Across Continents

Ken's Blog

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February 19th, 2012

Trusty steed in China

Found myself wondering what’d take the longest. Riding around the world, or reaching my fund-raising target – at least twenty thousand pounds – for The Outward Bound Trust. The cycling part of the challenge might now be complete, but there’s still a long, long way to go.


In fact, eliciting donations seems far harder than the pedalling – no, not seems – actually it is. You can help of course by making a safe and secure gift to The Trust via my JustGiving page – simply click on the button below. Can’t miss it.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!
What next then? Forgive me, but it’s only been a week or so since I came off the road. No more refrigerator living. So, plans a little fluid, but beginning to comfortably take shape. Enough for me to be able to share a brief flavour at least.
It’s all about sharing, encouraging others to pursue their own challenges. Getting them to realise they can achieve much more than they think they can. How you may ask? The main-stay will be giving talks about the whole experience – collections of (hopefully) amusing anecdotes rather than dry chronology – if you’d like me to come and provide an evening’s entertainment, do get in touch via my contacts page – click here.
Brown bear - Grizzly - in captivity - near Anchorage, Alaska
I’ve also a small writing commission for a very august charity. Plans to appear at the Royal Geographical Society’s autumn Exploration weekend next to the equally prestigious Royal Albert Hall. Keen to develop the website into a useful resource for fellow long-haul touring cyclists, compiled with an engineer’s eye – as well as my City & Guilds qualification in Bicycle Maintenance, in real life I’m also a Chartered Engineer.

Sleeping under the stars - Gobi desert - China
And a book? Consider me a bit harsh if you must, but I’ve read a good number of travelogues and the sort, and vanishingly few meet the Gold Standard – that of wider public appeal. Beyond family, friends and devoted cycling fans, or whatever else the mode of transport might be the author used. And a book isn’t a blog. A very different beast. A significant undertaking.
Chinese truck stop - Western China
True, I’ve got the notes for a book – almost 1,800 posts for starters – but no illusion about the sheer amount of effort required to even have a chance of producing something I’d be content to put my name to. And it’d have to offer something different to the many passe accounts out there. Fill a gap in the market. And, much to my own surprise, I’ve an inkling of an idea.. something where the precursor is to have ridden around the world. Which narrows the competition just a bit…
Azerbaijan border sign - in Republic of Georgia
Futuristic musings aside, I’m hoping to appear on 10Radio’s Friday morning Community Show on 9 March 2012. Discussing the transition back to a more conventional existence, as well as touching on what I’ve learnt. And I’ve an idea presenter Pauline won’t let me out of the studio without checking out my legs… All in the best possible taste. More details to follow closer to the show.
Sunset at Deadmans Lake, Alaska
Oh yes, and contrary to the advice from the then Employment Secretary Norman Tebbit back in the 1980’s, I’m getting off my bicycle to find work… But for now at least, time to bring the daily blog posts to a close. It’s been great fun, and I’ve certainly enjoyed the writing – do hope the various stories have been as much fun to read!

So, thank-you for all your love and support

Yours appreciatively

Ken, and his trusty two-wheeled steed Emma



In the office

October 13th, 2011

In the office from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

A brief glimpse into Ken’s world of blogging…. In a trailer – caravan – in Kitwanga, British Columbia



Coming up…..

May 1st, 2011

Back online at last… with a new netbook. Finally catching up with my blog. Rain soaked notes. Scribbles. Doodles on whatever was to hand. But no tattoos. There is a limit to my devotion.

Coming up over the next few weeks? Highway etiquette, some harmless altercations with the natives, spot of dog walking, the odd sleepless night, a day all at sea, dropping in on family, off-road driving. And extreme cooking.

Not forgetting a whole cast of characters. Couple of ballsy Brits on a tandem with a wooden… err.. phallus for a front mudguard. Gnomes. The odd candidate for the Darwin Awards. French if you hadn’t guessed. Couple of Dutch girls. Gaggle of athletic Kiwi women cyclists. Swiss nurses. Quite a few "Cousins". And a provocative German psychologist.

There’s also guest appearances by queue-averse Chinese tourists. And the usual pot-smoking regulars from some of the dubious spots where I’ve pitched my tent. Normally one night only.

You just couldn’t make it up. No need. So. Enjoy. In the meantime, I’m off to circumvent Brisbane. A scenic route through the Glass House Mountains. Two words that normally strike dread in the heart of a long-haul cyclist…. ho hum…



Service announcement

March 2nd, 2011

As the Tropics go Queensland is terribly civilised. Decent coffee. No malaria. But never dull. Floods, cyclones, monsoon rains, man eating crocodiles, deadly snakes and spiders, Dengue Fever. Gives the place a certain charm. Laugh a minute. Actually, I’m loving it. Now I’ve acclimitised. Good to be back under canvas.

What this may mean is that blogging becomes a bit more sporadic. Searching for power to run all my communications equipment. Whilst taking care to keep condensation out of the electronics.

Rest assured, I will be recording life on the road. Photos. Video. Jottings in my pocket book. Just might take a while to pop onto the website. Please be patient.


