Anyone Can Cycle the World


Tim Moss recently spent 16 months cycling 13,000 miles around the world with his wife, Laura.

Despite riding across deserts, over mountains and through jungles they experienced far more kindness and hospitality on their journey than they did hardships.

In this extract from Tim’s new book – With the Sun on Our Right – he discusses how little planning they did for the trip, how cheaply they travelled and how little experience is required for undertaking a long bicycle journey. Which leads him to the inevitable conclusion that perhaps anyone can cycle the world…

Another bedroom

Anyone Can Cycle the World

When we left home, we had not even worked out how to get to the south coast of England, let alone mapped out what roads we would take across Italy, Albania or Vietnam. Once we got going, we just looked at what country we were aiming for next and planned a few days ahead. Similarly, we did not arrange a single visa before leaving home. In fact, of the 26 countries we visited, only two required visas to be arranged in advance.

Cylcing on Pag

Part of this could be attributed to our laissez-faire approach to life, preferring to take things as they come rather than map them out in detail. But mostly it is a testament to the ease and simplicity of cycle touring. You carry everything you need to be self-sufficient so it does not really matter where you end up at the end of a day.

You could plot an entire route around the world on a GPS device if you really wanted, but we just set off with enough maps to get us across Europe and then picked up free ones from tourist information offices as we went. Everywhere has road signs and people can usually point you in the right direction if the worst comes to it. Besides, navigating is rarely as hard as it is in the UK, with its dense network of intertwining roads. In lots of countries, we would follow one road for several days without making a single turn. Whenever we struggled in big cities, we used Google Maps on our phones. Cycling around the world is not complicated.

Ferry across the Mekong

As with the practical preparations for the trip, very little physical preparation was required. We didn’t do any training. We cycled around London a lot, but never went out of our way to get in shape for the trip; we just got fit as we went. There are those who set off around the world at record speeds, pushing their bodies as hard as they can, but it was not like that for us. Sometimes it was hard work, but we would often cruise all day and simply enjoy the scenery. Cycling around the world need not be a gruelling experience.

The trip did not cost a lot of money either. We were away for almost a year and a half, and during that time our total expenditure was £6,500 each. That is still a reasonable sum of money, but I know people who have spent more on a two week holiday. Averaged out, we each spent £406 a month, which is far less than the monthly rent we had been paying on our London flat. That amount includes all of the food we bought from supermarkets, cafes and restaurants. It includes every visa fee we paid, multiple repairs to our bikes, campsite fees, hotel bills, several international flights, a few bits of medical attention, travel insurance for America, replacement clothes, local SIM cards, cups of tea, cups of coffee, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and more. Every penny that left our bank accounts while we were away is included in that sum of £406 per month. It was the cheapest we have ever lived and probably ever will. Cycling is cheap.

Tim Moss in Slovenia

We were very lucky to be given some top quality touring bicycles for our trip by Ridgeback. Having previously only ridden bikes that were either second-hand or very cheap (or both), it was a real luxury to have good quality bikes that ran smoothly and reliably. However, a fancy bike is not a prerequisite for doing a big trip. All of my previous touring was done on a £180 bike from Decathlon, and hundreds of people have ridden across the globe on old mountain bikes. Others have used Brompton folding bikes, penny farthings and even unicycles. Ann Wilson, a friend who cycled around the world aged 59, only got as far as Bulgaria before her custom-built touring bike was stolen. Undeterred, she bought a cheap replacement from the local bike shop and carried on regardless. Another friend, Tom Allen, cycled from Lands End to John O’Groats using a bicycle he found at the local tip. You can cycle around the world without a fancy bike.

