Keith and Tamar
Hello! We’re Keith and Tamar. In April 2011 we gave up our jobs and started pedalling. We toured round the UK then headed south through Ireland, took a ferry to France and then followed river lines (mostly the Loire and the Danube) across Europe. We got as far as Russia but then had to fly home for family reasons. Take a look at our 2011 route or read our 2011 blog.
In May 2012 we set off again and took a more northerly route across Europe towards Russia, through Holland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and then into Russia. We spent 7 weeks crossing a large part of Russia over to Siberia before going south into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and then into China. After spending October & November in an increasingly cold China, we flew back to the UK for December & January for a variety of reasons.
In February 2013, we returned to China to carry on from where we left off and our route took us south into Laos, over into Vietnam, to Cambodia and then Thailand where we initially spent 3 months and discovered scuba diving. We then went further south into Malaysia to both do some more diving & get a new Thai visa. Back in Thailand we finished off the year by training to be Dive Masters in the beautiful island of Koh Tao.
2014 started with us back on the road and we revisited Laos, before covering many more kilometres through Thailand and travelling south into Malaysia for a second time. We travelled down the Malaysian west coast through April & May, visiting Georgetown, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca before going over to the east coast to Mersing where we got a ferry out to Tioman Island. On Tioman we picked up some freelance work as DiveMasters and spent the next 5 months guiding divers around the local underwater sites while all the time having wonderful fun ourselves. It is now November 2014 and we are on our way (by plane from KL) back to China for a few months and in January 2015, we plan to return to KL and continue our journey south to Indonesia where we may do our Dive Instructor training. At some point in the future, we hope to get to Australia & New Zealand where we’ve promised to visit lots of friends and family, but at this point it’s difficult to say exactly what year we’ll get there as there are many fantastic dive locations between here & there. Wherever we go and whenever we get there, we don’t anticipate returning us to our old lifestyle for a little while just yet.
Meerkat kept a lookout from the front of the boom, but sadly went missing in action, feared dead in April 2014 as we travelled south through Thailand.
He was a great travel companion, enjoyed being the centre of attention and looked particularly proud standing in front of a statue of his great-great-uncle Lenin.
He wasn’t very good at pulling his weight up the hills though.
We’re riding a Hase Pino Tour. This is a semi-recumbent tandem and we LOVE it.
Why a tandem?
Many couples enjoy perfectly successful travels on solo bikes, but we knew that two solos wouldn’t work for us. The frustration of one person always waiting for the other, or one person always riding to exhaustion to keep up, would have driven us nuts. Map-reading whilst on the move is more difficult on solo bikes, communication between riders is fragmented, and cities are a whole host of opportunities for losing sight of each other.
Riding a tandem solves many of these problems. You arrive at the top and bottom of hills together, the stoker can read a map and look for road signs whilst the pilot concentrates on avoiding traffic and pot-holes, communication is relatively easy unless you’re whipping down a hill with the wind in your ears, and it’s impossible to lose each other (although that could be considered a down-side if you’re having an argument!)
Why a semi-recumbent tandem?
Whilst riding a tandem has many advantages, we had found a couple of disadvantages riding a ‘standard’ tandem.
- The stoker can’t see what’s in the road immediately ahead, so any sudden and unannounced changes in direction or road surface are unsettling.
- Any movement from the stoker (for instance an unconscious flinch towards the kerb when a large lorry roars past) has to be compensated for by the pilot…which becomes tiring and annoying after a long day in the saddle.
The semi-recumbent Pino resolves these two issues as both the stoker AND the pilot have an unimpeded view of the road ahead so there are no surprises for the stoker, and because the stoker’s feet are up at hip height, shifts in their bodyweight have far less impact on the handling of the bike, meaning the pilot can steer the bike confidently with no unexpected stoker input.
This particular stoker also has a history of lower-back problems and finds riding a recumbent far more comfortable than a standard bike.