Solo Female Cyclist Jaimi Wilson Shares Her Best Tips After Cycling Half Way Around the World

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

My name is Jaimi Wilson. I am from England and I am currently in Australia…about half way through cycling around the world.

How and why did you get into cycle adventuring?

I’ve always been into sports and have done many competitions/challenges over the years so that aspect was nothing new to me but this is the first big adventure type thing I have done. I saw a video online of a guy who cycled across the US…and that expanded my mind to see that this kind of thing is possible for anyone that wants to do it!

Life is fleeting and I didn’t want to be one of those people that has to have something dramatic happen to them in life to make them wake up and go after the things in life that are important to them.

I only decided two months before I left home that I was going to do this so I didn’t have too long to plan. My bike and all my gear arrived two weeks before I left and the first few pedal strokes away from home were the first time I had ridden a fully loaded touring bike. I had never wild camped in my life, didn’t speak any other languages and could only just about manage to repair a punctured tyre but I had the motivation to do it and the confidence to believe I was capable of learning.

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

Why is adventuring important for you?

For me, it’s been really important to get outside of ‘normal’ society. It’s very easy to live life unconsciously through conditioning and to become disconnected from what is actually meaningful.

I think it’s important to get out of your comfort zone to learn about the world, about yourself and to be grateful and appreciative for the things you take as a given. I also believe it’s good for society…we only get shown one sided stories by the media and it’s only when we get out there and experience the world first hand that we can see the many dimensions.

Being outside is important for your physical and mental health…there’s nothing better for the mind than sitting outside your tent, cooking up some food, and watching the sun go down after days of riding.

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

What have been the best parts of your adventures?

The best part has got to be the glimpse into people’s lives along the way. Each place has given me amazing memories and it is hard to pick the best part because it depends what aspect you are talking about.

I’d say Croatia was my favourite coastline, Iran for hospitality, Tajikistan for beautiful mountains, Tibet for culture and nature, Chinese desert for stars, Thailand for food and I could probably think of hundreds of other amazing things about each place.

The good thing about travelling by bicycle is you are continually rewarded each day with small things and the deprivation of food, water, a comfortable bed, warmth or social interaction makes you value those things even more.

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

What have been the most difficult parts?

I have had a couple of issues along the way but the good has outweighed the bad by a hundred times. I think the most difficult thing for me has been the negative attitude and objectification of me as a solo female cyclist. It’s been a consistently irritating issue from pretty early on in the trip and while it doesn’t scare me or stop me from doing what I want to do it frustrates the hell out of me because it’s an issue I feel powerless to do anything about and it makes me sad that people have to put up with it.

You have to learn how to deal with problems and not get to stressed out about things. For me, patience was always a personal flaw and I still battle with this now but if you don’t learn to manage your frustrations, you’ll constantly be fighting with yourself.

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

I try to travel on a small budget so I like to wild camp as much as possible or ask local people if I can set up my tent on their land. The best nights I’ve had are those where I have been invited into the homes of locals. Iran and the Tibetan plateau were the places I received the most generous hospitality. In South East Asia, there are guest houses everywhere and they are really cheap like you can get a bed for $5 per night so I used guest houses more often here. The whole time I was in Europe, I only used a hostel twice because it’s too expensive and I was trying to prepare myself for the time ahead and get over the fear of wild camping in an environment I was more familiar with.

I have a really great tent called, Fjallraven Abisko Dome Tent 3 Person, however, it’s not really ideal for one person as it’s a three-man tent and pretty heavy. I actually love it although it’s not the most practical being none free standing, big and weighing 3.5kg.

I have a rab sleeping bag, which is really great. It’s down and has a temperature limit of -22 degrees…not that I’ve quite tested that out yet but I’ve been at -15 and it was good enough.

I have an MSR WhisperLite Stove and actually I haven’t been all that happy with it…I mean maybe it’s my fault and I haven’t given enough maintenance to it but it’s such a temperamental thing…parts break easily…it forever needs cleaning and cooking with petrol is pretty messy. I actually broke it for about the tenth time in China and got given a cheap stove that cost less than $10 that screws onto the top of a camping gas canister and it’s way better!

I pretty much made my own food all the way up until I got to China and then the availability and low cost of meals just meant the stove wasn’t worth the hassle. Plus, I love trying the street food!

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

What is your best advice for new adventurers?

My best advice is to live your own dream. Stop researching and planning the right time to go, just do it…get out there and do it your way. The problem is that there is too much information available…everyone is doing the same trip with the same gear. Don’t worry if you don’t have the yellow ortlieb, waterproof panniers, surly bike or the brooks leather saddle, those aren’t the things that make the trip. You’re attitude is the single most important thing…the way you think about things will define how they are.

Another important thing I would say is do not limit your life through fears. People say to me always that I am so brave and courageous, well, I am not. I get scared and have fears like anybody else. The difference is I don’t want my fears to limit my dreams. I think it takes a braver person to do something they fear rather than a person doing something they have no fear of!

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

How do you prepare for your adventures?

