Inspirational Each Milers: The Anyone Can Do It World Tour


My first cycle tour, outside of Pea Soup Andersen's in Buellton, California.

My first cycle tour, outside of Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton, California.

When I set forth 5 years ago on my first tour I knew very little about the two-wheeled vehicle that I was sticking between my legs and riding down to Mexico. As time has passed, and tours have been completed, little by little I have learned along the way what I need to make basic adjustments, repairs and have some vague idea how to live out of a tent. I still am slow at all of this, still look awkward when I am keeled over my bike, investigating a problem and still put the wheel on backwards now and again, after fixing a flat.


I hesitate to label myself a cyclist, because I am put off by many of the associations that the name may imply, especially a snooty, elitist, sectarian attitude towards bike culture. I’ve met these type of cyclists and it has nothing to do with whether they wear a lycra bibby or have the top of the line, carbon framed road bike. They come from all different walks of life, all shapes, lycra wrapped or sporting a worn bike hat, rim flipped upwards, freely wagging in the breeze due to a lack of a helmet, lawyers and bike shop employees, 1st handers and 3rd handers, all who consider themselves the second coming, prophets on pedals, with their heads so far up their own asses, they can’t see how ridiculous their own pomposity comes across. I dislike these swines, not only for how they act, but the fear they imbue in others in regards to bicycles. They make cycle enthusiasts feel inferior, that they do not know enough about their bicycles to use them, that all their cycle questions are too simple, amateur and downright idiotic. People are scared to step into certain cycle shops and bike coops due to this feeling. Now some of this is self perpetuated, but there is also the “better than thou” complex of “hardcore” cyclists that enforce it, insinuated by their use of overtly technical lingo and snide lambasting of other’s lack of knowledge. “WHAAAT, YOU CAN’T CHANGE A SPOKE??? OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!” Hey asshole, you have to start somewhere! It’s like job applications in Vancouver. How am I suppose to have three years serving experience, if all jobs for servers require at least three years serving experience.?


For me, inspirational Each Milers are those who have influenced me, helped me without a single bit of elitism, creating and promoting a positive environment surrounding the bicycle. First and foremost, they believe that everyone should be able to participate in the culture, ride bikes to their hearts’ content, free from judgment and insult. If they ride with you, sure they could race ahead, never unclip, never stop, for their legs have the strength and diameter of Redwood sequoias, but they would rather ride beside you, explain the mise en scene, compliment your ride, stop for a beer or two. They never scoff at your questions, but greatly invite them, teaching you in hopes that you will pass the knowledge on to someone else, to continue to inspire people to cycle farther, to cycle more, to cycle through whatever the sky decides to do any given day, to test the preconceived limitations of distance and elevation and exceed them.


Kevin stops from cycling around the world to have a much needed dance break with me.

Kevin stops from cycling around the world to have a much needed dance break with me.

Several of these inspirational Each Milers are locals, like the lovely people at Bikes on the Drive, who are constantly happy to answer all my bike questions, pass along great and sincere information and are excited by my future cycle endeavors. A few inspirational Each Milers are abroad, like Kevin, a cyclist from Belfast, who I met through Couchsurfing. I hosted him, when I lived in Beijing and my girlfriend at the time, was sure I would disappear with him at nightfall, joining him on his world domination via two wheels and self penned guitar tunes. He had cycled from home to Beijing and continued onwards, by boat across to North America, cycling north to the Arctic, before turning around and heading down through Latin America. He is a down to earth soul, immensely inspiration, funny as fucking hell and a WAY TOO talented son of bitch for his own good. In fact, some shameless promotion for him, he is on a cycling trip as I type this from Belfast to Australia, which you can follow at:


Beijing Bike, Blue Steal - Inanimate Inspirational Each Miler

Beijing Bike, Blue Steal – Inanimate Inspirational Each Miler

And lastly, there are the inspirational Each Milers that are the nameless faces I have met along the many ways I have gone. From some hilarious Serbian cyclists in Turkey, to an old German lady, who I met in the middle of the forest, who cycled with me to find the rest of my group, these are the people that I admire and call my personal heroes. They don’t look at your bike and how you are dressed and roll their eyes or wait until you shut up so they can tell you what you are doing wrong and what they are doing right. They are real people, willing to listen, laugh and live within the moment, rather than tearing it to pieces. These are the inspirational Each Milers that make a world tour something that does not sit unattainable on a pedestal, but something that if you, you being anyone, want to do, no second thoughts, caution be the wind, do it, do it and do it again. Unpretentious, unregulated bliss.


