About Us

About Us pages are hard to write.  So instead of writing a personal statement or CV we thought to ask our friends and family what questions they wanted to ask us about our future trip.

Why is the blog called Detour to Moose Jaw?
Soph: I was talking about our trip with my Uncle Brian and saying how I loved the idea of cycling to and through places I liked the names of, and there are some great sounding places in the States and Canada: Chowchilla, Sammamish, Deadhorse, Rough and Ready (I'm not joking), Moose Jaw.  I said I liked the freedom we'd have to detour to these places.  Brian said "Detour to Moose Jaw - that could be the name of your book!"  And I loved it and it stuck!  It doesn't work in Tom's accent.  De-too-er to Moose Jaw.  But that just makes it funnier!

Why would you leave perfectly good jobs?  What are you going to do afterwards?
Soph: We've both for a long time dreamed of doing humanitarian relief work, with an organisation like MSF.  The cycle trip is part of our long term plan to get into this line of work.  Our research tells us that we need a minimum of 2 years work experience in a relevant role, plus at least 6 months travel experience in developing countries - that's what this cycle tour is.  When we finish the tour we hope to do the Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and then hopefully get roles with a Humanitarian NGO.

What you're going to do is amazing - whose idea was it?
Tom: We are not sure really, check out our post Origins of an Idea.

Why did you choose North, Central and South America and not Europe?
Tom: We did look at setting out from our home of Sheffield and just head South and see where the road took us but for me language barrier was a concern.  We are not massively experienced cycle tourists so, I suppose, the additional hurdle of poor communication put together with understandable nerves about the adventure anyway might have meant we would have never set off in the first place.
Soph: Climate.

Have you been to any of the countries you're visiting before?
Tom: I have been to United States before but mainly to Florida for the theme parks, so the wrong side of the country.  Soph and I went to New York and Ohio a few years ago but again that's quite a few miles from where we are planning. Apart from that, no.
Soph: Aside from our little trip to the US nope.

What do you hope to get out of your trip?
Tom: Massive calves and thighs!!!
Soph: Joy!  Adventure!  Freedom!  Character!  Stories!  Fitness!

What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge that you're going to have to face during your trip?
Tom: U.S. immigration? Not sure really, I think it'll change as we go on.  I think cycling across the plains in Canada is going to be tough mentally.  The biggest challenges are all going to be mental I think, I hope.

How do you think this trip is going to change you as a person?
Tom: I'll get massive calves and thighs!!!
Soph: I hope it will make us more resilient, fitter, kinder, more interesting, braver.

Which country are you most looking forward to seeing?
Tom: All of them.  I am nervous about some of the countries that people like to tell horror stories about but we'll just have to keep our wits about us and I'm sure everything will be fine.

Which characteristic will be your greatest asset on the journey?
Tom: My adaptability I think and I'm a pretty good problem solver so both of those together means that we should be able to get get out of any sticky situations.
Soph: Hmm this really is a bit of an interview question.  I think I'm good at organising and I'm pretty good at seeing the funny or positive side of difficult situations.

How have you budgeted for the journey?
Tom: Soph did a lot of research about other riders spending habits.
Soph: We're planning on around £20 a day.  But obviously this will fluctuate depending on the country.  We'll keep you posted on how we do on this in the blog as I think its useful for other people considering a similar trip.

What camping 'routines' do you have?
Soph: From our little trial run we settled into a few routines which seemed to work well.  In the morning Tom gets up and sorts breakfast and I get all the stuff inside the tent packed away.  These 2 activities seem to take roughly the same amount of time and mean that after breakfast we can take the tent down together and then set off.

How do you plan to shower in the wild?
Tom: Shower?  I struggle with the concept now.
Soph: Rivers, lakes, the ocean, wet wipes.

What's your favourite camp fire drink?
Tom: Pina Colada with a flaming pineapple slice; oh not that kind of camp drink.

Have you got a playlist planned for each country?
Soph: No, but we've both talked about doing a desert island discs just for fun and see how long we can cope with only listening to 8 songs each!

Aside from blogs & photos for memories, will you collect any souvenirs to mark your journey e.g. Posing at landmarks, beer mats from bars, stones from camp sites etc.
Tom: I don't think we'll be carrying souvenirs around too much because of the extra weight and I've heard you can get quite addicted to souvenir hunting if you're not careful so it'll just be memories, a diary and experiences. But we will be trying to detour to places with interesting names of course.

40 miles a day sounds a lot to someone like me who hasn't ridden a bike since I was a kid.  Are you worried at all that you might get burned out?
Soph: Well we're planning to do 60 miles on day 1, 60 miles on day 2 and then a rest day on day 3.  Our average speed so far has been around 12mph so that's only actually 5 hours in the saddle.  Our longest day in the saddle so far was 8 hours to do 68 miles when we had the continual headwind and that was hard, but doable.  I'm not worried about getting burned out, but if we feel like we need a break then as long as we're not somewhere where our visa is about to run out then we can just have a break.  That's the beauty of being masters of our own destiny!

How do you think you'll cope with riding on the other side of the road?
Tom: Not an issue, I'm adaptable.
Soph: I tend to follow behind Tom so as long as he knows which side of the road to be on I should be ok!

What tyre pressure will you be rocking?
Tom: The Thorn Nomad manual has a rather precise 53 PSI for the front and 58 PSI rear.

Do you have a plan B if your bikes break?
Tom: Hopefully the bikes won't break, they are heavy duty steel framed beasts but we have a reserve fund to fall back on if needs be.  If anything goes really wrong we'll just get somewhere safe and have an extended holiday before heading home. 
Soph: Part of the reason we decided on the Thorn Nomads in the end was the amazing customer service that Thorn and Rohloff are renowned for.  There are stories (not many as the bikes are very solid) of cyclists having replacement wheels being posted out to Africa etc and steel is totally weldable. The bikes breaking is really not a concern for me.

For Tom; roughly how many chocolate milkshakes per day are you planning to drink on your adventure?
Tom: Not sure if I'll have that many unfortunately.  I might have to write it down as a luxury item.

For Sophie: What techniques will you employ to keep Tom focussed on the journey (simple glittery things, or something more complex)?
Soph: Tom doesn't need encouragement to focus on the journey, he very much fixes his sights on the horizon and wants to get to it as quick as possible.  The trick is to get him to keep looking over his shoulder at me panting and struggling and not leave me too far behind.

Will you utilise one of the Drive Thru wedding booths they have in America?
Tom: They have drive thru wedding booths?  Interesting, very interesting!!
Soph: We won't have a car in the States.

How many tyre changes will you need to make?
Tom: Impossible to know.  On a ten day trip we did on good roads we had 4 between the two of us. So what's that 2 every 5 days, let's round that up to 3 a week so we are looking at the 320 mark; wow!
Soph: Or do you mean tyres not inner tubes/punctures?  If so I think it could be 2 tyre changes.  Depends on the terrain.  If we're doing more dirt roads/off-roading in South America we'll likely put on some knobblier tyres.

What was the weirdest or funniest situation which you have experienced during your cycle trips?
Tom: Check out the post about Jeff, poor poor Jeff.
Soph: The guy that wouldn't fill our water bottles because it was 'against regulations'.

On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you about your trip?
Tom & Soph: Dialled up to 11!!!!