In July 2015 we decided to take a couple of days holiday to cycle to Oxford from London. Some friends had given us the idea of trying the trip on a tandem, and so we found this lovely couple in East London who, at the time, had about 5 in their garage which they would sporadically rent out. A year on and it looks like their business has really taken off – great to see!
Anyway, needless to say we had a great time on our hired tandem… even if we did look a bit ridiculous…
This two day trip sowed a seed in both of us and here we are 16 months later, about to embark on a 12-18 month cycling trip. Before this, neither of us were very big cyclists and we had never really heard of ‘cycle touring’ before; but a quick search on the net suddenly opened up a whole new world to us!
Lots of cyclists set out from home but we decided to fly to Vietnam and cycle back. The plan is to round off the trip by touring our home countries (U.K. and Rupublic of Ireland) over the summer months of 2017.
Like most other cycle tourers, the idea of our trip developed very gradually as lots of contributing factors slowly came together. We were both settled in our flat in London but both had a yearn to travel before we got too comfortable. It was a reasonably good time for us to take a career break and for the first time we both found ourselves saving. We worked out that if we could keep to a combined budget of £25 a day we had the potential to travel for up to 18 months.
A year after hiring that first tandem, we started trawling the internet to find a suitable touring tandem bike. Annie started cycling her bike in London a lot more at around the same time (Paddy was already cycling to work) and in July we found a second hand tandem which looked to be the perfect size and spec being advertised by the JD Tandems website.
JD Tandems is the place to go if you want to buy a tandem in the UK. The business is run by Ruth and John who are really experienced tourers themselves. One Saturday we set off in a hired van and drove all the way to Ilkley in Yorkshire to test drive our possible purchase.
Despite denting the frame after 15 minutes (lesson learnt – always lock your tandem to a post in windy conditions!) we knew we’d found the bike for us. Since then we have tested the bike (and ourselves) on small weekend and day trips in the UK.
Planning for our trip has been a long process and we didn’t really decide to take the plunge and hand in our notices until September 2015. There has been a lot to consider – when and where to go, to camp or not, what to take, how do the visas/border crossings work, what to do when the bike breaks, how to stay safe, and most importantly:
Can we really do this???
This remains to be seen but it’ll be fun to try.