Twittering on

January 29th, 2011

Bluff Yorkshireman. Aren’t they all? And a good friend. Or at least he was the one that had encouraged me to head off around the world whilst I could. That was a while ago. But we’re still talking. Amongst the friendly banter we exchange by e-mail was the suggestion I might sometimes be a little less than erudite. A bit loquacious. Quite unfounded of course. But it got me thinking all the same…


So, you can now also keep up with my exploits on Twitter – simply click on the link to sign up. In return, you should receive my tweets – short messages, no more than one hundred and forty characters – assuming you’re following me! It’s a tough discipline but I’m determined to give it a go. And even if you don’t sign up, you can still get to see the most recent tweets on my website’s home page – on the lower right hand side.

[With especial thanks to Pete – ex-pat Yorkshireman – now lives in Devon – and Laura at The Outward Bound Trust for cajoling me – in the nicest possible way – to make use of Twitter. And Niall for being the first to follow..]


In touch

October 29th, 2010

Hi folks

Wet day err waiting for something. More of that a bit later. But a chance to do a spot of housekeeping. Sort of. Website statistics, some I’d retrieved, others James the webmaster had sent me. Really very inclement outside.

Intriguing. Supposed I’d been spurred on a bit by the steady rise in the daily hit rate on the website. Helps push the pedals. Sizeable UK audience as you might imagine, but Australia and Russia not that far behind. But dwarfed by the US, close on half the visits.

And just as fascinating, countries with just a few hits. Cameroon, Lebanon, Uruguay. Quite a few others. Even Iran. Oops. But nothing yet from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Expect their internet terminal may be a bit busy responding to Facebook requests. Might have to provoke them a bit…

Coming up as I head towards Hong Kong, quite a bit I hope will both educate and entertain. The usual dramas on the road. Marching bands and Mexican waves. The long arm of the Law. What the butler actually did. Mud and mascara. Spot of armchair adventure, my shorthand for acquiring visas. Terracotta warriors and tea ceremonies in Xi’an. Watching the Westerners. Some very dubious nocturnal ’research’. Oh yes, and the odd satirical dig at despotic nations.

If you’re not already a subscriber to the blog, please do sign up courtesy of those nice people at Google. Notwithstanding their own terms and conditions, your details will not be shared with a third party, visible only to James the webmaster and yours truly. Most of the people who’ve signed up I do recognise, but there’s a few I don’t – so please get in touch, let me know what you think, how you found the site. Would be great to hear from you.

Yours appreciatively



Getting the story out

September 6th, 2010

Getting the story out from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken discusses the importance of sharing his experiences on the road with others, and reveals some of the tools he uses to achieve this

[Author’s note: Video recorded prior to the end of the first year on the road, but publication delayed due to absence of WiFi to upload]


A few changes….

August 8th, 2010

“Ken’s solo endeavour is a remarkable one, his stoicism and good humour an inspiration to others to follow the road less travelled” – Ranulph Fiennes


Want to take another look at the mini-documentary “Nation of Convenience“? Download the latest podcast? See what kit Ken’s carrying, or discover Emma’s vital statistics? Learn about scams, or the nuances of Central Asian visas? Then click on ’resources’ at, or just click here.

Whether you’re an intrepid expeditioner or an armchair adventurer, we hope there’s something for everyone. And over the coming months, we plan to add lots more content to entertain, amuse and inform.


A fresh look…

July 25th, 2010

"An expedition without reportage is called a holiday"

Using the last vestiges for broadband for a while, James the webmaster and I have made a few subtle changes to the site, and we’ve got quite a bit more planned to help keep things fresh and interesting. Some of our ideas may have to wait until my arrival in Hong Kong in early October, but I’d like to think it’ll be worth the wait!

Website press cuttings logo - post version

But, for now, we’ve added a "Press Cuttings" section, and a new map showing my intended route across China. I’m particularly fond of the dragon, and the scale at the top – visit the route section of the website to take a look.

chinamap - post version

Inspired by the very positive feedback to "Nation of Convenience", a further mini-documentary is beginning to take shape. And, particularly for those of you who find accessing the videos tricky, James and I are exploring the world of podcasts. Of course, all the usual blog posts, video clips – with the obligatory shades, interviews with the team at Somerset’s 10Radio, and photos will be popping up along the way. Internet access permitting.

In the dull but necessary department, we’ve added Terms & Conditions at the bottom of each page, a prelude to us adding a lot more downloadable content for both the avid expeditioner and armchair enthusiast alike.

We’ve already assembled lots of useful information on the Central Asian visa game, common scams, as well as more technical stuff like comprehensive equipment and medical kit lists, and Emma’s vital statistics. Hoping to upload all this shortly, the Great Chinese internet firewall permitting. Ok, here’s a couple of quick samples – "What you need to know – scams" and "Emma’s vital statistics" (shown with a more reputable title) – just click on the relevant links at the end of this post. And we’ve lots more ideas for further content than there are nights in the tent to write it….

If you’ve not already done so, you can sign up for automatic blog updates, delivered straight to your e-mail account – click on blog, enter your e-mail address and press ’Subscribe’ – simple. Or join me on Facebook – link on my home page – lots of fresh content there as well. And to find out more about the UK charity, The Outward Bound Trust, I’m raising funds for, either follow the links on my own site, or just click here.

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