faq


If you don’t find the answer that you need after looking through these frequently asked questions, then you can ask a question yourself using the form below.

What does the ’14degrees’ stand for?

I never originally intended to travel all the way around the world. My original plan when I set out from Japan in July 2006 was to cycle from Japan to England. It just so happened that my intended route for my original plan stayed roughly between 38 degrees north and 52 degrees north, giving me a difference of 14 degrees. Despite the relatively small latitudal slither, this area has an immensely diverse range of cultures and peoples, including areas like central Asia – an area realtively unfrequented by foreign tourists.

What made you want to embark on such a journey?

See why section.

Why travel by skateboard?

See the why skateboard section.

Why the recumbent bike?

See the recumbent bike section.

What distance can you cover in one day?

When I was on my bicycle, I was averaging 90 to 120kms a day in Europe, and anywhere from 40 to 100km in Asia, depending on the terrain and road condition. That’s an average of about 18km/h for a solid 7 hour day in Europe, and between 8 to 14km/h in Asia.

On my skateobard, I avereage between 60km and 100km a day, averaging between 12km/h and 17km/h.

How many wheels do  you go through?

The wheels on my skateboard last for at least 5,000km for one set. They are solid rubber, and very durable. Therefore for my entire 12,000km skateboard journey, I used only two sets of wheels. I did change to a different set in China, but only because I wanted to try out a different size of wheels.

How do you carry your luggage on the skateboard?

I carry all I need to survive (down to about -10 degrees celcius overnight) myself; there are no support vehicles. In Europe and the US, I was carrying everything in one 45 litre hiking backpack. Including about two days food and 4.5 litres of water, the total weight is no more than 15kg. The pack was very comfortable, and I never got sore sholders (see gear section for complete gear list).

In China I decided to pioneer a different way of carrying camping equipment on a solo skateboard touring journey. I now haul my gear behind me on a specially adapted trailer.

You are attempting to break a world record?

I have now unofficially broken the Guinness World Record for the Longest Journey by Sakteboard. The current world record is officially held by Dave Cornthwaite, with a distance of 5,823km. He skateboarded across Australia as part of his Boardfree.co.uk initiative. I have already skated 9,500km, and will have 12,000km under my belt by September 2008.
How can you prove that you actually skateboarded the total distance?

Because I am traveling alone – unlike Dave Cornthwaite who had a backup team to witness – there is no way to prove 100% that I will have covered the total distance by skateboard alone. However, I am committed to traveling the distance by skateboard alone, and this will be backed up by the following:

– A detailed daily logbook that details GPS data for the day, weather conditions, road conditions, break times, purchases, signed eyewitness reports from people I meet on the road (see example here).
– A detailed online journal including full colour hig resolution photographs complete with EXIF data.
– Weekly video compilations of life on the road.
– A full GPS tracklog showing my average speeds and exact route taken.

This evidence will be submitted to Guinness World Records, and it will be up to them to make a decision. If I do manage to stick it out for 8,000km, that is!

Is one of your legs way more muscley than the other?

No. I ride my skateboard swtichfoot, which means that I alternate between pushing legs. This evens the load, and helps especially when skating uphill.

Do you only travel by human power?

All overland travel is by human power, with the only exception being when water and/or bureaucracy gets in the way.

For example, I had to take a train across Turkmenistan due to visa restrictions. My visa ran out in Tajikistan, so I had to take a mini-bus to the capital to extend it. I decided to fly to the Canary Islands from France in order to take up the opportunity to sail across the Atlantic (flights paid by Reliance Yacht Management – my crew finding agent). Of course across water I either sailed or took commercial ferries.

In the US, I skateboarded the entire way across the country except for a 25km stretch in Arizona where I was forbidden to skate on the road due to expressway access regulations. There was no alternative, so I walked for 10km through the desert (I was not even allowed to walk next to the road) and hitched the remaining 25km to the nearest alternative route (a 400km detour) where I began skating again.

Why do you travel alone?

I was mildly afraid of setting out on my own. I was unsure of how I would handle the solitude. It wasn’t as if I had much choice however; sacrificing 2 years of one’s early working career is a big ask for most people. Depsite this, I really enjoy being on the road alone. Freedom to stop, push on, start, eat, sleep, at my own pace. Freedom to alter plans at a whim. Also, traveling alone makes me much more approachable; locals will be much more prepared to approach a single traveler than a pair or more.

Do you ever have any dangerous encounters?

No. The area of the world that I have traveled so far is relatively free of dangerous animals, and the human bipeds that I met have been 99.9% overwhelmingly generous, hospitable, and very friendly. The other 0.01% have been intoxicated.

How many languages do you speak?

I speak English and Japanese fluently. Neither of these languages are very helpful for the majority of the time I am traveling, due to the remote places that I tend to be drawn to. After cycling through central Asia for three months, I leaned enough Russian to get by enventually. The same with Turkish; 1.5 months there had me up with the play on the essensials. In Europe it was difficult to pick up local languages due to the fact that most people speak at least some English.

You must be rich to be able to travel for so long!

Ah, no. I have not stayed at a single youth hostel, hotel, or other paid accommodation since I left Instanbul in February 2007. I sleep outside, under trees, in old barns…anywhere where I won’t cause a nusance. Also, I am greatly indebted to the many Couchsurfing.com hosts that have hosted me during my travels. I regularly stay at strangers’ houses at least once a week through this great initiative. My budget at present consists of NZ$5 a day, which works out to be about US$3.50 a day. More than enough for food. My original budget was US$20 a day, and I stuck to that fairly well during the first half of my trip, from Japan to England. If I was to do things again, I am sure I could easily halve that, even when taking into account visa and consular fees, internet etc.

