Welcome to Velomad's World.
We are doing a world tour by
bicycle for 7 years. The aim of our travels is to promote peace
and show others that we may all be different but we can all
still be friends.
If you are interested in our travels and are a member of any
organisation, club or school feel free to invite us to come and visit
and do a presentation of our travels. You can contact us at the bottom
of this page.
Saturday 28th March, Hong Kong (SAR), China
Everybody Loves Raymond
Anyone watch that show? We've seen a couple of episodes but to be honest it's not really to our taste.
The reason that we're bringing it up is that everyone, absolutely everyone mentions The Flying Ball Bicycle Company as THE bike shop in Hong Kong. Maybe it is but to be honest we can't comment as we haven't been there yet (though we are planning on going). So a more appropriate phrase here is "Everybody Loves the Flying Ball".
However, we have found a bike shop up here in the New Territories which we believe it would be hard to beat for service and friendliness and that's what's most important for us - not just for bike parts but for all our equipment.
The shop was recommended to us by our Warm Showers List (WSL) host - a wonderful woman who has charmed our socks off. When we asked about bikes shops she of course mentioned the Flying Ball but added that she thought we'd be much better off going to "Raymond's" as he not only was an excellent bike mechanic but was more than fair in his pricing (too fair we found out - if he treats all his customers the way he treated us he'll soon go out of business). She used him to service her bikes before she went on her own bike tours (she's clocked up 39 countries herself to date so she's not exactly inexperienced) and is still going back - high praise indeed.
We could write a book on how brilliantly Raymond has treated us and more importantly our bikes - you can see he loves bikes and cycling and the care he lavished on Petrus and Wasabi will endear us to him forever. Moreover, as he was working on our bikes he not only let us watch but increased our knowledge of bike parts with his generous sharing of information - many professional bike mechanics these days are too busy posing & showing off - acting as if cycling equipment is some sort of top secret that you are simply too unworthy to be party to. Wasabi needs a new rear wheel as she is still struggling on with the manky one we purchased in Mongolia and I would preferably like a 36 spoke rim. Raymond only had 32 spoke rims (more popular these days) but said to give him a few days & he'd source one for me. Our WSL host told us that the Flying Ball also didn't keep many parts in stock and she more often or not needed order them in advance so there seems no difference in this regards.
Anyway - WE DEFINITELY LOVE RAYMOND!
TIN FUNG BICYCLE CO.
Shop 10. G/F. Kam Lung Mansion
Fung Yau St. North
Tel: 2442 3808
Unfortunately they don't have a website but we can guarantee you it would be worth the visit.
Sunday 29th March, Hong Kong (SAR), China
Several weeks ago we sat in a bar in Fuzhou (Fujian Provence, China). One of the guys at the table had just got back from Hong Kong on a visa run that day.
"What's the one thing you'd recommend to do in Hong Kong? Something that you think should not be missed? It can be anything - a walk, a cafe, a tourist site - whatever." we asked of him.
His response was a 10 minute diatribe on how he hated Hong Kong - the fact that it was so clean, that there were smoking fines for smoking in public areas, that there were littering fines, how people didn't shout, how there were so many Europeans everywhere. It was difficult to get him to shut up and we let him rant on until he'd finished his beer and it was time to go. Honestly we were quite speechless - sounded bliss to us!
AND SO IT IS.
I was reading a discussion in a local newspaper today about horn honking in Hong Kong. Several people were furious at the level of honking in the traffic. All we can say is - "GO TO CHINA - then you'll have reason to complain!"
It is amazingly clean, quiet and civilised after China. You can get all those things you miss back home - teabags, organic peanut butter, Heinz Baked Beans (from England - not the sugary version from the States), haven't spotted Marmite yet but we've already acquired 2 jars of Vegemite and so on. How could we possibly not like this!
Have to admit though maybe we do agree with him about too many Europeans - in specific British lager louts. At one point I looked back down the incline on D'Aguilar Street and realised there wasn't a single Asian face to be seen in the crowd of beer spillers blocking the road. Could have easily been any street around Leicester Square packed with outdoor drinkers in summer.
