Ten Years of Cycle Touring

Garry McGivern in Nevada

Today the 18th June 2018 marks ten years of cycle touring, on the 18th June 2008 I set off on my very first long-distance cycle ride and the start of my cycling adventures! The longest distance that I’d cycled before this was 200-miles, and now I was about to embark on a 1500-mile trip from Spain to England!

Man on a bike
Garry down the New Forest on a training ride in 2008

After completing that first long-distance cycle ride, I found I had a real taste for long-distance cycling and cycle touring and haven’t looked back since!

In ten years of cycle touring a lot of miles have passed, 52,679 to be precise! And in those 50,000 odd miles, I’ve been shown nothing but warmth and friendship wherever I’ve been. Often when I’ve not been able to find somewhere to stop for the night, complete strangers have taken me into their homes and given me a bed and food for the night and taken nothing in return!

Family outside their shop
One of the many families that have taken me in for the night

At times the roads have been tough, and I’d be lying if I said I’d enjoyed every day, of course, I haven’t but the tough days have been very few and far between and are soon forgotten! Replaced with the many wonderful days I’ve had in the saddle!

In ten years of cycle touring, I’ve cycled in 38 different countries on five continents, and I don’t have any intentions of stopping just yet! And although I’m not cycling very much at the moment, I will return! By my reckoning, I’ve still got another 158 countries and at least one continent to cycle and explore! Plus parts of the countries I’ve already cycled in, that should keep me going for a bit!

In the ten years of cycle touring, I’ve raised with your kind help over £18,000 for charities.

Touring bike
Passepartout on the Isle of Wight in 2008
The bike

My ten years of cycle touring have all been on the same bike! My trusty Thorn EXP now nicknamed Passepartout! Which if anybody doesn’t know: Jean Passepartout was the fictional character in the Jules Verne novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, and is the valet of the novel’s Englishman’s main character Phileas Foggs.

While I never cycled around the world in eighty days, and my names not Phileas! My bike is like my valet, carrying my bags!

Man with a glass of port
Enjoying a glass of port in Portugal in 2009

Many of you have been with me right from the start, and I thank you for the support you’ve given me over the past ten years, and I look forward to the next ten years and beyond!

Books

Some of the daily blogs that I send out when touring have now been re-written and made into E-Books and paperbacks which are available to buy from Amazon.

May 2018 Update

Ships waiting out at sea

The month started off well with a cycle ride to Salisbury and the Isle of Wight; It was only a short ride, as I only had a couple of days to spare!

Salisbury cathedral
Salisbury cathedral

Bit of a strange place to go you may think, especially after the poisoning of that former Russian spy, but I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go that wasn’t too far away and that I’d not been to in the past month or two! I think I got away without picking anything up! But then who could tell I seem to have so many things wrong with me, it would just get lost in amongst all my other ailments!

Police line
The scene of the poisoning in Salisbury still cordoned off

The rest of the month has been spent at home as I’ve had something on nearly every day, not that I think I would have been able to go too far I’m in a lot of pain most days and it doesn’t seem to matter whether I sit, stand or cycle! The only way I seem to get any relief is by laying down!

Netley Abbey
Netley Abbey

 

Health

Things on the hip front are moving in the right direction albeit very slowly! I’ve had my pre-operation assessment which seemed to be okay, (just seemed like a lot of form filling to me) and I’ve had the occupational therapy people around to assess my needs post operation! I’ve also attended “joint school” and not the type you smoke! It was more about the detail of the operation, what physio to do, diet and what anaesthesia they use, all useful stuff but no doubt I’ll have forgotten it all by the time I have my op! In theory, it’s all done to aid a speedy recovery! I’m all for that!

Floating Bridge
The Floating Bridge on the Isle of Wight was working for once

Not having any time to go on another tour this month and spending a lot of time at home, has given me plenty of time to make loads more videos! Which can you can find on my YouTube channel. And luckily for you, there’s still more to come! I’m still editing the videos from last months tour to Swanage and London, and I’ve still got the ride I did at the beginning of this month to Salisbury to do, I bet you can’t wait! Subscribe to my YouTube channel then you’ll always know when a new video gets published!

Bicycle on a table
Garry’s new workbench

I forgot to mention it, but a few months ago I noticed that my old patio table was rotten, so I decided to make a new one. Anyway, after making it, I was going to have a barbecue to try it out, but I couldn’t find any friends to come round! So it now comes in handy as a workbench!

MSR Leaky Tent Video

Garry brought his new MSR Hubba Tour 2 tent in February 2017 which he thinks is a superb tent. However, he has had issues with the waterproofness of it ever since the first time it rained!

Inside a leaky MSR tent
Inside the wet MSR

Now after 15-months and three new tents later Garry has had enough with the poor quality and design flaws of the MSR tent, so he’s made a video to highlight the problems!

Garry also wrote an updated review of the tent which you can read by clicking here.

