Travelling by tandem always prompts a reaction; sometimes curiosity, often amusement, occasionally confusion. One thing that you can be sure of though is that on every single outing, without exception, someone will consider themselves to be at the height of hilarity by shouting “She’s not pedalling on the back!”.
The decision was made to buy our first tandem in 2010 shortly after spending very little time together during a week-long cycle tour of the Western Isles and Outer Hebrides on solo bikes. We had learnt a lot about two wheeled travel during that first tour: we loved the simplicity of carrying only what you need, the views from the tent each evening, the people we met along our journey and just being out in some spectacular scenery for a week. There was an issue though – we rode at very different speeds.
Of course the underlying problem was the need to recalibrate Marcus’s effort levels from ‘go as fast you can’ to ‘enjoy the journey’. We later discovered ‘touring speed’ which is a pace that allows you to take in the little details of your surroundings and are what makes travelling by bike so unique.
But we still wanted to make sure that we were always within speaking distance and a tandem seemed like the perfect solution. Our first purchase was a Dawes Super Galaxy, still surviving from the 1980’s and a testament to its hand built quality. That bike took us through most of Norway in 2011 and it was this trip that cemented our love of cycle touring and in particular touring by tandem.
The purchase of a second tandem complete with S&S couplings allows the bike to be split very quickly into two parts making it easier to squeeze it into a train carriage or even a lift to get to the 6th floor, extending the possibilities of where we could travel.
With our new steed, a very sturdy 2001 Thorn Discovery, we have now crossed Wales, taken part in the Paralympic Opening Ceremony, honeymooned in Croatia, Montenegro and Italy, ridden from Boston to New York and returned to Scotland to ride from the West Coast round to the North Coast and up to Orkney and Shetland.
But the tandem travel bug had bitten harder than a 2 week holiday would allow so we took the plunge and set off to embark on something much bigger. In August 2014 we left our jobs, home, friends and family and set off from Bristol to ride to New Zealand through over 30 different countries. The plan was flexible and organic so didn’t quite take the shape that we first expected but eventually we returned home on 13th December 2016 with the Northern Hemisphere circumnavigated and with over 47,000km pedalled visiting 46 countries along the way.
Who Are We?
We met through a shared love of rowing. Marcus was the unlikely cox while Kirsty was stroke of a City of Bristol Rowing Club four. Our eyes met across an over-rating cox-box.
Since then Marcus has laid down his oar in favour of several bikes, running shoes and wetsuits and competes in all manner of endurance races and events from long distance audax rides through to international triathlons.
Kirsty continues to be involved in the rowing club as treasurer, but is more often seen at audax cycling events than in a boat. Contrary to the comments received from passers by, she does pedal on the back and is in fact the powerhouse for the tandem.
We organise the very popular Las Vegas Institute of Sport Audax that starts just outside Bristol and takes riders on a cake fueled adventure through countryside surrounding the city and way beyond.
We got married in September 2012.
Both of us have occupied desks at offices near Bristol, Kirsty as a software engineer and Marcus as a sustainable drainage engineer.
20 thoughts on “About”
Hi to Kirsty,
Don’t think I ever met you at the rowing club. We could have had interesting chats about cycle touring, although I am a bit of a solo tourist. Talking of Rohloff gears could have occupied a while (if you ever get a chance I wold recommend them, you would not believe how big and chunky a 1/2″ track chain looks, it would stop your chain breaking days) I’ve just returned from cycling the other way in Norway Stavanger to Trondheim, we covered many of the same roads, I went down Trollstigen 🙂 but up plenty of others.
Anyway, thanks for taking my money for a while at C of B, however cycling and hill walking are my true loves.
I wish you and Marcus all the very best of luck and good fortune on your longish bike ride, just remember to pedal at the back 🙂
A Rohloff was considered as they are supposed to be very good but it would have meant a new frame (or at least heavily modifying our existing one) and a big expense on the hub. Although Rohloffs are very reliable if they do go wrong you are scuppered whereas with a standard gear set up there is usually a way to bodge it.
