adventure, travel, racing, high performance, bicycles(road, track, mountain, touring, vintage…), cameras, cars…and more

The World Tour

A lot of people have asked about my world tour, this is what it’s about and answers to some common questions:

Like many young people in developed countries At a young age, I decided I wanted to see a good portion of the world for myself. For myself and other as well I’m sure this is fueled by TV (mostly nature shows and news) , school, EXPO and the travel of other family members (mom, dad, uncle Gerald) and Monty Python.. Late in my bicycle racing career I started thinking about what to do with my life next. I separated the list of all the things I wanted to do into before you settle an after you settle. On the before I settle list I had so many different things to see and do around the world so I started to think about how I could accomplish all this. I was already 5 years behind most of my peers on a working career and never made much money. So I figured the lowest cost way to accomplish all the things I want to do and see is a one time, one way trip around the world During my second last year of racing a friend suggested that I do a world masters championship now combine that with uncle Gerald’s back packing adventures sounds so cheap and research that says flying is bad for the planet lead me to decide that I’d go to Australia for the world masters and back pack back by surface doing as many interesting things as possible. Basically I’m satisfying my curiosities about the world or at best I’m just out experiencing the diversity of the world while it’s still there.

When did I switch to the bicycle?

I was in Siem Reap Cambodia 3 months after my last race at Christmas carnival in Tasmania, when I saw a couple trek 520 touring bikes so I stopped to talk to the owners- a couple from Montreal and it took them about 30 seconds to convince me to swap the bus ticket and the backpack for another bike. The reason are: In SE Asia get off the well beaten tourist track. Learn more, more independence… and possibly cheaper Re the last point most money saved on lodging and transit is spent on food and lodging as it takes longer.

What do you ride?

I’ve had two bikes on this tour and they have been very similar. I followed the suggestion to tour on bike when I was in Cambodia and it’s not really a cycling nation. Most of what I found were cheap new Chinese city and mountain bikes. Neither of which I figured was suitable for a big long heavy tour. But after checking several shops in Phnom Phen I lucked into an old Japanese city bike. It had been a 5 speed but was rebuilt as a single speed. How old? I know the parts were good because they were made of alloy by SR a once popular Japanese bicycle parts maker. I figured they were from the 60’s because the cranks were held in place with a cotter pin. At first I thought the cottered cranks were a bad idea but they served me well from PP to HCMC where I had to eventually switch them because a mechanic damaged the original pins and I couldn’t find new ones that were hard enough. Several pins later I ended up buying a square taper axle and cranks

Was it good for touring?

Yes great. Simple. Easy to fix or to get fixed. It turned me on to 26 x 1 3/8 tires aka 650a and 37-590. this is the most common wheel size ever. In fact I’ve only been in 3 countries were I haven’t been able to  get replacement tires- Laos, Nepal and Andorra.

Bike 2 was a similar bike but new and the victim of a restoration and modernization- 16 speeds, drop handle bars, and 700c wheels.. I de-modernized it to being a singlespeed with 26 x 1 3/8 wheels. It’s been working well for me since the accident that finished the first bike in Japan.

Why are you riding a single speed bicycle?

I chose single speeds and fixed for a few reasons. Much wider availablity of parts, cheaper parts that are usually more durable. ( I wore out a 21 speed (3×7) drivetrain with poor maintance and a little abuse when I was 19 in only 3 months-I was hesitant to move to 8 speed on the back on my bikes since then and haven’t yet made the move to 9 10 or 11 on any of my bikes) 12 years of track racing as a sprinter affords me the power, torque, strength to do as I please. I’m not racing so if I end up walking a few meters of up hill there’s no loss. And my years training and racing fixed has made me pretty much more comfortable on a single speed bike than I am on a multispeed bike.

I recommend looking into the area in which your are going and picking a simple bike. Everything from wheel size to Transmission even brake pads can be the difference between rolling on and taking a bus to a big city and wasting time there looking for parts… or worse waiting to have parts sent from home. For Instance if you go to India you will find mostly 28 x 1 ½ tires and some 26 x 1 3/8. and maybe some mountain bike tires in smaller centers. 700C although popular in much of the world can only be found in big cities in India. Another example is I met a couple of Germans with Magura hydraulic rim brakes. I wish them luck because they will have to order every brake bit they require from Germany. I did once work in a shop in Quebec that had parts for those brakes but have never seen parts anywhere else. Of touring bicycles I’ve seen on the market… a Trek 520 or a Surly long haulturcker seem to be the nice classic touring bikes.

Have I ever had anything sent from home?