Saturday 9th February, Shanghai, China
Yes! We're back in China. Plan is to head down to Hong Kong and after that....not sure to be honest. At the moment we are trying to decide between Tibet or heading straight down into S.E. Asia.
We were surprised to notice snow on the ground as we entered Shanghai on the boat down the Huangpu river. It hasn't snowed here in decades. Although it wasn't snowing when we arrived by the time we had collected our bikes and put all our bags through the X-ray machine it had started. It continued for the next 5 days. Apparently it hasn't snowed here in decades. Trust us to drag the snow along with us.
We'll head down to HangZhou next and after that not 100% sure what route we'll be taking but definitely heading down to Hong Kong!
Tuesday 12th December, Gifu, Japan
A day of rest today. Yesterday we spent the whole day cycling in the relentless, never ending rain. We were well beyond soggy by the end of the day. One of Richard's "waterproof" Ortlieb bags actually had a small pond in it when we tipped it out this morning.
We had arranged to meet our host from Couchsurfing at his workplace (no mean feat hunting that down - I think he wins the competition hands down for providing the worst information on how to find him out of all our hosts in the last 3 years - and he's had some seriously scary competition) - we were an hour early so stood there shivering like lost wet dogs until he turned up. His saving grace was the fact that when I asked if I could shower he immediately without any prompting explained how to run the bath - YES... a BATH! A few of our hosts have had them (well the miniature versions they call baths here) but none has ever offered anything beyond a shower before.
The reason that I'm labouring this point is not my delight at the bath (there's insufficient space on the server to give full justice to my love of a bath) but the actual bath itself - the first time I've ever seen anything like it.
Instead of turning the tap & the water running into the bath as in most baths I've seen to date (I'm excluding spa /whirlpools here) there's one of those scary boxes with loads of buttons and unintelligible Kanji (yes - dauntingly similar to the toilets). One of the buttons causes the bath to fill from the bottom and then it jabbers in Japanese at you. Probably great to practise your Japanese with!
Thursday 29th November, Sasayama, Japan
After a week of freezing weather, we've had a few days of warmth and occasional sunshine. As well as being famous for it's spring time Cherry Blossoms, Japan is almost equally famous for it's fantastic red foliage autumn display, which we are having the luck to experience.
We are roughly (very roughly that is - we haven't been following it for about a week but after Kyoto we intend to rejoin it) following a cycling route that we found on the Japanese cycling site www.japancycling.org. We're mentioning it as the site is very impressive and the parts of the route we've followed have been practically everything a cyclist could dream for - stunning scenery, quiet roads and plenty of tourist spots to visit. The only disappointment for us is that fact that the site recommends staying with it's members on route - just email them through the site...which we did but didn't get any response to :-(
So those of you interested in seeing where we are heading take a peek at the website - we'll follow through as far as Nikko/Tokyo and then back to Osaka or Kobe to catch the ferry back to Shanghai.
If anyone reading this knows if we can get a visa in Osaka for China we'd like to know that too as we'd rather do that then stay a week in Tokyo waiting for one to be issued. Japan is probably the hardest place we've experienced to find hosts and finding a host in Tokyo for a week is looking like a grim prospect.
Monday 17th September, Suwon, South Korea
We're in Suwon now until Wednesday when we'll head to Yongin. Don't ask what route we're taking (because we don't know yet) but we're heading towards Busan for the end of the month. After that we'll go to Japan and onwards to Shanghai (December 2007), Hong Kong (January 2008) and probably Tibet after that - it's a probably as we haven't actually planned a route yet.
Richard has been busily updating his blog and I have added a comment or two of my own on my blog too (yes - how rare is that?)
For those of you in China experiencing the Great Firewall - you won't be able to access our blogs. You can get round this by using the surfonsteriods website - why not try it out!
