The Art Of (Not) Planning For A Bike Tour

We sometimes guest post over at the Adventure Cycling Association blog (probably the best bike touring organisation on the planet!).

Here’s our latest contribution. It’s an excerpt from the book that we’re writing (update: the Bike Touring Survival Guide is now done!!).


We get a lot of questions about planning through our blog, and every time someone emails us to ask which panniers are best or how many T-shirts they need to pack, I think of Lee.

Lee and his bicycle

We literally ran into Lee in the middle of a sandstorm on a long and lonely stretch of road in Turkmenistan. We were going east. Lee was going west. Since we were the only bike tourists either of us had seen in weeks and we somehow had the good fortune to meet each another outside the only cafe for 100km, it seemed only right to stop and have a drink together.

Over a glass of soda, Lee told us that he was from China and he’d been cycling for 14 years. When we asked exactly where he was going, Lee wasn’t sure. He held out his hand and waved it roughly towards the west. Iran, perhaps. Or maybe Armenia.

Lee’s bike was as haphazard as his route. Everything on it was a wreck. The panniers in particular stand out in our minds to this day. They were faded, crumpled bits of fabric. Every zipper on them was broken; split wide open. Inside, Lee had crammed his bags full of photo albums. We aren’t sure if he had any of the cycling “essentials” like a tent, stove, or rain jacket. Somehow, Lee struck us as the kind of man who just might manage without.

Continue reading on the Adventure Cycling Association blog.


  1. Carl Cartlidge
    25th January 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Surely this is him, if so it seems he made it to Somalia. One crazy guy, I’ll give him that much!!

  2. friedel
    25th January 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Yes, that’s the one 🙂

  3. Fernando Santanna
    16th February 2011 at 2:12 am #

    Loved it.
    Give me hopes for my first trip, especially in answer to those who ask: “so, what`s the route?”
    I can only think: How tha hell can I know?!

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