Where to Start Planning A World Tour

Lube a dubed and ready to ride into Victoria! #victoriafringefestival #victoria #bike #bicycle

A photo posted by Ira Cooper (@eachmile) on


And so the research starts….



So. What am I suppose to be researching? A good start so far. Maybe I will just Google Search “how to start planning a world tour”. Ah! There are lots of lovely resources on the Intermenets that will help you decide what should be your initial point of entry into figuring out what you need for a three-year tour, across a multitude of varying landscapes and diverse weather forecasts. Websites with a lot of varying opinions, conjectures, anecdotes, and pretty pictures of people researching the same stuff I am researching. That’s the great thing about not being the first person to ever attempt something of this magnitude: others have succeeded and failed before you. I can learn from their triumphs and mistakes.


I am realizing how the online community will not just impact my itinerary for this trip, but it will also be a large factor in how I approach this trip and what angle and theme it entails. A theme, you say? This isn’t an English literature assignment; this is a big trip, my good man. Well, I love English literature, so why not have a theme, maybe even a genre for this exploratory expedition. There will definitely be a narrative. I hope it’s something out of the fiction section, leaning towards the fantastical, suspenseful and sci-fi subgenres. The online community isn’t just delving into the blogs and websites that start becoming historical artifacts once they are published. It also doesn’t help build any sort of presence if I simply read and respond to five year old articles. I have to stay hip, in the know, up-to-date, radical reformer. This is something I realized all too late, when I tried to reach an audience through my own forum for itinerary suggestions. Forums are a thing of the past, old Ira. Social media is where it is at.


And so I emerse myself in Facebook, Instagram and Reddit. The results are immediate. People are telling me WHERE to start and as long as I am constantly posting, responding, liking, up-karmaing and retweeting, people are giving me megabyte sized portions of food for thought, especially via Sub-reddits around the subject of cycle touring. Asking people, “where should I start?” and “what knowledge should I have?” are great catalysts from dialogue with some veterans of world touring. A lovely supportive community I have discovered and am becoming familiar with.


Back to school. #ubc #Vancouver

A photo posted by Ira Cooper (@eachmile) on

In regards to my bicycle choice, I think I am going to build one from scratch. I believe that it is the only way I will REALLY know my bicycle and be able to attend to it’s needs as efficiently and as knowledgably as I can. It also forces me out of my comfort zone of purchasing something new, something unfinished, something that will depend on me putting it together and spending time with it. So far, the Facebook cycling touring group has offered several suggestions about which frame I should purchase and I am looking into each option. I am usually a steel frame guy, which someone suggested, but I am open to alternatives, as long as I can find good reason in why I would choose them for a frame that will inevitably take www (world wide whipping).

What do you think about these options thus far?


Salsa Vaya Frameset: http://salsacycles.com/bikes/vaya


ECR Frameset: http://surlybikes.com/bikes/ecr


920 Disc: http://www.trekbikes.com/ca/en/bikes/road/touring/920/920/




PS, Here is the bicycle touring forum that is AWESOME on Facebook. Where else should I look to post my questions about places to go and bike inquiries?



Back in the Saddle – 180 KM to Pemberton



Spontaneity and preparation seem to be two polar opposite lifestyles that people abide by and adhere to. Golden rules, or unruly gold. If a spontaneous person is meant to prepare or vice versa, there is a possibility of the person feeling overwhelmed with the stress or anxious due to the uncertainty. I am usually spontaneous, leaving my known world on a simple fancy or trifle, living from day to day, on bit of cheese, bread and insider’s treats. I bicycle everyday. It’s a routine I have come to not think about, but just see as the only viable option to make it from point A to B. This is by no means preparation for a 170 kilometer slog through the mountains to the Pemberton Music Festival. This is where ill preparation could seem detrimental. I see it as a challenging thrill, a sickly pleasure to see if, and it’s really a BIG if many a times, if I will make it to my final destination, scathed or unscathed. 90km is never 90km. There is always about a 10km error. 170 then is really 180.


