Itchy-wheels

I’ve got the power! Zzing…

Hi all,

As I am preparing my next project I’m also looking for better ways to charge the batteries for all the electronics I carry. The home-made battery charger is OK but very fragile and I had lots of problems during the trip.

Not anymore! Thanks to kind sponsoring by Zzing I now have a very fancy, beautiful battery charger! Thank you Zzing team :)

So how does it work? The package is delivered in a stylish wooden box and contains the Zzing and the components to install the Zzing on the bicycle. The Zzing itself can be easily removed using a mounting system so you can take it with you.
The Zzing contains an accupack (5x 2400 or 2700 NiMh) which charges all kind of equipment by using an USB-Out located at the left side on the front. In the middle you can find a bright LED light so you can use it as a torch. On the far right it has a power-in, which connects to the dynamo (hub -or rim).

When you’re cycling the power can be used directly to charge all kind of equipment but because of the accu you can also charge when you’re not cycling. Additionally the Zzing can be charged using an AC-adapter so it is also very neat to have when you stay in hotels irregularly when backpacking :)

The following weeks I’ll buy the cables etc to charge my mobile phone, camera, AA batteries and GPS over USB and start testing. I’ll also torture the Zzing in Bayreuth the coming months on offroad tours to test if it would survive the harsh conditions encountered during my journeys.

So stay tuned!
Marc

Recordings

Hi all!

During my travels I always use a voice recorder as I am to lazy to keep a diary. The last week I finally listened to all of them and I want to share some of them with you. They show the hardship and adventures (including bureaucratic ones) I had during my travels and my opinion about the people and countries I travelled through. It is all very personal and sometimes my opinion is very colored (see India) so don’t feel offended. I hope you all get an idea what makes me ‘tick’ as a world cyclist and what kind of experiences you get when cycling over the world. The recordings are in dutch.

Have fun :-)

Why I prefer to cycle:

Russian soldiers at the Afgani border:

Fighting my way up through the storm on the Kyzal Art pass (4289m):

Small sample of the incredible Chinese Buro-crazy ;-) :

Beautiful hell of Tibet, climbing the Lhakpa La (5252m!) in an ice-storm:

First impressions of Nepal-paradise after 1.5 months icecold and remote Tibet:

Crazy India, an example after 24h waiting on the train and finally getting my bicycle:

Cycling in Mombay, India, on a big road and how to find a hotel ;-) :

Some cycling

Hi all!

There’s not a lot of news on the cycling front at the moment as I am working hard to finish my PhD.
I still had a little time to cycle however, and I attended various world-cyclist meetings in the weekends to give talks and to gather information for my next journey. I won’t tell you my destination yet but it’s going to be very sandy, very hot, very dry and very though :-) Oh, and camels will likely be involved at some point, too…

Last week I received the travellog of Toon (thanks!) and I am now working on the roadbook of my journey with detailed information for future travelers. It’s a lot of work so it will take some time to complete as my PhD thesis has priority at the moment.

However, the moving of the website is going well. Thanks to kindly sponsoring by Solid Hosting I now have my own domain at http://www.itchywheels.nl, hoooray! At the moment you’ll get linked back to this site but that will change within the next months (insallah).
I also added a link to the (german) website of the dynamo battery charger. It is a great piece of equipment to have as it makes you independent of power sources when traveling remote places on earth. You “only” have to cycle to charge the batteries. Have fun building one and don’t blow the fuses please ;-)

In the meantime enjoy the pictures of the German world-cyclist weekend in Dahn and the Dutch world-cyclist weekends in Twente and Leersum. The pics are not that special but now you’ll see that I’m not the only looney out there ;-)

Marc

Movin’ n’ Groovin’

Hi all!

The website had some small updates today. I added my previous travels and some sponsor links and removed some small mistakes.
Furthermore I uploaded the Google Earth KMZ file with all the locations where you can find water (W) and food (F) between Tabriz and Theran (Iran). I hope it will be of some use for the highway cyclists.