How do you get across water?

I took a standard passenger ferry for the following crossings: Japan to Korea, Korea to China, Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan (across the Caspian Sea), Holland to England, England to France. I worked on a yacht delivery for passage across the Atlantic to the British Virgin Islands (BVI). As of mid September 2007, I am not 100% sure how I will get from the BVI to the US. Probably by hitching a ride on a private yacht.

Are you going to write a book?

No firm plans yet. This website is about as comprehensive as it gets. I may however consider producing a coffee table photo book. We’ll see…

What is your profession?

See about me page.

What was your favourite country?

Without a doubt, Tajikistan. In fact, all of central Asia was mind blowing. The raw stark nature of the environment there and the remnance of Soviet occupation coupled with local culture striving to re-establish itself makes for an amazing diverse experience. Plus for me, it was extremely challenging physically. Unclean water, steep and rough roads, extremely fatty foods, extended periods without being able to buy supplies, remote areas. I can recall every single day I was in central Asia with clarity, as opposed with Europe, where one day seemed to meld into the next.

Are you married?

I get asked this surprisingly often. The answer is no.

I wasn’t married during my journey, but I am now 🙂
Remember you can ask me a question using the form below.


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98 thoughts on “faq

  • Lee

    Q:  What's an onsen? (I'm guessing some sort of public bath…)

    <hr />A:  Yep. 'Tis the Japanese word for 'hot spring'. However I am a strong advocate for the word 'onsen' to be added to the English dictionary. It refers not only to the hot spring itself, but the whole way that one approaches the idea of soaking in a hot spring in Japan. The nakedness. The wash before entering the bath. The communal atmosphere. The deep relaxation. The word hotspring just doesn't cut the cheese. Oh yeah, and I don't reccommend that in an onsen either. Cutting the cheese that is.  – Rob 

  • Lee

    Q:  Is it possible to acquire a couple of your photos? Not sure how to save them when they're in the current slideshow thingy.

    <hr />A:  You most certainly may acquire some photos (for those of you thinking that this is permission to sell my photos – think again). As you know, if you click on the photo, the photo details are displayed. You will notice at the bottom of the description of the photo a link that says 'Open photo in a new window'. If you click on this, you will be taken to my flickr.com account page, with that photo displayed. If you then click on 'all sizes' above the photo, you can choose what size photo you want to save.   

    By the way, <a title="Free photo sharing" href="http://www.flickr.com/&quot; target="_blank">flickr.com is a great site, and even better, it's free to open your own account. No storage space limit, but you're only allowed to upload a total of 20MB worth of photos per month on the free account.

  • C

    Q: How come you've picked such a longer way just to not going to Austria?

    <hr />A: Cheers for pointing this out. I assume you are talking about me going through Italy? I had the same comment from an Austrian guy the other day. And the thought of going through Austria rather than crossing the Swiss Alps from Italy certainly sounds like a nice idea. I guess the reason I originally chose the route through Italy and then up into Switzerland was because I've always wanted to go to Italy…But that may all change when the reality of the Swiss Alps in mid-winter hits me! If you have any suggestions of where to pass through from Slovenia to Austria, then please feel free to make a comment on the Slovenia route page

  • Matt Monahan

    Q: Robert, I'd like to get a recumbent to commute to work, and I really like the SWB USS type. What made you choose the HP over others?

    <hr />A: Thanks for the question, Matt. The reason I chose the HP was very simply that the Street Machine just seemed to be the most respected and well-proven workhorse in the recumbent world. To be honest, I think it was the Bentrideronline article about the Street Machine GTe that really sold me (see the article here). In particular, the following points really stood out:

    A suspension system that doesn't pogo when pedalling hard.

    Designed for a low rack under the seat.

    Body-link seat (fully adjustable).

    Relatively light compared with other commuting/touring bikes.

    The thing to remember however is that you definitely do pay for quality. With my specs, the bike worked out at US$3400. That's including US$250 for shipping to Japan from the US.

    When trying to decide on a bike, think about what you'll be using it most for. If you want a fast bike to break out on in the weekends for some fast rides on the outskirts of town, then go for a lower and lighter recumbent. If you want a comfortable, still-quite-fast, strong and versatile bike, then go for the Street Machine GTe – if you have the cash to spare. – Rob 

  • willy wong

    Q: Hi, is HPVelotechnik sponsoring you? I just ordered one almost exactly the same as yours (even the colour is identical) except i skip the disc brakes. have you bought the air horn? in the event of that your bike breaks down which requires new parts, do you have any support team to assist you? do you use any GPS, if you do, what is it?

    <hr />A: Hi Willy, thank you for the question. No, HP Velotechnik is not sponsoring me. When I bought the bike, I only had a very vague idea about my plans for this trip. I didn't really have the preparation neccessary to present an offer to them for their support. 

    As for the air horn, no, I don't have this. A simple little ding ding bell is much easier to maintain 😉

    The trip is totally self supported, so that means that something out of the ordinary such as a broken freewheel or smashed rim will require that I try to hitch to the nearest town for spare parts. However, such major breakdowns are rare, and for everthing else such as broken spokes, broken racks etc, I have my wit and problem-solving skills (something that everyone has) to help me out (plus a certain amount of spare spokes ;)).