Thursday 6th September, Seoul, South Korea
We been in Korea for a week now.
A couple of days ago Richard discovered a fab bike shop (UTL bicycle) with a wonderfully friendly owner so we thought we'd give it a plug! Not only was he friendly but he kindly helped us out and gave us some break pads for free! Website is only in Korean.
Friday 9th July 2007, Langfang, China
We were supposed to go to the Summer Palace today but when we woke up it was pouring down so we turned over and went back to sleep - how lazy is that?
For those of you who have been wondering why we've been updating our blogs and website even less than normal the simple fact is the Great Firewall of China. As our blog is hosted on blogger.com we can't access it at all. Our website seems to be sometimes accessible and sometimes not - I think it's probably due to the ISP we are using as in ZhengZhou we found we could access it at one cafe but not on our friends connection.
So... website will remain (of course!) - the blogs will remain as well but we are going to add a link to our facebook profile and blog from there as that seems accessible. Until I actually get round to adding the link to the menu here.....(don't hold your breath!)..our profile on facebook is Richard Velomad.
While I'm on the subject of website updating we'd like to say a big thank you to all our friends who responded to our last newsletter by offering to help us - all zero of you - you lazy sods ;-)
Ok - off to get some mushroom soup.
Wednesday 18th July 2007, Zhengzhou,郑州 China
It's sweltering -
here in the Henan province of Central China. Luckily we are
in an air conditioned apartment but there are a few mossies
that have snuck their way in - probably hid in our bags. As
usual we didn't head the original direction we intended and
instead of going to Beijing we headed south towards Xi'an.
We are on our way to Beijing now though, we hope to arrive
early (ish) August. We will then head to South Korea for
September and Japan for October to December. Not sure where
we will spend Xmas and the New Year - either Japan or back
Sunday 7th January 2006, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Greetings everyone. Happy New Year!
Apologies for being quiet for so long. Latest news is we're staying in UB until April so if anybody wants to come and visit we now have flat for you to stay in. It's not huge but bigger than our tent!
We have got jobs for the winter (decided to hibernate!) at the Santis Educational Centre so were teaching English. Can you imagine all the little Mongolians running around speaking English with French accents!
More soon but here's
a few photos of Mongolia for you - click on the thumbnails to
see them in more detail.
Friday 22nd September 2006, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Finally made it to UB! We've had a couple of weeks of gorgeous (as in hot!) weather but it's very cold & damp today. Apparently it will snow tomorrow - eek! But we are indoors - not in the tent so we may actually enjoy it! For the first time since we left England 5 months ago we couldn't find a host via the Hospitality Club or Couchsurfing (ironic that it's become soooo difficult to find hosts since we were made Ambassadors) so we've had to splash out and blow our budget to smithereens (which we can ill afford to do after recovering from Petrus's disappearance) and pay for a place to stay. We are in the Ghenngis Guesthouse - got to be worth it just for the name ;-) Very sweet lady landlord - $7 (normally $8) per person ut very clean and spacious with kitchen, table full size BATH!!! and unlimited hot - yes HOT water (forgotten what hot water was after Russia!)
Never got to visit Lake Baikal - only saw it as we passed it by train. What were we doing on a train? Well Richard's bike was stolen. If you want to know about that we suggest you subscribe to our newsletter (if you haven't already) as we'll be sending out an update about that soon.
Thursday 7th September 2006, Irkutsk, Russia
Just heard today that the English language Russian magazine Passport did a double page spread on us in their September issue. You can read it here.
Monday 3rd July 2006, St Petersburg, Russia
Yes still here... bad planning & simply not getting enough time to do the things we want. So many people are asking where we're going in Russia & when. Well we can give a rough idea of the where but not the when - as it always changes! We'll head to Novogorod on Wednesday, stay there a couple of days and then go for a little tour of the Golden Ring, then on to Moscow, down the Volga - not sure how far but definitely Saratov, maybe Volgograd, the Urals (no real idea where exactly yet), onwards to Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Tomsk & Lake Baikal from there we'll head into Mongolia.
