle the southern side of lake superior in the U.S.A or stick to Canada and take the northern route. After much debate we finally settled on sticking to the Canadian side seeing as the whole trip was supposed to be about cycling the whole way across Canada! It meant we wouldn’t get to visit my friend in Minneapolis, but that was going to be a pretty massive detour and eat up a fair amount of our time, so it was back to cycling as a group again! Jacque and Luisa were heading the same direction so we had some travel buddies for a few days.

On to Thunder Bay

Over the next few days we rode some beautiful but isolated stretches of road together. We slept by lakes, in parks, outside a friendly ice cream van, saw the amazing Kakabeka waterfalls and swam in the freezing water at the end of the day and continued our constant battle with the asshole mosquitoes.

One night we decided to try riding down a long dirt path to see if we could camp near the water on the Seine River First Nations reserve. The super kind people welcomed us is in and let us set up camp at the Pow Wow grounds. They even unlocked the community centre for us so we could have a shower! Cool experience and one of the most scenic spots we camped at in the province.

Finally rolled into Thunder Bay for a few days off the bikes and stayed with the amazing Frank from Warmshowers. Despite being busy organizing a group cycle trip and dealing with a leaky basement and renovations, this champion not only let the four of us stay in his place but also another German cyclist called Mike. 5 people at once in the one house is a pretty generous move!

Camping at the First Nations reserve
Camping at the First Nations reserve

Rest days when on tour

We had a great time together though and spent a few days preparing group feasts, sipping beers and rum, exploring the town and brutally savaging a Japanese buffet to within inches of it’s life!

I had a few bike maintenance things to take care of so we ended up spending an extra night with Frank. Our German buddies left to get a bus for a section of lake superior as they had to meet some friends.

Storms, road works and Lake Superior

We were recharged and ready to rock through the rest of this beast of a province! Just outside Thunder Bay I randomly spotted a brand new IPhone on the side of the road, which started ringing as soon as I put it on charge when we stopped in a park for lunch. I managed to score a $60 reward for returning the phone to the owner! Bonus! Felt nice earning some cash instead of watching it hemorrhage out of my account for a change.

Had some rough days dealing with construction work and torrential rain around Nippigon and didn’t feel particularly safe riding some sections with the lack of hard shoulder, but the scenery definitely made up for it.

Our first glimpses of lake superior left us awestruck and glad we had chosen the mighty northern route. It was hard to believe that was a lake and not a friggin ocean! We spent night after night in spectacular camping spots on the beaches and in the woods around the lake and fell in love with the area. It is a very nice feeling knowing at the end of the day you’re going to have crystal clear fresh water to swim in and clean yourself up after a sweaty day climbing hills on the bikes.  

More friendly people

We met plenty of awesome people who helped us out. A couple from Germany with a holiday home let us set up camp in the front yard near Jackfish lake. Lloyd, a couchsurfer in Marathon who took us in and gave us a spare room for the night. The tourist information in Winnie the Pooh’s hometown of White river let us sleep outside the centre. And, probably the best of all was a legendary Hungarian Canadian guy called Zoltan and his beautiful family who we met outside a supermarket in Wawa and offered to let us camp on his front lawn.

When we followed him home he then decided to set up his camper trailer for us to sleep in! So we had a nice comfy bed, shelter from the mosquitoes and even got to wash our clothes and have a shower! Meeting kind and generous people like this make the trip so much more memorable and make me thankful we have the chance to travel like this and meet so many cool characters!

ontario by bicycle
Zoltan from Wawa

One night on Batchawana bay we were even invited in to the Wild Rose RV park and given a place to camp for free by the owner. He had noticed us eyeing up the beach for potential spots to pitch the tent as he knew the police would definitely move us on like the smelly bums we are, so he just let us come in and stay for free! Generosity runs deep in Canadians!

 Sault Ste Marie and more awesome people

We were finally pulling away from Lake superior and rolled into Sault Ste Marie where we spent two nights with awesome warmshowers hosts Jeff and Juanita. We ate excellent home cooked meals, tried many kick ass local craft beers and got to try out Jeff’s Recumbent bike. Definitely not for me but I could see the appeal of sitting back like that and cruising along with a beer in each paw.