Yes. I but not while I was traveling. I was working in Hanoi and needed a new bottom bracket to go with a crank I had bought there. I was lucky my friend Martin in Montreal sent it to me.  I’ve had contact lenses and some papers that need to be signed sent from Canada to Vietnam.  And I’ve met with and uncle who winters in Thailand and  has once brought me more contact lenses and Christmas gifts when I was able to meet with him in Asia.  In Europe I had a few thing brought to me and a few things sent- contact lenses (strangely not a good thing to send, twice has caused a delay in customs) and some cameras.

What do you carry?

too much… start with the 4 cameras… but that a whole other story. Then  add stuff to fix my bike, camping gear- cooking set, tent, sleeping bag, clothes for hot weather, clothes for cold weather, hiking, snorkelling and toiletries. All my gear weighs about 65 kilos

is it hard?

Touring the world is the hardest,, most complex undertaking I’ve ever attempted: coordinating finances, timing, day to day survival- food, shelter, working though bureaucratic red tape (visas border crossings)… luckily I’m a Canadian and I’m on a bicycle so it is often easier than it is for people of other nationalities and easier than those using more complex transportation- camper, motorcycle… The problems encountered are innumerable variable and frequent But at the same time it has taught me the most, wowed me the most and has been the most rewarding. But It doesn’t have to be; I hope I haven’t made cycle touring sound too difficult because it isn’t like many things in life cycle touring is as hard as you make it. My tour is fairly tough because I chose to do an extremely long tour, through many conditions.  I don’t have 10s of thousands of dollars backing me and I want to finish before I’m too old so I can do a few more things with my life.

Have you been to any Dangerous countries?

Nope not really most people are good…. but the traffic in any country can be dangerous if you are not careful.

Where have you been?

1. Burma- 1 entry~2 hours ***
2. San Marino- 1 entry~3 hours
3. Monaco- 2 entries~4 hours**
4. Vatican city-?? entries
5. Lichtenstein- 1 entry~6 hours
6. Kosovo- 1 entry~7 hours
7. UAE- 1 entry~10 hours
8. Andorra- 1 entry~24 hours
9. Luxembourg- 2 entries~26 hours**
10. Hungary- 1  entry~28 hours
11. Macau- 1 entry~ 2 days
12. Montenegro- 1entry~3 days
13. Hong Kong- entry~4 days
14. Slovakia- 2 entries~4 days
15. Wales- 1 entry~4 days
16. Finland-2 entries~4 days**
17. Estonia-1 entry~4 days
18. Slovenia- 3 entries~5 days
19. Latvia- 1 entry~5 days
20. Norway- 1 entry~5 days
21. North Ireland-1 entry~5 days
22. Singapore-2 entries~ 1 week
23. Serbia-  2 entries~1 week
24. USSR= Russia and Ukraine- 1 entry~1 week* ***
25. Denmark- 1 entry~ 1 week
26. Lithuania- 1 entry~ 1 week
27. Belgium- 3 entries~ 1 week
28. Malaysia-2 entries~ 1 week
29. Poland-1 entry~ 10 days
30. The Gambia-2 entries~10 days
31. Bosnia-2 entries~10 days
32. Mauritania- 2 entries~ 10 days
33. Czech Republic-2 entries~ 10 days
34. Croatia- 4 entries~10 days
35. Macedonia-2 entry~11 days
36. Trinidad-2 entries~2 weeks*
37. Iceland-1 entry~2 weeks* ***
38. Sweden-2 entries~2 weeks
39. Cambodia-2 entries~2 weeks
40. Austria-3 entries~2 weeks
41. Albania-3 entries~3 weeks
42. Portugal-2 entries~3weeks
43. Switzerland-3 entries~3 weeks**
44. South Korea-2 entries~3 weeks
45. Holland-3 entries~3½ weeks
46. Bulgaria- 3 entries~4 weeks
47. Laos-3 entries~4 weeks
48. Scotland-1 entry~1 month
49. Germany-6 entries~1 month
50. Senegal-3 entries~1 month
51. Indonesia-1 entry- 31 days
52. Spain-4 entries~6 weeks
53. France-5 entries~6 weeks**
54. NewZealand-1 entry~ 65 days
55. Greece-4 entries~10 weeks
56. Nepal-1entry~10 weeks
57. India-1 entry~2½ months
58. Romania-2 entries~11 weeks
59. Japan- 1 entry~80 days
60. Turkey-1 entry~90 days + current
61. Thailand-6 entries~92 days
62. Australia-2 entries~112 days
63. Morocco-2 entries~125 days
64. England-3 entries~4½ months
65. China- 3 entries~6½ months
66. Italy-?? entries~12 months**
67. USA-?? entries~13 months**
68. VietNam-3 entries~17½ months
69. Canada**
*exclusively not part of the ongoing world tour (October 2007 to May 2020[?est])
** visited on the world tour and at another time
*** I have not ridden a bicycle in this country

If you have any questions post it in a comment… comments welcome as well

11 Responses

  1. Ad van Broekhoven

    Hello Keith.