As I have received various complaints that the web address was hard to remember I decided to move. Thanks to Solid Hosting I will move to a new address soon: http://www.itchywheels.nl. My very own domain, hooray :-)
Moving will take some time and as we will upgrade the site to a newer version there might be some downtime of this website. But it will be back leaner and meaner than ever :-)
In the meantime feel free to enjoy my previous travels through Scotland and Ireland and Jordan and Egypt. It is both in Dutch and English.

Have fun and don’t forget to check now and then!
Marc

Talk

Hi all,

A lot has happened since the last update so here goes.

The last weeks I have been busy organising all the paperwork after coming back to Germany. I had to renew my insurance, work permit etc etc. Lots of work but peanuts compared to the central asian burocrasy :-)

Furthermore I worked on my talk and after sorting through 5000+ photos it is finished now. I already have some talks planned. You can find them on the lefthand side under ‘Talks’.

The google earth file is almost ready and I am now finishing up the last bits. I want to geo-tag my pictures so you all can see the pictures in google earth but it will take some time.

So stay tuned for the next update!

Marc

Sheldon Brown: 1944-2008

Hi all,

Today I heard about the death of Sheldon Brown, famous cycle- mechanic guru.
The last years he suffered from progressive MS but despite this disease he remained optimistic and still hit the road using his nifty Greenspeed Trike.
He died of an heart attack on 03-02-08.

I learned a lot about bike mechanics from his website and I and the cycling community ow a lot of our knowledge to his extensive bicycle glossary
I really loved his optimistic view of the world and his humor; especially his Fools day jokes were marvelous. I even considered taking his ‘cycling helmet’  and ‘credit card’ with me on my journey :-)

He will be missed

Marc

 

 

Cracking Koga

Gute morgen all!

I just received an email from Toon from Louang Prabang (Laos) that the frame of his (aluminium) Koga has cracked (near the left back axle) a few days ago. He will go to Bangkok to buy a new bike (most likely a Trek) to complete the last two months of his journey so stay tuned…

I myself am back in the ‘Heimat’ again after some relaxing weeks in the Netherlands. I visited the hospital to get myself checked and according to the doctor I am ‘clean’ but the toilet thinks differently though :-) The docor thinks that because of the duration of the diareah, the hardship, foreign food and medicine the bacteria are not in balance anymore. So the following months I will have to build it all up again. Yogurt here I come :-)

In the meantime I am preparing a talk about my journey and working on my promotion but if I have time I’ll surely hit the road for some adventures. The google earth file of my trip is almost ready and I’ll put it online ASAP so don’t forget to have a look now and then :-)

Grüsse,
Marc

Ferry tales and Home again

Goedemorgen all!

Sorry for the late update but it has been a very hectic time.

I spend the last days in India and my worldtour cycling from Arambol to Mumbay from ferry station to ferry station following small traffic free (finally!) coastal roads. The winding roads led me through beautiful tropical beaches, hidden mangrove coves and piraty fishermen villages where I frequently had to take the most weird ferries to cross the rivers and bays. The road was more tiring than I had expected as especially in the south the road  ascends to a 125m high plateau and then down to see level again and again and again. So in the end I still had to climb 1000m a day and with the humidity and the heat it was very tiring. But then again, the beautiful people, villages, bays and views over the Indian ocean made it the best part of India I have cycled. I can recommend this coastal trip to everyone :-)

But all nice things end and on January 8th I arrived in the rotting, stinking, slimy and slummy 20 Million people hell of Mombay. The first thing I noticed was the penetrating STENCH, a mixture of rotting garbage, dead animal, shit, beggars and the fumes of the tuktuks. Disgusting.
I staid in the Travellers inn but the hotel management was less than friendly and for the first time on my whole worldtour I had to make a small fight with the owner before I was allowed to take my bike into the hotel.
Unfortunately I had been stupid enough to leave my hip belt with valuables (money, credit card etc) on the hotel desk and when I came back 10 minutes later ALL my money was missing. I am sure it must have been somebody from the staff as they were the only ones who knew what was in there. I cannot prove it though but BEWARE of that place.