We decided to spend a night outside the local bike shop Velorution as they have set up a free campsite specifically for cycle tourists! Cool experience and a wicked idea, they had fire pits, furniture that guests had made from old pallets and a box of free gear other cyclists had donated. We even raided the massive stack of old bike parts outside the shop to use a rim and spokes as a grill for our zucchinis! Not a sentence I ever thought I’d be writing!

Hitting the road again

From Sault St Marie we passed through Many Amish communities where we’d stop and buy fresh veg and homemade cookies. We camped outside information centres and in the old fairground at Spanish where the harbor master let us pitch a tent and take a shower in the marina office. In the morning we woke up to see a porcupine climbing a tree next to our tent! Still no moose sighting, but I was pretty happy seeing this spiky fellow doing his thing!

The roads in Ontario were generally in pretty decent condition, but hard shoulders seemed to disappear for stretches. Instead of Ontario by bicycle, it could have been Ontario by pot hole. Road works were constant with crazy fast drivers flying past us and leaving us a little rattled at times. We had a particularly rough day with the roads on one occasion when an amazing lady called Patti saw us looking fed up and broken on the side of the road. She pulled over and offered to let us stay at her place. The only catch was we were shattered and ready to find the nearest park to sleep in. Her place in Sudbury was still 30km away and would have been dark by the time we arrived.

Patti was also a cyclist and had a bike rack on her car, but it could only fit one bike. She wasn’t going to let that stop her though! This amazing person gave up the next couple of hours of her life taking Kelly and her bike back to her home. Unloading her gear then returning to pick me up and take me back to spend the night in her house!! That’s a pretty crazy generous thing to do, make a round trip of 60km just help a couple of tired aussie bike bums out!

Trying the local brews

Even though we’d left Lake Superior, other lakes were still around making the cycling still pretty scenic and enjoyable. The rain not so much. After a very wet muddy day it was nice to meet Warmshowers hosts Mike and Danielle and spend the evening getting tips about cycling in Ottawa and Quebec, having an amazing veggie curry dinner and drinking far too many of Mike’s local beers leaving me with a bit of sore head for the ride next day! I regret nothing. Beer is life.

We were finally approaching the capital of this incredible country, Ottawa! Most times approaching a capital city it can be a bit stressful dealing with the traffic and navigating through the chaos. Not in Ottawa! Mike and Danielle had given us a hot tip about a cycle route that led right into the heart of this beautiful gem of a city so we spent most of the day winding along old rail trails and through the cities’ parks and river front cycle paths before meeting our next Warmshowers host. The crazy bike man of Ottawa, Richard!

Ottawa
Ottawa!

The Crazy, bike man!

Richard had an incredible and utterly ridiculous collection of bicycles. Most of which were homemade crazy contraptions such as tall bikes and a convertible tandem recumbent that he had custom built with segments that can be added so his wife and kids can all ride together! He’d even built a custom rack to carry his full sized wooden canoe over his head for short tours!

We spent several days hanging out with Richard and met a group of local bike nuts from the ‘HPVOO’ (human powered vehicles of Ottawa) group for dinner and picnicked with another group from a local bike organization that provides a free space and tools for people to come and work on their bikes. Also did all the touristy things around town, checked out a street party festival and followed Richard around town on his ridiculous gigantic tall bike. Checked out the markets and used our mouths to investigate many local hop filled beverages.

Awesome Bike Stores and more Awesome People

After my piece of shit EVO low rider rack died way back in Manitoba it had been held together with hose clamps and zip ties, but had suffered a final fatal break several days before Ottawa so I was in desperate need of a decent front rack before we could continue. I rode around town in search of a half decent low-rider rack in vain, only finding either the same rack or something very similar and equally as crappily made.

I got talking to a guy called Rodd working at the Cyclery bike shop. This utter rock star of a human being offered to give me his old Blackburn low-rider rack for free! The shop didn’t have anything suitable, but he had exactly what I was after at his house so gave me his address and I swung by and picked it up rom him! What a cool thing to do! Helped me out so much and this rack will be coming with for the rest of the trip as a new member of the cycle trekkers team!!

ontario by bicycle
Pretty obvious… exploring Ontario by bicycle!

Chau Ontatio!

Our time exploring Ontario by bicycle was finally drawing to an end after over a month of pedal powered fun times through this monster province, but we were excited for what was to come. Quebec! Every single Canadian cycle tourist we had met was from Quebec. That has to be a sign that it’s gonna be a sweet place to ride! Thank you Ontario for being so cool and being filled with such helpful generous kind hearted people willing to help two crazy biking fools out! I hope you enjoyed Ontario by bicycle! Now bring on the cheese, wine and maple syrup in Quebec!

