World Cycle Route

In September 2014 I left my job of 16 years at Philips and started a trip following my dream. The last 21 years I have lived in Europe – in the Netherlands and Germany, and now it is time to go home. Home to Australia. In Europe I have learnt to love cycling. What better way to finish the European chapter of my life and enter the next than by cycling home?

Here is where I have cycled up to Quorn (Australia) (September 2016).

Eindhoven to Quorn

Eindhoven to Quorn

This was my originally planned route.

World Cycle Trip 2014-2016

World Cycle Trip 2014-2016

I also would like my trip to have more meaning. Together with some friends, we have created Green Pedals – a movement to promote the topics of sustainability and health in our schools around the world. It aims to maintain a dialogue on sustainability, organise activities to encourage engagement in the environment and health, and work with schools to build sustainable infrastructure that exemplifies sustainability, stimulating engagement and ownership of this topic in local communities.

You can read the blog entries of my trip, divided into countries, by searching for the country you are interested in in the drop-down list on the left.

Alternatively, I have collected together the blog entries of the European part of the blog, divided into countries below. You can also see the planned route for the rest of the trip.

Comments
  1. Martin from Twisting Spokes says:

    Hi Matthew, You have really worked hard on your route, it looks good! Don’t forget that you cannot predict future and coincidence will also play a role. Happy days on the road 🙂

    • Hi Martin.
      Good to hear from you! All the best. You are going through the Alps soon. Very beautiful!

      Of course, my route can and will change while en route. Part of the fun of such a trip is the preparation. It gets me really excited. In doing this kind of preparation, I know more of what is out there to see, and get lots of tips. It just makes the trip better.
      The most fun part of trips like this, though, are the things that you don’t plan. There will be lots of those, and that is awesome!

      All the best! I am following you!

      Matthew

      • Martin from Twisting Spokes says:

        Good stuff, we are now with a nice warmshowers host near Friedrichshafen, soon the Alps and snow will be great. Yes preparations are great and we all have our own ways. Maybe you can give us tips along the way:)

      • Well, my latest tip is don’t talk about Macedonia (FYRoM) as just Macedonia in Greece. I got into a bit of trouble about this on a Greek cycling forum.. I have now learned more about the sensitivities here..
        http://www.podilates.gr/node/34411

        I will be reading your blog for tips from you!! 🙂

        See ya!

        Matthew

  2. […] in Den Haag. This school will be part of the Green Pedals project. There will be a prologue to the arctic-cycler world cycle tour at the Willemspark school on September 12 2014. More information to […]

  3. ado says:

    are you sure abt afganistan and Iran?

    • Hi there Ado.
      Thanks for your comment!
      I have only heard good reports about Iran from cyclists. The people there are extremely hospitable and welcoming. I don’t think it is dangerous for cyclists.

      I am not going through Afghanistan, which really is dangerous. I am cycling along its border with Tajikistan along the Pamir Highway. This is a standard cycling route, and I have not heard of people having problems there.

      I’m trying to keep the route safe.. 🙂

      Matthew

  4. My friend I write you this, because I am working right now with a web-designer on my new page and I can promise you that you will get copyright problems with the google map that you use right now. Please change it, it would be not nice if you have trouble with these things, during your amazing route… google a plug-In which shows the copyright with google, so you are out of stress. In case you wanna use that one, try to involve the copyright. Google the question: Can I use the google maps on my blog – I found in the past a link to google FAQ and they explain that you can, but just if you mention them…

    All the best, if you need help, let me know.
    Alexandros

  5. Simon Rood says:

    Hi Matthew, what a great trip you’re planning! As a reporter for local newspaper Eindhovens Dagblad, I’m very interested in your plan. How do you feel about an interview and some publicity in our paper about your trip, your life in Eindhoven and how you look back on it? Please let me know, hope to meet you soon.

