Out now: The Road, a photo book

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The Road – England to New Zealand by Bicycle

(June 2013)

180 pages, 8 x 10 inch landscape format. 180 photographs and 3000 words.

We’re excited to announce that ‘The Road’ is now available, a photo book documenting our 17,000 mile bicycle journey from England to New Zealand.

Both the journey and the creation of the book have been real labours of love – 20 months spent cycling and 6 months spent compiling photographs and stories on wide format spreads.

The final stage has involved investigating print on demand services and paper types, before eventually deciding on a combination able to produce a book that looks and feels great in the hand. I have the first couple of printed books here in front of me and we’re delighted with the finished product! Sitting down with a book of printed photographs is a completely different experience to viewing them onscreen, and one I really enjoy.

The print version is available as a softcover book and can be shipped worldwide. The eBook version is delivered as a high resolution PDF file which looks great on computers, iPads, iPhones etc. Both versions contain the same content, and for anyone interested in obtaining a copy, ordering details can be found below. We hope you enjoy it!

Print version £49.45 + p&p                             Add to Cart

eBook version (PDF) £3.99                             Add to Cart

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Coming soon: The Road, a photo book

RD-2013-05-23-1848-02-2

The Road – England to New Zealand by Bicycle

(June 2013)

180 pages, 8 x 10 inch landscape format. 180 photographs and 3000 words.

I’m super excited to have finally finished work on ‘The Road’, a photo book documenting the 17,000 mile bicycle journey Rebecca and I undertook from England to New Zealand.

I’ve always felt that the photographs from that trip deserved better than to be left on a hard drive, and a photo book is the perfect way to turn this collection of images into something tangible.

It’s a big book – 180 photographs and 3000 words – and I can’t wait for the test copy that I’ve just ordered to arrive so I can hold it in my hands! It’ll be available in a month or so for anyone that wants a copy, both as an 8 x 10 inch landscape format 180 page book and an ebook version. More details to come.

Coming soon!

RD-2013-05-23-1922-15

A quick update

It’s been 7 months since we finished cycling (time has flown!) and as there are still quite a few people subscribing to this blog feed I thought I’d post a quick update.

Firstly, we’re both still loving being back home and have had fun settling back into normal life in Putney, London.  I was slightly worried pre-trip that we’d end up being scraggy-haired hippies who would have to sleep outdoors to feel ‘at home’, but fortunately that’s not the case.

The video footage we took in Australia and New Zealand still hasn’t seen the light of day.  We always planned to make videos for the final two countries and maybe even a full trip summary, but I’m ashamed to say we haven’t gotten round to it…pester Bex (chief video maker!) if you want to see them!

We have no plans to write a book about the trip (one of the top 10 questions asked) but I have been working on a photobook. It’s still a work-in-progress thanks to some impressive procrastination and a million and one distractions here in London, but it WILL get finished!  I’ll post details on this blog as and when it’s finished, just in case anyone other than me and my mum are interested in reading it.

Finally, I’m still taking photos and have started posting new shots to http://ryandaviesphoto.com.  If you’re interested in getting the semi-occasional updates as I post them, you can subscribe via email box here.

Cheers!

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South Island, New Zealand

A quick glance out of the plane window as we made our final approach to Queenstown Airport was enough to get me excited – the scenery looked incredible! Big rugged hills and huge lakes, any jaded thoughts of the 25,000km already cycled disappeared and I couldn’t wait to rebuild our bikes and get cycling.

We’d arranged to meet Stef & Ange in Queenstown, who we’d stayed with 16 months ago in Vienna. They’ve since been on their own cycling trip for the last 10 months, so it was great to catch up with them and have some cycling buddies for a few weeks!


Best viewed LARGE

The task for our first day of cycling after nearly two weeks off since arriving in Sydney was to cross the Crown Range to Wanaka. The summit is the highest paved road in New Zealand at 1,076 metres and it was a brute of a climb at times – the steepest gradients we’d seen since northern Laos. The views were awesome though and made it worthwhile.

After hiding from a day of solid rain in Wanaka we cycled over the much gentler Haast Pass and up the west coast. We had regular soakings from the unpredictable weather, as in Australia it seems this part of the world is having one of the worst summers in recent history. Thick green forest lined the road most days, at times it felt like we were boxed in by walls of ferns.