Ecotourism Jamaica: Durga’s Den

ecotourism jamaica

Yes, I went to Jamaica! No, I didn’t cycle there, and no, Michael did not go with me. So why did I go to Jamaica? Well firstly, my Canadian work permit expired and with 70cm of snow on the ground, there was no way we were ready to hop back on the bikes and start cycling through the USA. Instead, I decided the best option was to leave the country and reenter Canada on a tourist visa. We’d then wait out the rest of the winter before heading off on the bikes on 2nd April 2017.

If you thought the cheapest flights from Canada to out-of-the-country would be to the USA – you’d be wrong. As it turns out, Jamaica was my cheapest option and I wasn’t complaining. I was missing the sun and the heat – so take me to Jamaica and let’s discover ecotourism Jamaica!

Now you are probably wondering why Michael didn’t go with me. Well, originally he arrived into Canada 6 weeks after I did, which means Michael has another 6 weeks of work before his visa is up – don’t feel sorry for him, he’s off on a lads holiday to Vegas for his “visa run” in 6 weeks time.

So enough about that and more about ecotourism Jamaica!

Durgas Den: Ecotourism Jamaica

I decided this trip was a great opportunity to help out on an organic farm and learn a few things about agro-forestry, sustainable living and ecotourism in Jamaica – something we plan on implementing in our future guesthouse.

I ended up staying 2 weeks at Durgas Den in Colgate, near Ocho Rios (I actually extended my stay by a week, because I loved it so much). Durgas Den is a sustainable, organic farm situated on the top of Breadnut Hill (awesome name). The farm is hidden right in amongst the forest. Though the farm isn’t completely self-sufficient this is something they are working towards.

Besides being a farm, the Den also offers simple accommodation in cabins. Some which have amazing views. The cabins are advertised via their website and on Airbnb – get $50 of free Airbnb travel credit here.

The farm and accommodation is very rustic and simple. One thing cycle touring has taught me is to appreciate the simple things and live with the bear minimum, so the accommodation was definitely not an issue for me – luxurious even.

The farm has compostable toilets, rainwater tanks for the showers and solar panels for hot water. All the fruit and vegetables are completely organic. This means no nasty chemicals, pesticides or herbicides used at all. The only pesticides occasional used are natural ones, such as pepper.

The farm also has a bunch of healthy free ranged chickens, some rabbits (to make compost), a cute goat, a couple of dogs, and a cat (who is really the boss of the farm).

Ecotourism Jamaica Durgas Farm
Helping out on Durgas Farm

The Work

The deal was, I work on the farm for about 4 hours each morning, Monday to Friday. In return I get free accommodation, cheap meals and an awesome experience. I got to learn a lot about the work that went into running an organic farm. On top of this I worked along side locals. This gave me a glimpse into real, local life on the island – not just the tourist world.

Though volunteers have the weekends off, I did decide to head down to Kingston and helped out at the organic markets. The stall for Durga’s Den was swarmed by customers! It was great to see such a great turn out and high demand for organic veggies. I was also surprised to see such a diverse crowd of people. I had an absolute blast before heading off to check out Bob Marley’s house and explore Kingston.

Organic markets in Kingston
Organic markets in Kingston

Reflections

Being self-sufficient and growing our own organic veggies is definitely something we would aim to do in the future. Actually, if we could mimic what Durgas’s Den has achieved then we would be extremely delighted. We are definitely looking forward to checking out some more organic farms once we start cycling again. Thanks Durgas Den for adding to our ecodiscoveries and sharing your ecotourism Jamaica with us.

 

Little Dunn Falls near Ocho Rios
Little Dunn Falls near Ocho Rios

Resources:

I found these two books really interesting. Though I didn’t read the entire book, I did spend a couple of hours relaxing in the hammock and reading through a couple of the chapters.

The Barefoot Architect: A Handbook for Green Building by Johan van Lengen

The Humanure Handbook by Joseph Jenkins

Durga’s Den website

Country Tracker

country tracker for our world cycle tour

Country Tracker for our world Cycle Tour

To be honest, I didn’t know whether I should keep a Country Tracker for our trip on the website, but I like maps and my favourite colour is blue. So, here it is – the country tracker for our world cycle tour!