Near the top of the pass

Although Laura and I had expedition and travel experience before we rode around the world, we had never undertaken an adventure on this scale before. We were reassured however, by knowing that experience is not a prerequisite for such a trip. Loads of people set off into the unknown on two wheels, without any cycling pedigree. While riding through China, veteran adventurer Sarah Outen bumped into a guy who asked if he could come with her. He had never cycled beyond his hometown before and did not own a bike, but he joined her anyway and cycled across China. The only experience Ann Wilson had when she decided to take early retirement and head east was riding her bike from Carlisle to Ipswich. There are even round-the-world cycling veterans who still do not know how to change a tyre. You do not need a lot of experience to cycle the world.

In short, our trip did not take much planning, require any training or cost a lot of money. It could have been done without a flash bike and it did not require any experience. Cycling around the world is not as hard as you think.

In fact, although our adventure was remarkable to us in so many wonderful ways, going on a big bike trip is not remarkable in itself. Anyone can do it and thousands have. Students fresh out of college have done it, as have those in their 50s, 60s and 70s. Men go on their own, as do women. Dervla Murphy cycled solo to India in the 1960s. Families do it too. Nancy Sathre-Vogel, for example, completed a 27,000 mile trip with her eight-year-old twins in tow. Even serious disabilities need not necessarily rule it out: Karen Darke crossed the mountains of Central Asia on a bike, and she is paralysed from the waist down; and despite being legally blind, Christi Bruchok and Tauru Chaw pedalled from Alaska to Ushuaia.

Anyone can cycle around the world.

You can cycle around the world.

I did not know that when I set off, but I know it now.

Check out Tim’s site, where he helps people go on adventures:

the slow lane

Road Safety Week > Bike Smart!

It’s Road Safety Week and the theme for this year is ‘Bike Smart, so here’s a post about how National Standards or Bikeability training can help you to bike smarter.

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Cycling is a safe form of transport that prolongs life through the health benefits it delivers. Although various studies suggest that ‘the health benefits of cycling outweigh the injury risks by between 13:1 and 415:1’, safety remains one of the most commonly cited barriers to riding for transport (see Cycling UK’s site for these and lots of other great stats about cycling).

For our members who are new and occasional riders, lacking confidence to ride on the road is one of the biggest barriers to riding. Amongst our regular riders, not knowing a safe route is one of the most commonly cited barriers to riding to work.

Given that cycling is a relatively safe form of transport and people who ride regularly are fitter, healthier and live longer, what can people do to ‘bike smart’ and boost their road riding confidence?

Luckily, the answer is out there and for many children and adults in the UK, it’s totally free. Bikeability (‘cycling proficiency for the 21st century’) provides children with the basic knowledge and skills they need to ride confidently on roads. It’s based on the same National Standards, written in 2003 and approved by the Department for Transport, that adults who want to ride on-road should also be familiar with. Over 2.5 million people have benefitted from cycle training based on these standards, becoming safer and more competent riders as a result.

We highly recommend cycle training for riders of all abilities. If you ride regularly and think you are a competent road user, you are likely to gain a great deal from a one- or two-hour session with an instructor; a refresher every few years is also a great way to identify and resolve any bad habits that have crept into your biking behaviour. If you’ve never felt confident riding on the road, then cycle training will change your life!

There’s no substitute for doing the training yourself but we’ve listed three of the key principles below to give you a flavour of what the National Standards are all about:

  • The basics

Before riding on the road, you need to be able to make sure your bike is roadworthy (the ABC test is a quick and easy way to do this) and to have the bike handling skills to control it effectively with one hand so that you can signal effectively.

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See details at (click image to navigate straight to the page)


  • Primary position

People on bikes aren’t in the way of traffic, we are traffic – and we should behave like it. This means we must obey the rules of the road and that we are entitled to use all of it. The primary position, also known as ‘taking the lane’, is the default position for riding. By taking the lane you can see and be seen better, you prevent vehicles from overtaking unsafely and you can clearly signal your intentions to other road users.

  • Good looking

In order to be aware of what’s happening around you and to spot potential hazards early, it’s important you look over your shoulder regularly. Anyone with a driving license knows that looking often is key to executing manoeuvres safely – the same applies on a bike. Well-trained road riders will check over their shoulder multiple times – as well as being alert to what’s going on in front and to the side – even for basic manoeuvres. Good looking is also crucial to communicating effectively with other road users: eye contact with a driver is the only way you can be 100% that they have seen you.