    • Hi Simon.
      Thanks for writing and your best wishes. It would be great to speak to you to get some publicity for my trip and my life in Eindhoven. You can contact me on matthew (dot) harris (at) web (dot) de
      We could also talk about a foundation that I am founding together with some friends in Den Haag The goal of the foundation is to hold a dialogue on sustainability in schools around the world, and support in sustainability projects in certain schools on my route. You can see more on our webpage (still being developed and extended). http://greenpedalsforschools.wordpress.com

      Hope to hear from you soon!

      Matthew

  6. faisal says:

    which part u will visit in bangaldesh

    • I’ve always wanted to go to Bangladesh. I stopped briefly at Dhaka airport in 1993 and have anyways wanted to go back. The amazing wide plains with massive rivers are amazing. I’d like to see Dhaka, the Sundabans, Cox’s Bazaar and Chittagong.

  7. Daniel says:

    Hi Mathew do you plan your routes each day, week etc, or let it fly as you get inspired?

    What program have you used to plan?

    We will be doing something similar at some stage…

    Thanks

    • Hi Daniel. I used to use Everytrail until their server became so unreliable you couldn’t use it any more. I used everytrail to paste together gpx files i found on the Internet, or to make my own.
      I have some of the resources i used for the gpx files on my links page.
      Good luck!

    • Whatever happens, the planned route is just one option. When you are there, more often than not you take a different route anyway.
      Oh. Planning the skeleton route – which counties to pass through – i did that by reading lots of blogs – also on my links page. 🙂

  8. mark wallis says:

    Hi Mathew.

    I’m sure you’ll agree, that China’s an amazing country of such variety from terrain, food and weather (there roads are the best!!). We appear to have rode a similar route through it, would love to return there (my trip was to Singapore, ending in May 2015. I see you’re now in “lovely litle Laos”, such a welcoming country. My tips would be avoid Vietnam, but Cambodis’a a MUST!

    mark wallis.

    • Hi there Mark. Indeed, China has great variety and mostly good roads. The hundred kilometre stretches of mudbath roadworks were not that pleasant though. 🙂
      Laos is lovely. I’m not planning to go to Vietnam, but am going to Cambodia. 🙂

  9. Matthew,

    I have a questıon: how dıd you do turkmenıstan? ı read you had a transıt vısa. But I see you never camped outsıde there. I am cyclıng to chına wıth 3 frıends and we’re on a low budget. Could you send me the hotels where you stayed and the prıce of those hotels? or you thınk we can camp outsıde (februarı – march: cold ıs no ıssue when ıts warmer than -15 degrees C outsıde)

    • Hi Stef. I know of people that have camped in Turkmenistan in the desert. I don’t know what the temperatures are like in March, but what I see in the internet, they look fine for camping.
      Just after I crossed the border from Iran, I met an Italian cyclist coming the other way, and he had a screen shot of someone’s blog with valuable info – where there is food and water. https://jamesftravel.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/a-guide-to-cycling-across-turkmenistan-on-a-5-day-transit-visa/
      I did stay in hotels, and, I must say I don’t remember the price, but they certainly weren’t too expensive (as I don’t have infinite resources either). My guess is around $10 a night, but, as I said, I really can’t remember.
      If you search for Turkmenistan on my blog, you can find my blog entries for those days. They include maps, and so you can see where I stayed. I’m sure you could camp instead near these places. The most important thing about these places is that there is water there. 🙂
      Good luck and enjoy! I loved Turkmenistan.

  10. Hi Matthew,

    I will ride from Beijing to Valencia (Spain). I have been checking your route in order to “copy” a section of it. 🙂

    I would like to ask you some questions if you don’t mind.

    Regarding to the piece of your route which is going through Kazakhstan. Which kind of visum did you need to ride this small piece of Kazakhstan? Transit visa? Where did you get it? on arrival?

    Thank you very much

    • Hi Luis.
      The visa situation in Kazakhstan is changing all the time. When I went there, you could get a 15 day visa on arrival if you were from a G7 nation (I have a German passport). I see now that many western countries have 30 days visa free. A good place to check out all these kinds of things is caravanistan.com. http://caravanistan.com/visa/kazakhstan/

      Good luck!

