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“In January 2015 I left London on my bicycle to see how far east I could pedal … In December 2017 I arrived home having cycled around the world via 42 countries and 30,000 miles.” – Jonathan Kambskard-Bennett
The vast majority of people that ride around the planet do so after months if not years of planning and training. They’ve almost always had a lifelong fascination with cycling and the idea of circumnavigating the globe has been a long-time goal. Not Jonathan Kambskard-Bennett. Here’s how the half-Brit, half-Dane describes his ridiculous, 50,000km, nearly-three-year adventure.
I had no prior experience of cycle touring. Literally nothing. I’d never pedaled further than about 10km before leaving home. The first day of this tour was the first time I’d ever tried to ride my bike with all the bags on.
I didn’t know anything about bicycles or camping and I was pretty useless at reading maps. But that’s what made it fun — everyday was a learning curve.
Some people plan a trip like this for years, but I was pretty much just making it up as I went. I got bored of work and wanted to go on an adventure. I found one pretty easily.
It was my mother who first introduced me to cycling. She’s Danish and encouraged a Scandinavian, bike-friendly approach to travel from an early age. From then my attitude towards cycling was merely functional, an attitude that continued into adulthood. It wasn’t until I was well into my worldwide excursion that I realised my bike isn’t just a cheap form of transport that gets me from A to B. It was actually the first time I was out riding for the sheer love of cycling!
To be honest, most of my journey was pretty ‘go with the flow’, but I certainly faced some obstacles along the way. For example: riding through Pakistan and Afghanistan isn’t very safe and you’ll probably be forced to take a police escort. But, if you want to ride every metre (like me) that’s not an option. Similarly, if you want to ride across Russia you’ll find getting a visa (and freedom generally) pretty tough. There are lots of cases similar to this.
Generally, I only planned out one section of the ride at a time. I’d usually have a good idea about a month ahead of schedule, but I normally only decided on the actual route a week ahead of time.
People ask me today how I ended up cycling the world and I’m still not entirely sure to be honest. I think I started considering it after I’d been on the road for a year (whilst in China). It was around that time that I realised I definitely had it in me to reach Australia. I started wondering, “What next after that?”
Here’s a collection of captioned photos that’ll help share some of the best and worst times during my three-year journey. If you’d like to read more about my experience cycling the world, be sure to check out my website.
Interested in the gear I took with me? Here’s what you need to know:
– Dawes Super Galaxy
– Brooks B17 saddle
– Schwalbe Marathon Plus 1”40 tyres
– Carradice Super C panniers (set)
– Decathlon frame bag
– Walmart pump
– Decathlon seat cover (stored under seat)
– Garmin Edge 200
– Gloves, helmet and shoes
Initially I threw a lot of stupid stuff into my panniers. When I say ‘stupid’ I mean stuff like jeans (heavy and they take a long time to dry), a smart shirt (that I would only wear once in a blue moon) and a monstrous coat (I should have invested in a lightweight, collapsible down jacket).
Over time my possessions became a lot more streamlined and I learned which items I could get rid of while still feeling comfortable. Here’s what I ended up with:
Swiss Army Knife (fake cheap one)
Diary/notebook and pen
Wallet and money belt
Tent (L.L. Bean Microlight UL)
Mattress (L.L. Bean Hikelite Pad)
Sleeping bag and pillow
Bike Parka (bicycle cover)
Front left pannier
Backpack (Decathlon Arp 10)
Laptop (Lenovo Ideapad 100s)
Powerbank and external hardrive
Front right pannier
Camera (Canon 500D)
Sun cream and Insect Repellant
Tent light and headtorch
Right rear pannier
High-vis jacket and outerwear for various weather conditions
Water filter (Sawyer Mini Filter)
Left rear pannier
Clothing and shoes
Click through for even more information on the equipment I carried with me.