To Know or Not to Know: The Checklist of Bike Knowledge for World Touring

The Manchester Eye


Though it is early on in the game, with the World Tour commencing most likely in 2016 or 2017, being that I am an impeccably slow learner, especially when I don’t feel it is crunch time (ie, the night before the exam), I have spent a great deal of time scouring the Internets, pondering and considering what essential bicycle knowledge I need for the tour. As it stands right now, the tour could consist of many countries that include remote locations or simply no bicycle culture. What that means for me, is that not only do I need to know how to fix my bicycle, but also how to fix it without a bicycle stand, a vice or guidance.


Possibly Manchester at Night

Possibly Manchester at Night

While passing through one of the bicycle forums, a poster asked a similar question: “What do I need to know about my bicycle to tour?” One person’s somewhat agitated sounding response was that you needed to know EVERYTHING about a bicycle, if you’re even considering a world tour. While that makes sense and that I wouldn’t mind learning a bit about each part of the bike, I know that there are definitely more essential, need to know backwards and forwards, bits of knowledge than others. Like chain maintenance is invariably more important than handle bar tape (which I am as good at as birthday present wrapping (my birthday presents always look as if they were poorly handled baggage at the airport))

Restaurant in Geldrop, Netherlands

Restaurant in Geldrop, Netherlands



Like “pros and cons”, I always find it helpful to write a list to see of what you options you are working with. Since I am a somewhat impoverished artiste, using my printer as a foot stool due to my lack of funds to supply it with ink and also just like forcing strangers to read my “it looks like a writing with your bad hand, blindfolded competition”, I write it all out on lineless paper. I do this so that when I am done it, I can present it to others to consider my options. In this case, this list will consist of two columns, the knowledge that I have and the knowledge I that I must attain. I then have something I can present to bike shop employees as starting grounds to expand upon. Good bike shop folk, in my general experience, will not look down on you for admitting your lack of knowledge, but possibly praise you for your desire to learn more, rather than always relying on their expertise. It just shows your initiative and passion for cycling, which is something they probably understand all too well. My care isn’t being about to regurgitate the knowledge and names like a parrot, but to be able to practice these tools, commit them to memory and use them later when they are required.


So without further adieu, I present to you my list, of “Bike Stuff I Know and Bike Stuff I Think I Have to Know”




Tire and Tube – Tube patching, changing a tire

Wheel – Basic truing, removal, spoke replacement

Gears – Cassette removal, cleaning, basic knowledge of replacement

Chain – Replacement, fixing, lubing

Brakes – Minor adjustments, brake pad replacement, lever basic fixes

Seat – Raise and lower, removal

Handbars – Adjustment

Rack – Basic removal and replacement





Brakes – Brake cable replacement, better understanding of brake levers and adjustment

Gears – Better understanding of cable tension and limiters and setting them

Wheel – Better truing skills, if I run out of spokes, semi-fix solutions

Pedals – Removal and replacing

In General – Additional, non-bike stuff I need in kit for jerry-ed up situations


There is a lot more bike information that I haven’t even considered and that is possibly essential knowledge. That’s why having a list is a good starting point, to know what you are missing by showing it to others and getting their opinions to fill in the blanks, building a comprehensive, inclusive list. Readers, if you have any additional ideas and essential bits of knowledge that you feel I have left out, please feel free to comment below. Again, bike knowledge is about exchange and conversation. If you don’t ask, you will never know!