The day started 2 and a half hours later than expected. Not only was I ill prepared when it came to training for this ride, I was ill prepared when it came to packing appropriately. Possibly it was the concept of appropriateness that I felt uncomfortable with to pack as such. Possibly that last sentence sets precedence as how terrible I am at on the spot excuses. Spoiler alert: after spending considerable time deciding my attire for the 5 day festival, I ended up sporting my “Got Hummus” crop top the entire time. To paint a better picture galemptness (Yiddish for uselessness), I’d like to quickly note that I had only recently purchased clipless pedals and shoes and had only decided to adjust and test them that morning. Thank the bike deities, I was able to remember how they worked and how to unclip without impaling myself in some fashion. Anyways, it was what it was, I had what I had, and I hadn’t what I hadn’t and at 8:30am, after deciding which, between my three pairs of functional sunglasses I should sport on the ride up, I left my front door, pedaled down Nanaimo Street, through the traffic peanut butter and jammed streets of Downtown, across the Lion’s Gate Bridge to North Vancouver, stopping once, in the centre, to take in the incredible view of the inlet and Stanley Park, before getting a tad lost, finding my way and zooming along the coast towards Horseshoe Bay. Horseshoe Bay, for those who don’t know, is one of the gateway ferry terminals to the islands that speckle the British Columbian coast. I paused for a moment to stare down upon the Queen of Surrey slowly distorting the deep black blue ocean on it’s way to the island, munched on a No Name Rice K rispy Square, before crossing an overpass and entering onto the Sea to Sky Highway.


The Sea to Sky Highway and I have history. My father and I spun off of it once into a snow bank ravine, luckily, undamaged. A childhood friend of mine also left that same road almost 20 years ago, at excessive speeds, crashing through an impenetrable guardrail, the trauma of the experience, evident in the lasting image of her patched body, a beautiful, sullied woman, now a ragdoll, that was on display at her Ismaeli funeral, that is patched into my memory forever. The road terrifies me, a night terror that hinders your sleep, but until you face it, it runs you, orders you, enslaves you. And so, fear and adrenaline pushing me in opposite directions to places I don’t want to go and places I didn’t want to return to just yet, I swallow and I face the roar of traffic and missing, at times, shoulder of careening paved landscape. The road swerves, switchbacks, climbs and dips. On my side of it, a sheer rock face clips my right shoulder. Across the divided street, the ocean, trees and the wind, race passed me and I race passed. Each town is a small blip, like starting to say something and having nothing really to say, so abruptly ending to speak mid-sentence, that there is no meaning, or effect. Lions Bay, bled into Brunswick Beach, small little, wealthy communities, with one or two food options, marinas and stunning houses, hidden amidst properties brimming with evergreens and shrubbery. For some reason, in the town of Furry Creek, I stopped to take in the awesome name, the awesome patch of grass I found, near the town sign and a full package of awesome Whoppers that I scarfed down. Seriously, Furry Creek, I will be back to check out your museum. I am intrigued. The sign said Discover Furry Creek. I feel like standing on that singular patch of green life, between two parallel roads, was a good vantage point to see most of what the area had in the way of offerings.


Onwards, and after a nosh of maple and bacon poutine at the Squamish Micky Ds, it was literally upwards, constantly. The hills come mountains, soared into the heavens and the shlog became more intense with each pedal. Sweat pooled and beaded in every crevice and strained part of my facial expression. Breaks became more frequent. I was running out of No Name Rice Krispies. WTF WTF WTF was the running monologue in my head. The end was not in sight, unless it was my end. Nature was spilling onto the road. Trees became churches that I silently prayed to. What made it worse, was the lack of discernable landmarks to determine where I was on the planet. I was in a void, a blank nowhereness, heading somewhere, hopefully. The shlog was heightened by the sound of an impending storm. Clouds transformed the sky into a granite wall, a taunting ringleader, the cracking sound of the whip, was actually the sky unzipping it’s cloudy drawers and pissing all over me. Cold piss. Soul drenching piss. Everything was frozen, yet the wheels kept spinning, and I kept moving through the hellish drizzle. For a moment, I hid under an information sign about the Squamish Native People and ate Israeli chocolate spread and shmooshed bread, that had a hole in every piece of the loaf, due to a failed attempt to stash a pipe in it (ended up hiding the pipe in the tent and drugs in my deodorant). I didn’t even bother with utensils or cleanliness. I looked like a beast, cowering bellow the wooden awning, looking out as a few tourists approached, then were quickly dissuaded by my presence. Shuffled on, like a psychiatric pill line.


