Adventurer Ben Page Shares Everything About His Three-year Bikepacking Ride Around the World

Cyclist and Adventurer Ben Page
Sunset Ride in South Africa

I’m Ben Page and I’m a mid twenties adventurer and film-maker from the UK. I’ve just arrived home (last week!) from a three-year bikepacking ride around the world, which took me across five continents and with a balmy temperature variation between -40C and +53C!

I’d dreamt up the idea for the ride during my school years when I was heavily into road racing and mountain biking, and after a brief season trying my hand at full time road racing on Belgium’s infamous pave I decided it really wasn’t for me, so I went and got a degree and then at 22 I set off on this ride.

Cyclist and Adventurer Ben Page
Silhouette Push in Mongolia

How and why did you get into cycling?

I was brought up by very active and adventurous parents who were also both teachers. This meant that the long school holidays were filled with camping trips across the UK and Europe climbing this or that mountains, canoeing down this or that river and lots and lots of bike rides.

So really cycling, fell running (aka mountain running) and just being outdoors were completely common as a child, so setting off on a long distance bike ride kind of felt very natural to me. There was not a great deal of hesitation and nor did my parents try and dissuade me from the idea, so I feel completely blessed to have had such a wonderful childhood.

How do you finance your cycling adventures?

In the UK when you are a student at University you are given a loan to help pay for the costs. Mostly people spend this on alcohol and late night kebabs, but, I knew that when I graduated I wanted to cycle the world for roughly three years. So, I saved up £10,000 (about $12,000) and that was what I lived off for bike/repairs/flights between continents/broken equipment/food.

Cyclist and Adventurer Ben Page

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

I almost exclusively cooked for myself and wild camped. My daily budget was in the region of $3-$5, which just about covered the enormous amount of food I would eat, but would also allow an occasional beer/coffee when my will gave in. Usually food consisted of porridge for breakfast, bread for lunch and copious amounts of rice and beans for dinner.

For much of the ride I used a multifuel stove, the MSR Whisperlite, which is a bit of a biketouring standard. However, that mysteriously packed in whilst I was riding across Asia and so I opted instead for a simple trangia stove that uses denatured alcohol, it’s much smaller and lighter and has the added benefit of never making my food taste of petrol!

Again, since I was cycling through more remote places camping wild was never really a difficulty, only a couple of times did I have a run in with security guards or the police, but on the whole those encounters were just young bored men wanting to have selfies in the middle of the night.

Cyclist and Adventurer Ben Page
Maasai Tribe

How do you bring your things with you?

My packing set up is quite a mixture of things, having moved from a more traditional bike touring set-up to a bikepacking set up after securing a bike sponsor a year into my ride. So, I have a frame bag, front roll and two cages on the forks. Then on the back I have two small panniers (whic hwere my front panniers) and a rucksack strapped on the back. I’ve found the rucksack great for long hike-a-bikes where I can throw the weight on my back rather than be lifting it on my bike. Similarly that works well for rough descents and is more than enough space to carry the 13 litres of water I needed to carry in Sudan!

Karakal Pakstan Desert in Uzbekistan

How do you organise things in your bags?

Tent goes in the front roll, sleeping bag and mat on the fork. Camera and lenses in the frame bag (makes for easy access). Rear right panniers has electronics, down jacket and a few spares. Rear left has cooking equipment and food. Then in my rucksack I have my laptop and tripod. That’s a lot!

How do your bags and gear hold up?

My gear has held up remarkably well, considering the level of abuse I’ve subjected it to, with only a few repairs needed using trusty tape and zip ties. I keep much of my gear separated in dry bags (which over three years stopped meeting the ‘dry’ requirement of that…), which keep things dry in really heavy rain but can’t be submerged.

Thankfully, one time when I was carrying my bike across a wide fast flowing river in Mongolian and accidentally dropped my bike in the drink, it provided enough of barrier that for the 15 seconds it took me to lift it back out again nothing got damaged. And that’s including hard drives, batteries, and cameras. Any longer and I think the scenario could have been much much worse.

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

As with any long-term trip, you tend to set off carrying a little too much gear and slowly cut back as you better learn your daily needs. I slowly cut a lot of the clothes I was carrying, and went down to a lighter weight sleeping bag that, on cold nights, would still be fine whilst I wore a down jacket. The rule really is that if you’re not using it almost daily, it’s got to go!

Cyclist and Adventurer Ben Page
Maletsunyane Waterfall, Lesotho

What has been your best bicycle-related purchase under $100?

I have a small Outdoor Tech Buckshot speaker that fixes onto my handlebars. It’s pretty much bombproof and has taken all sorts of knocks and heavy rain without even a whimper. It’s a Bluetooth speaker that has an extraordinarily long battery life (but don’t ask me for any usage times!) and would get me through the many hours and days of tedious riding with an iPod filled with podcasts and music. I really couldn’t have done it without that. And maybe to bring the cumulative price closer to the $100 mark a Kindle as well, knowing that you can read something genuinely interesting without having to magically find an English language novel is a delight. For the first half of the trip, I can’t tell you how many terrible books I read simply because they were the only ones I could find.

I must say that my bike was also absolutely fantastic. It’s not a common thing to have a fatbike for multi-year bike touring, let alone a carbon fibre one at that! But it held up to all the copious abuse I threw at it and really shaped my journey more than anything else. Without that bike I would have been stuck to following roads and graded dirt tracks, whereas the fat bike just made me want to push on a little bit further and explore more.

Another-Horizon-Ben-Page8
Saharan sandstorm

What is your best advice for other cyclists?

Before you get swept up in the romantic idea of seeing the world from the perch of a saddle, I would really recommend going on a shorter tour to see whether it’s something that you would really want to do. The realities of cycling around the world on your own are that there are very many boring/lonely stretches, which are often filled with question of, “Why the hell am I doing this?!”.

I think my three-year ride taught me that you can actually gain so much from a shorter trip, between three and six months. Long enough to really feel like you’ve left home and are somewhere else, long enough to provide a cushion so you’re never too pressed for time; but crucially short enough that you never begin to take your adventure for granted and remember how privileged you are to be doing what you are doing. Certainly there were times when the routine of my ride eclipsed the adventure that I was having and hat magic ‘spark’ of excitement did sometimes vanish.

Cyclist and Adventurer Ben Page
Arctic Sea Push

What will the future bring?

I am hoping to pursue adventure film making and photography, it’s been a side of the last three years that I’ve found thoroughly rewarding, and I am just beginning the process of pulling the many hard drives of footage together to edit my ride into a coherent stories. Each adventure certainly breeds the next, and so I have plenty of ideas for more ambitious challenges that will push me further physically, mentally and creatively, but perhaps might be a little shorter this time.

Visit Ben Page on his website and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter


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