Believe it or not, we first learned about Twin Cities Cyclists, Amy and Brian Bice riding their bikes through India and Bangladesh while reading the Times of India. That is not a normal part of our news feed, but when we saw Minneapolis and Cyclist come up, we had to read further.
Through the magic of the internet we tracked down Amy and Brian at their blog on Crazy Guy on a Bike.com and asked them a few questions to catch up on the progress of their trip.
Read on to find out why Amy (a crane operator with the Local 49 Operating Engineers) and Brian (a Union Flooring Installer) decided to visit India, the challenges of their trip, and a comparison to the Minneapolis Bike scene.
CTC: What made you decided to pick India for your trip?
Amy and Brian (A&B): India and Bangladesh actually, India has always been on my radar since I was a little kid (Amy). Something about the culture, the vast amounts of history, and it’s ability to captivate people from all over the globe. (for good or bad) Bangladesh because a friend of ours told us it was the strangest place he has ever been to and that sounded like something I just had to see.
CTC: Had you ever done any extensive bike touring here in the states before you left?
A&B: Nope. The two of us are completely new to this bicycle touring idea. We like to travel as independently as possible, in or out of the US. Bicycle touring just seemed like a natural progression and we were not going to let anything like the lack of experience get in the way. We do have some ideas for trips when we get home.
CTC: Back here in the Cities are you two bicycle commuters to work?
A&B: Both of us like to bike to work as much as possible, unfortunately that’s not always feasible. Due to the problem that our jobs sites change frequently and some times daily we never know where we might be working next.
CTC: Was it difficult to prep for the trip while in Minneapolis (we saw that you did some work on the trainers)?
A&B: I remember reading some where that if you’re not in shape when you start your trip bicycle touring….you will be. We worked on the trainers everyday for at least 1 hour, then several times a week, 2 + hours. It helped but I wish we would have done more. The bikes we have were not equip to ride outdoors once MN got a lot of snow. (money being tight for the upcoming trip) So we just had to make do once the temps dropped.
CTC: What has been the biggest challenge so far on the trip?
A&B: Staying healthy! It was the last thing we thought we had to worry about, both of us normally have pretty strong constitutions. India has really tested both our stomachs and had caused us to skip out on a bunch of things we wanted to do and we ended up cycling less than originally planned.
CTC: What was the most challenging day on the bike?
A&B: Leaving the capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka. There are more than 14 million people in this Mega city and very little infrastructure. Only a few major roads lead out of the city and we managed to cycle one of the heaviest trafficked highways (calling it a hwy is a stretch by far) out of the city for 70km before things calmed down even slightly. It was physically and mentally exhausting (we lovingly call this survival biking) and when we couldn’t take the stress anymore there was no decent place to rest out heads. It all worked out but it was one of the most challenging few days we had on this entire trip.
CTC: Have people been mostly friendly to you when you ride up or indifferent?
A&B: It’s been strange to say the least! In Bangladesh we did mostly rural biking in places most tourists don’t touch. So many of the local people have only seen Westerners on tv, we attracted huge amounts of attention but only second to the bicycles themselves. The bicycles in this part of the world are mostly Chinese made single speed cruisers. Our bikes are slightly more complicated and when fully loaded we have been told they look like motorcycles, asked if they are gas-powered, we even got some stranger comments about them being UFOs or helicopters. Everyone has been very friendly sometime to the point of being too friendly. In the big cities people are still curious but less intense.
CTC: We saw that you had a chance to talk about Minneapolis (in the Times of India article), how does cycling in India compare with the Cities?
A&B: The amount of people here is nothing like it is back in Minneapolis. There has never been a moment while on the road when we have absolutely alone. The population is so dense! Back home we have road rules that people for the most part follow. Here there are rules too but they are not enforced. So you never know what the people around you might do next. Definitely keeps you on you toes. Oh yeah and the drive on the left side of the road, that was hard to get used to.
CTC: Do you have a favorite Twin Cities Local Bike Shop?
A&B: I can tell you where I spend most of my money, The Hub and Freewheel and The Angry Catfish.
CTC: Do you have a favorite Twin Cities cycling event?
CTC: Looking forward to coming home, or are you going to miss being on the bike everyday?
A&B: I am looking forward to coming home and that time is arriving soon. We were on the bikes everyday before we left for this trip and plan to keep at it when we get home. There are plans for more touring outside the US already in the pre-planning stages. Which means training starts up again as soon as we touch down.
CTC: Anything else that you would like to say to the folks back here in the Twin Cities?
A&B: See everyone soon! We were misquoted in The Times of India, this never was a world tour just a 2 month excursion and it’s about come to an end. It’s been a great experience but now it’s time to come home. We miss everyone!
Thanks Amy and Brian!
Be sure to check out their blog, for more stories and some truly amazing pictures.