So many people to thank for inspiration and much-needed help, please scroll all the way down, the list is in no particular order. Links to blogs and websites are generally accessed by clicking on the person’s name.
The fabled Digger who gave me the most beautiful, learning-filled day at Look Mum No Hands!, where I learned about the mesmerising ball bearings, our mutual love of Orson Welles, politics, the birth hospital he and Charlie Chaplin share, and the history of cycling in Britain.
Pierre of Randobike for my bicycle! Soft spoken and precise, he is a go-to for any cycle touring adventure, having readied me for my first trip and welcomed me and my endless stream of questions.
Laura Penhaul whom I approached after her talk on her row across the Pacific at my previous job was the sweetest, most supportive person. She soothed my concerns, proposed that my Mum speak to her Mum, said I may be crossing paths with Mark Beaumont (turns out he’s whizzing through Kazakhstan at breakneck speed rather than burdening himself with the time-consuming visas of the other ‘stans), and put me in touch with inspirational women cyclists. Mark was lovely as well to reply to my message to him about his ride. Laura is currently supporting Mark Beaumont’s Round the World in 80 Days cycle with Adaptive Performance and also manages tennis player Naomi Osaka.
Jess Wynter Bee who cycled round the world and took an hour on the phone to speak to me and talk through the Central Asian leg of her trip. It made me much less apprehensive & she’s the coolest to speak to. Check out her blog too!
Pip Stewart replied to my worried email pre-trip and has since been a lovely person to follow on her travels via her Instagram and website. Her cycle through Central Asia is full of warm moments and hair-raising ones (landmines in Afghanistan!).
Anna Hughes who also replied to my worried email (yes, there were many sent out) with lovely words of encouragement. She is great inspiration for bicycle travel and resources in the UK.
Bicycle Travelling Women, the Facebook group (and check out the new website!). This has been my favourite place to read about others’ experience, find touring companions, share the mingled worries and excitement of travelling either solo or with others. The London chapter of the group has allowed me to meet many other women cycle travellers over a beer at Look Mum No Hands!. At that meet-up, I encountered:
Claire Mason, of Punctures & Panniers, who cycled round the world with her boyfriend and has now produced the most beautiful cycling travel journal. Us travellers love to keep a record of our adventures and Claire’s book is the perfect recipient of those writings. Filled with drawings by the talented Ania Butler. I funded her Kickstarter and duly received a thoughtfully created book, down to the sustainably sourced rubber band holding it all together and little envelopes for storing souvenirs from the road.
The Big WOW Book. Thank you Loretta Henderson of Solo Female Cyclist. This book produced in me excitement, emotional outbursts and feelings of being connected to a wider community. From Annie Londonderry’s out-there, advertising-filled cycle of 1895 and Dervla Murphy’s beautiful writings of trips away from her Irish home in 1963, to the many intrepid women who pedal along our world’s roads (and often off-road) from then till today – it is wonderful to know that there is inspiration and a community out there. My first cycle trip brought me nose-to-nose with the WOW Wall, at the time under Loretta’s previous website, Skalatitude, which I thoroughly recommend for a quick look at the variety of people who decide to take to the road on their bicycles.
And the many blogs, here are a handful:
- Cycling About. Really no words can sum up the awesomeness of this resource. I’ve been following AlleyKat since embarking on my first cycling trip – a friend of mine had met Alee and Kat in Southeast Asia and had passed on their blog. Now this has turned into a preeminent source for all things cycle touring – the gear lists and product comparisons are gold!
- Mairawa – Ann Johansson has been uploading beautiful photos onto her website and Instagram for a couple of years now. She was supportive when I reached out to her about being a solo female cyclist and about gear!
- Eleanor Moseman has done the most interesting trips in Asia. She provides thoughtful and intellectually rich accounts of her travels, the people she meets and the explains the difficulties that come with what can sometimes be extreme explorations (she was also thankfully honest with me about the harassment women get when cycling in Central Asia and Asian countries generally). Her photos are also glorious.
- Anna McNuff – such fun to read her reports from the road, always upfront about the joys and lows of cycling (…saddle sores!)
- A Wandering Photo / Nomads – Shirine Taylor has been such a source of inspiration for my three trips.
- Caravanistan – the resource for the Silk Road, visas in particular!
- Jambi Jambi – what a cool gal!
- Emily Chappell – anything she does.
- The Bike Ramble (Fredrika Ek)
- Bikevibe magazine – not cycle touring per se, but beautiful!
- Women Cycling Guide
- Bicycle Traveller Magazine
- Crank and Cog blog
- Margo Polo – a cycle along the Silk Road.
- Voyageurs Vagabond – resource in French.
- Instagram – that’s how I’ve discovered most of the people listed here. That and Facebook. However much I have toyed with getting rid of social media, the benefits have so far outweighed the headaches. Get browsing!