On the cusp of the next trip : Trikes across South East Asia

The last posting on this blog was in March 2022 when David was starting a long recovery from his bike accident in Texas – after encountering dogs in the desert.  The next few months were a blur for him of continuing (but lessening) levels of pain, the onset of boredom and the slow re-emergence of normality. 

He gradually regained his biking confidence and by the end of the summer we were cycling again but also pondering life, the universe and future bike trips.  The experience in the States left us with a feeling of vulnerability but also the conviction that it was not time to hang up our helmets and stop exploring by bike.  The solution – at least for us – is to move from two wheels to three and to exchange bike seats for more comfortable reclining seats.  That makes it sound as if we will be cycling on children’s tricycles.  However,  instead of basic tricycles, we have invested in slightly more sophisticated recumbent “trikes” which ridden by a small but enthusiastic community in the biking world. 

We moved across to recumbent trikes for 2 main reasons.  First, they are more stable, especially with luggage.  We both hit the road off our two wheeled bikes in the USA and feel that a more stable alternative is probably a better long term bet.  Secondly, they are much more comfortable to ride and, although lower, the view is significantly better.  They are slightly slower than touring bikes (especially uphill) but as the title of the blog is “SlowCycling”, that did not seem to be a disqualification.  They are also slightly unusual and attract a modicum of attention and break the ice to start conversations.  We have got used to thumbs up from passing motorists and cyclists.

Bernie, being 152cm tall (or 4 foot 12 inches in old money), had a considerable challenge to get a trike that could work for her legs.  After lots of false starts, we ended up with an AZUB Tricon 20 for her and after a few months cycling around the Shropshire hills, she is confident that this is the right option for her.  David plumped for an HP Velotechnik Scorpion fs20, and is equally pleased with it.   Both trikes were originally set up with a wonderful e-bike system produced by Pendix.  This worked better than we hoped; the extra battery power helped us up hills and more than compensated for the additional weight.  Unfortunately, we learned that it is virtually impossible (and we mean really, really impossible) to ship ebike batteries to Thailand (and probably lots of other places as well).  We will not bore readers with the hundreds of hours we both spent trying to understand how this might be done before the combination of IATA freight regulations, import rules, custom duties and a million and one other challenges proved to be too much.  So a trip to our local bike store, Pearce Cycles (conveniently situated at the bottom of our hill) was needed to strip the trikes back to remove the efittings (but allow them to be restored when we get home).  So now it will be pure pedal power for the next trip.

That trip is due to start on 4th January when we fly into Bangkok.  The provisional plan is to cycle North from Bangkok to the ancient city of Chang Mai – about 800km.  Then we will try to cover the 700km to Vientiane, and then head north as we discover Laos, and working our way across to Hanoi (maybe another 1000km or so depending on the route).

If we have time, we then plan to amble south through Vietnam with the aim of ending up at Ho Chi Minh city, probably another 1600km.  We are pretty sure we will not have enough time to do the whole route and get flights back as planned in mid-March, but we shall just see how it goes.

We plan to blog on a daily basis (or as nearly as we can) as we go along.  We hope this will amuse, entertain or infuriate our family, friends and even the other readers who kindly follow us even though we have never met you.   We are not seeking to collect money for charity but, if anyone feels inclined to support a charity which is close to our hearts, pleas contribute to either Prisoners of Conscience (where David chairs the Trustee Board) or Freedom from Torture (for whom Bernie works).

13 thoughts on “On the cusp of the next trip : Trikes across South East Asia

  1. Wishing you all the very best for your trip. The trikes sound a great way to travel and I hope the wind is behind you all the way. Go well!

  2. All the best for this great trip. May the trikes arrive intact, the gradients be gentle, the road surface smooth and the wind behind you! I’m sure the people, climate and food will be all that you wish for. We’ll read the blog and hope to see you when you return.

  3. I think we did almost exactly the trip you plan – Bangkok frightened us and we were glad we had left bikes behind and come by bus. Constant pressure from kids in Laos was hard to take – they will mob you. We found it the most difficult country in Asia to find quality food once you get off the tourist routes – China was so much easier. You will have seen many glowing reviews of Laos, but we found it very hard indeed away from the honeypot areas and made our way back to Thailand to recover strength – best of luck. They are a wonderful friendly people but amongst the poorest with China being the main investor – a great big road!

  4. Wow. You guys never cease to amaze. We’ll be following with envy and delight. Here we have had 17 below temperatures and buckets of snow. Thinking of heading south soon. Will remember fondly our meet up in Arizona at Lake Roosevelt.

  5. Hi David & Bernie,
    We met in El Paso just before the accident. I’m so happy to hear that David has recovered and you both intend to keep cycling (even if with an extra wheel!). Wishing you all the very best with your journey through Asia. Mark

    1. Great to hear from you. We missed what would have been a great evening with you in El Paso. Still irritating. Are you back in Ireland securely working now? I recall you were between jobs when we met. Hope all is good with you. David

  6. Dear David and Bernie,
    I am one of you readers ( Irish ) whom you have never met !(The connection is my brother Mark Lynch whom you met in Texas doing the same route in the opposite direction , two days before Davids awful accident . I see Mark has already posted a comment. ) Since then I have back read all of your blogs with complete admiration and fascination . Maybe you might consider bringing the trikes on a ferry to Ireland for a cycling holiday some day ? My husband and I would love to meet you and offer you hospitality either in the Midlands where we live , or our holiday house in Mullaghmore North Sligo . Good luck with the forthcoming trip and I will be following your blogs as an armchair traveler! . Best wishes Fiona Hunt

  7. Thank you for your blog and good luck for your trip. We enjoyed Laos and Vietnam, not so sure about our unplanned stay in Bangkok though!!!
    Happy cycling

    1. Tony, I hope we have a less “significant” stay in Bangkok than you had! Good to know you are following us – there with every turn of the crank. Happy New Year and hope to catch up when we get back. Much love David and Bernie

  8. Very best wishes for your next cycling adventure. Looking forward to reading your blogs, they are always interesting. Safe journeys!

  9. Wow, what a planned trip David. Hope it goes well, will keep an eye on your posts + pics as well I hope

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