Arriving in Hong Kong in late November 2016, Charlie Bartlett, Inspired Adventures’ former Fundraising Manager, flicked the kickstand down on her Vivente bicycle for the last time. It was one of thousands of stops that year, but certainly the most significant. It marked the end of a six-month cycle journey that had taken her, and cycle partner Sam, from Ankara, Turkey over the hills and mountains of Iran, Armenia, the ‘Stans (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan) across the changing landscapes of China and finally to Hong Kong.
At a time of year when many resolutions or promises of adventure are made, we hope the tale of Charlie’s epic cycle will give you the reminder you might be needing right now about how to say yes to adventure. And who doesn’t want to know what it’s like to rock up to a family’s home in Iran and sleep on their couch? We certainly did!
You cycled from where to where?!
Ankara to Hong Kong (I think it was about 13,000 km), but not entirely sure. It wasn’t about the distance or getting to a certain point, really.
Where'd the idea come from?
I first decided I wanted to do a cycle tour whilst walking the Camino de Santiago in 2009. I saw people doing it on bikes and thought it would be a great way to see a country and cover more ground. However I only seriously decided and started planning for my cycle tour about six months before I left. (Editor’s note: This might not work for everyone – but moral of the story is, don’t overplan or overthink it!)
When cycling you are so exposed to all the elements and therefore so many more exciting things can happen. You go places you would probably not go in a car and cover more ground than walking. You also experience so much kindness from strangers: beds for the night, food, good company, etc.
One of the reasons we love cycles so much - you really get a feel for a place and can cover so much ground. Okay, you must have faced some challenges being on the road for six months?!
Of course. A few were:
-Camping in the cold and cycling with no gloves and socks in the snow.
-Having a funny stomach for about three months and living on Snickers in Tajikstan.
-The attention I got as a woman and clothing requirements.
I am used to not really having home comforts and being on the move a lot so I enjoyed most of it but when its wet and cold camping is not as fun. However it makes you appreciate the small things more and I learned that I don’t need much to be happy and that I prefer warmer weather to the cold. 🙂
In terms of highlights, what was the best part of the cycle?
Pretty much the whole trip. I learned so much, saw so many beautiful places and met so many wonderful people. It was also so great to just be reminded of what’s important in life and to not get so caught up in all the small things.
The realisation of how lucky I was to be able to take six months off and travel to which ever country I chose. This was unheard of in most countries I travelled through and really reminded me what a luxury it was to most of the world.
Any words of advice or tips?
If you are thinking of doing something similar just do it! You will always find an excuse not to take an adventure on like this, so just do it and you will work out everything else along the way 🙂
Ok, bonus question: best food?
All the food in China was AMAZING!!! Being a vegetarian was pretty much impossible in the ‘Stans so I was in heaven when I got to China with all the tasty fruit and veg.
Check out our upcoming cycles (you don’t need six months!) to delve into a new culture and have a great adventure for a cause.