28th June 2006, Gatchina, Russia
For some mad reason they let us across the border. In fact despite all the scare mongering stories we heard, the immigration officer was a sweetheart & kindly came & sat with us to go through the forms with us (as they were all in Russian of course & did our Lonely Planet Russian phrase book cover simple things like terms commonly found on migration cards? No of course not.) We wondered if we could perhaps use some of the other terms which ARE covered like….
“Let’s go to bed”, “use your tongue” or “Do you have a condom”?
Still, having crossed the border we still had to deal with the registration issue. Many scare stories banding about regarding registration & corrupt police fining you if you haven’t registered exactly according to their interpretation of the law. We may have managed to have sorted ours out – we have been assured that the stamp we got in St Petersburg is good for the whole 3 months we have in Russia & we don't need to get registered anywhere again. We'll see - not at all convinced. But luckily having "reserved" some USD at a bank in Tallinn the night before we were leaving Estonia (the next 3 days were a holiday in Estonia so no other opportunity to buy any foreign currency) we turned up & were told they had no USD left. So ....no money for bribes! Cool - one less thing to worry about.
For those who have been complaining we don't update our website please make sure you look at our blogs as these are being updated more regularly than this page. Richard's is in French and mine in English and are accessible from the menu on the left.
March 2006, Szczecin, Poland
THE LATEST .......
YES - we are back on the road!!!!
We actually left 31 Days ago from London and have whizzed thorough
France ('cos the ferry was cheaper to Calais of course), Belgium, The
Netherlands, Germany and today are in Szczecin Poland.
That's pronounced Shcheh-cheen by the way - I think it is some sort of
joke on the German's who are swarming over by the hoard full for the
cheap shopping - definitely comparable with Calais for the Brits. Yes -
wind them up with something totally unpronounceable to start with! It's
a joke on us after being used to the smooth bike paths of the
Netherlands and Germany. They call the cobblestones on the roads Cats
So many of you have asked where we are going, where we are etc.
OK we hope to spend about 3-4 weeks in Poland - vague route as
Szczecin via Pomerania to Gdańsk
via the lake strewn lowlands and Kashuby (according to legend the
characteristic hills and lakes were created by the footprints of
Then we'll head down to Malbork, Chelmno & Toruń
before heading to Nowe Miasto Lubawskie...
HALT! Why are we going to Nowe Miasto Lubawskie?
We keep getting asked this question every time we say it - we have a
friend there waiting to cycle with us to St Petersburg.
Then back up to the Warmia and Masuria lakelands before heading to Białowieża
National Park for a spot of Bison watching in the primeval forest - yes
some of the most ancient forests in the world.
Then back up to the Lithuanian border and bye bye Poland - hopefully
round about the 21st May.
LITHUANIA, LATVIA, ESTONIA - exact route to be worked out...but
hopefully crossing into RUSSIA round about 15th June
RUSSIA - St Petersburg (of course!), Moscow, Lake Baikal - only 3
months to cross! Will we make it? Cross to
MONGOLIA round about 15th September.
CHINA..... hopefully enter about the 15th October and pray it's
not already too cold to cycle!
We'll let you know later as we go along ok?
Take care everyone!
Monday, 27th February 2006, Châtellerault, France
Yes - we are back in France and I'm struggling with the French keyboard so no comments about errors!
Noticed that the Times online today reported that Britain's Olympic
cyclists have stated that they train abroad because of the "aggressive and abusive motorists".
Yes that's the BRITISH drivers they are talking about,
not those crazy French and Italian one's as the British so
frequently claim. "Some top athletes are so fed up with cyclists being treated as
“third-class” citizens that they prefer to train abroad in more
We can vouch for that. We've always commented on the appalling
behaviour that cyclists have to sustain from British car drivers
but it was only after getting back from Europe at the end of
last year we could see just how dreadful the drivers are in
England when compared to other European nations. If you are
interested in reading the article you can find it
Wednesday, 8th February 2006
A HUGE thank you to those of you who have already offered to
sponsor us and give a donation to one of our charities. Please click
here to go to the charity support page to make your
Sunday, 5th February 2006, London, UK
Cycling the world to raise funds for charity.