    No GPS on this trip. Three reasons:

    Not worth the weight

    Not needed (I don't plan on venturing off-road too often)

    Too expensive

    GPS would be a fun thing to have, but since I'll be riding on roads that are on a map, I shouldn't be needing a GPS. – Rob

  • Lee

    Q: Is there any way WE can post photos to/for YOU on your website? I've had a hunt but can't see any way at the moment… 

    <hr />A: Unfortunately no. My suggestion would be to email your photos to rob.thomson at 14degrees dot org. I'd be stoked! One other option is to get a flickr.com account so that you can post comments on my photos. Within the comment section, you can post photos, it seems. See this for an example:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/14degrees/182887945/

  • T Kootee Korvah

    Q: Mr. Thomson, is it possible for you to cycle on a road which hills on it of about 7 miles without getting dowm from your cycle and walk?

    <hr />A: Thank you for the questions, Kootee. My bicycle has 27 gears, and the lowest is low enough to be able to crawl up most hills with relative ease. The slowest I can go uphill without falling over is about 4km/h, and it's not often that I would encounter a hill that would make me go slower than that. When I biked from Beppu City to Amagase Town (in Japan), I was biking uphill for about three hours, mostly at that slow speed. I did not need to get off my bike at all.

  • Mike C

    Q: Hi Rob, I haven't been able to watch your videos. When I click on the video it opens a new YouTube window, but the video wont play. When I push the play button it breifly says "loading" but never eventuates in anything. Wassup?

    <hr />  A: Thanks for the question Mike. The videos are working fine where I am. So consider the following:

    The YouTube videos run on Flash, so first of all make sure that you've got the latest version of the Flash player. Other than that, I'm not sure why it doesn't work on your computer.

    If you're on a dial up connection it may take a while for the video to buffer.

    If you still have problems, then you can see most of the videos on Google Video too: http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=14degrees. Just click on one of the videos, and then click on the 'From User' link in the right hand column to see all the videos.

    You can also look at the videos directly via my YouTube account: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=14degrees

  • Dave Monks

    Q: Rob, haven't considered reserecting the 'Trusty Justy' for just one more trip?

    <hr />A: Dave, the Mighty Justy would be loving it out here if she was in any shape to be moving. The last I heard was that a friend of my brother's had taken her to bits and made a beach buggy out of her.

  • Machlin Korvah

    Q: Mr. Robert Thomson, what interest did you have to have traveled from Japan to Europe on a bicycle?

    <hr />A: Thank you for the question, Machlin. For all you ever wanted to know about my motivation for this trip, take a look at my info page on the subject.

  • David

    Q: What is the planned duration of your trip?


    A: David, thank you for the question. At the outset of the trip, I had planned the trip to take 200 days. However, central Asia has taken much longer than I had expected due to tough roads, tough food, and tough buearocracy (visas). Therefore, I am almost a month behind my original schedule. I think in the end it may take up to 9 months in total. Three months up to here (Dushanbe, Tajikistan), and another six or so to London.

  • david

    Q: Do u think the Scorpion trike by HP Velotechnik will be a better choice for touring?

     

    <hr /> 

    A: Thank you for the question, David.

    First of all, I think that how a bicycle performs is largely in the eye of the rider. There are people that tour on one speed, crappy Chinese bikes, there are people who tour on recumbents that cost thousands of dollars, and there are a massive amount of people in between. What they share in common however, is the pursuit for that perfect stretch of road where the wind is at your back, the road is smooth, and all you can hear is the whizzzzzzz of your tyres on the pavement.

    Therefore, I can't really say for certain whether the HP Scorpion Trike would be better or worse than any other human powered vehicle for touring. Also, I've never toured on a trike before, so any thoughts on how it would handle rough terrain would purely be assumptions.

    However, I can say that I'm sure it would be a thrill on smooth pavement. Cornering would be phenominal, and the downhill experience would be even more exciting that the two wheeled recumbent that I have.

    Now when I think about it, perhaps a trike would be safer on loose gravel…no falling over due to a stone grabbing your front wheel.

    But if you're really keen to get first hand opinions on touring with a trike, flick an email to Rob Luxton at <a href="http://www.chinawheelie.com” target=”_blank”>www.chinawheelie.com. He's about seven months into a 1.5 year trip around China, riding a Greenspeed Expedition trike. It doesn't have any suspension, which I would have thought would have been tough going on the rough stuff, but he doing an awesome job of getting the trike through some fairly tough terrain.

  • Michael Grifka

    Heya Rob! You're famous! I was looking for some old friends of mine from the good ol' JET days of 99-01 when i came across your 14 degrees site. Good on 'ye! I live outside San Francisco now, and am part of the National Bicycle Greenway. We have a recumbent page, and you've been featured on it! Check yourself out at http://www.bikeroute.com/Recumbents/News/ and then check us out!! Giood luck on the rest of your hourney. We'll be watching.

  • Andrew

    Q: Did you consider buying front fairing for your bike to shelter you a bit from cold headwinds and rain?

    <hr />A: Thanks for the question, Andrew. I guess I didn't really think too hard about the front fairing, simply because of the cost of the thing. Also, it just seems to be a little too much bulk and weight to be worth it. However I haven't really looked into it all that much. I must try one out when I am in Germany and swing by the HP Velotechnik headquaters.In any case, I haven't had too many unbearably cold winds or rain for more than just one day, so for the amount of nice days that I have had (the vast majority of the time), I think a front fairing would just be too much of a luxury.