Like I said, this is my first trip and my preparation was pretty limited…I researched gear, bought it all, went on a one day bike maintenance course and then pretty much just set off. I bought some book, which was a guide to cycling around the world…read about 10 pages and that was it…I mean it was a really good book but like a I said before…information overload…where is the adventure when it is so meticulously planned out? Of course, it depends what you have planned for your adventures to how much you have to plan out…but I quit my job so had the freedom of time!

How do you finance your adventures?

I cycled from England to Australia financed purely by my savings (which unfortunately weren’t that impressive). It took around 18 months and in that time I have spent around $7-8,000 (not including a little mishap I had along the way, which cost me an additional $3,000)! I arrived in Australia 3 months ago and was lucky to find a job within the first week of me being here and I hope the savings from this job will fun the second half of the world trip!

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

How do you bring your things with you?

I carry everything I need on my bike. It’s surprising firstly how much you don’t need and secondly how much you can carry on a bike. I have lived for 18 months predominantly from the few things I have stuffed inside my panniers. I have the classic touring setup with four panniers (2 ortlieb and 2 crossover), one ortlieb handlebar bag and my tent, sleeping mat and osprey day hiking backpack strapped to the back rack.

In all honesty, I’m disappointed with the Ortlieb panniers, which cause me problems with the flimsy easy to break clips and also they tear easily making them not fit for the all important waterproofness I bought them for. I much prefer the Crosso panniers I have, which are bigger and cheaper. My setup is a little heavier than most at 60kg excluding food and water but I guess I like a few extra things! In an ideal world, I would have slightly less weight but at this point I’m not prepared to spend the money to replace some of my gear with lighter versions. It makes the uphills a little harder but I’m not convinced it makes much difference on the flats.

There’s always going to be a trade off with comfort and speed so you have to calculate what is most important to you. I’d say to bear in mind that the more things you have with you, the more self-sufficient you can be and probably the more cost effective also.

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

How do you balance normal life with adventuring?

Haha what is normal life?! That’s exactly what I don’t want to balance…I hope the boundaries of what constitutes as ‘normal’ can be stretched a little to show people the possibilities. I’ve been living on the bike away from home for almost two years now and think my outlook on life has changed a lot but I still feel pretty in touch with ‘reality’…and technology these days makes it extremely easy to stay connected to friends and family pretty much wherever you are in the world!

What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?

Hmmmm…not very exciting but actually I’d say my Ortlieb water bladder and shower head attachment…the little attachment cost me about $5 on eBay but it’s a great little investment. I hate not showering whilst being on the road and this allows me to do so whilst wild camping!

What other favorite gear do you have?

I have to give a shout out to my bike here…my Surly Bike Disc Trucker…I mean it’s got me from England to Australia without any major problems and I love riding it.

Another great investment is my son dynamo hub and e-werk. It allows me to charge my phone, lights, head torch and even kindle through the effort of my pedal strokes. It’s pretty cool that I can generate enough power through my legs to keep my small collection of electronics fully charged!

Cyclist Jaimi Wilson

What will the future bring?

Who really knows what the future will bring…this trip has taught me that it doesn’t matter what plans you have…life will throw whatever it wants at you and you just have to embrace and enjoy it.

After cycling through Australia, I will fly to Ushuaia and continue cycling up South America. I have also developed a new dream whilst doing this trip but I’ll keep that under wraps until I’ve finished this trip!

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  1. John Wilson says:

    Hi Jaimi what a great read first 1ive seen for a while can’t believe you’re halfway through the trip you are doing so well & I don’t mean to patronise you when I say you are so brave for what you are doing but also very very lucky take care Jaimi look forward to reading next one love John & Wendy & the gang xxxx

  2. Julie Frankland says:

    Wow Jaimi, well impressed, you go girl xx

  3. Great job Jaimi. I like reading about people’s adventures on the bike. Have done some cycle tours myself and had a great time. Look forward to reading about your Australian trip. I am in Australia – if you are stuck for a place to stay I would be happy to accommodate another cyclist. I am in Adelaide. Keep up the good work!

  4. John Wilson says:

    Hi Jaimi not been in touch for a while cos my tablet got buggered but got a new 1now Wendy says you’re in Argentina do yourself a favour & go for a steak they’re well known for great steaks hope you’re keeping well look forward to reading more blogs stay safe love Johnxx

  5. Carlos Andrés León Ayala says:

    Wow is an incredible person, I find her in The road to Armenia Colombia,
    she stayed at my house and has a great heart that moves her towards her goals!
    she is a person from whom you learn a lot and is characterized by her great humility!

  6. Sue William says:

    Hi Jaimi..i met your cousin Kelly a couple weeks back in Penrith. She told me about you & gave me the best pedicure ever. Along with hubby Martin we were taking a 2 day break from cycling on a 14 day ride from Dover to Durness. So impressed by your venture. We are now home again but I’ve been in touch with Kelly & she sent me your link which I just read. Fantastic..amazing..brilliant! Youth on your side plus a wonderful spirit of adventure & pushing boundaries. God Bless You.. Sue & Martin from London..OAP’s

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