So many of our fellow cycling friends try to raise funds for charity
whilst they are on their cycling trips. After much nagging from Richard
I agreed we should to do the same.
Of course the news is constantly highlighting cases where charitable
donations are spent unwisely or simply squandered. Someone asked me a
few days ago "Is it true that the patron of a charity is entitled to 20%
of the income?"
Not all charities work this way and I definitely know one!
I used to be a Trustee of
Trade plus Aid
so I know that 100% of funds raised do actually go to the projects which
it funds. The charity does not have any employees and all the Trustees
do the work out of their own time. The only thing that the charity pays
for is it's bank charges and accountancy fees. It also is slightly
different than many charities as it basically works on the premise that
it aims to be self-sufficient, receiving funds,
not from the public, government nor aid programmes, but through the
promotion of ethical trade. Two companies have been set up Charlotte di
Vita Ltd and 21st Century Leaders Ltd which donate 100% of their net
profits to the charity.
So I got in touch with Trade plus Aid asking if they would accept any
funds we raised to go to environmental projects. Mine was a simple idea,
just pick an environmental project to raise funds for, advertise it on
our website and ask Trade plus Aid to accept the funds.
Of course Charlotte di Vita, the founder of Trade plus Aid and
Managering Director of
21st Century Leaders Ltd came up with a bigger and better idea - not
that that surprises me in the least having known her for 27 years now.
Her idea is for us to select not 1 charitable project but a whole
variety of them covering everything from environmental projects
(rainforest, climate change, marine conservation), human aid (children,
aids, amnesty international), wildlife (endangered species, etc) and
cycle round the world visiting the projects. Every month or so we'll
send out a newsletter on the latest project we've visited explaining
what has been done with the funds raised and how much has been raised to
So in the 2 weeks we have left to do we have a lot of work! We've got to
find projects, redesign our website, refit ourselves with some equipment
(some of our stuff has not managed to survive the 1st year and we have
another 5 to go!) Eeeekk!
To help us
21st Century Leaders will find sponsors for a "Click to donate"
concept. On their website
www.whateverittakes.org they will list our charities and people who
click on one of the projects will receive an e-card to send to their
friends. The e-cards will be based on the
artworks provided by the celebrities that have donated artworks to
21st Century Leaders Ltd. Celebrities include people such as
Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Billy Connolly the list just goes on and on!
So if anyone has any ideas on charitable projects to fund we'd love to
hear from you. We already have several in mind but the world's a big
place! You can contact us here.
Saturday, 28th January 2006, London, UK
Adjusting to London Life!
Well our friend Neil has been bawling
us out as to how out of date our website is. I have to hold my head in
shame as I've got no excuse. Richard is not to blame here - after being
back for a few days he received a phone call from his old boss asking
him to come in for a drink at the restaurant he used to work at.
Needless to say that after being plied with vast quantities of superb wine, he fell victim to
Otto's flattery and agreed to come back for a couple of weeks and help
out. More of a "PR exercise" than having to lug crates around as
Otto put it. He managed to persuade Richard that all the old customers
were constantly asking after Richard. Of course the reality is far from
true and poor Richard is working even more shifts than he used to do in
the old days, being paid less and is even too exhausted to respond to
friend's email on the weekend when he just wants to get some sleep and
recover. So apologies to all of you who have been emailing like made
over the last month and have had nothing but silence in return.
For those of you from London, if you haven't yet been to
in St Swithin's Lane (near Cannon Street) go now while you have the
chance to say hello to Richard! His last night is the 10th Feb. It is an
excellent restaurant with a fantastic selection of wines - constantly in
reviews and always in the top of reviews of restaurants with the best
Friday, 9th December 2005, Châtellerault, France
Firefox Rules but Trashes our Website!