Glad you enjoyed Norway and we recommend climbing Trollstigen next time though it’s easy to get spoilt with the number of great roads out there!
I’m so glad someone else found the same thing! My boyfriend peddles so hard up hills that he pulled the handle bars off his bike last summer! I can never keep up! We rented a tandem in the Channel Islands recently and loved it! Takes a bit of getting used to though, we are terrible at getting the timing right for stopping and starting.
Hi Sarah, the start and the stop are the hardest bits to master with tandem riding. But it’s worth persevering as it’s a great way to travel! Happy adventuring!
We too love touring and the idea of packing up, renting the house and heading off is often a topic of discussion between hubby and I. He would love a touring tandem (we share a Schwin beach cruiser tandem, great fun!), however I am not a speed demon so we would have to separate on the downhills so I could just coast and he could get his thrills 😀
Love your inspiring blog and the name of your website is one I can definately relate to.
All the best for safe travels
Hi Michelle, All I can say is DO IT! You’ll get used to the downhills*
(*actually Kirsty hasn’t)
By far the hardest part of the journey is the deciding to do it part. I say go for it!
We’ve ridden so long together now that Marcus knows exactly how fast he can go without terrifying me. And then he goes just a little bit faster than that.
`twas nice to meet you two! I was at the Windy Gap rest stop – just east of Hot Sulphur Springs CO
I agree… Just do it / Go for it
Enjoy your travels and the people you meet.
Fort Collins Colorado U.S.A.
That was a windy day at Windy Gap too as I recall! Great to have met you even if very briefly and thanks for checking out our blog.
Hey guys it was fun to meet you at Shillong cafe and hear ur tales
Hope u guys are doing grt and wish u all the best
Have posted our selfie on insta and have started a new hashtag #shesnotpedallingontheback
Hi,Marcus and Kirsty, I think what you do is not only a journey to many different countries,but also a journey to your own inner world,which can help you develop a peaceful mind in life. It’s an unique treasure that money can’t never buy. Your experience inspires me a lot, maybe we don’t know what is the right way to live, but following your heart would be a good choice.
Thanks Zero, lovely words and it was great that we met you in Wugang. Good luck with your studies and hope you get to see the world like us.
Hi Marcus and Kristy,
I’m one of the students who is in the class you went to share your experience in Yuanling today. In fact, I am exactly the boy who asked for your website and twitter. I just want to say, you two are reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally incredible person, and a lovely couple as well. It’s an excellenct thing to see our dreams coming true. You inspired me. In the future, I will do my best to get the life that I want. No matter what it takes. Maybe we will never be able to see each other again, but I truly hope you can be happy forever. You are really nice.
Good luck in the following trip!
What a lovely message, thank you! We really enjoyed meeting you all and sharing some of our stories with such a fantastic group of students. Keep studying hard on your English skills and I hope you can follow your dreams like us.
Marcus and Kirsty
Hi,Marcus and Kirsty
I am also one of the students who is in the class you have stayed . It is really really really amazing to meet you two and listen to all the adventure you ve experienced in china.doing what you love is a really excellent thing ,just like the catchline tells,if you can dream it ,you can do it.so I will also fight for my dreams like you did .
May happiness follow you everywhere.it is so nice to see you ?
Hi Olivia, it was great to meet you all too! Thanks for your kind words and good luck chasing your dreams.
Hi Marcus and Kristy,
This is Hien from Portland. We met at Willamette Park last week… So glad to run into you two there. I didn’t know until recently that you both were quite famous!
Very happy you guys are making it that far in the intense heat after a week. I’ll keep checking on you frequently. Just in case, if you ever need anything please let me know, I’ll do my best.
Hi Hien, we’re famous?! Such a lovely evening in Portland and great to meet you. Our landscape has changed a bit since then in this hot prairie land. Thanks again and hope our paths cross again one day when you venture over to Europe.
🙂 Mark and I enjoyed having you stay with us at the end of August. I think of you often, but finally remembered to check on where you are. xx
Hi Tammie, great to hear from you. I’ve just published our post about staying in Dillon which brought back great memories of staying on your lawn! Hope you and Mark are both well.