Check out our proposed route if you want to see where we are heading next!

After creating this map, we were curious to work out just how many countries we have each been to, so we’ve also included our individual Country Tracker maps below as well.

Cycle Trekkers’s Travel Map

On the bikes we have been to the following countries as of January 2017.

France to China trip: France, Italy, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, IranKazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and China.

Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

Kelly’s Travel Map

Kelly’s Country Tracker

Oceania:

New Zealand & Australia (Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria).

North America:

USA: Florida, Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Minnesota, New York (13 states DC)

Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (10 provinces).

Mexico: Baja California (north & south), Yucatan, Sinaloa, Zacatecas, Guanajuato and DF.

Europe:

Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Switzerland, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, United Kingdom (England, Scotland & Wales), Gibraltar, Greece,  Italy, Montenegro, Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the Vatican.

Latin America & the Caribbean: 

Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador (& the Galapagos Islands), Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.

Asia:

Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, China, Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Taiwan and Uzbekistan.

Africa:

South Africa, Egypt and Morocco.

Middle East: 

United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Israel, Iran, Jordan and Palestine.

 

Michael’s Travel Map

Michael’s Country Tracker

Oceania: 

Australia (Western Australia and Victoria).

North America:

USA: Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Montana, Minnesota, New York (12 states DC)

Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia (9 provinces).

Mexico: Baja California (north & south), Yucatan, Sinaloa, Zacatecas, Guanajuato and DF.

Europe: 

United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Northern Ireland & Wales), Albania,  Austria,Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland,  Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia,  Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Latvia, Monaco, Moldova, Montenegro, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, San Marino, Ukraine, Vatican and Kosovo.

Latin America & the Caribbean: 

Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala and Panama.

Asia: 

Singapore, Thailand, China, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Taiwan and Uzbekistan.

Africa: 

Egypt and Morocco.

Middle East: 

Turkey, Israel, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia and Palestine.

Discovering the Patagonia Store in Halifax

Refocusing on our purpose

Right, so when I initially set up this website I wanted to focus on the environmental aspects of the trip. The eco-friendly establishments, organisation and buildings that we encounter. Admittedly, I’ve gotten a bit distracted by the cycling, the challenges and the amazing Canadian scenery and of course the people, that I’ve pretty much failed at doing this so far! That was until I rediscovered my inspiration when I came across the Patagonia store in Halifax!

A bit about Patagonia

I have loved Patagonia since my uni days. Not just because I have a soft spot for the place, Patagonia in South America, but because of the company’s values and their ethics. Patagonia is probably the most well-known and most successful company that has embraced sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Patagonia is what most other eco-minded companies strive towards. Their values and achievements are something that other companies can learn from – no matter what the industry.

Their mission is: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

The Patagonia Store in Halifax

Unfortunately, Perth doesn’t have a Patagonia store, and until now I have NEVER stepped foot into a Patagonia store. So you can image my excitement when I, by chance came across the Patagonia store in Halifax (conveniently located next to Alexander Keith’s Brewery – like I said complete chance I found the store). Before I knew it I had arranged a meeting with someone at the store whom passionately told me everything I needed to know about the building, the company and their values.

patagonia store in halifax

The Building

The Patagonia store in Halifax has been around for 6 years. What I didn’t know about Patagonia is that the company will only open a store in a pre-existing building, which can be transformed into an energy efficient and eco-friendly building. This demonstrates their commitment to their mission of “causing no unnecessary harm” as building a completely new building will involve far more energy and resources, as well as the potential of habitat loss and pollution.

The building that houses the Patagonia store in Halifax is over 200 years old and was originally apart of the old Halifax docks. The wood used for the floor panels and some store shelving is from an old aircraft hanger in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. The only virgin wood used is from bamboo. This is used to make the clothes hangers and some of the other shelving. Bamboo is a more eco-friendly product. It grows quick (quick to produce and harvest), requires less land and minimises rainforest and habitat destruction.

The building also has 5 solar panels on the roof that power the store’s lighting. Any power drawn from the grid (such as the power to run the store computer) is offset through Bullfrog Power.

Patagonia Halifax

What else is Patagonia doing?

On top of ensuring each store has the most eco-friendly store possible, the company has remained completely privately owned! Why? Because that’s the only way the family can ensure Patagonia maintains its mission.

