Travelling Around The World With Soundcloud (Going Slowly)
Meet Tyler and Tara, who have spent the last year (and a bit) traveling around the world, uploading field recordings to Soundcloud as they go.
We caught up with the pair during a few days break in Latvia, and ask them a few questions about their adventure.
What is it that you are doing, and how long have you been traveling?
We are on an overland/sea expedition from Glasgow, Scotland to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We’re keeping a daily journal of our travels, complete with photos from every day on the road. We are primarily traveling by bicycle, though we have spent a fair bit of time on ferries, trains, and oddly enough, scooters as well! As of this writing, we have been on the road a total of 461 days. At the moment, we’re in a car, making our way towards Russia with the intention of driving across Siberia. We originally wanted to take the Trans-Siberian Railway, but later discovered doing so is very difficult with two giant touring bicycles.
What made you want to travel the world by bike?
The inspiration came while watching Ewan McGregor & Charlie Boorman’s motorcycle documentary “Long Way Down”. While they guys were in the deserts of Africa, they met Jason Lewis, a man circumnavigating the earth with human power. On a whim, I decided this was a great idea; texted Tara and asked if she wanted to cycle around the world with me. At first, she only wanted to do a small tour in France. Over the course of years and months of planning and preparation, our confidence levels soared, and well, things got a little out of hand!
You must be traveling quite light, have you been living out of a saddle bag all this time?
Actually, quite the opposite; not all cycle tourists are gram counters! Each of our bicycles weighs somewhere between 120-140 pounds fully loaded with equipment, food and water. Much of this weight is in the form of electronics, as we are keeping a (nearly) real-time daily journal of our trip in words, pictures and sounds. Additionally, I (Tyler) work from the road as a one-man software development company. My applications primarily provide solutions for the heavy trucking, public transit and insurance industries. Somehow, I’m managing to make just a bit more than we’re spending.
For the last year we’ve been living and working out of eight panniers, one handlebar bag and two waterproof duffels!
Where has your route taken you so far? Where are you headed?
So far, we have cycled Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia, Greece, Serbia, Macedonia and Romania, covering roughly 15,000km under our own power. From Romania, we took a train to Munich, Germany. From there, we cycled north to Berlin and bought a used car for our trek across Russia. Surprisingly, this turned out to be incredibly easy! We left Berlin on the 20th of June in our 1991 Toyota Corolla Xli with both of our bicycles completely disassembled in the trunk.
We have since driven through Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Tomorrow, we’ll add Estonia to that list! From there, we were going to cross directly into Russia, but on a whim, Tara devised a plan to drive through Finland and Norway, reaching the northernmost point of mainland Europe. Once we go on this “little 90 degree detour”, we’ll head back down into Russia at the Nujimaa (Finland) / Bruschnishnaya (Russia) border crossing to make our way through Siberia. We’ll ultimately sell our car somewhere in or around Mongolia. From there, we continue south, again on bicycles to Kuala Lumpur.
What have been some of your favorite places/experiences?
Phew! There are far many too to recount, but some of our more recent favorites involve driving a scooter through the Sahara in Tunisia, rescuing a pair of border collie pups, cycling through remote mountain villages of Romania, meeting awesome new friends in Germany, and experiencing a traditional Lithuanian sauna.
What has been the biggest challenge for you both in your journey?
I had scarcely ever been camping or biking before we left, so it was quite a process to learn to live with hill-climbing, road grime, insects everywhere, and permanent sticky sweat. Being in various states of dampness/wetness for rainy days on end was very disheartening at first too. Now, these things rarely faze me, but it is always a constant challenge to balance travel, rest, and recording it all in our journal.
Learning to slow down and enjoy the present moment instead of always striving to go further, faster, harder. This trip, and Tara, have inexorably changed my life for the better in that regard. Our website was originally “Adventure Riding (www.advriding.com)” but Tara insisted we make it something less “extreme” sounding.
What was your inspiration for uploading short field recordings from your travels?
We were on the road about nine months before we got our field recorder. Our inspiration? Constantly hearing beautiful/awful/strange/humorous sounds and wishing we had a way to document them. Now, our recordings capture snippets of our journey which we find to be as memorable to us as our photographs.
What equipment are you using?
We use a Zoom H4n, recording primarily in 44.1/24. We process the results with Audacity, the extent of which (so far) is really nothing more than fade in/out. We still have a LOT to learn about recording, and audio in general. If we could do it all over again, we would get a device that wasn’t music-oriented, maybe a Fostex FR2LE. Obviously, we use SoundCloud to host our audio. Your service rules.
What’s on the horizon for your journey? Do you feel like you are on target for your 2011 arrival?
The “Russia problem” has been staring us in the face for a long time now. We’re both really excited to finally get there and start crossing the largest country in the world! Mongolia on bicycles will likely be the most remote place we visit, and we’re really looking forward to that too. Somehow, the more we travel, the more there is to see, not the other way around. It feels like we could be out here for a lifetime and never “finish” but we are definitely staying on target for a Spring 2011 arrival. We miss our families too much to stay gone longer!
Good luck to both of you!
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