    Also, I wonder how the fairing would hold up on some of the really bad roads that I have cycled on. Perhaps it could be a hinderance when trying to dodge potholes and large rocks? I'm not sure…

  • Ben Squire

    Q: You mentioned that you're going to stop by HPV headquarters as you go through Germany. Do they know to expect you? I'm sure that they would be willing to give your bike (and you!) some much needed TLC. After all, you're about the best advertising they could ask for. They might even be open to design improvement suggestions based on your experiences. Anyway, I've been enjoying your epic journey and I admire your amazing will. It is a story that should be shared. If you ever decide to do sometrhing like this again, maybe someone like national Geographic would be interested in sponsoring you. Or many other organizations. Keep your spirits up. There are a lot of us out here rooting for you. Best of health and luck on the rest of your trip. -Ben Squire, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

    <hr />A: Ben, cheers for the encouragement. You can be assured that I will indeed be contacting HP Velotechnik in advance. At the moment I'm still at least three or four months away, so I'll give it a little more time yet. As for the next great adventure, we'll see how we go. Still got a while to go on this one!

  • Mark Stosberg

    Q: What do you wear to keep your hands warm on the coldest days on the bike?

    Q: The black rain pants you are seen wearing in Turkey look really nice. What brand are they?

    <hr />A: Thank you for the questions, Mark. My hands are kept warm with the Solomon GoreTex lined ski gloves I have. The GoreTex lining is great for keeping rain and moisture out, but they don't quite keep up with my perspiration. After a few hard days cycling without a chance to dry out, they are noticably damp inside. However, I very rarely have cold hands with these. So long as I keep the fuel intake (plenty of carbs and some fat) going, that is.

    As for the rain pants, they are great. They are a Japanese brand, Montbell. They have full length waterproof zips down the sides, elastic waist, waterproof zips on the side pockes, and the fabric is stretchy 3 layer GoreTex XCR. I am not sure of the name of the pants, but the item code is 1102278. I am wearing them every day at the moment. They block the wind, protect against snow, and breathe satisfactorily.

    On very long (1 hour plus) steep uphills, I start to notice dampness due to perspiration, but it has never got to the point that I have felt chilly due to the dampness. My legs are always dry at the end of the day. They are no good in warm rain however. The fabric just doesn't keep up with the perspiration. Also, I have found that the breathability of them is only 100% effective when you have a base layer and a fleece mid layer on under them. This extra layering does mean that I only wear them when it gets any colder than 0 degrees celcius (or when it is raining, of course).

  • Tarnue Kootee KORVAH

    Q: Hi Rob, for some times ago, I have not been able to monitor your trip to London due to the preparation for my departure for Beppu, Japan very soon. Please tell me how far you are at present, what are some of the difficulties you are faced with in your actual locality and what are some of the behavours of the people in that area?

    <hr />A: At present I am in an internet cafe in Refahiye, a small town in eastern Turkey. The main difficulties at present are the very cold temperatures that I need to cycle in. The cold makes it very difficult to ride fast, because if you sweat too much, you can get chilly very quickly. Also, it is difficult to take breaks, especially when there is a very strong cold wind blowing. The Turks are always very friendly, and are keen to speak to my and learn about my journey.

  • Geoff

    Q: Hey, I've just ordered myself a HP Velo street machine GTe. It's good to read some of your stories. I'm interested in long touring on the bike, what panniers are you using?

    <hr />A: Geoff, thank you for the question. Ortlieb Front Roller Plus and Back Roller Plus and a Rack Pack Classic on top. I love them to bits. Simple, robust, water proof, light, easy to get into…I will however be checking out the Moonraker recumbent panniers that HPVelotechnik advertises on their site when I visit them in Germany. I think they may be more aerodynamic than the Ortliebs…

  • Antoinette N. Mara

    Q: Hi Mr. Thomson, I am a 24 years old girl residing and going to school in N'Zerekore, Guinea, West Africa. I have followed with interest your journey from Japan up to Turkey on a bicycle. Thank you for your courage. Now, the question I have is, why did you choose to add the APU Website Address to your website? Another question is, does APU really exist? If so, how will I believe this? I am interested in attending this University and my dad is ready to pay all that will take me there to learn Sociology, only and if only it does exist.

    <hr />A: Hello Antoinette, thank you for your question. The reason I put the link to APU on my website, is because I believe that it is a fantastic university. It is a great concept that allows students from all over the world study together in one place, interracting and building relationships together, while experiencing Japan and Japanese culture, with great employment options in Japan and around the world.

    The reason that I can say this with such conviction is because I used to work there. I worked in the Admissions Office, helping accepted applicants through their admissions process, especially in the area of obtaining their College Student visa for going to Japan to study at APU. If you want some materials sent to you in the post that explain about the university in more detail, send an email to welcome@apu.ac.jp. When I was still working there 6 months ago, my friend Mr. David Victor was handling enquiries to this email address, so you could try adressing your email to him. You can also call the Admissions Office (the telephone number is +81-977-78-1119).

    The reason I left APU was because after working in such an international environment, I ended up getting itchy feet, and wanted to see some of the places that the students were from. It is a great place to work, but the urge to explore the world was stronger!

    By the way, APU is not paying me to say this, neither are they a sponsor of my journey. It is a great institution that I am happy to support and reccommend.

    If I were you, and had the opportunity, I would definitely seriously consider the option of stuying at APU. Japan is a great country (I lived there for four years).

  • Keith Phillips, Nana

    Q: I started commuting to work, 3 years ago on a traditional style Diamond framed Bike and discovered SWB recumbents. I bought a used one which I used for a year, then bought a HP Grasshopper 3 months ago. It has two 20 inche diameter wheels, like your bikes front wheel size. WOndering if you were doing it again, would you chose this over your street machine with the 26 inch rear wheel.