They also promote “Worn Wear” and everlasting clothing and products. The company founder, Yvon Chouinard, openly says, it’s better to buy old, second hand clothes than to buy new; and that’s it’s better to repair your worn clothes than constantly replacing them. This reduces the amount of clothes ending up in landfill.

Most people that know me would likely know that I’m not a big fan of shopping, materialism or consumerism. So you can image how impressed I was when the shop assistant in the Patagonia store in Hailfax told me that last year for Black Friday the company decided to give 100% of sales (not just profits) to grassroots environmental organisations. $10 million+ dollar donation was the results! It’s totally crazy, unheard of and just outright amazing!

All these things I’ve mentioned goes completely against the supply and demand economics of owning a clothing/ retail company. A company that in theory should rely on customers having to return, time and time again to replace their products and buy the latest version. However, Yvon and Patagonia has proved that despite this, it’s possible to have a success business. 

Patagonia Store in halifax

Lessons Learnt

Patagonia products reflect the actual cost of the product, which means consumers pay a premium compared to the “fast fashion products. My concern would be whether there are enough people in the world that demand clothes that are completely traceable, humanely sourced and environmental friendly. Whether people want to pay that extra money to ensure their clothes have a minimal negative impact on the world. And, whether providing ‘ever-lasting’ clothes and products will limit your repeat customers and business. In other words: is it sustainable from a business prospective?

Patagonia is a billion dollar company and is expanding. This shows that there is a demand and the demand is growing. I also learnt that a younger demographic of customers were moving in, and Patagonia were now seeing customers in their teens shopping at the store. It’s proof to me that the world is moving in a positive way – even though at times it doesn’t seem like it. The establishment and success of Patagonia definitely fills me with happy, hope and inspiration!

I haven’t talked too much about Patagonia as a company. If you want to find out more check out some of these resources.

The Truth to Materials

Interesting facts about reclaimed cotton and other materials. After witnessing first hand the forced labour on cotton farms in Uzbekistan, and knowing about the insane amount of clothes that end up in landfill, I’m definitely interested in find out more about the reclaimed cotton industry (and other similar industries).

Let my people go surfing

A book written by Yvon Chouinard about the creation of one of the most respected environmentally friendly businesses in the world. Now on my booklist for when I start cycling again.

Other cools resources:

Wornwear

It’s all about repairing clothes instead of throwing them away. Worn wear focuses on the stories your clothes tell and the connections we make with our clothes. I love their instagram. Lots of different people with ripped clothes that have been patched up! I recently added my hat to the list – 13 years and still going strong!

Footprint chronicles

Pick a Patagonia product. Take the item code from the tag and input it into the website. Information about the supply chain of that product, including information on the factories involved, the location etc will pop up.

You can also check out some of our other ecodiscoveries – The Greenhouse, Perth and Durgas Den, Jamaica!

  • Patagonia and/or the Patagonia Store in Halifax has not sponsored us or provided any gear for our trip. All opinions are purely of our own, as nature lovers, environmentalists and as future business owners.

Eco Discoveries

10 secrets to cycle touring, british columbia cycling, ecodiscoveries, Eco Discoveries

What are Eco Discoveries?

We have two dreams. 1) To explore the world, and 2) To own a cycle-friendly, eco-guesthouse or hostel. We appreciate the need to be sustainable and want to make our hostel, as eco-friendly as possible. What better way to research and collect ideas for our future endeavour, than making eco discoveries through visiting established and aspiring eco-friendly businesses, buildings and organisations all over the world? We hope to learn how these businesses have achieved their dreams, what obstacles they’ve had to overcome, and what tips they have for ‘newbies’.

Already, we have been inspired to take a page from Patagonia’s book. To own a business that will cause no unnecessary harm, and be used to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. This is apart of Patagonia’s mission statement, and something we want to take onboard. This is an example of an eco discovery – a lesson we have learnt from a green business during our cycle trip.

The Plan

During our world cycle trip, we plan to visit and learn as much as we can from different green businesses. The plan is to add our eco discoveries to this site during our travels. This will include information about what we’ve learnt, eco-friendly ideas, environmental issues that we encounter along the way, and anything else that we think might be helpful or inspirational.

How you can get involved

Get in touch, if you know of, or are the owner of a green business that might be interested in helping with our eco discoveries. Check out our proposed route to see whether your green business is on or near our route (bear in mind our route is very flexible). We are offering free advertising on our site and social media channels in return for your help and advice!

