In November 2016 our friend Simon Panther hit the road for an epic trip around the world. His route took him from London to Delhi, on to the Himalayas, Burma, Thailand, then Alaska, Canada, down the US Pacific Coast to Mexico, through Panama and finally down through South America before getting back home after a unforgettable year on the road. We caught up with Simon to find out more about his adventure.
You have a history of long distance trips, why do you spend so much time travelling on your bike?
I wanted to experience the challenge of cycling around the world. My earlier trips gave me a taste for the adventure and I wanted the feeling of leaving the top of the world in snow, cycling through everything from deserts, rainforest and the snow-capped Andes mountains and arriving at the bottom on my bicycle.
What other passions do you have?
Triathlon, marathons and classic cars.
Did you experience any psychological “down side” during your ride?
Extreme climates like Alaska and the Yukon were hard. You have pitch your tent in -10 degrees and waking up to frozen solid water bottles. As was 50 degree heats in deserts such as Baja California, Mexico. Large open land masses such as Canada which took a month of 100+ mile days alone and 100 kph winds in southern Patagonia travelling at 3 mph were pretty soul destroying!
Is your body okay after all this mileage or have you suffered any damage?
I’m very used to long distance cycling and happy with my bike setup. I suffered a few twinges in the knee in cold environments and some back pain after long days in the saddle, but nothing long lasting. As long as you look after your body you are generally ok.
Have you experienced any issues finding food when really hungry in the middle of nowhere?
I carried a gas stove - an essential bit of kit. For example, in Alaska towns were 200 miles apart and often only gas stations. Water was not a problem as I could melt snow or ice but I had to carry large amounts of food. Hot deserts and remote dry mountain passes, such as the Paso Seco in northern Chile, on slow gravel roads were challenging and I found myself running out of water and struggling to find stream water.
How many tyres did you use and what kind of maintenance did your bike require?
About four sets of tyres in total. The first were Schwalbe Marathon Plus and lasted for 20,000 km! My bike broke in every way possibly, literally everything has been replaced. For example it had three broken rims, new bottom bracket, snapped gear cables and many broken spokes. Snapping the rear hub twice was the only thing that stopped me from moving though.
What would you suggest to a brand new tourer to setup their bike?
Look at the type of roads and what products are available in the country you are cycling in. For example 26 inch wheels are now hard to obtain in South America, but the best choice for Africa.
Roughly how many people do you think you’ve met during your entire trip?
Ah man, that’s hard… maybe 1,000?! That’s one of the best things about the experience is the people you meet along the way.
This your fourth big tour… what’s next?
Tour of Africa, starting on February 1st. Keep an eye on the blog for more details.
You like to fly under the radar why your trips, why don’t you use Strava or publicise your trips?
Haha, I’m not interested in Strava. I just do it for the kicks!