Support when you need it
Of course cycling round the world on a singlespeed bike is no easy undertaking, especially for the one doing it. First there is the overwhelming amount of considerations in the planning stage. When I first properly started planning I was very quickly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things that had to be sorted. Coming into this with a lot of experience though from recent bikepacking and cycle touring trips I was at least no newbie to cycling long distances, but I also knew very quickly that I needed a support crew that was here for me, helping me make the right decisions and making sure that I can focus mainly on the riding.
It was at Bristol Bikefest last October, so roughly about a year ago, that I met Charlie ‘The Bikemonger’ Hobbs and Pat Joscelyne. I had shopped with Charlie before, but only got to know him as the distributor of Swobo bikes, a brand I had admired for a long time. At Bikefest we finally met in person, and formed a great friendship ever since. We also raced Pat and the rest of the boys from Ison, the company that distributes Surly bikes amongst many other brands in the UK. I was mainly there in my function to promote Swobo for Charlie, but as we didn’t take racing too seriously, I also got to speak to Pat.
When I picked up the phone to Charlie after I had handed in my resignation, we toyed many ideas around. I valued Charlie’s experience and connections in the bike industry, but even more so his approach to the idea of cycling the world singlespeed. “Take a bike, pack a few things, and leave.” For a perfectionist like me this sounded too easy to be true, but in the end he was right. What I have experienced in the last 3 weeks since being on the road was that every problem has its solution, sometimes you need to be more creative than at other times.
At the end of the conversation we agreed that realistically there was only one bike to d the job I had anticipated for it properly was the Surly Ogre. We had started off with looking at a Jones, but this was quickly ruled out for the lack of frame space an the spacing of the front hub that didn’t allow for a dynamo hub. Anything else was fine, and particularly the Jones Loop bars were our both first choice for singlespeeding the world. With the bars sorted we looked into a 29″ mountain bike frame, with loads of options to mount kit, and the ability to fit a dynamo hub. If you are down to that there’s realistically only one bike left for the job, the Surly Ogre. I will go into more detail on the bike soon, it is worthwhile checking out this video here to get an idea why.
On Monday at 10.30 Pat picked me up at Gatwick, where I was due to stopover for a few hours before flying out to Iceland, the next country on my itinerary. We knew that it was all a tight call, but there were some little things with the bike I needed to get sorted, nothing major though. Charlie rocked up on his motorbike, and after a short coffee the mission started.
Pat had organised Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 29 x 2.00 tyres, to replace the current Halo twin rails, which had done a great job so far. I am pleased to say that Schwalbe is supporting me, one of the many things Pat has arranged so far. We also managed to have a look at the issue I had as I could no longer charge my USB devices, and Pat arranged a new charger for me, while my brother can fix the one I have with me, which worked brilliantly so far. Charlie kitted me out with 45North boots, which are amazingly warm, and also with a merino hat to keep me warm in Iceland. After doing all the fixes we went to Evans Cycles to organise a new waterproof jacket for me, as I needed a proper one for Iceland, and also organised a new box to stabilise the old one. After all of that the boys helped packing the bike and we had some proper lunch at Charlie’s Diner, some tasty burgers I really needed. Pat then gave me a ride to Gatwick and dropped me, getting to the airport this time was pretty easy.
Doing all of that in such a short timeframe was amazing, and I am also really happy that my girlfriend Sophie helped me out by sending a few bits and pieces to Pat. That is the stuff which is going on behind the scenes, but it is as important as the rest, and I am so chuffed to have people like Pat and Charlie, amongst many others, that are such a huge help.