Welcome to Rolling Tales
We’re Emma and Justin, two New Zealanders who have ‘gone cycling’ after six years working and living in London.
Justin is using his IT skills to make sure our website is easy to update while we’re travelling, and Emma hopes to put her 10-year-old Journalism diploma to good use making sure most of our words make sense.
We’re both keen photographers but the camera is more often in Justin’s hands while Emma makes sure there is some sort of record scrawled down about each day’s adventures.
Justin got his first UK bike the second summer we were in London. Emma had taken his tent to work in catering at music festivals and he encouraged her to buy the first of a series of unreliable commuting bikes shortly after she returned. We travelled London’s inner-city canals, then began commuting and enjoyed the change of perspective it gave us of the city. We started taking them further afield – fee ling a sense of achievement in cycling Hadrian’s Wall over four days of atrocious weather, taking them on ferries in the South of England and cycling out of London every way we could.
We talked about the possibility of a bigger trip quietly at first. We were on a train in England somewhere and we sketched a rudimentary map which plotted our way towards Russia. We sat in the British Library with a pile of books about cycle touring. Our cycling trips became more ambitious, and we tested our enthusiasm for the idea by cycling the length of the UK (Lands End to John O’Groats) over three weeks in 2009. We saved, brought books on the topic, started researching bikes, equipment and possible routes. After 6 years living away from New Zealand we decided it was time to pack up London lives, quit jobs and go.
Our ferry pulled into Santander in North-West Spain in late March 2010 and we travelled from Spain as far as Turkey over six months. We ate chocolate filled croissants through Spain, much Roquefort cheese in France and indulged in daily gelato fixes in Italy before crossing the Adriatic by ferry into the first countries on the trip we had never visited before.
We took our swimming seriously in Croatia, fell for the vibrant city of Sarajevo and the mountainous bits of Serbia. After two weeks crossing friendly Bulgaria we crossed into Turkey via a short detour thro ugh Greece. With time to spare to get to our end goal of Istanbul we continued past the city into the heart of the country being impeded by wear on our tires but seriously impressed by the landscapes along the way.
We waited out winter in Istanbul until March 2011, then took the Black Sea Coast to Trabzon where we jumped on a ferry to Russia. Aided by trains to cross Russia over two months, we had our fill of forests before the epic landscapes of Mongolia revealed themselves over six weeks of off-road cycling.
Next up was the bright lights and big cities of China where we hunted down the great wall, terracotta army and pandas before heading into the hills to tackle several muddy 4000m passes on our way to the Tibetan plateau. High mountains conquered, we coasted to Kunming before climbing again into Northern Vietnam.
We treated ourselves to a leisurely pedal through Laos before getting templed-out in Cambodia. Our final month cycling in Cambodia and two weeks in Thailand sees us at the end of our trip in Bangkok where we fly to New Zealand to resume normal life.
We saved for up to two years of travel but as that seemed a daunting prospect before we started we agreed we’d wait and see if we were still enjoying it six months on. Turns out cycle touring is addictive and it wasn’t long before our sights were set beyond Istanbul. Our current trip ends in February 2012.
Any further questions?
If you want to know what kit we use on tour head over to our gear pages. Some other questions are answered on our Frequently Asked Questions or you can always ask us something directly. We’re happy to help where we can.