Back in 2009, before he was building beautiful bicycle frames in London under the name Donhou Bicycles, Tom Donhou spent the better part of a year on a ride across Asia. Departing from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Tom pedaled across steppes and through the Gobi Desert just to reach China. From there, he rode through Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, and finally on to Singapore. Here’s what he had to say about his trip:
I'd quit my job back in London and hopped in an old truck with some friends, overlanding it all the way to Mongolia. We travelled foot down, a group of overexcited friends, tear assing out of Europe into Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and finally back toward that big, wide open frontier: Mongolia. I had had my bike tucked away in the back of the truck during this part of the trip, but I started to sober up as we drew closer to Mongolia, knowing the pace would soon change.
Riding out into the Gobi on my first night was terrifying. I went from being cooped up in a stinky van with friends to being totally and completely on my own with a long, unknown road to Singapore in front of me. It took at least two weeks of riding to get my head around the immensity of the trip.
Leaving behind drunken Russians, terrifying wild bulls, and sand storms, I pushed past a pack of dusty dogs for the last time as I approached the Chinese border. The usual border apprehension was in full effect, but man, as soon as I rolled out the other side, wow! Electric scooters, neon, noise, Chinese characters, street food. I didn't know a damn thing, but the place was buzzing!
There was so much to experience, from random acts of kindness, to trying to order my first meal, to figuring out a method to read the road signs, to witnessing in awe the power and destruction left in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. My eyes were opened to a rapidly industrialising country. It’s so big, so populated, and changing so quickly. It was evident in the climate, the landscape, and the people.
I found something unexpected over the top of every hill and around every corner. People often ask me which was my favorite country when they hear about my nine months on the bike. My response? Always the same: China.
At some point during his tour through East Africa last year, Logan Watts started shooting portraits of the cyclists and people he met alongside the road. The result is a collection of beautiful images captured during his five months of traveling, and I’m so glad to be able to share some of them here.
Logan told me that among the hundreds of wonderful aspects of cycling around East Africa, the people are what made his trip special. It was not uncommon for someone to run out to the road to stop him and his wife Virginia, wanting to shake hands and to ask about their journey.
Sharing the road with other cyclists turned out to be an unexpected source of joy and intrigue. In particular, Logan was fascinated with the bicycles he encountered and their many novel uses. On this subject, he observes:
In general, East Africans ride Chinese, steel, mass-fabricated bikes with double top tubes, single chain rings, and bolt on cranks. Most have some sort of reinforcement, decoration, or add-on made from wood or reclaimed materials.
They are everywhere here. They are used for hauling loads (including live goats and chickens), commuting, farming, or anything else you can think of. Folks are proud of their bikes, especially the pedicabbies. They decorate and customize their trusty steeds with bells, mirrors, stickers, wire, beads, baskets, tape, ridiculous mud flaps… anything to attract attention.
I hope you'll enjoy this set of photos as much as I do.
You can follow Logan and his growing assortment of bikepacking resources on bikepacking.com.
Born in the small farm town of Montrose, Colorado, Devon Balet was raised loving and living the outdoors. Growing up following his father on wildlife shoots, Devon was exposed to photography at a very young age. His fascination for taking photos quickly became a passion to photograph anything that sparked an interest. Working as a bicycle mechanic from the age of 14, Devon paid his way through photography school and funded the beginning of his journey to becoming a full-time action and adventure photographer.
Devon's passion for the outdoors shows in his work. He lives for days and nights he can spend outside, watching the sun rise and fall behind the Earth to reveal the moon and stars. His lifelong goal to travel the globe and share the amazing and beautiful places he experiences with the world is coming to life.
Find more of Devon's work here.
Andrey Serdyuk is a 23-year-old cyclist and photographer from Moscow, Russia. He spent last summer touring Finnmark, Norway's northeasternmost county, bordered by Finland's Lapland region, Russia, and the Norwegian Sea. His photos convey the sense of isolation and solitude unique to the far reaches of the Nordic hinterlands.
If you're in the Minneapolis area, we invite you to join us from 6:30 - 9:00 pm at Angry Catfish on Friday, March 20th, for an evening of bicycle travel presentations and live music!
Listen to stories from Joe Cruz, Ben Hovland, Kat McCarthy, Amy Oberbroeckling, Aaron Ortiz, and Mark Sirek. Hear songs from Ben Weaver.
LynLake Brewery will be pouring free beer all night and Salsa Cycles will have loaded touring bikes on display. We’ll have dozens of prizes to give away from our wonderful sponsors, including Anhaica Bag Works, Banjo Brothers, Porcelain Rocket, Randi Jo Fabrications, Salsa Cycles, Surly Bikes, and Swift Industries.
This event is free and open to everyone, whether you’re a seasoned expedition cyclist or just have a casual interest in bicycle touring or bikepacking. Come celebrate the end of winter and get excited for springtime riding!
You can RSVP for the event on Facebook, here.