    Tnx for the unexpected “chat” in Oisterwijk, the Netherlands.

    I was very impressed about your travel by bike you told me about!

    Wishing you a save and nice bike-trip to England and Scandinavia from here.

    Greets Ad.

    20/09/2013 at 20:11

  2. Guy Taylor

    Hello Keith,
    Met you very briefly on the car deck of Stena Britannica this morning and I said that I’d look at your website(even though you were the last person to get off and I couldn’t get my breakfast till all of the passengers were away).
    What you are doing is truly inspirational so I just wanted to wish you luck. Now that I’ve seen your website I want to reiterate what I said about the book. There are far too many people who sit back and let life just wash over them. I’ve seen quite a bit of the world myself and experienced quite a lot in the merchant navy so I hope that I will be able to inspire my children to get out there and see what the world has to offer. It isn’t all about loads of money and jetting from one country to another and ticking off cities from someone elses bucket list.
    Good luck in England and don’t forget me if you get a book out.

    All the best

    Guy

    22/09/2013 at 07:16

  3. Robert

    Dear Keith,

    Good to chat with you in Lancaster the other day. I hope you’re making good progress north and not becoming too wet!

    If you’re in the Inverness area, try to visit Cawdor Castle and which is not too far from Colloden battlefield.

    I’m arranging my New Zealand trip taking your kind advice into account.

    Kind Regards,

    Robert (‘Bob.’)

    20/10/2013.

    20/10/2013 at 10:41

  4. Nigel

    Hi Keith,

    Was good to meet you briefly in Wheelcraft today – it’s a pretty special place and Alisdair (big Al) is pretty amazing guy. The best bit is, that ‘stuff’ always happens there, and today that meant bumping into a guy who’s going round the world on 2-wheels.
    I just wanted to wish you all the best – would loved to have chatted more fully but my whining 3 year old spider man was having none of it!

    Ride safely and I’ll drop in on your site and see how you’re getting on.

    Kind regs

    Nigel

    07/11/2013 at 23:20

  5. Mick Fagan

    Hi Keith
    It was nice to meet you yesterday outside Stagg Cycles in Dublin.
    You have brought back memories of when my wife and I were on the road. Sorry I could not chat longer as work gets in the way all too often.

    Have a great time in the UK, and I hope you make that ride you want to do through Scandinavia.

    Mick

    17/01/2014 at 10:22

  6. Pete

    Great to ride with you today if only for a brief while. I didn’t see you down at Calshot when I rolled in to pick up my son at 4:30 pm, so I hope you made it OK.

    09/02/2014 at 18:09

  7. Lee lamsdon

    Was great to chat with you outside hmv while you took photos of the cross in Chichester this morning Keith, it was inspiring to hear about your travels, and I hope you get the motorcycle sorted out when you get home, WITH a speedo attached ha ha ha.happy trails and safe journey.
    Hoping to keep in touch, and if your ever in the area again, tweet me and let me know,there will be a warm bath and hot cup of tea here for you any time.

    12/02/2014 at 21:36

  8. Roland

    Salut Keith, (nous nous sommes rencontré en Corse vers Solenzara)je viens de lire tes commentaires sur ton voyage, et qui n’est pas fini. C’est fabuleux, j’imagine que plus tard ta vision du monde sera bien décalée par rapport à ceux qui disent “nous diriger”. Pour ma part, d’ici 2 semaines, je pars à vélo bien sûr, depuis Nice, faire le Sud Ouest de la France. Je te souhaite une bonne continuation. Roland

    12/06/2015 at 17:24

  9. Jake

    Hi Keith,

    I met you for one night at our hostel in Zagreb before you moved out to go stay with a friend. I had no idea that you were such an interesting person!! Nice chatting with you. I will return to HK in February then back to mainland China. Contact me at the above address if you make it out that way.
    Happy riding!! Safe travel. Jake

    29/11/2015 at 19:35

  10. Decman Lan

    Oi, Keith, we “conquered” Phan Si Phan, highest mountain in Vietnam togethe. I proposed to Nina up there. Bike on!!!

    Nina&Lan

    20/01/2017 at 22:58

  11. Kagiso

    Hey dude had fun riding alongside each other some 10 kms from Jwaneng Botswana, keep riding that iron-horse kudos to you man.

    07/06/2017 at 07:31

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