Finally, around Whistler, the rain stopped and so did I, for a bite at the Amsterdam Café in the middle of the village. An okay burger and some okay fries semi-filled the gap where my stomach should be.. I made the necessary calls, telling my mom and cousin where I was and that I was among the living. That is something I owe to mother, that no matter wherever the hell I am, I tell her I am alive and not disabled in anyway. I could hear the maternal sigh on the other end of the line and I knew I had done the right thing by calling. I scarfed down the last bite of burger and met up with my cousin, who was waiting for a burger at another place in town. Standing outside of the establishment, loaded tank leaning precariously on some railing, as her carmates sat inside, looking out at me, a twang of sympathy changed their tones from not wanting to help carry some of my load up, to carrying everything for the rest of the ride to the festival. The stubborn voice in my head said don’t do it, you have already made it most of the way fully loaded…but fuck that guy and his voice, so I gladly handed over all my possessions to be petrol powered up the rest of way.


The rest of the ride was mostly downhill, over turquoise streams, and by turquoise lakes, only once climbing over a steep ridge, known as Suicide Switchback, the route’s last attempt to murder me. Unsuccessful, it relented and I rushed into Pemberton, passed the large welcome sign, 12 hours after I had set forth from my front door. I met up with my cousin and the car crew and loaded my stuff and some of their stuff onto the bike to roll it, through the struggling masses, who were dragging their camp stuff and coolers along the rocky, dusty path towards the festival campgrounds, some 40 minutes away. Score one for the bike came late that evening, as I whizzed passed all these poor bent over souls on my two wheels. A satisfaction creepily welled inside of me, like a Vincent Price cackle. I had made it. 180k on two wheels. A new personal record. Swag.

The video is on it’s way TONIGHT!


Why I Travel Blog

Church of St. Alexander, Warsaw

Church of St. Alexander, Warsaw

There are the obvious reasons why one travel blogs. To share travel adventures, through photos and words, trying to encapsulate an experience to the reading and viewing audience. To imbue in others the same excitement, curiosity and inspiration that the blogger felt whilst traveling. To pinpoint exact emotional exaltation.

Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw

Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw

This is also the general sentiment of why I travel blog as well. The intricacies of it are way more personal. Solo travel for me only started at 24, with a trip to Brno, Czech Republic with a theatre show that ended up, with a very unexpected job in Prague and then a 4-month expedition, tracing my family’s heritage through Eastern Europe. I had never a train before and was thrilled with sticking my head out of the window, letting the wind make my eyes squint, a tornado of my brown hair, like a dog in a car ride. That same trip, I was introduced to couchsurfing. Travel took on an entirely new meaning, where it wasn’t simply placards and buildings and other travelers, it was local people, personal accounts, trans-ocean humour, Ipod music exchanges, one or two dance sessions, a game of golf in Dijon, foraging for dinner in Groningen. All I had read about travel came from books and those books laid out the foundational blueprints of how to travel. Yet there had to be something else, something more expansive and less focused on the MUST SEES and the MUST EATS.

Warsaw Uprising Monument, Warsaw

Warsaw Uprising Monument, Warsaw

So blogs. First big websites like Trip Advisor (which I still use as a base for exploration), then more obscure travel sites like Atlas Obscura (which, if you haven’t checked out, is the best source for Off the Beaten Path travel oddities), to the worldwide blogosphere of adventurers, trippers, dream followers and spontaneity experts. I was hooked to their words, as many of them weren’t simply telling me what they saw, but how they felt, how places impacted them or didn’t. Blogging is personal creative writing, an individual’s take on the world through their eyes, through their pens, through their keyboards. It can be laced with superlatives, poetics, judgment, digressions, failure, no words at all, all visual. I blog, even if only a few read it, to show them my version of cities and towns, of nature and of bike trips. They are my visceral accounts of the world. They are my endorsement of decorative language, trying to squeeze out the true emotion I felt in a singular moment, possibly written days after. I cannot prescribe nor would I ever want to, a reaction to what I write or how it effects where people decide to go. I hope that the few who do read it, have an opinion or an idea that sprouts from it. I hope, as that’s all one can do with putting writing into the public’s glance, that it pushes people to either travel or challenge themselves, ask questions, look unto other blogs to continue planning or imagining a more complete global sphere.