    <hr />A: Jolly good question Keith. Considering that my front 20" wheel has handled all the roads I have been on just fine, I guess that a 20" back wheel as well shouldn't make much difference. It would certainly be more convenient not having to carry two different sizes of tyres and tubes if I had two same-sized wheels. In fact, as I sit here thinking about it, the more I think about it the more I am convinced that there is no need for a bigger back wheel. My initial reaction is that perhaps the suspension would have to work harder in order to compensate for a smaller wheel rolling over rocks. However that's not true. A 26" wheel trying to roll over a 10cm rock still needs to move up 10cm. The same goes for a 20" wheel. Hmmm. On the other hand however, a 26" wheel will roll better over corrugations than a 20" wheel perhaps… When it comes down to it, I guess the proven performance of the StreetMachine sold me. Enjoy your Grasshopper however, I have no doubt that if you ever set out on a big trip that it would perform great! Two super strong wheels (20" wheels are indestructable), convenience of two same-sized wheels, compact bike size, and still all the same performance benefits of an HPVelotechnik recumbent bike.

  • boris

    HI. I m from Croatia, from Istra, is region near Slovenia or Italia and I want that you be my quest.I have recumbent bike AZUB HARDCORE and i think that I m only one in Croatia

  • Gary Law

    G'day Rob, I've only just found your website and have spent the last few hours going through it. Great work mate, keep it going. I recently completed 3 months of riding around Japan in mid to late 2006 and loved it. I used a whisperlite too and it was awesome. I'm of course now addicted to the slow road and am actually in the process of planning a trip similar to yours. I'm planning to take a slightly higher track and venture into Russia but I wanted to ask if you had any advice you could throw my way. As of July 2007, I will be living in Japan till I begin the trip and would love to have a beer with ya if you go back. Again, great work mate, Ganbatte

  • Lennon

    Q: Hi rob, I'm Jo Tomooka's cousin from Nelson, NZ. Your web site is really inspiring – especially the photos! Could you please tell me how you manage your photos during your trip? Do you upload the full sized images to flickr or are these reduced somehow? How else do you back up your photos? Thanks very much. Happy pedalling!

    <hr />A: Hi Lennon, thanks for dropping by. Glad you like the photos. They are photos of inspiring places 🙂 For the first four months of my trip, I was backing up my photos and videos onto a great 20BG portable hard disk. It was called the Direct Station Pocket, by Buffalo. It has slots for SD cards, memory sticks etc. Great thing, but it developed a fault, so I sent it home, and will work out how to extract all my precious originals later. I now back up onto CD, and send these home. All my best photos are uploaded onto Flickr, using the Flickr uploading tool (you can download this from Flickr). With the Flickr uploading tool, you can resize the photos as you upload them. All done automatically. Very handy. I have never been in an internet cafe yet that did not allow me to install software. All internet cafes allow USB connection. Just let me know if you have any other questions. My pleasure.

  • Bram van Uden

    Hello Rob, I'm a recumbent biker from Holland. Me and my family (all bike enthousiast who spend almost every holiday by bike) would love to offer you a bed + meal. We live near Rotterdam. If you are interested, just write me a mail. F.Y.I., I own a Velomobiel Mango + Optima Stinger. Hope to hear from you

  • andrew

    Rob, thank you so much for this website!!! It’s amazing. I’m a JET in Nagano now and I’m planning on starting a two year bike trip this October from Jersey in America. Question: How have you liked the disc brakes so far? I’m worried about hard-to-fix disc brake malfunction in remote areas. Have you found the dished wheels needed for the discs to be weak in any way? General thoughts would be appreciated as the bike I’m interested in comes with discs, and so far, I’m intimidated by using discs on such a long trip. I know they keep rims more in tact by avoiding pad wear, but I’m worried about fixing and overall weakness from the dishing. cheers and best of luck!!! you’re an inspiration for me, thank you!

  • Ming

    Gday Rob, Thank you very much for sharing a truly inspirational trip and an awesome website! I am hoping to visit some of the countries in Central Asia in the near future, and I am awrare of the difficulties / beaurcracies of getting visas in the region. How did you manage getting your visas, (esp the more difficult places – Turkmenistan, Tajikistan – GBAO permit), and how did the unpredictability of your schedule impact on the visas? Keep pedalling mate, cheers!

  • Chris

    Hi Rob, I've just come across your site and am in the process of reading all your blogs. Don't know how far I'll get, but so far it's kept me entertained for the past few hours. But anyways, I was wondering what is the durometer of your skate board wheels. Also why did end up with that particular board, why not something with pneumatic tires for more rugged use? It will be interesting to see how you make out with logistics for traveling across the North America. You should be sure to come us visit here in Boston, Massachusetts (actually outside of Boston).

  • Tim

    Rob, Congrats on the finale of your journey. I'e been following you from the strat. Heard about you on the fredcast podcast. Amazing feat of physical and mental dedication. Forgive me if you have detailed these plans already, but have you decided on a route for your U.S. endeavor? Look forward to following your continuing journey. ~Tim~

  • Paul Ruby

    Hi Rob, Firstly I'd really like to congratulate you (albeit a little late) on the recumbent leg of your journey! I'm 17 years old, currently studying for my A-Levels, and I'm thinking of taking a gap year before University to go on a long tour from London to Tokyo. So firstly, how much do you think it will cost me, excluding the price of the bike? (I've actually decided to go on the same bike as you did.) Secondly, do you think that it's worth going through all the central asian states, or in retrospect would you rather have gone through Russia? Thaks Rob, and Good Luck with the rest of you journey.