My History with The Bicycle, Part 2


Since Klalita, my first love (by love, I mean bicycle), I have had several successors, with their own colorful personalities. My Vancouver bike, that was only named recently, Mr. Coffeehead, sat in slumber at my parents’ house as I went to Edmonton and China. My Edmonton bicycle, Gomer (named because it was ugly like Gomer Pile, but also was the colors of Homer Simpson, a bright yellow and brown) was a terrible, terrible used road bike, that sounded like that really high note that Mariah Carey could hit. That wasn’t simply the sound that happened from braking, but the sound that happened ALL THE TIME. It was the soundtrack to my nightmares. I bought Gomer from the Edmonton Bike Coop, that looked more like some dude’s basement suite (biking isn’t really big in Edmonton, what with the snow and melon sized mosquitos). But Gomer got me places, including some short jaunts out into the stretching fields and farms north and west of Sherwood Park and along the River Valley Trail (which while the rest of the city isn’t the most beautiful thing in the world, this spot on lush green is quite loverly).


Not discovered by Blue Steal, but a rented bicycle. It's 500 year old Dragon Bridge, near Yangshuo

Not discovered by Blue Steal, but a rented bicycle. It’s 500 year old Dragon Bridge, near Yangshuo

In China, I had Blue Steal, which I bought from some drunk guy near the Beixinqiao Station in Beijing. He was selling “used bicycles” just in front of the actual used bicycle store. I am pretty certain the Giant Road Bike I bought was stolen, but that only dawned on me weeks after I had purchased it. The blue bike was then christened “Blue Steal”, as it was both blue in colour and possibly stolen. It was a lovely bike, that I covered in nail polish and scratches and bought two, big ass, heavy duty locks so no one would steal it (or re-steal it). Riding in Beijing was a put your life in your own hands experience. Swerving in and out of the constant rush hour and topsy turvy traffic, felt like a game of Frogger. It is not for the weak of heart, but it is a good way to get that rollercoaster thrill without paying the admission. Blue Steal helped me explore vast stretches of the city, follow the Grand Canal for hours and scoot through the ancient alley living quarters, the hutongs, discovering new nummy eateries and drinking haunts. Also having a bicycle made Beijing feel more like home, partaking in an everyday activity along with many locals (though sadly most are on electric bikes now).


Outside of Beijing

Outside of Beijing

When I left Beijing, I sold Blue Steal to a friend, who promised to ride him everyday. In Europe, I purchased a bicycle at a shop in Amsterdam, roughly translated to “The Bicycle Pirate”. I am fan of pirates, so I had exceedingly high hopes. This bicycle remained untitled until it’s very end. I don’t recall why, maybe I just didn’t feel any attachment to it. Anyways, this bicycle traversed the better part of the Netherlands, part of Belgium, sections of Rome (including the Via Appia Antica, which was AMAZING), before being stolen in the college town of Leiden, Netherlands. After years of being extra cautious with my bicycle, a slip in judgment cost me a stolen bicycle and almost all of my stuff (luckily, the thieves threw off the panniers, possibly because they were very heavy). Rather than give up my desire to cycle to England, on a limited budget, I purchased a two speed, Dutch bicycle, dubbed the Green Ranger. This hilarious bike, with an old school dynamo light (a light powered by the spinning of the front wheel), may not have had any bells and whistles, but it was tough and well built, getting me over the Penines and into Manchester.


Back in Vancouver, I was reunited with Mr. Coffeehead once again. The reunion is a love/hate one. Mr. Coffeehead requires a lot of TLC and repair, which is great, because for this world tour there is still SO MUCH that I need to learn and learn well, but there are some times where you just want to jump on your two wheels without having to worry about having issues with it. I will not get into the nitty gritty as to what those issues are (because…I want to save that for another blog), but I will say that me and Senior Coffeebrain have had more than a few arguments where I have threatened him with violence. I am just sayin’, our relationship isn’t always peaches and crème. But what relationship is? Am I really comparing a real relationship with what I have with an inanimate object? You are d