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Month By Month: TDA Staff Choose Their Favourite Blogs
So far in 2017 (there are still a couple of weeks to go), TDA Global Cycling has published over 150 blogs on our website. They are written by our field workers, our permanent office staff and featured guest writers. The authors of these works have covered a wide variety of topics with considerable skill, making our readers laugh and cry, reconsider and re-evaluate. Here are our favourites for each month of 2017.
January – Elephants, Tigers & Sheep Piss: A Cyclist’s Guide To The Beers of South East Asia
Our resident Beer & Happy Pizza expert, Michael Coo, took an in-depth, candid look at the brewski situation along the route of the Bamboo Road Cycling Expedition. Results varied.
“Starchy, papery, leaves the mouth dirty – I want to scrape my tongue”.
“This flagship hoppy pilsner will bring a smile to the face of any thirsty cyclist.”
February – Wild, West Africa
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In Casablanca we handed our scout, Maxime, a copy of Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, a few bucks and a bus ticket and sent him off to check out the route of the new West Africa en Vélo cycling expedition. Well, not exactly but he and long time TDA staffer Sharita ended up having quite the adventure. Have no fear – we decided not to use this road in Guinea, at least not this time!
“We had two options available to enter Guinea, the 5th country on our scout. We, of course, decided to go with the more adventurous option, which cost us dearly in the end. It turned out that it was not even remotely suitable for bicycles and hardly passable for vehicles. My body is still recovering from all the bruises and bang ups and Max’s chain ring is still stuck in my ribcage. The route we took is one of the legendary brutal routes on the planet. I declare the roads in Guinea to be some of the worst roads in the world.”
March – Tour d’Afrique: The Ultimate Social Experiment
A journalist who joined the Tour d’Afrique for a section a few years back called the expedition “…part race, part expedition, part social experiment, part madness.” The 2017 Tour Communications Director, Brad Davis, took time to reflect on the riders’ mindset.
“It’s a wonderful thing to see this group of people – people with different backgrounds, different lifestyles, different interests and different ways of coping with hardship – evolve together throughout the tour and offer a helping hand when it is needed. As I sit here writing this, half a dozen riders from five different countries who would never have met each other if they hadn’t all had the insane idea of riding a bicycle 12,000 kilometres across Africa are sitting around a table drinking coffee, chatting, laughing, and squabbling over who gets the pleasure of buying everyone a slice of cake.”
April – Experiencing Africa From The Saddle
The Tour d’Afrique covers almost 12,000km and passes through 10 countries over 4 months. Each rider experiences this a little differently. Some much more than others.
“There are cyclists who seem to inadvertently find themselves on numerous wacky adventures – German rider Bernd has a knack for this. The other day in Chitimba Beach he decided to go for a run up a rather large mountain (because what else would you do on a rest day at a lush resort by the lake… apparently 4 months of long distance cycling isn’t enough exercise!), took some beautiful pictures of locals at a waterfall, then found himself caught in a rainstorm so he booked into a hotel up there and spent the night at the top of the mountain without any of his belongings other than what he brought with him on his jog.”
>>Check out the Top Ten TDA Global Cycling Blogs of 2017
May – Re-telling An Epic Story
Every TDA Global Cycling expedition can be seen as an epic story – quixotic characters, endless challenges, love interests. happy endings. TDA Communications Officer Catalin Pricoiu imagined the Athens to Amsterdam expedition through the lens of the literary classic, The Odyssey.
“If there are lessons to be learned from Homer’s story, it’s that we should remain humble unlike the proud hero, know our limits and pace ourselves. As I write this from Delphi, our first rest day, and as legends say, the refuge of Apollo and the seat of the Oracle, it’s important to reflect on probably the most important lesson of all. To get ahead, you must, above all, have the grace of the gods. They favoured the strong, sometimes the wise, sometimes the humble, but always the brave. There’s certainly plenty of courage amongst the group, so let’s hope that will be enough to keep our Garmins pointing north and our bikes rubber side down!”
June – Five Questionable Modes Of Transport At The Halfway Point Of Magical Madagascar
Obviously we think that the bicycle is the ultimate form of transportation…but that doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate some other unique ways of getting around. Magical Madagascar’s Brad Davis looks at a few choices alternatives.
