Reid riders of the month – November
Sam (@travellingsamofficial) and his wife, Suzie, are our Reid riders of the month for November
Sam and his wife, Suzie, have become our Reid riders of the month for November on their Reid Urban X1 and Urban X1 WSD after catching our eye on Instagram for their marvellous cycling tours! We caught up with Sam to find out more about the couple and their trips on bikes…
Hi! I’m Sam, and my wife, Suzie. We are from England, but spend as much time as possible travelling. In fact, the last 3 and a half years, we have been full time travelling around the world. Until now, we have enjoyed every minute. One of the first questions we get asked is how we afford it? Hard work and determination is the real answer. We budget well and spend on average 25% of our old monthly spend living in the UK. Also, we work when we need to.
What I mean is that no goal is unachievable if you are determined enough to make it. Our goal is to see as much of the world as we can. We really enjoy overland travel (which has nothing to do with Suzie’s dislike of planes…). So, this means that we try and take on some amazing overland adventures. So far, we have built three campervans – one to travel Europe, and two in New Zealand. Notably, we have travelled from the UK to Hong Kong by train. More recently, we have started cycle touring. We talk about more of our adventures on Travelling Sam.
When and how did you get into bike riding?
I started biking properly when I was 18. At first, I began doing triathlons – mainly sprints for the first few years. So, cycling was naturally a part of my training. Personally, I always enjoyed the cycle part of the three sports the most and kept pushing myself to go further and faster. When I was 23, I cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End for charity. For those that don’t know, it’s the two furthest points in the UK, from the north-east of Scotland to the south-west of England, roughly 1,600km. At 28, I started full Ironman distance races, which consist of a 3.8 km swim, 180 km cycle, and then a 42.2 km marathon run! (I know, I don’t look like your typical triathlete, but it hasn’t stopped me!)
On the other hand, Suzie didn’t really start cycling until 2018 when we decided to cycle from Tokyo, Japan to Seoul, South Korea (go big or go home, right?).
So, what made you choose Reid and why the Urban X1 for both of you?
When we were in New Zealand, we came up with this idea to cycle from Tokyo to Seoul. So, naturally we needed to get some bikes that would be sturdy enough to take on that distance, but also relatively light weight (excess baggage fees are the worst). Notably, Suzie’s stipulation was that the bikes must not have a riding position where ‘your bum is higher than your head’. Hence, it lead us towards hybrid/commuter bikes.
Honestly, we hadn’t heard of Reid bikes at this point, but the sales assistant in our local EVO Cycles in Pukekohe highly recommended them. Suzie was swayed instantly because ‘Reid’ is her maiden name. Clearly, it was meant to be. The fact that the bikes were extremely comfortable and pretty versatile really helped, too!
Is this your first Commuter bike?
I’ve always owned race bikes for triathlons, so this was my first commuter bike purchase. This was also Suzie’s first bike since she was about 12, but now she has caught the bug. I’m going to keep coming up with cycle challenges, so we can get out on the bikes and cycle together.
So, how have the Urban X1’s treated you two?
We loved the Reid Urban X1! The bikes are sturdy as anything and have seen us through extreme weather. This includes two cyclones, flooding, tornadoes, and, on the other extreme, heat waves. Significantly, they are easy to load up with our touring gear, and look great, too. When we cycled from Fujikawaguchiko to Fuji City – a total distance of about 70 km, but with approximately 50 km of pure downhill – the bikes managed to handle the downhill speeds, bends and wet roads with ease. I’ve always found that to truly test a bike out, you need to use it during harsh conditions as well as hot and sunny days.
What and where have you been with it?
The Reid Urban X1 bikes carried us from Tokyo to Fukuoka in Japan, and then from Busan to Seoul in South Korea. The Japan part of our trip was eventful, weather-wise at least. Particularly, the bikes took us up mountains (literally up Mount Fuji), and across countryside. Additionally, we used the bikes within cities to explore, and island hopping on the Shimanami Kaido – an absolute must do for any cyclist visiting Japan. The Shimanami Kaido is a 70ish-km stretch of cycle path crossing several islands connected by bridges – one being over 4km long!
Remarkably, South Korea has some incredible cycle routes. They have a dedicated cycle network (just for bikes) around the country that was set up here in 2012 and has paths throughout. The most popular being the 633 km ‘Cross Country’ route that takes you along 4 bike paths between the capital, Seoul and Korea’s second biggest city, Busan (or the opposite direction like we did). To make the cycling routes into even more of an achievement, you can buy a cycle passport to stamp at certification centres along the way. On completion of the Cross Country bike path, you can also buy a medal. Actually, Suzie openly admits that the shiny medal is the only reason she actually agreed to cycle the distance!
Do you have any other future adventures planned?
We’ve actually just been back to South Korea to complete another set of cycle paths (and collect another medal). This time, we’ll complete just over 1,600 km. Once again, we completed the Cross Country route. In detail, we cycled south from Seoul to Busan, rather than north like we had done in 2018. We then took on three other cycle paths to complete the 4 Rivers Medal. (I’m pretty certain the idea of another medal was what encouraged Suzie to go out there again). We’re hoping to head back out to Korea in 2021 and complete the remaining paths for the final medal: the Grand Slam. You can see some of our adventures on our Instagram.
Next year, I’ve also got a lot of triathlon training to do as I am participating in two Iron-distance triathlons, one in the UK and one in the USA. Moreover, through the winter, I’m looking at getting some miles in on my hybrid bike and generally exploring more of our local countryside.
Finally, what advice would you give to those who have never been on a biking adventure or even a bike?
For those first getting into cycling, take it one kilometre at a time. Build it up and go to places that you like being. If you hate cycling on roads, then find a place you can cycle off road. But ultimately, it just comes down to getting out there and spending time on your bike.
For cycle touring, start with somewhere that loves cyclists! Korea is always our top recommendation as the cycle infrastructure is simply incredible. However, places like Denmark and the Netherlands (where cycling is part of the national culture) are also great choices. Take your time, cycle touring (at least for us) is about the journey, not about getting from A to B. So, it doesn’t matter if you do 10 km or 100 km in a day, as long as you are enjoying the ride.