We will be visiting, interviewing and reviewing all types of eco-friendly businesses during our 5+ year cycle tour.

Some examples of the business we would love to hear from, include:

  • Eco-lodges, eco-guesthouses or eco-hostels.
  • Sustainable kitchens.
  • Cafes.
  • Breweries.
  • Shops.
  • Ecotourism attractions.
  • Tour companies.
  • Businesses that have implemented green/ sustainable building practices.
  • Organic Farms.

If your eco-business doesn’t fall into one of these categories, don’t worry, we would still love to hear all about it.

Why get in touch?

  • This is a great opportunity for the green business to gain some free local as well as global advertising.
  • Exposure on our social media sites.
  • Exposure on our website, in the form of reviews, interview posts and blog posts. Check out an article we’ve written for the Greenhouse restaurant, and Durgas Den.
  • You will be helping others (and us), learn to build their very own ‘green’ business, which of course, is a great way to increase sustainability, awareness and the green movement.
  • Long term exposure. Our cycle trip is estimated to take at least 5 years, so that’s at least 5 years of free exposure.
  • We are also offering sponsorship and partnership opportunities.

Choosing Travel Insurance for Cycle Touring

Cycling Kyrgyzstan, travel insurance for cycle touring

Having the appropriate travel insurance for cycle touring is essential! It gives you peace of mind in case something happens, and ensures you won’t end up forking out unnecessary dollars.

I know a lot of people take the risk and don’t buy travel insurance. Personally, I think that’s insane! I used to work as a travel consultant and I’ve heard MANY horror stories related to not being covered. The horror stories were from people that were on holiday or travelling, when something bad happened, and they either weren’t covered or weren’t covered for the activities they were doing. It always ended up costing them. So it’s important to not only have travel insurance, but to make sure you are sufficiently covered for the activities you plan on doing.

A few things to consider when choosing Travel Insurance for Cycle Touring:

Does the policy cover your bicycle?

I’ve discovered that most travel insurance policies won’t cover bicycle thief! Actually, I have not found one policy (for Australians) that does. Most policies also won’t cover damages to your bike. Most will however cover damages or thief to bicycle accessories (panniers, phone mounts etc.). It’s important to check and be aware of this. It’s better to know up front than think you’re covered just to find out later you’re not.

brodie green bicycle circuit
My new bike!

Does the insurance company cover long-term cycle touring?

This is something I always confirm directly with the insurance company, as it’s not always listed on the ‘included activities’ section of the policy. Some insurance policies may only cover cycle touring on roads or paths (ie. not mountain bike trails), or only cover cycle touring if it’s not main activity taking place (ie. it’s not more than XX% of the trip). Other insurance companies may not cover cycle touring at all or it might be considered to be an additional extra or ‘extreme activity’. Make sure you get confirmation directly from the provider before purchasing your travel insurance for cycle touring.

leaving vancouver
Cycle touring in Canada

And, what are the conditions?

You will usually find that the insurance provider will only cover you for cycle touring if you are following the country’s rules and regulations (ie. if it’s law to wear a helmet, then you must be wearing a helmet to be covered or, if you legally can’t cycle on a specific road, then you won’t be covered if you cycle on that road). It’s important to familiarise yourself with the country’s cycling rules, and if you do break some laws (face it, we all do at some point), then be mindful that you might not be covered if something was to happen.

How long do you plan to be cycling for? Will the policy cover you for the entire duration? Or will you need to renew you policy each year?

Most insurance companies only provide insurance policies for a maximum of one year. If you plan on cycling for longer than that, then it’s important to check, 1) Whether the policy can be extend, 2) Whether you can purchase or extend a new policy while travelling. A lot of policies cannot be extended, which means purchasing a new policy. Some policies have to be purchased while you are in your home country, before the start of your trip.

It’s also worth checking whether your travel insurance policy will become void if you decide to visit home during your trip. On the other extreme, make sure the policy isn’t a multi-trip policy; these policies are annual policies that only cover you for travel that is up to specific time period (ie. 60 or 90 days) at a time. After that you have to return home for the policy to still be valid.