After Hokitika we turned inland to tackle Arthur’s and Porters Passes. Hana (last seen with Mark in Malaysia) came over from her home in Lyttleton with her bike to meet us and cycle three days back to the east coast. The weather was pretty terrible again, and we got drenched.

Arthur’s Pass was even steeper than the Crown Range, it took all my strength to keep the pedals turning and at times Stef’s fancy cycle computer showed the gradient to be a hefty 21%!! I was bloody glad to see the summit, although it felt freezing up there in my sweat/rain soaked clothes. We had a 5km roll down the other side to the village, so I quickly put a couple of dry layers on to avoid an almost certain death by frostbite in this balmy Kiwi summer.

Once over the final lump it was downhill for over 100km to Christchurch, but instead of a pleasant spin we battled horizontal rain and a cross-head wind – horrendous cycling conditions! We made it eventually, just beating Mark home from a week of climbing down south.

We went to see Christchurch city centre which is still closed down from the tragic earthquake that struck over a year ago. The entire CBD is cordoned off, and a new shopping street made from shipping containers has opened. It was shocking to still see piles of rubble where buildings used to be. The damage was extensive – Lyttelton (the small town where Mark & Hana live) lost its only supermarket, and most buildings have at least some damage (M & H have a huge crack down the wall in their living room).

During one of our three rest days in Lyttleton we drove back to Arthur’s Pass to walk up Avalanche Peak. I’d never stood on the top of a proper mountain, so being in a country with loads of big hills and staying with two avid climbers was too good an opportunity to miss.

It turned out to be harder than I’d imagined! I guess I’d had no idea what to expect, but a 5 hour return trip over very steep terrain certainly woke me up. Some of the ridges near the top were spectacular and felt quite exposed to me. When we reached the summit we were surrounded by cloud and couldn’t see a thing, but suddenly it lifted and some amazing views lay before us.

Bex and I were knackered by the time we’d got back down, and having done nothing but cycle for 18 months meant our legs were in agony for about 5 days after – we could literally barely walk! An awesome experience, thanks M & H!

Whilst we were at the top of Avalanche Peak a few Keas (mountain parrots) came to investigate. They are super-confident, and if you turn your back on your backpack for even a second a Kea will hop over to steal your lunch. At least their cockiness meant it was easy to get nice and close for a few photos!

We left Lyttelton/Christchurch with wooden legs in a five-man peloton with Mark, Hana and Stef (Ange had finished her trip and flown home from Christchurch). We were headed for the Rainbow Road, a gravel track that follows the Clarence River Valley.

After a short but steep climb up over Jacks Pass we descended into the valley, and the temperature began to drop. We spotted an old hut and piled inside for the night. It was good fun with the five of us rolling out our sleeping bags, but it was super cold – we wore all our clothes at night but still woke up shivering. Mark’s sleeping bag was the worst of the lot (he carried a camera lens that was bigger than his packed bag) and said it was his coldest night ever – not bad for someone who has spent plenty of nights up big mountains!

We woke to a thick frost outside and quickly boiled some river water for a round of teas. We waited for the sun to appear before we started cycling, and the scenery was spectacular – it felt like we were in Central Asia again.

The track was really tough in places, the steep slopes and large rocks were hard work with heavy bikes and on one sharp climb a cheeky Bex even persuaded one of the rare 4-wheel drivers skidding past to take her panniers to the top and wait for her there (30 minutes). But the faster sections were great fun, and despite Bex hating skiddy roads I was proud to see that she battled on, even if she was slower downhill than uphill!  It’s definitely made me want to do some mountain biking after we get home.

After saying goodbye to Stef, Mark and Hana, we took the ferry from Picton across to the North Island. We’re really on the home straight now – there’s only about 700km left until Auckland (even less now, as I write this a few days later) and I’m pleased to say I’m feeling mega excited about the prospect of finishing. Let’s hope it stays that way!

More New Zealand photos are here

Adelaide to Melbourne & the Great Ocean Road

I recently wrote an article for Sidetracked Magazine about our journey through China – have a read here

And while we’re at it, I don’t think I ever shared the links to the photos that Mark took whilst he & Hana cycled with us in Thailand and Malaysia. The 70-odd photos span three posts, here, here and here.

As we set off towards Melbourne we were excited about the cycling to come – we’d heard good things about the famous ‘Great Ocean Road’ running along part of the south coast. But first we had to pass through the Coorong, a national park with salt flats and more wide expanses similar to those seen on the Nullarbor. Once again my camera’s memory card started to fill up with photos of long, straight roads.

