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01. Sep, 2013

A few days cycling around the Isle of Wight

A few days cycling around the Isle of Wight

The barriers lifted and we bumped our bikes over the rumble strips and up the ramp. Behind us, motorbikes revved up and children scampered back into their campervans. It was 5pm on a warm, muggy Friday evening in August and it was clear that the weekend couldn’t start soon enough for the waiting passengers.

Ushered to the front of the boat, we lent the bikes against the raised exit ramp, asking twice to make sure that there was no risk of the ramp deploying mid-voyage sending our bikes for a dip in the Solent. Across the water, beyond the white sails of yachts making use of the evening breeze, the Isle of Wight stretched out hazily on the horizon.  (more…)

31. Oct, 2012

Sleepless back in London: three months on

Sleepless back in London: three months on

Lying wide awake at midnight last Wednesday, I start to hear distant police sirens wailing in the distance, which triggers memories of having a local police escort whilst cycling in northern Peru.  Fast forward through a couple more random memories, I then realise that it’s precisely three months since we finished our circuit of South America by bike.

“How are you finding adjusting to being back?” is one of the most common questions we get asked.  Not that I mind of course as I honestly enjoy any opportunity to talk about the trip, but it’s a question that I have probably not given the same answer to twice.  I feel like I’m expected to say that “it’s awful”, that I can’t stand another day and that I’m going to leave on the bike tomorrow.  Overall, though, I think we have surprised ourselves about how it has been fairly easy to slot back into life. (more…)

08. Jun, 2012

Mad dogs and Englishmen: Teresina to Sao Raimundo Nonato

Mad dogs and Englishmen: Teresina to Sao Raimundo Nonato

We were surprised to learn that Brazil’s full name is the United States of Brazil and that like in their North American counterpart, the USA, the states can almost be considered countries themselves. Using that analogy, our latest section took place in Piaui, the Brazilian equivalent of Nevada, with incredible heat, impressive rock formations and cacti.

Piaui’s capital city, Teresina, is the hottest state capital in Brazil. Fortunately, there was very little to see there, aside from a scenic lookout on a new bridge, so we were able to use the time to relax, do bike maintenance and wash our salt-ingrained clothes. (more…)

01. Apr, 2012

The Brazilian diversion: Pacaraima to Bonfim

The Brazilian diversion: Pacaraima to Bonfim

After over eight months pedalling about in Spanish-speaking South America, we rode our bikes back into Brazil. As there is no road link between Venezuela and Guyana, we had little option but to head south to the city of Boa Vista before heading northeast toward the first of the continent’s trio of lesser-known nations, Guyana.

At the border, between getting our respective exit and entry stamps, there were dozens of Brazilian vehicles in long queues waiting for the delivery of Chavez’s ultra-cheap gasoline to the final Venezuelan gas station. It seems that the despite being over 230km to the nearest sizeable settlement, it is still worth people’s while to spend a day visiting Venezuela to fill up their tank for next to nothing. (more…)

15. Feb, 2012

Getting to grips with Venezuela: Cycling San Antonio to Valencia

Getting to grips with Venezuela: Cycling San Antonio to Valencia

Crossing into Venezuela, our tenth country, we were keen to find out why it receives less than a quarter of the visitors of neighbouring Colombia which is hardly a mass tourism destination itself. What lay ahead was an experience unlike any other we’ve had so far, as we reached the most northerly point of our South American bike ride.

We crossed the Puente Simon Bolivar into Hugo Chavez country across a long, narrow bridge crossing a rubbish-strewn dry riverbed. Our first impressions were of a transformation back in time; huge American cars from decades before were living their third and fourth lives. (more…)