I can almost hear some of you ask, “How will the insurance company find out if I wasn’t wearing my helmet, or that I went home for a couple of weeks?” The truth is, they might not find out unless they request specific documents that contradicts your story or if something happens to you while you are breaking one of the policy conditions. It’s whether you want to take that risk or now. If you are forking out all that money for travel insurance, then you probably want to be covered.

A few other things to consider:

Are you travelling solo, or as a group, a family or a couple? Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a policy that covers you as a group, couple of family, instead of individually.

What countries are you visiting? Different countries usually cost different amounts to cover. Make sure you’re covered for all the countries you plan on visiting.

What’s your nationality? You nationality will affect the policy, even if it’s the same insurance provider. For example, World Nomad’s policy for British nationals covers completely different activities than World Nomad’s policy for Australians.

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

If you are unsure about anything, confirm in writing with the insurance provider.

When choosing my insurance provider and policy, I always email the insurance company to confirm my inclusions and anything I’m unsure about. I actually did this once, and was told I was covered for something. It turned out I wasn’t, however because I wrote the to insurance company and had in writing that I was covered; they honoured the claim and paid me out. This experience was with World Nomads Insurance Company.

However, boring it is, I also recommend reading through the policy and comparing a few different policy options before choosing your travel insurance for cycle touring. Like choosing your touring bike – picking an insurance policy is an investment.

Our Experience with Travel Insurance for Cycle Touring

We used World Nomads Travel Insurance for our France to China trip, and DUInsure (which is actually part of the Alliance group) for our cycle trip across Canada. I’ve made claims under both policies and overall had a good experience with both insurance companies. However, I did find World Nomad’s system much more user friendly and less complicated for submitting claims online. The overall process with World Nomad’s was also a lot quicker, and I got paid out within days, opposed to DUInsure where I had to wait weeks. I found DUInsure is slightly cheaper for travel in Canada and the USA, which is why I changed insurance companies this time, however I think I will be changing back to World Nomads once we get into Latin America.

 

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about my experience with either of these insurance companies.

We would also love to hear from you if you’ve used either of these insurance companies and want to share your experience. Likewise, if you have any other tips for picking travel insurance for cycle touring.

If you enjoyed this article on choosing travel insurance for cycle touring, then you might also enjoy our article on Accommodation Options for Cycle Tourists.

Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack: Gear Review

Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack Gear Review

SPECS for the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack:

Weight: 950gms

Dimensions: 38cm x 35.5cm x 35.5cm

Price paid: $55 USD + postage on Amazon

PROS:

  • 25 kg capacity!
  • Well-made and sturdy ‘one piece’ construction
  • Plenty of attachment points for cargo
  • Looks cool with a kick ass matte black paint job
  • Adjustable height
  • Can fit pretty much anything you would ever need on tour on the platform

CONS:

  • Very wide and awkward for touring / locking in public bike racks
  •  Mounts in the thru axle, which can mean buying a longer quick release skewer on some bikes
  • Fairly heavy
  • Cannot carry panniers
  • Does not come with longer quick release skewer or even instructions on how to mount the rack
origin8 classique cargo front rack bike
The beast!

OVERVIEW:

I purchased the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack while still at home in Perth, Western Australia to aid me in my never ending beer runs from work (at a liquor store) where I was constantly lugging 30 plus cans and bottles of sweet delicious life giving beer home for essential taste testing. I was so impressed by the way I could pile huge amounts of weight onto this bad boy without it even flinching that I decided to pack this big bulky awkwardly shaped bugger into my backpack to come for an adventure with me across Canada and beyond. And just like that the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack became apart of our gear for our trip across Canada.

DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY:

The Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack is a very well thought out and designed piece of equipment that also adds a classy stylish professional cargo bike look to any bike you use it with.

Designed to attach in three points to your bike; above the fork in the same hole you would attach fenders to and at the bottom of the rack using your bikes quick release axle skewer. I attempted to attach the rack using the skewer my bike came with but it was not long enough to lock down with the rack attached so I had to get creative and use the lower fork eyelets to attach the rack.

This was not a major issue, but the lack of mounting instructions and hardware provided was a bit frustrating and I was lucky that I happened to have some spare screws and washers that allowed me to mount it in this fashion.

The lower attachment holes are designed for the quick release skewer to fit through with the skewer end cap holding it in place, so as such the holes are quite large openings and cannot be used with the smaller M5 type bolts that fit in standard bicycle attachment points without use of an oversized washer to stop the screw from simply slipping through the opening and not holding the rack in place.