The wind always seems to be strong in Australia, which is either great or rubbish depending on the direction. Through the Coorong we had a tedious day of headwind followed by an easy day being blown along by a nice tailwind. Sometimes it feels like it’s pointless to even bother cycling when the wind is in our face – maybe we should just wait until the wind turns in our favour and then catch up the miles with a couple of long days.





We spent New Year’s Eve camped out in the bush on the side of the road and we fell asleep as it got dark at 9pm. We set the alarm for 11:58pm and woke up for approximately 4 minutes  to see in the New Year. We’d left the fly sheet off the tent that night so we had a good view of the starry sky through the mesh tent skin.

The Great Ocean Road covers 250km of mostly winding coastal road in Victoria, from Warrnambool to Torquay. We’d been looking forward to this part of the ride and it didn’t disappoint – the road was spectacular in places, and gave us our first real hills in months (hills always make for interesting cycling).

We were in full tourist mode as we joined the campervans taking regular detours out to the various lookouts along the coast to see impressive rock formations under some moody skies.



The weather has been changing rapidly from hot sun to driving wind and rain straight off the Southern Ocean. I’d always assumed that Australian summers were guaranteed to be boiling, but it appears not.

“Hot enough for you yet, is it?” we get asked by Australians whenever the sun pops out.

“A nice change from the rain yesterday” I generally reply.

“Just you wait, it’ll be 46 degrees next week!”

Exaggeration of temperatures seems to be endemic, and although I’m sure there are plenty of savagely hot days in Australia, the fact is down on the south coast we’ve been cold more often than we’ve been hot this summer. After a 3 hour climb up to Lavers Hill on a particularly grim day we could even see our breath in the cold air and dived inside a pub to sit in front of the log fire!

Early January is peak time for the Australian summer holiday, so the little towns along the way were busy with tourists and very expensive. We usually raid the budget aisle of the supermarket and hang around for a rest in the town park (which always have shade, pinic benches, free electric BBQs and water – ideal for cyclists on a micro-budget).

Just after Kennet River we found what may be our best camp spot of the trip, a flat patch of grass high up over the road, overlooking the ocean. Infinitely better than a poo-infested tunnel under a Chinese road.

When we woke up we found another cyclist had pitched his tent nearby after we’d gone to bed, but as he was still sleeping we left quietly. He caught us up as we stopped to brew a mid-morning coffee in the next town and we cycled the rest of the day together. Ben, from New Zealand, had cycled 17,000km from Istanbul to London with an incredibly bendy route through Europe (we’d cycled 4,000km between London & Istanbul, and reached Bangkok before we’d covered the same mileage!) Two completely different mental approaches to cycle touring, and it was interesting to chat and swap stories.

For our final night before reaching Melbourne we’d been due to stay with Maxine (another great warmshowers.org host), but we felt bad to send Ben on his way to another campstove dinner and bush camp whilst we enjoyed showers and a bed. Fortunately Maxine kindly took Ben in as well, and the three of us enjoyed a tasty lasagne and beds. Thanks Maxine!

We’ve spent the last week in Melbourne (big thanks to both Alex and then Bethan for putting us up) and we’ve both decided that we really like it here. The CBD is compact with a nice mix of alleyways filled with coffee shops and graffiti, larger shopping streets, and the Yarra river flowing through the centre.

We’ve had an unusually busy social schedule here with lots of friends to meet, both old and new. In particular it was great to finally meet Tom and Jodie, an English couple who have moved to Melbourne just after cycling from England to New Zealand. They’ve always been about 4 months ahead of us on the road, and although we’ve been chatting regularly online for the last 18 months we’d never actually met each other.




Melbourne seems like a very sporty city – take a five minute walk along the Yarra and you’re guaranteed to see hoards of cyclists, runners, rowers, skateboarders and a whole host of sports arenas. The Australian Open is taking place in Melbourne at the moment and we spent last Thursday in the grounds watching a few matches..



Tomorrow we head off once more to start another 1,000km section that will take us to Sydney, and the end of our Australian cycling. It looks like we should get a few days of hot weather on the way out of Melbourne, maybe my jesting above will come back to bite me… Thankfully though our leisurely pace of late can continue – our flight to New Zealand doesn’t leave until 20th February.

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