Tuesday 8 October 2013

Tandem Touring - Was It Worth It?

The first of three posts in which the 2xtandem crew answer some of the questions we are frequently asked and reflect on the past 18 months.


Total Distance Cycled: 16,176 km or 10,051 miles
Current Location: San Diego, California
Longest Day's Ride: 124 km or 77 miles
Maximum Speed: 70.0 kph or 43.5 mph

Was it Worth It?

Q: You turned your lives upside down, and gave up your careers at an age when most people are saving for their retirement. Was it the right decision?
Judy the Stoker: “An unqualified yes.”
Mike the Captain: “Yes.”
Q: Why?
 Judy: “I felt that the time was overripe to leave the work I had been doing for 32 years. I was tired in the job, not as effective as I used to be and I wasn’t growing as a person.
“It was an opportunity to rid myself of an underlying fatigue and some personal anxieties, not to mention seeing the world by bicycle, getting fit, trying to understand other cultures and hopefully become a better person.”
Mike: “I felt there had to be more to life than going to work each day, and I was beginning to feel like a dinosaur fighting a rear guard action in my job. Television news has changed over the years and I was no longer as comfortable in that environment as I had been. Every bit as important though, was the need to go out and challenge myself. Could we make this tandem thing work, could we cope with life on the road and what adventures we would have along the way? It held lots of promise.
Q: What were your biggest concerns before you set out?
Judy's standard Thorn saddle came with the bike and
 has served her well - rating a pretty regular 7 out of 10 for
 comfort. Note the Cane Creek Thudbuster - a form of
 suspension  post underneath it. The Stoker can't always
 see the bumps that lie ahead, the Thudbuster
removes some of the shock.
Judy: “The thought of sitting for hours on a bike saddle. Would I cope? No problem. Mr Thorn (the make of saddle) came through. Also, I was worried that I might not be able to pedal hour after hour. Again, right from the start, this was not an issue. There were only a few times when Mike was in his Tour de France pedaling mode and I had to ask him to slow down.”
Mike: “Would we have enough money? The answer was yes – we've discovered that bike touring is pretty cost efficient.”
Q: What have you enjoyed most about the experience?
Likes:"The food and people of

Judy: “Being out in the elements in good weather.Travelling by bicycle, staying fit on the job, the food and people of France, the patience and good humour of people in S.E. Asia, joining up with family and friends from time to time, enjoying the hospitality and making new friends along the way, the wonderful landscapes and the almost sensory overload of travelling on the bike."
Mike's daughter, Merran, joined us on the island of Corfu
for 10 days.
Saying farewell to Sam in Krachi, northern Cambodia. He's
still travelling - currently in India.
Mike: “Being joined by my daughter, Merran, on the island of Corfu, in Greece for a few days. And by my son, Sam, who came cycling with us for three weeks in Cambodia. It was the first time we had spent any time with Sam in more than a decade, and it felt like welcoming him back into the fold.

We enjoyed the can-do attitude of so many people we met
in S.E. Asia. Here the tandem has been shoved aboard a
small boat for the short journey on the Mekong to Don
Det - one of the Thousand Islands group.
And he and I had a great night drinking beer beside the Mekong. By the time it was over I was ready to go to sleep in the garbage and with the snakes on the river bank. Sam climbed a post and broke into our guesthouse and we must have woken up most of the place. It was a great night but not one to repeat too often.
“What else have I enjoyed? The wonderful slowness that comes from travelling by bike – it gives you time to absorb your surroundings. Plus we both love the way a bike breaks down barriers – no-one sees you as intimidating or threatening. You are very much a part of your environment, rather than travelling through it as in some great RV (recreational vehicle).”
Standard "camping" rig in the U.S. A home the size of a bus
and a car hooked on the back.

An electrical storm over the Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We were staying with friends in KL at this
stage - but we still caught our share of torrential rain.

Q: And what have you enjoyed least?
Judy: “Being out in the elements in the bad weather. Cycling in the cold and rain in Europe and torrential rain and thunderstorms in Malaysia.
“Navigational disagreements! Without large scale, paper maps (which I love) the GPS turned out to be an at-times contrary beast – taking us on some roundabout routes which infuriated me. For example, the steep and long and circuitous route the GPS took us to our hotel in San Francisco when we later learned there was a flat, easy, cycle ride to the same hotel.
Mike: ”Ditto Judy on the navigational disagreements. I found the heat pretty hard to take in one or two places – coming off the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos I felt completely overwhelmed by it and took to bed for a day. Other than those, it's hard to think of anything we didn't enjoy."  

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