  • Cecilia

    Hello, let me start off by thanking you for all your support to the Lowe syndrome…my son Nathan was diagnosed with it in Sep of 2006. I recently read your article in our Lowe's news letter…my family and friends would LOVE to host some kind of event when and if you come closer to our city. We live in Hemet, California which is 1hour away from San Diego. If we could work somthing out where we could meet you and thank you in person and raise money at the same time that would be GREAT. Let me know. Thanks again!!!! email me at acruva@msn.com

  • tyler acosta

    well sry but this isnt really a Q. but i just wanted to say thanx for comming to my school (ferry pass middle) in pensicola F.L. plz e-mail me if you can. also if you saw me while your presintation (i was the kid with the black jacket and the marker in my hand and i was sitting to the left of you).plz e-mail me if you did see me. oh ya i use the Q&A blog because i had 5 mins to write this and i didnt have time to look around.ok thanx and if you did see me e-mail me at-txfed@yahoo.com

  • Nathan

    Q: Hey bro, great website. I'm embarking on a recumbent tour in a couple of months time. I've come to the same conclusion as you about the choice of bike. Anyway i've got a question. What sort of food do yo generally eat day to day when cycling. Couldn't see much mention of this in your website.

    A: In the US, I am eating terribly. I take multi-vitamins, and eat a lot of bread, beans, peanut butter. The reason for this is because I am trying to travel on a really tight budget, and I've chosen not to carry a stove on the trans-US trip. It is quite difficult to eat well on US$5 a day when you can't buy pasta and cook it yourself (as I did in Europe and Asia). The locals that have hosted me however have been great – feeding me a great variety of food.

    I generally get all my food from grocery stores. I have found it difficult to get good bread here in the US however. Good heavy multigrain bread either doesn't exist or is really expensive. Too much of the white fluffy spongey stuff. I look forward to being in China again where you can get great high-carb food at a very low cost.

  • Aditya

    Hi Rob, I have been following your site for a long time now and it is truly inspiring. I have never left a comment on your site (bad on my part) but I have a question now. I plan to do a long journey on my bicycle and I am the only thought that keeps bothering me is food. I am a vegetarian and not sure if I will survive out there with this restriction. What is your opinion on being a vegetarian and being on road for weeks together?

  • Andy Solaini

    Q. How long did it take you to get used to the recumbent after riding a DF bike? I have heard it takes a bit of getting used to.

  • Andy Solaini

    Q. How did you cope with all the attention of being on a recumbent. I had a trike but now want the same bike as you. I did feel a little self conscious but maybe you get used to this?

  • Kim

    Hi Rob! This is Kim. We met in Arizona. I am getting ready to go to China in ten days and I will be posting a blog of my own with a possible connection to our city newspaper. I have a couple questions about uploading photos. I am wondering which hardward you use to transfer your photos from the compact flash cards to the computer. I have a sandisk card reader with a usb connection. I read in an earlier answer that you use flickr software to upload your photographs. Do you upload them from the cardreader? What do you use for a cardreader, or do you plug the camera directly into the computers at the internet cafes using the usb cord? I am having a great time reading your bogs about China. Thank you! —Kim

  • brian

    Q: I see you are sponsored by bones for bearings and say you get 2000 miles (km?) on them. Do you have to perform any routine cleaning on them? I see some of the weather/roads you skate on, and I think you have to clean them occasionally. Just curious.

    A: Brian, I pack my bearings with grease, and so I do not have to clean them out very often at all. I do clean them out with either non-residue electrical contact cleaner (developed countries) or petrol (everywhere else) every 500 miles or so though. I found that with the thin lubricant that Bones supplied, water would wash the lubricant out quite easily. Despite rolling ever so slightly slower, the grease is more resiliant to dust and water.

  • Leo

    Hi. Shit, return key posted my comment:P Amazing what you have done! My question is: Did your HP need any maintenance during the trip? Oil and stuff like that?

  • Will Terry

    Hey man, I have recently stumbled upon your site. I love the video's posted some adventures you had. I was wondering if you could maybe put up a playlist of your favorite bands you listened to on the trip? I think that would be pretty interesting. Thanks, WIll

  • Clay

    Q: Yo! Very cool journey, Rob. You are an inspiration. What I was wondering about was the process on the skateboard regarding hills. Do you push up them all? Do you have a brake for the big ones going down? Did you plan your route to avoid such hills? I am soon to embark on a trip from San Francisco California to LA by skateboard, no trailer but very minimal gear for weight issues. My main concerns are speeding out of control down hills and getting run over. Any advice in that respect would be appreciated. Thanks and congrats on all you have accomplished. -Clay

    A: Hi Clay, thank you for the question. Going up, I found that pushing was the best way to go. Just push fast and light. That is, speed up how many pushes you do per minute, but keep them light. Don't try to power up the hills, especially if they're massive. Just lock into a nice easy rythym and stick at it. After a while, you'll come to love the hills – there's nothing quite like a good solid hill after being on the flat for a few weeks, and the hills make things more interesting. As for going down, I foot-braked on all the hills. Slides were not an option due to traffic. This meant that I wore through quite a lot of sole on my shoes, but I got around this by using only my dominant braking foot for foot braking, and only using the heel of that shoe. When the sole was getting close to wearing out, I would stick some thin rubber (you can get this at a hardware store) to the sole with super glue (sand-paper the sole and rubber patch before sticking). This meant that I only went through three pairs of shoes for the entirr trip. Adam Colton used the same one pair of shoes for his cross-USA trip too, I believe.

