Six Months of Touring: The Hard Facts

Today is the six month anniversary of our bicycle tour. We rode out of Auckland on January 1st and since then it has been 181 days overseas, down the road, on this crazy global cycling honeymoon.

Cycling Statistics

Cycling Days 79
Kilometers 5,013
Hours 307:40:11
Kilometers per Cycling Day 63.45
Hours per Cycling Day 3:53:40

I think the biggest surprise about these cycling stats for us is how slowly we are actually traveling. If you do the math, we are only moving at a rate of about 30 kilometers per day. Moving that slowly really is the perfect way to travel, but it also means you need a lot of time to see a country. We spent two months cycling in New Zealand and felt like an adequate amount of time would have been six months. Our big breaks do skew that travel rate a little bit; our longest ones so far have been 22 days between New Zealand and Southeast Asia (planned), 21 days in Bangkok while waiting for visas (unplanned), and now currently 12 days and counting back in Bangkok waiting for Sarah’s arm to heal.


Preparation $9075.55
Airfare $4369.82
United States $2399.52
New Zealand $4012.54
Singapore $610.38
Thailand $2154.02
Cambodia $857.72
Vietnam $771.39
Laos $793.99

Yes, we’ve broken the $25,000 barrier only six months into our trip! After getting over the initial shock of seeing that number staring back at me in Excel, I realized it isn’t that big of a surprise. We pulled the original number of $25,000 out of our ass because it was an easy number for us to stomach. During our travels though, we are averaging about $55 per day or $20,000 for a year on the road, which seems reasonable given what we’ve read about other bicycle tourists doing similar trips. In the end, we don’t expect to be 100% over-budget; Preparation and Airfare still account for over 50% of our total costs. If we keep spending at the current rate, the cost for one year will be $34,000 plus the remaining airfare.

I’ve updated the Finances page with this information along with more details. If you’re the rare individual who has read this far and is actually interested in this stuff, tell us what you want to know. Many people have told us they are interested in the financial aspect of doing a trip like this, but we’ve been struggling to decide what we should publish and what is useless trivia. Leave a comment or send us an email at jamesandsarah at erck dot org.

Gear Failures

Flat Tires 9
Failed Tires 3
Earliest Tire Death (km) 30
Time Wasted Cursing Tires 4:12:47

Other than those pathetic Panaracer tires that we swapped for Schwalbe Marathons, our Gear has been pretty good. Other items that broke are the following:

Giro Atmos Helmet: The thin piece of the plastic support system broke on the plane ride to New Zealand.

SKS Front Fender: Also on the first plane ride, my front fender cracked where it attaches to the fork. This was annoying at first and then got dangerous when tar-covered rocks would get lodged between the tire and fender and stop me immediately. I eventually removed the fenders completely and am now ridin’ dirty.

Topeak Modula XL Bottle Cage: The rubber strap on this bottle cage broke in half after about 1000 kilometers. We replaced it with one of Sarah’s discarded toe-clip straps which works great.

Cat-Eye Mity 8 Computer: In Cambodia, my cycle computer started to randomly stop recording while I was riding. Strangely, it started working again as soon as we crossed into Vietnam but then fell of my bike shortly afterwards. An unsolved mystery.

Other Maintenance: My front brake cable started sticking at 3250 kilometers and we swapped it out for a new one. Sarah’s rear cable then started sticking at 5000 kilometers and was replaced too. Must have something to do with the tropical conditions of Southeast Asia!

Bad Stuff

Crashes 8
Bouts of Severe Diarrhea 4
Dog Attacks 0
Monkey Attacks 0.5

Sarah continues to lead in the walking (pedaling?) disaster category, capturing an impressive 5 crashes, 3 bouts of severe diarrhea, and almost managing to provoke a large scale monkey attack. Here’s a list of the crashes:

  1. In New Zealand a wild goat jumped out of the forest and startled Sarah. She didn’t fall off immediately but continued to ride along gawking at the goat until she actually rode right off the road. She couldn’t get her feet out of the toe clips in time and fell down. I am not making this up.
  2. Sarah was attempting to eat a banana while riding in Thailand. She veered off the road onto the sandy shoulder and lost control of her bike. I remember hearing her feeble, wavering cry, “Jamie!” as she began to panic that I didn’t know she fell and was going to ride off and leave her lying there tangled up with her bike in the dirt.
  3. Sarah was drafting behind me in Laos, clipped my rear tire with her front, and went down. Probably the least eventful of her crashes.
  4. While climbing a steep road in Vietnam I looked back to see where Sarah was. As I turned my head I also turned my bike and ended up executing a 90 degree right hand turn and riding slow motion off the road and directly into the ditch. Luckily there were no steep cliffs around and I wasn’t hurt.
  5. The infamous Laos crash that brought us back to Bangkok. While descending on a wet mountain road, Sarah locked up her brakes and hit the tarmac, cracking her radius in the process. I was right behind her and flipped over the top of her, cracking my helmet in the process.
  6. Same day in Laos, Sarah locked up her tires and went down again on the slippery roads. I heard her fall, tried to stop suddenly, and locked up my brakes and hit the deck too!

Stayed tuned tomorrow for our impressions of the first six months!

6 Responses to “Six Months of Touring: The Hard Facts”

  1. Jim Ray Says:

    I can’t believe you guys have been at it for 6 months already! Sarah, sounds like your luck is due for a change, maybe James will do the right thing and take over as bad luck charm for the rest of the year…

    Heal up quick, have fun

  2. Lucia Says:

    Thanks for the informative update!

    Just one tiny finance question….

    With no jobs and/or clear source of income, how are you guys going to finance the rest of your trip? Now that you have reached your original budget, will you guys be dipping into your ‘transitioning back into normal life’ savings or are you doing the all American thing and living on credit?

  3. James and Sarah Says:

    $25,000 was just an amount that we picked out of thin air. Its not all the money we have. We are not living on credit and we will go home before we completely run out of money. Neither of us could stomach spending our entire life savings on this trip. Our new plan is to travel through Europe and then see where we are in terms of our finances in late fall 2007. If Europe is not too expensive and we can handle spending more money, we will go to South America. It is hard decision to make – we keep asking ourselves if we are going to care in 20 years that we spent an additional $10K to go to South America. Right now we are already traveling and have inertia. We’re scared that if we miss places now, we may never see them. I already feel that way about India and China. I tell myself that we can go back someday, but who knows if we’ll have the time and energy to do a long trip again in the future, especially since we both want to have children.

  4. ather haleem Says:

    hopefully james remembers me – i’ve been following your journal for the most part and it’s definitely more interesting as well as entertaining than all those reality tv shows at least. i’d recommend you guys to make whatever trips your finances and stamina permits for once you have children- it’ll be really hard to even think of something like this!

  5. Nathan (Seattle, WA) Says:

    A little late in your game maybe, but my brother and his fiance helped equalize their fitness differential by using a bike trailer. Increasing the stronger partner’s load makes you faster and more empathetic to the less fit one of you. If you’re in Europe now there are lots of good trailer companies, and on-the-road repair isn’t that bad. Anyway, thanks for sharing the inspiring story with total strangers like me.

  6. Karen Says:


    Thanks for your wonderful website. My husband and I are planning our own world cycle tour and plan on leaving in spring 2011. I especially like your “fight” and “crashes” stories, I can almost see Mike and I living through this.

    Hope you both are well and thanks for the site.

    Note: our website isn’t up yet but will be soon..

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