Since completing the journey I've had some time to reflect on everything that happened. I still feel that there is a lot to reflect on but for now this is what I've taken from the trip. Most of these are well known sayings, but to experience them first hand is different to just hearing it from someone else.
One step at a time
I remember the mornings of waking up knowing that I had to face a 2000m climb. It often felt overwhelming to think of what I had to face. We broke the climb up into sections, taking it 300m of altitude gain at a time. Taking short breaks between and then taking on the next 300m. One step at at time.
Rest brings perspective
Some nights when we reached our accommodation, I felt like I didn't want to carry on any longer. Not that I felt I couldn't, but I felt that I didn't want to. Why was I doing this? What am I trying to prove? This is ridiculous! All these types of questions came into my head. But it really wasn't the time to make any trip changing decisions. After some food, and a nights rest, it’s amazing how my perspective had changed. In the morning, I’d still be in the same situation as I was before, but I felt differently about it all.
Remember the reason you started.
During the trip, I received notifications on my phone when people made donations to aid the people of Nepal after the earthquake devastation. It’s amazing how often I happened to get those notifications at the exact moments when I was feeling tired or down. They really helped to remind me why I was doing this in the first place. Yes, I was doing it because I enjoy a challenge and the adventure of what we were doing, but It also helped to remember all the people I would be helping in the process.
Support of your family
Support of your family, your wife, your partner is incredibly important. The latter I would say is the most important.
My wife wrote me this letter when I left and I read it every day.
"There are days that are going to be tough, there are going to be days when you can't remember why you started this journey in the first place and today might even be one of those days but you know the mantra for days like those - never give up. Never, ever give up! I am so incredibly proud of you and am behind you ever step (or pedal) of the way."
I can honestly say without the constant support from Megan this trip would have been exponentially harder. There was so much thinking time, especially on long days, and if I had extra worries about her weighing down on my shoulders during the trip it would have made things near impossible to get through.
The people make the journey.
Cycling across countries and seeing beautiful places is great, but it was the people we met and their kindness that blew me away. In Bhutan we had cars stopping and giving us water, friends joining us for a half a day cycle and even lowering their seats on their bike so that they could feel a bit of what I was going through! We were taken in by the principal of a school because we had nowhere to stay that night. He provided us with food and brought us hot tea before we went to bed.
In India, we had so many chats with people cycling along side us on their way to the places they were riding to. We got asked by Indian army men to add them on Facebook so we could let them know if we had any problems and they would sort them out. People paid for our dinner and had a beer with us.
In Nepal, the immigration guards were incredibly friendly and helpful. People all along the route constantly let us know how far the next town was, whether or not there are hotels there etc. People seemed to love hearing we were from South Africa as that brought up the current cricket matches taking place with India.
Keep it simple.
The very nature of the trip was to keep it simple. A BMX is an extremely simple bicycle: single speed so no gears and only one break and a rear calliper break that didn't do much but slow me down - to stop in any hurry meant I'd have to put my foot on my front tire! We had to carry all of our gear as well as winter and summer clothes. I only took 2 sets of clothes, and washed the one set every day. I really wanted to film the trip so that meant taking my camera gear with too. I decided to keep things simple and just take one lens. The simple routine of waking up, packing, cycling, eating, washing clothes, and sleeping was so basic but refreshing. Keeping our gear as light and simple as possible allowed us not to be held down, and allowed us to have more energy to focus on enjoying the journey.
It also didn't cost us an arm and a leg to do this. We often bought bread and bananas and carried that for lunch. We slept at local accommodation or peoples houses and avoided fancy hotels at all costs!
Not everything has been done before.
There have been countless people who have said ‘Oh, but everything has been done these days!’ . ‘You can find out anything in Google and nothing is left to be discovered.’ This may be a view of some people out there but it’s totally untrue. There are still things out there that have not been done, or have zero information about. I couldn't find any information about anything to do with long distance bmx riding. I didn't know how it would affect my body. Whether or not I would actually be injuring myself by doing this on a daily bases. If it would actually be possible for me to do the long kilometres per day to get to Kathmandu before my dads flight. If the bike would actually last. How hectic the weather would be. The safety concerns entering Nepal during their political unrest. There were so many unknowns for this trip. There were unknowns on a personal level too. Other than shorter one day cycles, I had only every cycled for two continuous days previously. How would I manage doing 23 days? How would I personally cope with the daily challenge of what I had to do?
Even if something has been done by someone else, the fact that it has not been done by you, means its putting you into the unknown. The same unknown that people faced when climbing Everest for the first time, sailing across oceans etc. How ever small your challenge is, the fact that you have not done it before means its never been done by you and that that makes it unique.
If you can dream, you can do it.
This really comes down to deciding to do something, taking action and putting the plans into place to make it happen. When I've seen people doing cool things, I've often imagined how they must have been “those kind of people” and how it possibly just came naturally to them and things worked out for them quite easily. When in fact, it’s just about making a choice. When thinking about this BMX trip, it became a reality when I decided to do it. I set a date. Once I had committed to the date, then it was a matter of starting to plan things. What do I need to do this? A BMX - okay ,where can I get a BMX from? How much will it cost? Step by step things were checked off a long list of things that needed to be done before we started. And the next thing I knew, we were heading out to start the journey.