Cycle training can help you to bike smart – contact your local authority to find out how you can access it in your area.

As the nights draw in it’s also a good idea to bike smart by using high quality lights and hi-viz gear – you can unlock discounts for these from Proviz, Beryl and Torch by taking part in our Winter Wheelers promo, find out more and register here.

2018 On Two Wheels

2018 has been an action-packed year for Love to Ride: our members have clocked up millions of miles and encouraged thousands of new riders to experience the joys and benefits of cycling, and we have worked with workplaces, governments and advocacy groups to get more people on bikes worldwide.

We’ve run national events in New Zealand, the UK and – for the first time – the USA, where we teamed up with the League of American Bicyclists to run the National Bike Challenge. Over 76,000 people took part in these national programs, joining the growing international movement to get more people on bikes and helping to introduce new riders to a simple, cheap and accessible way to become happier, healthier and wealthier.

#YearoftheBike 4-part banner

This year our flagship workplace event, Cycle September, went global for the first time, with early adopters of our new Love to Ride for Business product taking part. Love to Ride for Business gives companies their own platform to help their staff switch to cycling for fun, fitness and transport, with friendly competition within and between offices to get more people on bikes. Find out more here.

We also completed a successful pilot in partnership with the National Union of Students and the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges in the UK to get more staff and students cycling in further and higher education. The Department for Transport awarded us an Innovation Challenge Fund grant to work with six universities and we used cutting-edge behaviour change techniques to design impactful interventions on campuses. Find out more about it on the NUS’s website here.

LTR UniCycle new 2280x250 2017

Wherever we work we are keen to support local bike shops. During Cycle September we gave away well over £10,000 of local bike shop vouchers in the UK and we’re responding to feedback from members to develop a dedicated category for bike shops and other cycling organisations so they can compete with each other in 2019.

We have also launched a new clubs and groups feature, which allows cycling clubs, informal groups and larger organisations like football clubs to invite their members to register on Love to Ride. This is currently in Beta and we are inviting feedback to help us make it a great new feature of the site – look out for Cycling Club league tables and the opportunity to ride for your beloved football club!

But our whistle-stop tour of 2018 on two wheels isn’t over yet… In December we’ll be running our hugely popular Winter Wheelers promo for the third time. We are delighted to welcome back our brilliant sponsors from 2017, Proviz, Beryl (formerly Blaze) and Torch – and to announce that Muc-Off will be offering top-notch bike cleaning kit this year too!

LTR Winter Wheelers 1200x628 2018

As well as top-notch gear to help you keep riding through the winter, we’ll be giving away a £500 local bike shop voucher to one lucky winner who logs a ride on Sunday 16 December and a £750 voucher will be drawn on Christmas Day from everyone that logs a ride between 1 and 25 December!

Although prizes are restricted to members in funded areas or at workplaces or universities that have bought into our programs, everyone who registers and records a ride will be eligible for huge discounts from our sponsors – so make sure you join today to bag some bargainous winter cycling gear from the best brands in the business!

If you’d like to incentivise your colleagues to ride in during December, we have teamed up with VitaLife to offer a Boxed Bike Breakfast for twenty people for just £50 – it’s full of warming winter bike fuel like porridge pots and is a great way to celebrate and reward riding to work in winter.

