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Why we have changed our cycling route

The plan we had originally announced would follow Iran was to go north through Central Asia and the Stans then across China and down into South East Asia.

This was actually our Plan B. We had initially hoped to stay south through Pakistan and into India. It’s more direct, warmer and held more interest to us. However, we quickly ruled our Pakistan after speaking to other cyclists who had visited (they all said it was great but the asides about burnt out buses and the like told us it was beyond our safety threshold). Sadly, as it turns out based on recent events there, this was almost certainly the right decision.

I don’t think we’d given much thought to an alternative to Central Asia for cycling (take a look at a map and, if you rule out Afghanist as well as Pakistan then you’ll see the options east of Iran are limited). Indeed, if you are committed to cycle every mile and only using transport across water when absolutely necessary then there aren’t any.

However, I think we both realised that we would much rather visit India than China (and border issues makes it hard for this to be anything but an either/or choice) and would prefer a quick return to friends and familiarity in the Gulf (we lived in Oman for 6 months in 2010-11) than more winter hardship and austerity in Central Asia, not to mention the extra visa faff and expense of that route.

Many have told us that the Stans are fantastic. I have no doubt that they are – I loved my time in Kyrgyzstan ten years ago – but different people like different things and it’s not possible to fit everything into a single trip.

And so it is that we are taking a boat to Dubai with the intention of, most likely, cycling to Muscat and taking a plane to the west coast of India (a boat would be preferable but is not viable by the sounds of things).

Recommendations for places to go or routes to follow in northern India are most welcome. From there, the plan is much the same: through South East Asia, boat/plane to Australia and then a possible victory tour across the US.

About the Author

Tim Moss has supported over 100 expeditions across all seven continents. He has climbed new mountains, crossed a desert and is currently cycling around the world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society London and a Guinness World Record Holder. He aims to encourage more people to live adventurously. Read more...

Comments (11)

  • Najeeb Ahmed Khan

    sadly but true, I agree with you unfortunately security situation in Baluchistan is not what one could imagine.
    Najeeb

    Reply
  • Andy Welch

    Good on you Tim. Its best to play it by ear and everyone is happy to follow the adventures wherever it takes you!

    Reply
  • bart

    Good decision. The goal is traveling and enjoying it. I bet in 10 years time you don’t even remember you skipped a ‘ little part ‘of your route’. Keep up the updates!

    Reply
  • Steve Crawford

    God decision. There’s supposed to be a *bit* of misery on any big bike ride, but spending your time in fear of your life is probably a bot too far.

    Reply
  • Kevin Post

    Have you thought of going to Baku, Azerbaijan and catch a ship to Kazakhstan? I can see why you ruled out Turkmenistan, I’ve heard horror stories of heavily bureaucratic visa processes and high costs just to pass through the country let alone ride a bike which I think is prohibited without a state sponsored guide (DPRK ring a bell?).

    Look at it this way Tim, you’re riding bikes across Iran and, as an American, I envy you for that opportunity that I will not have for a long time.

    It will be nice visiting a place you once lived no?

    Reply
  • Kieran @ DownhillFromHere

    Making route decisions such as these are never easy, whichever route you choose to take you will feel that you are missing out on something or somewhere, especially when travelling by bike!

    We are also currently deciding whether to go up through the Stans or catch the plane to India, although for us it is difficult to ignore the allure of the Stans

    As you said, different people want different things from their trip, make the decision which is right for you, stick to it and dont let anybody tell you otherwise!

    Reply
  • Purak Ahmadpanah

    Hi Tim,

    first and foremost I wish you all the success in the world on your journey. May your path be a great adventure that is both uplifting and enlightening.

    I am also planning a bike trip from Europe to far East Asia, and I am finding myself in the same situation, and would really appreciate some hints and tips from a fellow recent traveller. I have written to Iranian Tourism and hope to hear from hem soon. However I am very keen to know how it went for you. I think sadly Pakistan will have to be bypassed, which only leaves the option of going north of Afghanistan (no thanks) or the ferry to EAU then across to India. I have heard that this is a much more expensive option though!!!

    Anyway, good luck and keep us posted.
    P

    Reply
    • Tim Moss

      Hi Purak, thanks for the message. Your trip sounds cool. Ferry Iran-UAE was £30, a flight Muscat-India was £70 so not too bad. Iranian visa wasn’t complicated and it’s a very easy place to travel. Just shout if you have any specific questions.

      Reply
  • Pablo

    Hello Tim,

    We are cycling around the world, slowly, with very limited resources (we are spending less than 5€ a day). No rush, no plans… We are thinking what to do after Iran, and how to do it.

    How much luggage could you carry from Muscat to India for that price? We are cycling quite heavy (my bike is 70 kilos), where could I find all the info about it? Do you recommend your choice?

    I was thinking may be to follow your steps into India, go to Nepal and back to india (if I can get the double entry visa) and try to make the crossing to Myanmar from India to follow into Thailand.

    I am a bit worried about taking planes with our bicycles and luggage. And we wanted to avoid it, but it seems to be a smarter choice than crossing all the stans and going through all the trouble and expenses of the visas there.

    Reply
    • Tim Moss

      Hey Pablo, great that you’re thinking about taking the UAE/Oman route. Oman in particular is beautiful. We had about 45kg or so I think. We got away without paying any extra for luggage. To find out how much you’re allowed, just check the airline’s website. They always have information about how much an Extra Bag or Sports Equipment costs. We’ve taken five flights now and, as long as you book in advance, it shouldn’t be too expensive.

      The India, Nepal, Myanmar plan sounds great. I’ve heard about the border opening up from the other side (from Thailand into Myanmar) so I hope it opens for you going east.

      I’ve just sent you an email with more info about the UAE and Oman. Hope it helps!

      Tim.

      Reply

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