Just do it
Its important to have a plan (very important) and the better you prepare the better your chances are of success, but it may be impossible to have everything checked off the list before you start and you will just need to do it without everything being done.
Getting a BMX was the only real essential gear item for this trip to happen - I can't do BMXforNepal without a BMX now can I? Living in Bhutan may also be one of the most isolated places to get a BMX delivered to is also what I found out!
Firstly, the guys at Haro BMX in the USA agreed to sponsor a BMX for my for the ride, but getting it to Bhutan in time turned out to be impossible. I tried every way I could imagine from asking people to bring it with their luggage, to considering to pay more than what the bike costs in courier fees! It was like hitting a wall.
My next option was sourcing a BMX in India, which to anyone who has ever tried to order something online in India before would know what an incredible challenge it is. There were emails after emails with no response, and one which said it would be impossible to send it over the Bhutan border. Things were really starting to look down. Some more digging later, I eventually found a bike shop near the Bhutan border who could order a BMX for me. My dad would collect it on his way in to Bhutan. The bike looked great online, but I would not have any chance to use it until two days before we had to leave!
When I finally got the bike, there were clearly things that were not going to be ideal. It only had one break, not something you want when descending 3000m passes. The saddle was fused to the seat post which meant I could not adjust the angle of the saddle. Then, to my horror, when I tried to raise the seat, it came completely out with no more stem left! Even my last BMX had a seat post stem twice the length of this one! It would literally be impossible for me to sit down at all, except for the few descents. I literally decided to just do it, even though the bike was not 100% what I imagined or what I thought I would need, I had to just do it.
When planning an adventure or really just in life, there are things that will probably not be exactly as you planned, but that is all part of the challenge. It doesn't mean you can't do it.
For me adventure means going into the unknown. This is not something just available for adventurers crossing oceans and climbing 8000m peaks or cycling a BMX across Bhutan. It’s out there for everyone to take on.
Just think about what going into the unknown means to you - is that taking on a new job? Moving to a new town? Deciding to start a family? Asking that girl/guy out? Working abroad?
The incredible thing about going into the unknown is it opens countless doors in your life. Doors to new experiences and opportunities. The opportunity to learn, live and love. Be an adventurer! Don't let your dreams stay dreams. Chase them - no matter how ridiculous they might be!
A BMX is really not designed for long distance riding and is extremely uncomfortable for doing this kind of cycle!
Thank you so much to everyone for their encouragement, messages of support and donations! In total we were able to raise (updated 6Nov2015): R7700 ($840 NZD) towards the Himalayan's Trust's Earthquake relief efforts. A bit short of my slightly ambitious goal but every bit counts! So thank you very very much!
***SEE UPDATE BELOW
***First Full Country Crossing on a BMX - Bhutan Crossed from East to West.
***Farthest Distance cycled on a BMX - 1674 km (Previous known record on a BMX is 1500km)
***Most elevation climbed on a BMX - 22 368m
*I recorded each day's riding with my Suunto Ambit 2 Watch. All data can be found here. (View the month of October 2015)
***These are unofficial records. I've searched my heart out to find people who have done long distance BMX rides and only found one.However, if you know of someone who has cycled further and climbed more altitude than me on a BMX, please send them my way so I can buy them a beer :)
***UPDATE - I found a guy cycling a BMX...around the world!! What a legend - check out his blog here - http://rideabmxaroundtheworld.blogspot.com/?m=0
I will add, my BMX was completed unmodified. I used it as is, out of the box. I didn't change the legnth of the seat post or the gear ratio. The bike also only came with a rear break, so I used my foot on the front wheel during steep downhills. Full specs of my bike can be found here .
- Days to complete - 23
- Total Distance - 1674 km (Previous known record on a BMX is 1500km)
- Total Elevation Gain - 22 368m (Everest twice, plus 80% of Kilimanjaro )
- HRS of cycling - 152:30
- Maximum Speed - 52.9km/h
- Highest Alt Reached - 3819m
- Lowest Alt Reached - 73m
- Most Km in a Day - 105km
- Most Climbing in one day - 2049m
- Flat tyres - 1 (due to a nail in the road)
- Cups of Tea - 115 (each)
- Bowls of Rice - A lot!
- 25hrs of Video Footage Filmed
- 6000 Photos Captured
- Gear I Lost - 2 Canon Batteries, 1 Buff, 1 Pair of Oakley Sunglasses
I'm still reflecting on the trip and should be posting something about my experience of it in the next few days.
My dad sent me this link of a great documentary of the Nepal Earthquakes from April and May this year. Give it a watch when you have some time.
A huge thank you for all the messages of support, and if you have made a donation than you very much!
We are aiming to raise $5000! So that means, we need $3/KM we ride to be donated to reach the target.