OK as I'm not doing much Cycling at he moment I have been turning my
attention to my other great love - no not Richard, Computing.
I have been aware since Bologna that our website looks just
DREADFUL under Firefox.
You'd think my mum who looks at the website every day and has been using
firefox since forever could have actually mentioned it! What I wasn't aware of was that none of my folding text code works (eg
on the links page and the
By the way that reminds us. THE FAQ page is a bit thin at the moment. If
there's a question (or answer!) you'd like to see there let us know.
When we set the site up Firefox, had only been out a couple of months
and had absolutely no share in the market - well at least not in the
people looking at our site. Even 2 months ago it had only risen to a max
ever of 6%.
Imagine my shock when I looked the other day and saw the percentage had
risen to 31%. The worst thing is that since trying out Firefox myself -
I just love it! FIREFOX ROCKS! So I'm going to have to recode this website to comply
under W3C so that it can viewed properly under firefox - urrrrggg! Not
really got time for that - any volunteers?
On the point of changing ye old & faithful software.
Our junk mail account has started to fill up exactly with that. Well
it's done 2 years so it was a pretty good innings. So I thought, lets try
out a gmail account despite all the hype regarding privacy. I've got to
say it - despite all the fanfare - I prefer the yahoo user interface a
1000% more so I'll just stick to yahoo. Considering how google has been
so amazing at everything else they've turned their attention to, I'm
disappointed that they can't do something better. The only thing that
is slightly swaying my thoughts is that Gmail allows you not to access
your account for 9 months before they delete everything in it - yahoo
only allows you 3 or 4. Learnt from experience when we did our Tour de
Americas how painful it is to sign on and find out you've lost everything.
Saturday, 3rd December 2005,Châtellerault, France
Protesters from 30 countries unite to fight global warming.
The first worldwide demonstration on climate change is
today. Stop reading this and get out there! Britain is
backsliding on her environmental commitments. In 11 European
Union countries emissions have grown, not shrunk. In Japan,
emissions are nearly 18 per cent above target while in Canada
- host of United Nations conference this week that is supposed
to be tackling the issue - the gap is almost 30 per cent.
Tuesday, 29th November 2005,Châtellerault, France
I may be the slowest - but I'm not the heaviest.
I know I should really put this in the webblog section but ...
Today I stumbled across Josie Dews website - the first question she has
on her FAQ is How much weight are you carrying? It is a question we ourselves are always asked.
Everyone is always horrified by our response (Richard 80kgs & me 60kgs -
give or take) Very few cyclists we meet actually appear as heavily
loaded as we do ourselves. To my surprise she quotes 65 kilos.
Tuesday, 15th November 2005,Freiburg, Germany
Bike shop of your dreams.
We left off yesterday mentioning
This has got to be one of the best bike shops we've
Really. Not only do they seem to have absolutely everything we'd ever
desired (bike wise anyway!), they spoke fantastic English (which helped us
out a great deal - I don't suppose Kartoffel is a very useful word in a
bike shop), they were incredibly helpful and knew their stuff. Our
demands exceeded far more that anything related to bikes - I certainly
won't go into those - I'm sure they don't want every one of their
customers to be as demanding as us! But it really struck me the
comparison between for example Cycle Surgery in London - they have good
stuff (not nearly in the same league as Extratour), some of the guys
working there do know a bit about bikes (then again a lot don't) but to
be honest - they are really a load of stuck up arses who have a much
higher opinion of themselves than is justified. I base that judgment on
5 years of buying stuff from them - not just one visit. So a huge cheer
for the very modest Andreas and his teammates at Extratour.
See Daily Dairy for past entries.
Have patience with us! This website is currently in
construction and will always going to be a
"work-in-progress" as we'll be updating it as we go along.
So in 7 years time it should be complete! If you know anyone
who might like to maintain this website for us or even
translate it into French or Spanish please don't hesitate to
get in touch! You can contact us