All You Can Eat - Japanese, European and......everywhere else in all time and space? Babalu's in Warsaw. Felt so so so sick after this.

All You Can Eat – Japanese, European and……everywhere else in all time and space? Babalu’s in Warsaw. Felt so so so sick after this.

I frequently embellish memories. I cannot remember exacts, so I shameless fill in the blanks. I blog because I love to write. I love to reimagine what I have seen, to reinvigorate the recollections with verbose imaculations and neologisms (such as imaculations). Though, recent travel, via bicycle gives me the space to write as I travel. I stop where I want and if I feel the urge, I jot down the day, in summation or elongation. I write in a blue tent, where one of the poles is partially snapped due to a crow landing on it, by the waning sun, drifting behind the red mountains just outside of Santa Monica. That is an actual memory. The things that I lock into my brain vault are sometimes obscure fragments. Sometimes, due to my prior habits during travels (drinking copious amounts at night), memories are literally slits of narrow light with broken and blurred images. I write as form of self-preservation, because one of my greatest fears is loosing it all to time. Not necessarily as a legacy of what I have accomplished, but more as something for myself to look back on and simply account for what I have done. Not as somewhat of a CV for pomposity, but more as a timeline that I existed.

Warsaw Uprising Museum

Warsaw Uprising Museum

While my travels include people and places, I also consciously set quests for myself. I blog to uncover gems, maybe not ones that were necessarily covered by layers of sediment, just ones’ that maybe overlooked, underappreciated, the map to get to them has been used as scratch paper or made into papier-mâché for a birthday piñata (what I am saying is that no one cares where this place is). Blogs and websites are full of hints and my duty with these hints is to test them out and confirm their validity. This description seems quite vague without an example. The city of Xian, China, was the ancient capital for hundreds of years. Tourists flock here to cycle the ancient walls and see the UNESCO approved Terracotta Warriors. What very few people know about, is that at the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, a ways out of city, another burial plot was opened to revealed, miniature terracotta figurines, along with terracotta livestock and chariots. In total, over 50,000 pieces are on display. Along with this amazing experience, is a very beautifully set up underground museum, with large vaulted glass walls revealing the digs, but beside and below you, you are free to trapes around the tomb area, see several of the tomb gates, and watch an AMAZING hologram film about the history of the site (no 3d glasses required). This place is completely under the radar and when I got there, I basically had free range of the place (think Night at the Museum, minus the reanimation of historical items). There were a handful of different directions as to how to get to this place, since it was in an odd location of the highway, leading north of the city. Armed with a few of these Internet found directions, plus the Chinese characters to this place, I ventured out to confirm this place’s existence. Luck had it that the #4, the first bus I got on and was on my list, was confirmed by the bus driver to be the correct bus. For me, that could happen is I end up going somewhere else and possibly exploring something unexpected. So it’s a win win for me.

Warsaw Couchsurfing Dance Party

Warsaw Couchsurfing Dance Party

I blog to interact with people. Blogs are a dialogue, a community of shared experiences and responses, where the responses may come in the form of words or in exploration of what the blogs’ describe. I hope that as this site builds that this dialogue fills the forums and itinerary of the new site (which will be up THIS MONTH) with evolving dialogues and information that result in people testing the waters, unburdening themselves with limits by asking questions and seeing the blog reflect your inquiries, with maybe not always answers, but further explorations, adding points to the map that I will travel to confirm experiences and places or discover errors, saving you the hassle of a fruitless expedition to nowhere. My blogs and my travels will mirror your dreams, aspirations, desires, or highlight your wonderful memories, follow your deep incites, possibly making travel a more tangible possibility instead of something you do on free weekends or something you’ll do when your decrepitly old.

Babushka, Kiev

Babushka, Kiev

I blog, because it makes me feel wonderful. It’s me facing my fears as well. I travel around the world, yet I am scared of publishing my writing. I believe it is good, that it is informative and well written, but am afraid of it being said to be otherwise. This is my version of being bold and it holds more importance that what many would be considered a blip, not part of any creative career. But blips are my greatest assets. Microcosms are my favorite worlds. I am worried about not getting anywhere; I am worried about denouncing things in favor of acceptance.

Orthodox Priest.

Orthodox Priest, Kiev.