I've come up with some ideas to say thank you for your donation :)
Your name will be added to the list of people who contributed to #BMXForNepal on our website as well as in the credits of our documentary.
- Your name on the list.
- I'll post a photo of me holding a sign during the ride saying sometime like this: "The 100th km was sponsored by Brendan from Cape Town, Thank you, you legend!"
- Your name on the list
- I'll post a video during the ride saying thank you to you personally for the donation.
- Your name on the list
- A video post to thank you
- A photograph taken on the trip mailed to your address.
- Your name on the list
- A video post to thank you
- Mailed photograph
- First access to the documentary film.
- Your name on the list
- Video post to thank you
- Mailed photograph
- First access to the documentary film
- Skype video chat after our ride where you can chat to me about the trip (or if you are in the same area I am I'll come meet you for coffee )
Donate more than $50
That would be incredible and I'll come up with an awesome way to say thank you!
Donate to Us
Secondly, as our expedition is totally self funded, there are some costs we need to cover. This is what we need to make this possible:
- BMX - $400.
- BMX Extras. Spare tire, helmet, a bike tool,full finger gloves, and a spare tube. $100
- Living costs. We estimate it will take us about 3 - 4 weeks to complete this expedition. I've worked out that to cover our daily accommodation costs, food, snacks, water, and my flight back to Bhutan from Nepal we are looking at a total of $1000 for the both of us for the 4 weeks of traveling
Total estimated costs - $1500
Please donate by clicking on the DONATE button below. Once you have made a donation please fill in this form so I can keep a list and make sure the donation goes to the right place!
Donations made without filling in the form will be assumed they are going to the Himalayan Trust Earthquake Relief fund.
Made a donation? Thank you! Please fill in this form
So what's up?
This is the basic idea. On the 1st of October 2015, I'm going to be cycling a BMX across Bhutan, through part of India, into Nepal and finishing in Kathmandu. At total distance of over 1700km, crossing multiple mountain passes over 3500m. My dad will be joining on a more sensible mode of transport, a mountain bike.
I've Googled my heart out trying to find someone else who has cycled a BMX as far as this and have been unsuccessful. So unless someone comes forward, this will be the
- Farthest distance cycled on a BMX.
- First full country crossing on a BMX (Crossing the entire country of Bhutan)
- Distance - 1722KM/1070mi
- Crossing 5 mountain passes above 3000m.
- Crossing the two highest road passes in Bhutan (over 3800m each)
What makes this difficult?
A BMX is MUCH smaller than a normal mountain bike and is not designed to be cycled a long distance - zero comfort factor.
A BMX is a single speed bike and has no gears to make pedalling easier.
A BMX has very small wheels and is not good at high speeds - huge risk of speed wobbles!
Altitude - we will be crossing multiple mountain passes over 3000m in altitude. The air is thin up there which makes breathing tough!
Why would I be doing this?!
First of all, because it's going to be awesome! Secondly and the real reason why: My wife and I have been volunteering in Bhutan this past year. She is a teacher and I am a photographer. When the earthquake hit Nepal, we felt it. It was unfathomable to think that the moment we felt the small shaking, thousands of people lost their lives, loved ones and homes. This expedition will help support schools damaged by the earthquake. All funds raised will go to the New Zealand non-profit organization, The Himalayan Trust.
How to help the schools
We are looking for organizations, large companies or individuals to pledge a donation per km. My goal is to raise $5000! Personal donations can be submitted through the button below. Even small amounts will make a difference!
Where do the funds go exactly?
All funds raised will be going to the New Zealand non profit organisation, The Himalayan Trust who are currently busy with projects in Nepal.
Sir Edmund Hillary founded the Himalayan Trust in 1960, and ever since then we have been working alongside our friends and partner organisations in Nepal to help the people of the Everest region with health, education and general wellbeing. We are an international non-profit humanitarian organisation working in the Solukhumbu region of Nepal—an area where Sir Ed first set off to climb Mt Everest and where he ended up spending many years over his lifetime.
How can you assist in making this expedition happen?
No matter if you donated or not, please share this page with your friends and family. The more exposure we can create, the more funds we can raise for the schools of Nepal!
Secondly, as our expedition is totally self funded, there are some costs we need to cover as well as some gear we need for the trip. This is what we need to make this possible:
- 1 x BMX. This is the only essential piece of gear that we need to make this happen! $400
- BMX Extras. Along with the BMX, I need to get a spare tire, helmet, a bike tool,full finger gloves, and a spare tube. Roughly $100 for those extras.
- $$$ . We estimate it will take us about 3 - 4 weeks to complete this expedition. I've worked out that to cover our daily accommodation costs, food, snacks, water, and my flight back to Bhutan from Nepal we are looking at a total of $1000 for the both of us for the 4 weeks of traveling
Total estimated costs - $1500
If you are able to help cover the costs of the expedition, click on the Donate button below and make a contribution through PayPal. Please note! This button will make a payment to ME to fund the expedition and NOT to the Nepal Earthquake cause! That link is above.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about my project and for any support, whether financial or emotional, thank you!