  • John

    Q: Wow man you rule Rob, my question has to do with the police. how many times have you been kicked off the roads esp in the U.S & Euro? and what would they say about you reasoning? My other question is whats the scarriest thing you encountered on your quest? weather, politics, nutrition etc etc

    A: Thanks for the question John. I was kicked off the road once during the whole trip. Just once, and it was in Arizona: http://www.14degrees.org/en/?p=593. I was stopped by police about once every couple of weeks in the US, and they were always very understanding; so long as it's obvious you're not a punk skater who is out to cause trouble, they are usually fine. The scarriest thing I encountered during the trip was…coming off my board in the middle of nowhere, hitting my head, and that night wondering whether I would wake up from my sleep or not: http://www.14degrees.org/en/?p=568. I never got much rain during the trip, most of my route was through quite dry areas (deserts in China and the US). Nutrition-wise, I was on a very tight budget, so I just concentrated on lots of carbs, some protein (mostly in the form of beans – meat was too much hassle and too expensive), and multivitimins. Politics-wise, visas were an issue in China – I had to renew my tourist visa three times, leave the country halfway through to get a new visa etc etc.

  • John

    another question? i'm a cook and i was wondering what country did you enjoy the food most and what was it? excluding the U.S.A. got any special recipies out there for us food lovers?

  • Jack

    Q: Hi Rob! How did you manage to navigate on all the roads in all countries? I know you had some maps and gps… but I guess you didnt have like a 1000 different maps laying around if you know what I mean;) Could you explain more about the navigation part:)

    A: Hi Jack. Thanks for the question. I usually had a basic idea of what route I would take across a country, and this was plotted (in my mind) using atlases and other maps, and by researching other cycle tourers' websites. http://www.Crazyguyonabike.com is great for this. Just search for any country on the planet and you get blogs from people who have cycle toured there. Then have a look at the blogs and the route maps from their travels, and you get a good idea of what route to take. Generally, once I was on the road in any particular country, I would have a basic local map, and I would to a lot of asking around, asking locals which route would be the best to go on. In most countries I couldn't speak the language, but that was never an issue; a great deal of pointing and mimiking with the hands goes a long way. I never used my GPS for naviagation – only for recording my distances each day.

  • Benji

    Q: Hey Rob, love the website! So inspiring man. If your ever in Wellington, come on up to Hell Pizza in Khandallah dinners on me man! I'm contemplating an adventure by bike of my own and im wondering what was the food situation like going through Central Asia and China. Did you ever have an issues regarding getting food? What was your water consumption like? Any idea of how many calories a day you were burning? I imagine you must have been eating like a horse daily! Anyway regards, welcome back! Wish I had the money right now to get your bike from Trademe. Cheers

    A: Hey Benji. Thanks for the question and the encouragement. Food in Central Asia and China was hit-and-miss. Central Asia was OK, with good hearty local food like pilov (fried rice, Central Asian style). In the more isolated areas I would carry pasta, but this was a disaster, as pasta in Central Asia (the local stuff) is terrible. It just returns to floury goop once you boil it. Food in China was pretty good in the west. Freshly made noodles in beef soup was my staple, as it was really cheap and the soup is great for a dehydrated body (along with plenty of water). In all countries it was easy to find good quality rolled oats, and these were the staple breakfast food (I was carrying a petrol stove on the bike, a gas stove on the board). In China (on the board) I wasn't carrying a stove, and this was a disaster. Trying to find food that doesn't need cooking is a mission anywhere, but especially so in China. Instant breakfast cereals were horrible, and eating raw instant noodles was a disaster (no energy). On average I would consume anywhere from 4 to 10 litres of water a day, depending on where I was and how hot it was. Calorie-wise, this also depended. In the middle of winter in Turkey I was consuming 500g of sour cream a day in addition to pasta and other carbs in order to keep the energy up to keep warm. I liked the sour cream because it was easy to eat and was a great way to increase the calorie intake dramatically.

  • Jack

    Q: Hi, Rob and thanks for the answer! I got a new question. How did you manage to update the homepage so often? And did you only update the page via your PDA? with videos and everything? Was it hard to find a internet acces point? Would love to get some more detailes about the "making of" the homepage when you where out in the world traveling all day long. Im just so fascinated how you did everything. Best Regards Jack

    A: Hi Jack. No worries. The website was updated on the road using either internet cafes (which are everywhere in any average sized city in the developing world) or using computers of people I stayed with (in Europe and the US), or using library computers (in the US). It is surprisingly easy to find places to update while you're on the road. I did use the PDA during the Central Asia leg to write the text up before I went to internet cafes, but found that this became redundant after a while. Also, I never needed to touch any code while on the road. I set the website up using WordPress, so all I need to do is access the control panel and type directly into the blog post thingee…very easy. Photos and videos are linked/embedded via Flickr or Youtube or Vimeo.

  • Tom

    Szia Rob! I'm from Hungary. If you come to Budapest, just tell me, and I'll help you on your Way, as I can. I'm planning a ride like yours, but have no courage(money), to start it today. But maybe tomorrow. Good luck evrywhere!

  • JIn

    Q: Hey Rob, Awseome stuff your doing, `specially with a skateboard,which got me wondering, did you always have a road to ride on? Because unlike a bicycle, skateboard wheels don`t like sand and holes in the road, and I cant imagine the roads in desolate areas to be smooth as a baby`s behind.Thanks and I hope you get to do alot more travel.

    A: Hi Jin, thanks for the question. China has the best roads of any country I skated in. Especially the roads out in the desolate places. Across the desert in the northwest, I was always on buttery-smooth brand new roads. China is putting a lot of effort into new infrastructure, so it makes it an awesome place to skate distance. The US was much worse; chipseal, old pavement, grit on the shoulders, noisy large cars. So to answer your question, yes, I always did have a road to ride on. But some countries had worse surfaces than others.

