A little more challenging

It is exciting to be packing the bags again for some extended travels, this time in South East Asia. We enjoyed our extended road/hiking/biking trip through New Zealand over the 2017 summer / autumn but it was not quite the same as our travels outside of NZ & Australia. Somehow, getting out of your ‘local’ environment and comfort zone adds a little more adventure to the experience.

Our taxi in Chau Doc in Vietnam was one of our more unual modes of transport during our visit to Vietnam in 2015

We have also been thinking about our future adventures. Every morning when I look in the ‘mirror-mirror on the wall’, it pretty much tells me that if I want to undertake anything requiring a little physical exertion then best I do it sooner (like very soon) rather than later.

Apart from the whole mirror thing, lifting bikes onto the car roof is getting harder with each year

We have both enjoyed our past biking expeditions which have combined a pleasant pace of travel with the opportunity to escape from the crowds and immerse ourselves a little more in the countryside being visited. We would love to undertake some more ambitious cycling (our longest to date is three weeks of cycling) but there are challenges associated with extending the length of time and distances (and countries visited). Bike hire and luggage transfer costs start to mount and you are more likely to start encountering mountains – well certainly hills, as well as a much greater range of weather conditions. Ruth does not like hills and I have to say that I am finding them more challenging with each year. Time to put on the thinking cap and do a little research.

The muttering from further diwn the hill suggested that I was not her favourite person at that moment – Cornwall hills 2015

I may have found the solution but there is a little more research required before we commit. A folding bike that we can take with us – they are lightweight and small enough to carry as checked luggage. What about an electric folding bike that can help us up the hills and into those head winds? Yep, some of those do weigh-in under checked luggage allowances. However, you cannot take the batteries on a plane (thanks Samsung) and costs to transport the batteries separately are prohibitive. A little more research and some inquiries has led me to a local NZ manufacturer who produces a lightweight folding e-bike and offers battery hire in selected offshore destinations. Starting to look like a possibility if we want to bike in the countries on offer.

The ‘devil is in the detail’ so more investigation was required.

Range on a battery charge, the terrain we are likely to cover in our planned 1,500km ride and the need to carry our luggage with us, were all big issues that needed investigation. Hills (and head winds) drain batteries. There is not a lot of rack space on a folding bike and, as the bikes and riding gear will use up your checked allowance, we need to be sure that we can manage an 11 week spell with only carry-on luggage weights and dimensions.

I have searched for and found a couple of NZ bloggers who travel with folding bikes. One couple who transitioned from ‘real’ bikes to the folding variety have carted their bikes all over the World. The other couple have e-folders and have a lot of fun riding them around parts of New Zealand.

We have had a look at the bikes and they come with a soft carry-bag. We still need to test ride the bikes on undulating terrain but, it all still appears to be do-able.

Ruth is showing a keen interest and really likes the idea of ‘pedal assist’ but accepts that strategic riding would be required. No point in draining a battery in the first couple of hours only to find all of the hills fall in the balance of the day’s journey.

The most promising option to date

So during our current adventures in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, we will be questioning our already minimal luggage – what could we do without in future?

If, on our return, we are still keen on the idea of further travels we will need to undertake some hands on testing of the bikes before we give it the big tick. It would certainly be our most challenging trip to organise and undertake.

We will update in about six months time as to whether or not this idea has progressed or joined a few others in the ‘silly idea’ basket.

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