Heads or Tails – Q & A

Camping, Xinjiang China


Almaty – Kazakhstan

On my recent blog heads or tails, there were a fairly broad array of questions that you guys bought up in relation to stats. Q & A’s below…..

Q – Pete said: Thanks for the stats…so that must mean you’re approaching half way round. Time for another bottle of Bubble Brothers sparkly I think!

A – Yes, I’m now just over half way round 15300km on the clock with about the same left to go. Fearghal should be about 1000km or so behind me. Now any distance remaining will always be less that I’ve already done. It feels great to be over the hump, mentally, it’s a really great boost. Unfortunately at the time I didn’t have any sparkly, so I settled for a sashlik kebab and a beer!

Q -Richard asked: what have you thrown away as being useless and what have you picked up along the way as being useful beyond belief (a plastic bottle, and old toothbrush for the chain?)

A – After snapping our trailers in Bolivia we jettisoned a fair bit of stuff to save bulk and weight, mainly the solar panels, sat phone, some casual clothes, spare pot, water purifer. We only kept things that we used on a regular basis or things that we’d be fu*$ed if we didn’t have for emergencies, tools, spare chains etc.

As for things we picked up: some tupaware tubs for food storage; a shower net soap foamer thing, which is great for both washing clothes and scraping weeks of sweat off; old inner tubes to wrap around our frames to protect them from dents and scrapes, and to make the bikes look less flash. For me though, the best thing I picked up was a small bag which I fixed to the side of the trailer, in which to store my MSR stove. When we began in Ireland, I had been keeping the  stove in my food bag, but when we got to Bordeaux, all my grub stank of the particularly smelly French petrol. I would have thrown away biscuits, chocolate and bread, but then Fearghal stepped in and ate the whole lot, he’ll eat almost anything that lad. : )

Q – Emma asked: What about body stats? Inches lost or gained?! I mean from around the waist, legs, beards etc! Any saddle sores still?!

A – I think my weight has fluctuated the most out of the two of us. Thanks to the cheeses, cassoulets, confit duck legs & lardons in France, chorizo sausage in Spain and parilla’s in Argentina and Uruguay, we both had pretty sizeable bellies (Fearghal actually popped the buttons off his shorts!) when we hit the Andes. With the dodgy food in Bolivia and Peru though, we each had bouts of sickness that returned us to normal, then I had another visit from the stomach monster in Cuzco, and lost a good deal of weight. My belly hasn’t returned since. I’d imagine that I’d easily have gained a stone, and would have lost about 2 inches off my waist.

As for beards, they were probably longest in La Paz, just before we got them trimmed. Our legs are pretty toned to say the least, on mine, I can see every specific muscle quite clearly as there’s absolutely no fat on them, I feel like a racehorse. I still get saddle sores and rashes every now and then, but to an extent, I’ve just gotten used to it.

Q – Colman and Adrian asked – How was the bike at 73.4 k/hr?

A – It felt pretty cool, I had got to 65km/hr on a steep downhill in Peru, then the road flattened out a little and I just pedalled like a madman in my hardest gear to get up to the 73.4km/hr. I was just concentrating on estimating the stopping distance required before the tight hairpin ahead (disc brakes help). The weight makes it pretty stable although you have to watch out for bumps, as if the trailer hits one at a funny angle, it can try and fly off in some other direction, pulling you with it.

Q – Anne asked: How many calories do you think you need per day and how many on average are you getting?

A – I know that Mark Beaumont who currently holds the record for fastest cirumnavigation of the World by bicycle (194 days 17hrs) had to eat around 6000 calories per day. He was doing 160km a day and at the moment, I’m averaging about 140km a day, so that would make what I need to eat at around 5200 calories (about 2 times the RDA).

It can be quite difficult to eat that many calories when you’re not passing towns regularly. For example, when crossing the desert in Western China, I was usually passing 1 town a day, and tried to eat a big meal in a “restaurant”. It can be tricky trying to cram lots of food in at one sitting, but my trick is to eat as fast as possible, get it down the hatch before your stomach realises that it’s full! For my other meals I’d usually just eat plain noodles, perhaps with some peanuts, dried bananas etc. In a country where people prefer to eat chickens feet than chocolate, snacking is difficult.

Q – Al said – I love the fact that there are only ever headwinds. You don’t notice tailwinds, you just think you are cycling like a bit of a legend that day!

A – Absolutely, on days that there are tailwinds, you feel like a cycling maniac, Lancey boy, eat your heart out!!


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