“I hung back with the luggage, which got hauled onto three zebu carts – I suppose I better clarify. To borrow from Wikipedia, “zebu” = a species or subspecies of domestic cattle characterized by a fatty hump on their shoulders, a large dewlap, and sometimes drooping ears. And the “cart” = a large square wagon with giant, rickety old wagon wheels whereby all our duffel bags were loaded. The zebu seemed to be in an aggressive mood today, and the initial departure from where we docked was peppered with grunting from the zebu, shouting between the locals, and carts getting rocked and shaken in every which way.”
July – The Plains Aren’t Really That Plain! A Few Things You May Not Know About The Canadian Prairies.
The rain in Spain may fall mainly in the plain but in Canada, well, the plain is really the prairie and the rain, well, it did fall but it didn’t stop Aussie staffer Will Rafferty from discovering that the plains aren’t plain.
“Dinosaurs once roamed the Prairies in large numbers. On descending into the town of Drumheller it was immediately obvious that dinosaurs give this place meaning. Everywhere you look there was a dinosaur or something dinosaur themed with ‘the largest dinosaur in the world’, a large T-Rex in the centre of town getting most attention.”
August – A Decade Of Reflection On The Tour d’Afrique
In January 2007, aspiring writer and bike mechanic Dean Campbell flew to Cairo to join the Tour d’Afrique staff on their 4 month job posting after a job interview that included the question “What would you do if someone pointed a gun at you?” Ten years later he takes a reflective look back.
“In the midst of news reports about ideologically driven attacks and the protests dominating current events, I savour the memories of meals and conversations shared with locals during my travels. We spoke of our families, our ambitions, our loves and fears. Invariably, we would connect across religious and cultural gaps, relating as humans. When I think now about the Tour d’Afrique, beyond the images and landscapes, it is the memories of the people that have endured.”
>>Check out our 2016 Hidden Gems: A Baker’s Dozen – Blogs You Should Read
Always an avid collector of words and concepts, TDA Founder Henry Gold overhears an English word he has never heard before and finds it applicable not only to himself but his company, TDA Global Cycling. Acatalepsy: 1 : an ancient Skeptic doctrine that human knowledge amounts only to probability and never to certainty. 2 : real or apparent impossibility of arriving at certain knowledge or full comprehension.
“There is no doubt that once you join one of our tours you become part of the family, a brotherhood of seekers, adventures, restless souls – in fact a brotherhood of ‘Acataleptics’ – one that is, to many, impossible to understand.”
October – Cycling The Uyuni Salt Flats
We are always told that too much salt is not good for our health but, as TDA Communications Officer Jacob Warner explains, an exception may be made for the Bolivian Salt Flats. Salt, salt, salt as far as the eye can see…
“Nothing can match the first glimpse of pure vast whiteness as far as the eye can see, or the crunching sound of riding across thick slabs of salt. Tourists pose for famous perspective photos, and vehicles race across the flats in any direction they please. Cyclists can be seen for kilometres in the distance – tiny little dots on the horizon slowly growing bigger. The vastness of the Uyuni Salt Flats is really incomparable and without any reference points it feels like being lost in an ocean of salt.”
November – “It Is Not A Donkey And It Is Not A Horse. Maybe It’s A Mule.”
Henry’s blog from the Bamboo Road reporting on his experiences testing an e-bike on the tour created a spirited discussion, not only in the Comments section of the blog but in his own company office.
“The purists, including some in our office, will say categorically – no! NO E-BIKES!!! But as Bob Dylan sings, “The times they are a changing”. “Resistance is Futile” declared no less an authority than Joe Murray, former mountain biking National US Champion in an article in the 200th issue of Dirt Rag magazine. So with all this in mind, I decided to look for an e-bike to use as a test from Shanghai to Hanoi, a distance of 2,710km.”
December – TDA Foundation – Looking Back, Moving Ahead
TDA Global Cycling has expanded quite quickly over the years, from offering one tour in 2003, to two in 2005, 3 in 2007 and now consistently operating 7 or 8 cycling adventures each year. In all that excitement, it is always good to be reminded of our commitment to help others in the communities that we pass through.
“Over the past 15 years, the Foundation has contributed more than 2,300 bicycles to more than 70 grassroots organizations and communities in 8 African countries and India. The beneficiaries read like a who’s who of the “salt of the earth,” and include grassroots women’s and community development groups, orphans, school kids and teachers, hospital and health centre workers, bike repair shops in urban slums, local cycling clubs, a bicycle ambulance manufacturer, and international humanitarian NGOs.”
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