I was thus more than happy to fly to Istanbul on January 9th but unfortunately the weather was quite bad so I decided to relax at the airport to get used to the western life again. On the 10th I finally flew to Dusseldorf were my parents and friends were waiting for me. A BIG thanks to Mark, Jeroen and the parents for helping me with my huge bike and crazy amount of luggage :-)

The last days I have been working in my spare time on a huuuuge google earth file where you can see the route I travelled (in 3D, wooohooo :-) ) WITH pictures and more nifty updates are coming in the next weeks. I will have a lot of  work to do in Germany the next period (promotion, paperwork etc etc) but I’ll try my best.
So stay tuned and in the meantime enjoy the last  pictures of nuthouse India.

Marc

Go go Goa!

A happy 2008 from Arambol, Goa, Idia :-)

After some marvelous days in Pokhara I headed for Royal Bardia National Park together with Johannes, a German cyclist I know from Kyrgyzstan, and it was great fun to cycle with him again.
The road to the Terai plains was steep and followed the slopes of the mountains from one valley to another (Nepalis don’t like to build bridges) through small villages full with friendly Nepalis and namaste shouting and jumping kids. After a few days we said goodbye to the Himalaya on the back-horizon and the landscape slowly changed with wide views over the Terai. Upon reaching Butwal at the edge of the Terai cycling became easier as the road was good and flat like a pancake. The roads lead through rice fields and wild jungles full with the most beautiful butterflies I have ever seen and LOTS of monkeys. The jungle is littered with small villages and in this remote part of Nepal the people and especially the children are VERY curious and in every village we stopped we were immediately surrounded by big crowds, so it was a big circus 24h a day with us in the ring :-)

Upon reaching Bardia National Park we took some days of to relax and to visit the park, the biggest of its kind in Nepal. The second day we went rafting on the big river flowing through the park and we were really lucky that day as we saw the rare Gangic Dolphin, a wild elephant and tons of birds, deer and monkeys (Macaques and Lemur).
The next day Johannes took it easy and I went with the hotel owner for a jungle walk hoping to find the illustrious tiger, rhino and wild elephant. We were not so lucky though although we found a big Python (I almost sat on it, easy bate) and tiger and jackal tracks and lots of deer. The afternoon I had a ride on an elephant as this enables me to travel deep into the jungle and to access places I could not reach by walking. We found tracks from crocodiles and rhino’s but the animals themselves probably laughed at us behind the bushes as we could not find them. Better luck next time.

From Bardia it was only 3 days to the border and the roads became more and more crowded and most of the days we were followed by hordes of cyclists taking us over and vise versa (you just CAN’T beat a world cyclist :-) ). This game would repeat itself each village and though it was great fun it became very tiring in the end and in the evening we were more than happy to turn into a hotel and after squatting 20+ mosquitoes we fell asleep.

When we approached the border we saw more and more signs of maoist activity (checkpoints and camps) but we just said namaste as we flew by the baffled maoist kiddies towards India. The border crossing at was easy and on the 16th we set feet on Indian’s sticky goo (it’s definitely NOT soil).

So welcome to NUTHOUSE India!

Our goal was Goa as there we were supposed to meet our cycling friends for Christmas and the first two days we cycled through the sugar cane filled planes of northern India on pothole roads filled with suicidal Indian drivers, cows, dogs, tuk tuks towards Bareilly. But as Christmas was approaching fast and because of all the traffic we decided to take the train to Delhi and after loading our bicycles into the train in Bareilly we headed for Delhi, the capital of Nutsistan (better known as India). There the problems started as we wanted to depart at the same day for Bombay and because of this we did not have time to buy our ticket as the station as the rows at the counters are long enough to raise a family while you wait. So I decided to buy a ticket at one of the shady “tourist offices” opposite the station” and I managed to arrange the tickets there. However, though they are fully legal, they RIP YOU OF BIG TIME if you are not careful so BEWARE (I paid 10E to much). 