To get around this I simply had to use a large washer to prevent the screw from slipping through the racks attachments holes, again not a major issue and I still feel it was perfectly secure in this manner, but not quite as neat looking…to be honest I’m not a fan of racks that use the skewer as an attachment point anyway as I think it can put added stress on a fairly important part of your bike!

Apart from my axle mounting issues, the rack was fairly straightforward to attach to my bike. The legs of the rack are extendable and can be used on bikes with 26-29 inch wheels and lock in place with use of bolts and holes screwed at various intervals along the extendable portions of the legs. The extending portion of the legs can take a bit of convincing to pull out, but were easy enough to twist and pull down with my bare hands without the use of pliers.

The top attachment point is also adjustable so you can fine-tune the angle and distance the top platform sits in relation to the bike.

I love the layout of the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack! It has four thick, round bars on the massive top platform plus the outer frame making it incredibly easy to attach anything you want to this rack without much hassle at all. The multiple struts connecting the top platform to the legs give you endless possibilities of places to loop your straps or bungee cords around and keep your load safe and stable as you cruise around town.

When loaded up heavily it does drastically change the feel and steering of the bike…but that is always going to be an issue when riding with a loaded bike. This is especially the case when the weight is high up like on a cargo rack, but you do get used to it and just have to take the load and weight into account when cornering and steering. Ultimately having the load up high and the way it effected the cornering caused me to reconsider riding around the world with this rack, but as a grocery runner and general around town hauler this rack is a total boss.

origin8-classique-cargo-front-rack-side
Side angle of the rack

DURABILITY:

The all in one construction means it is super strong and feels rigid and sturdy when attached as opposed to some racks that fold down and require assembling. The thick and strong round aluminium struts make you feel totally confident about the durability of this rack and it’s ability to carry pretty much anything you feel like strapping to it…as long as it’s under the HUGE max weight limit of 25kg.

I’m actually pretty sure I’ve exceeded that weight limit hauling beer around town before and had no problems, but probably wouldn’t recommend it.

The tubes on this rack are super thick and all the welds are very professionally done and neat with multiple struts reinforcing and holding the top platform in place.

I can attest to the strength of this as unfortunately, I have crashed my bike with it on several times. I’m a bit of clumsy fool and took a few tumbles at home on bike paths after sampling a few too many of my works goods, plus a fairly major fall in the rocky mountains near the start of the trip. The rack did hit the pavement in the crashes and came out fully intact, some very minor scratches to the paint but otherwise unscathed. Considering the impact that the rack took I was very surprised how well the rack survived and particularly how well the paint job stood up.

Bomb proof rack!

warmshowers saviour
Work getting done on the bike! You can see the rack in the front.

SUMMARY:

I love the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack. I do not want to get rid of this rack, but I kind of feel that I have to.

If I was running errands around town, picking up groceries and doing beer runs, I would never need any other rack than this, but for long distance touring it’s just not working out for me.

When fully loaded with rear panniers and a backpack on the top of the rear rack the addition of any substantial weight high up on the top platform of this rack makes the ride wobbly and unstable, so on the next leg of our trip I will be opting for either low rider front racks or fork mounted bikepacking style cargo cages such as Blackburn Outpost Cargo Bottle Cage or Salsa Anything cages. As for the beer – I’m going to be carrying growlers in future (no joke)!

The wobbly unstable ride is not the fault of the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack, the fault lies with the amount of crap I’ve been carrying on tour. It’s not meant to be a rack for touring; it’s a cargo rack…for carrying cargo around town.

If you are considering getting the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack to tour with I would have a good long think about exactly how much stuff you intend to carry high up on the front of your ride, because chances are you don’t need a rack this big and capable carrying such weight. Also consider the width and chunkiness of this rack for touring; if you need to squeeze it into a bus or car to hitch a ride, it can get awkward. I’ve also found it difficult locking Kelly’s bikes and mine together sometimes as the rack gets in the way and pushes the bikes apart.

However, if you’re looking for a rack to haul all sorts of crap around town and help your best friend move a fridge, then this baby is for you! Well made, looks sexy and super easy to strap stuff too.

I give the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack 4 out of 5 stars. (Amazon/ Our Gear List)

Read my gear review about cycling with the LifeStraw Go water bottle filter or with the Goal Zero Rock Out 2 Speakers.

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.