To watch Garry’s “MSR Leaky Tent Video” you can either stay here or head on over to Garry’s YouTube channelEither way, you’ll find it boring!

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MSR Hubba Tour 2 Leaks

Rain drp in a tent

Well, it’s been 15-months since I purchased the MSR Hubba Tour 2 tent, so I thought it was about time to write an updated review of the tent.

As I said in my previous post, I was excited to see the MSR Hubba Tour 2 and saw it as the long-awaited replacement for my old MSR Velo and immediately bought one in February 2017! But a replacement it certainly isn’t, it just doesn’t even come close! The tent doesn’t work!

MSR Hubba Tour 2 leaks
One of the leaks in the front vestibule

Now I’m not too sure whether MSR tested this tent out before releasing it, but if they had I’m sure that they would have worked out some of the major problems with the tent for themselves!

The main problems being, it leaks along the seams, the fly stretches too much then sags, and there’s not enough space between the fly and inner tent allowing them to make contact (no matter what you do) this then lets condensation drip in! And the fly screen is a waste of time!

After enjoying a few nights away in the new MSR Hubba Tour 2 without any problems I was enjoying the new tent, okay the material on the outer fly was pretty flimsy, and I needed to tighten it up a couple of times before settling in for the night! No matter how taught I thought I’d got the fly, as soon as the air temperature dropped and it got a bit damp the fly would sag then drip condensation! Maybe this was one of the tents un-doings having to tighten the fly so much?

Drip
With the inner tent touching the outer tent water then drips into the tent

And yes maybe there wasn’t enough room between the inner tent and outer tent and no matter what I did they always touched causing condensation to drip in!

Inside a tent
The inner tent touching the outer tent

But I was prepared to put up with these as I said I liked the layout of the tent and it suited me down to the ground.

But then the inevitable night came when it rained! No problem I’m in my new tent everything will be fine!

When the morning arrived, I noticed that there were one or two wet patches in the corners of the inner tent. There was also some water in the vestibule, but I decided to put these down to condensation, after all my tent was only a couple of months old and had only been out a handful of times there was no way it could be leaking, could it?

The next night it started to rain again, and I must admit that I was a little nervous about staying dry! I was right to be nervous the water was pouring in! Through the corners of the inner tent, from the toggles that attach the inner tent to the outer tent and from around the front vestibule! To say I wasn’t happy was an understatement, the new tent that I had waited years for was leaking like a sieve! And to top it all one of the of the inner tent attachments broke! I wasn’t happy!

Broken toggle
The broken toggle

After returning home from my trip, I wrote to MSR explaining the situation. The reply I got back was not what I’d expected! I was practically called a liar and told it must be condensation as nobody else has complained!

As you can imagine this immediately got my back up and felt that it was very bad customer service on MSR’s part! To be told I’m lying, especially after I’d sung the praises of the MSR Hubba Tour 2!

Rain drp in a tent
Rain dripping in from one of the toggles that attach the inner tent to the outer tent

Eventually, after a bit of communication MSR agreed that I should send the tent to them (at my expense) so they could test it.

After a few weeks, I got word back that yes the tent was faulty and they would replace it, but unfortunately, they didn’t have any in stock! I asked if I could have the old one back as a stop gap, but that had been thrown away!

My new tent eventually arrived a month later, but because of one thing and another, I never got to use it again until this year.

April 2018

Roll forward to this year (2018) and the start of the camping season and yes you’ve guessed it, on my first night out in the rain the new MSR leaked and even more than the old one! Although one good thing the inner tent seemed to stay dry this time! It was, however, leaking in the corners of the vestibule and this time above the vestibule door; it poured in through there!

Leaking tent
The leak around the main door
WHAT’S gone WRONG AT MSR

Whoever passed this tent off for general sale should be fired, was it not tested in the field first? (If you’ll pardon the pun) Apart from the water tightness issues and the inner tent touching the outer fly! There’s an issue with the fly screen on the main door! What purpose does that serve? Yes, it keeps fly’s from entering by the main door, but with no fly screen on the vents, it’s useless! Do these issues not get passed on to production? If they want to contact me, I’d be more than happy to help!

Does MSR not care about the quality of their equipment anymore? I’d already read one or two disparaging reports about the MSR Hubba Tour tent but chose to ignore them as I am such a big fan! But you can only push somebody so far!

Although my main problem with the MSR Hubba Tour 2 is that I want it to work, I don’t want it to fail! I think it’s layout and design are very good and ideally suited to cycle touring, but the reality of it all is that it doesn’t! And after defending the tent for the past 15-months, I feel I can no longer.

What has happened at MSR? Their equipment used to be solid, reliable and long lasting! Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case with the MSR Hubba Tour 2 tent!

MSR Hubba Tour 2 a brilliant tent as long as it doesn’t rain!

I have since received another replacement outer tent which like the previous ones still leaks! As of May 2018, I am currently awaiting another response from MSR.

Watch Garry’s youtube video

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