We hope you’ve had a great year on two wheels so far and we look forward to riding through the winter with you! Keep in touch via Facebook and Twitter, or drop us a line if you have any questions:

How cycling has made me happier, healthier & wealthier

Back in September we linked up with Babboe to promote a cleaner, greener, healthier and more economical way to do the school run – with electrically assisted pedal power! We invited members of the Love to Ride community to submit a short post about how cycling has made them happier, healthier and wealthier. We received so many fantastic entries that it took longer than planned for us to pick a winner – and Babboe were so impressed they have asked two runners up to become Babboe Ambassadors too! Congratulations to our worthy winner, Natalie from Southampton, whose fantastic post about discovering the joys and benefits of riding for transport follows:

I love to ride!  11 years ago, I didn’t even own a bike.  The thought of cycling on the roads was frightening.  What about the cars?!  Images of being stuck on the side of the road with a punctured tyre left me cold.  I didn’t want to have to shower and get changed every time I arrived anywhere, and what about the weather?!

Then I got a job where my employer insisted on not using a car and I had to not only buy a bike, but also use it.  Suck it up, Natalie, you’ve got to do this!  I really wanted that job…

At first I was wobbly and, frankly, petrified.  I fell off.  It wasn’t anyone else’s fault.  I had been cycling in the gutter like a nervous mouse.  My previous cycling had been in a relatively car-free environment, as a child, not with an HGV behind me!  But with some practice, and some top tips from colleagues and friends about road positioning and how to mend (and avoid) a puncture, it felt as if I had been liberated!  I’ve not had an accident since.

Suddenly, I understood why people bother.  Cars (and HGVs) were now giving me the space I needed to cycle safely.   I started to build up a level of fitness that meant it didn’t daunt me to go to work by bike if I missed the train, or the congestion was bad, and I would get there sooner.  I discovered all the quiet, alternative routes that you can’t use in a car, but that make a journey by bike a real pleasure, calmly beating the traffic without building up a sweat (or needing a shower), and discovering places I didn’t know existed.  I’ve had just three punctures in 11 years that meant needing to actually stop and do something about it, and actually felt quite a rush from being able to do it myself.  As for the weather, I’ve got soaked to the bone twice, and both times I had actually chosen to go out in the rain.  It rains a whole lot less that I thought it did.

So, where am I now?  I’m not a ‘lycra racer’.  I still get puffed following my amazing colleagues, and I really rarely use my bike just for fun, but despite a busy life, two children and no time for ‘me-time-exercise’, I am fitter than I ever was, just by going to the places I need to go to.  It’s taken a while to psych myself up to it, but I’ve actually sold my car.  It saves us about £1,000 a year.  I love arriving home with the children with all of us refreshed and buzzing, instead of grumpy and in a cloud of toxic fumes.  Who knew?!  I learned to love to ride and I’m so glad I did!


Go Dutch! > Win a Babboe cargo bike!

Cycle September is all about going Dutch: the aim is to help people to break down the barriers they face to cycling and, in the process, to make the bicycle the normal mode of transport for all short journeys. In the Netherlands it’s completely normal for people to use bikes for short journeys, even to school or nursery with small children.

Electrically assisted cargo bikes mean it’s now possible to go Dutch even in hilly cities like Sheffield (see below). We’ve teamed up with Babboe to spread the word about how their beautiful cargo bikes can make the pedal-powered school run mainstream in the UK. If you want to transport your little ones in sustainable style, here’s what you have to do to win:

  • Submit a short blog post about how cycling has made you happier, healthier & wealthier
  • Let us know why you want a Babboe cargo bike and how you would use it
  • Accompanying photos and videos are welcome and encouraged!
  • Agree to be a Babboe Ambassador for six months & produce follow-up posts about your brand new Babboe!
  • Deadline Friday 5 October, winner will be announced w/c Monday 8 October

To enter, see this page for instructions and Ts & Cs.

Can’t wait? All Love to Ride members can get £150 off the price of any Babboe cargo bike, email from your registered address with BABBOE in the subject line for a unique code.


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We have beautifully branded Cycle September Babboe cargo bikes in Sheffield, Brighton and Leeds. The Babboe Curve in Sheffield recently scored a first, transporting a beer barrel up the steepest urban street in England as between-race entertainment at the Blake Street Bash!

If you want to win one of these beauties, make sure you’re registered for Cycle September & get your creative thinking cap on!