The next obstacle was to load our bicycles on the train as it was already full when we arrived but they promised us to load them on the same train we were traveling with (never believe an Indian) but upon arrival at 1 o’ clock in Mombay after a 26h (!) ride there were no bikes!
Then the circus started but good. They told us that the bikes were on the train arriving at 5 in the morning so after a short nap at the station we returned but no bikes. Now the bikes would be on the next train arriving at 10 but again no bikes. This “game” continued day long with wrong and contradicting information day long (Indians just don’t know what they do or say, they are a bunch of chaotic kids) but finally, after more than 12h waiting, at 10’ clock in the evening our bicycles arrived safely, hooray :-) I made a recording of the Mombay station circus so have fun!

The next day we cycled for more than 70km through Mombay and the surrounding cities on our way to Goa. Mombay (20 million inhabitants!) is a huge stinky collection of slums and apartment buildings filled with stinking traffic crisscrossing the roads and in the afternoon we were thus covered in a thick layer of soot. Finding a hotel was more difficult than expected as we were only allowed to stay in hotels “appointed for foreigners”. Now, that’s just GREAT as these hotels are far in between and we were tired but we managed to find a cheap lodge in the end. So in India they do not only discriminate their own people (caste system) but also the visitors! I don’t mind paying more than the locals but 10 times as much, what do they think!?
As we got fed up with this, the traffic, the heat and as I had “problems” again we took a truck for the final part to Goa and with Christmas evening we arrived in Arambol at the shores of the Indian Ocean.

Arambol is a relaxed (woodbe) hippy and rasta village and a place of drugs, drugs and rockn’ roll (and more drugs) so in the evening it’s best to stay away from the beach as it full with high/low/trance and whatnot wannabe rastas and hippies. During the day however it’s a great place to hang out and the last days I relaxed under the palm trees, updated the website (always a LOT of work but I like to take you with me on the journey :-) ) and celebrated Christmas with my cycling friends but, although nice, I missed my friends and family a lot (so you know :-) )
Yesterday I organized my ticket back home as for me my cycling days and adventures are almost over as I will fly back home on January 9th and will arrive in Dusseldorf at January 10th at 10:30 with flight TK1523 (Turkish Airlines). From there I will travel to my parents for a few weeks of acclimation (culture shock!) and in February I plan to be in Germany again as my thesis and a lot of paperwork is awaiting me.

In the meantime I will cycle back to Mombay following a (hopefully) quieter road so stay tuned and perhaps the next update will be from the Netherlands! In the meantime enjoy the pictures from Nepal and India. I’m off to the cliffs to take some pics of the sea life so Namaskar!
Marc 

Slightly Flat

Namaste all!

Marc here from Bombay, India, between 20 million lunatic suicidal driving Indians (yikes!). We will leave tomorrow for Goa to celebrate Christmas with lots of other world cyclist so we are quite in a hurry now. The Indian Railways however managed to put mine and Johannis’ bicycle (I travel with Johannis’ since Pokhara) on the wrong train (what else can you expect here) so we have to wait for the bikes but hopefully we will have them this afternoon (please pray to Shiva, Vishnu, Ganish and all the 150+ Hindu gods please :) ).

In Goa I will put the pics online and tell some more about our adventures in Bardia National Park (I saw Ganges Dolphins, a wild Elephant  and a 3 meter  python, I almost ended up as its lunch) and the rest of Nepal (no Maoists) and crazy India. The road was mountainous in Nepal in the beginning but upon reaching the Terai and in India the road was ’slightly flat’ as one ‘bright’ Nepali remarked. It is either flat or not but here everything is possible. It’s a big circus with us in the middle and we are having a great time but at times it can get very tiring, especially here in India.

Parcels etc you can best send to my parents as I don’t know where I will end up in Goa and the parcel -post is unreliable down here. The address is:
J. Steigenga
Torenlaan 31
3043 BP Rotterdam,
The Netherlands.

See you in Goa so stay tuned, a big hug and a Yohoho Mary Christmas to all!

Marc

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