  • troy

    Hi Rob your trip is very inspiring; I too am a young kiwi bloke with similar ambitions. I graduate from Canterbury University at the end of the year and I have a job sorted which starts in April. I have wanted to go on a long distance skate for a long time now and I'm planning a trip across Thailand in January. Do you have any knowledge of the skate-ability of the roads? Do you use ceramic bearings or steel bearings with waterproof lube? If so how do you maintain them? Cheers and All the future, the journey has only begun.

  • troy

    Hi Rob your trip is very inspiring, I too am a young kiwi bloke with similar ambitions. I graduate from Canterbury University at the end of the year and I have a job sorted which starts in April. I have been wanting to go on a long distance skate for a long time now and I'm planning a trip accross thailand in January. Do you have any knowledge of the skate-ability of the roads? Do you use ceramic bearings or steel bearings with waterproof lube? If so how do you maintain them? Cheers and All the Best for your amazing journey.

  • lauren

    Q: Hi, how did you find your ride across the Atlantic?

    A: Hi Lauren, I registered with Reliance Yacht Management in London ( <a href="http://www.reliance-yachts.com),” target=”_blank”>www.reliance-yachts.com), and they hooked me up with a captain. For a fee (I think I paid US$75), they put you on a mailing list and register you as possible crew. I ended up on a delivery of a new catamaran from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean (British Virgin Islands) with Captain Steve Dewhurst and his partner Ellie. I think I waited about two or three weeks between registering and getting onto the delivery. If you're experienced at sailing (I wasn't), then you'd probably get a position sooner. Depending on the delivery, you can get travel allowances etc. I had my flight from London to the Canary Islands paid by Reliance. I also managed to get onto another delivery once we arrived in the British Virgin Islands. That was from the Bahamas back to the BVIs, and my flight from the BVIs to the Bahamas was paid for.

  • Jerry

    Sorry about that…..what I would like to know is who sang the back-up music for that video. I believe the song is "Old Cape Cod", I don't know who the performer is.

  • Jerry

    Sorry about that…..what I would like to know is who sang the back-up music for that video. I believe the song is "Old Cape Cod", I don't know who the performer is Thank you.

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hi Lowell, thankfully, I never had to pack my bike on a plane. Most bikes should fit into a standard bike box, but from what I hear, they are expensive to put on a plane!

  • Mirjam

    No question, just thanks for your your wonderful post of the bike tour 'in the neighbourhood'. The pics just made me want my tent and start pedalling. Congratulations for having made the transition back onto a diamond bike! Btw: Haidee with her beige hat and you in the flowery shirt just reminded me of 'Our little Farm in the Prairies' – very harmonious! Keep up the blogging, I love it!

  • Casey

    Hi, I like the idea of long distance travel by skateboard. I have seen and gone through your website and the longtrecksonskatedecks guys and I am just wondering if I were to do a journey like this, where I could start to receive sponsorship? I mean I am 20 and I don't currently have a bunch of money saved but if I could start to recieve funds, I can start planning and head out.

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hi Casey,

      Some comments:

      – Sponsorship requests start after you have finished planning, and have a very well defined journey/cause/story, not the other way around.

      – Unless you are an established explorer/adventurer, then do not count on receiving any funds whatsoever to fund your journey. Equipment, maybe. But funds, no.

      – How much money do you need for your journey? If you can save around US$5,000, then you can travel for a year (I traveled on about US$10 a day).

      – The most important thing is to plan your journey first. You don't need funds to start planning.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,

      Rob

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  • Florian Hagmann

    Hi Mr. Thomson. How do you break down your Longboard, when you ride downhill? When you had a trailer on your longboard it was more difficult to break? For example slide with a trailer isn’t possible. Did you slide when you ride downhill or did you footbreak? How long did a pair of shoes life during a trip? Thanks a lot for your answer.

  • Florian Hagmann

    How do you break down your Longboard, when you ride downhill? When you had a trailer on your longboard it was more difficult to break? For example slide with a trailer isn’t possible. Did you slide when you ride downhill or did you footbreak? How long did a pair of shoes life during a trip? Thanks a lot for your answer.

  • Florian Hagmann

    ow do you break down your Longboard, when you ride downhill? When you had a trailer on your longboard it was more difficult to break? For example slide with a trailer isn’t possible. Did you slide when you ride downhill or did you footbreak? How long did a pair of shoes life during a trip? Thanks a lot for your answer.

    • Rob Thomson Post author

      Hi Peter, thanks for the question. I’m not very knowledgeable about guides in Hokkaido…the one guide I do know (Leon Roode from Hokkaido Hikes) is leaving Hokkaido in April…you could send him an email and ask.

  • christian

    hey rob, your page is inspiring! you are! i am thinking about touring to india from germany … poland, ukraine, georgia, iran. e.g. inpakistan i want to hop on a bus, therefore i need a bike that can be packed with small dimensions. i want to take far less baggage, no tent, no cooking stuff, less tools… i guess i would need less bags and racks … therefore, do i need a recumbent with such high seating position? keep on truckin’ baby !

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  • Noel

    Hi Rob,
    It appears that you went back to an upright bicycle for touring. Do you find an upright more practical for touring, climbing hills, etc. ?
    I’ve been riding a recumbent bicycle for 8 years . I wouldn’t go back to an upright bicycle but then again I don’t tour extensively and I live in an absolutely flat area , the Florida Keys .