  11. Thank you Matthew,

    It seems like I didn’t need a Visa neither. 🙂

    I think I will do almost the same route like you (from Lanzhou to Uzbekistan). Then depends on the Turkmenistan visa… It’s not that easy to get it.

    if you don’t mind, I have a couple of questions.

    Did you use a GPS or smartphone? Which maps or app did you use?

    Did you use paper maps? can I ask you which ones?

    Thank you very much!!!!!

    • You’re welcome..
      I used my smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S4) and had a waterproof holder attached to the handlebars. I used the offline maps app maps.me which was usually pretty good (although its better in some countries than others).
      I also had paper maps, which I find great to make the overall planning. I used Reise-Know-How maps (https://mapscompany.co.uk/brand/reise-know-how/) which are waterproof and very sturdy. Get them before you leave Europe. They are hard to get elsewhere.

      Also, to track my route, I used GPSLogger. It only tracks, and isn’t used for navigation. I then uploaded the generated xml file to Google Maps for my daily blog posts. To create the overall route, a more circuitous method was required due to some technical issues.

      All the best!

      Matthew

  12. Thank you very much!!

    Very usefull information!!!

    Thanks againg

  13. Hi!

    Sorry that I am bothering you again.

    I’m having some problems to download the gpx files from your final route.

    Do you have the original ones?

    Is it a problem if you send it to me per email?

    It will be really great!!

    Thank you very much and excus me for the inconvenience.

    china.montserrat.bicicleta@gmail.com

  14. Yesterday, I was able to click on the map and I could see the route and download the KML files. Today there is an error.

    I would like to have the GPX files from China to Germany. I would be great.

    Thank you

    I hope I am not bothering you too much

    Thanks

  15. Ok. Perfekt

    Thank you very much!!

    I would really apreciate it!!

    Best Regards

  16. Catherine Tracey says:

    Hi. Wow you’re a cyclist extraordinaire. I salute you. I’m planning to ride from Istanbul to Kathmandu and then Trek to Base Camp Everest. Are you able to help me with some route advice ? I was planning a route somewhat like the option you ditched. Was riding through China safer or just more enjoyable than the original route you planned
    KIND REGARDS
    Catherine Tracey

    • Hey Tracey,
      You are going to have a great trip. I am sure you will love it! How are you planning to go through central Asia? Make sure you cycle the Pamir Highway!
      I was very excited to cycle the southern Route in Tibet. It seemed this was possible about 10 years ago, but is no longer possible without a very (extremely) expensive tour guide. Cycling unaccompanied in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) has always been illegal for non Chinese nationals, but, the government has really cracked down on people trying it, and these days, it is impossible to avoid being caught (even if you try to sneak past checkpoints at 2am by pushing your bike 1km around the posts through the desert). I have read some amazing blogs of people cycling that road alone before the crackdown. Now, if you go on a tour, you need to be accompanied by a tour guide in a car. I’m not sure how far they are allowed to stay away from you, but I understand they need to see you every few hours. I asked how much a private tour would be on the route I had planned. It would have cost around 14,000 euros (yes – fourteen thousand).
      So.. I decided to avoid the TAR, and to see parts of the Tibetan Plateau in other provinces. There are parts of the Tibetan Plateau in Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces (as well as Qinghai, although there are places you can’t go in Qinghai too).
      The people from the Land of Snows (http://www.thelandofsnows.com/) are very knowledgable and helpful, and can give you all the latest about where you can go, and what you need to look out for.
      Unfortunately, getting to Mt Everest through China involves cycling through the TAR, and so, to do that, you will need to go on a tour. There are groups that go from Lhasa, and, as you are going in a group, the costs will be lower. It won’t be a solo, out there with nature experience, though.

      Let me know how you go. I’d be interested in knowing the latest too!

      All the best,

      Matthew

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