Read on to learn more about:

  • The Americas Trip: 2017 – 2019
  • Map and Stats
  • Routes and Info
  • The bikes
  • Luggage
  • Camping and Gear 
  • Camping and Gear V2 (2019)

The Americas Trip: 2017 – 2019

We left the UK in September 2017 with no real plan or experience and spent 19 months cycling the length of South America from its southernmost city, Ushuaia. We cycled through 9 countries: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, in a generally in a northerly direction. Starting in Patagonia set the bar exceptionally high for the rest of the trip. There was dramatic scenery around every corner with mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and lakes a common daily sight. We crossed the Chile-Argentina border numerous times and often thought about just spending the rest of the trip here because how could it get better?

The view of Mount Fitzroy when we rode into El Chaltén is still one if the best we’ve had on this trip. So lucky!

We eventually left Patagonia after 5 months and chose to take a detour from the typical touring cyclists’ route which follows the Andes, deciding to cycle from Valparaiso on the western coast of Chile to the beaches on the eastern coast of Uruguay. Although this wasn’t always the most interesting in terms of scenery, we met some of the most incredible people on this part of the trip and also got to visit Iguazu falls, one of the natural wonders of the world. We rode briefly through Paraguay, before getting a bus back across Argentina and then continued to follow the Andes mountains. From the salt flats of Bolivia to some of the more remote parts of central Peru, the volcanoes of Ecuador and Colombian mountain towns, we fell in love with the northern part of South America too. 

Once in Colombia we had a decision to make and that was influenced by having three weddings later in the year back in the UK. We chose to fly from Cartagena to Florida and ride north to Toronto. It was a massive change compared to South America but still an interesting cultural experience. The North American people were friendly hosts who went out of their way to help us and show us some of the best parts of their country. 

You can see more photos from our Americas trip organised by country, along with some country specific facts and stats on our Gallery page.

Map and Stats

Our final route map is below, along with some statistics from our two year Americas adventure. 

You can easily zoom in and if you want to check out our route in more detail, you can. By clicking on the part of the route that you are interested in you find out which day of our trip that was, a brief description of where we rode from and to, along with the distance, elevation, total climb and descent. Pretty neat huh!

Map and stats last updated: 25/08/2019 – In Toronto, Canada.

Since leaving Ushuaia (01/10/2017)... 
Days on the road:659
Distance covered:19,940 km
Average daily distance:62.51 km
Time in the saddle:1441 hours 26 minutes
Longest day:138 km - Brunswick to Savannah, GA. USA
Longest time riding without a day off:12 days
Villa La Angostura to Pichelemu (Argentina to Chile - February 2018)
Total elevation gain:295,739 m
Biggest daily elevation gain:2947m - Paso Sico, Argentina-Chile
Highest point reached by bike:4959 masl - Punta Pumacocha, Peru Divide
Highest campsite:4569 masl - Punta Ushuayca, Peru Divide
Average speed:13.83 km/h
Top speed:71.78 km/h
Countries visited:10
Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, USA
Borders crossed:18
Nights under canvas:163
Nights in paid for accomodation:176
Nights free hospitality (WarmShowers, Couchsurfing, Bomberos, Locals):185
Workaway/Volunteering97
Holiday in England27
Strongest wind:Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina/Chile
Most rain:Peru Great Divide, Mid-October 2018
Hottest day:38c Tatacoa Desert, Colombia
Coldest night:-5.5 in the tent - Paso Sico, Chile (at 4100m)

Have we missed anything or is there anything else you would like to know about our American cycling adventure? Chances are we have the answer (Ben meticulously noted most things on his spreadsheet!) so get in contact with us and we’ll add it to the list, or if we don’t have the data we’ll collect it on the next trip!

Routes and Info:

Before we left for South America our planning was mainly focussed on what we were going to take and how the bikes would be set up. We had looked at some other cyclists’ blogs but they were mostly narrative recounts of people’s trip and they didn’t always provide specific details. When you are sat at home reading these they are entertaining and make you feel excited, but on the road you want the fine details such as where to sleep or buy supplies, what the road is like and what you will find on the way.

As such, we have written a number of resource pages which you can find HERE that have further information, tips and insights that we feel would have been useful before starting out. We will update these as we go and hopefully you will find these helpful too and we can inspire you to venture out of your comfort zone. If there is anything specific you would like us to write about, do let us know by sending us a message.

How do we plan our route?

We use the app, “MapOut” to plan and record the ride each day (available on Apple devices only). In Ben’s own words, “It is the best £5 that I’ve ever spent!”

As MapOut uses open street map data, it has a worldwide data base of roads, points of interest and it’s useful for cities too, as it shows everything from hostels to banks and supermarkets. The biggest reason why it is so awesome is the fact it’s easy to draw a route for cycling, walking or finding the shortest distance (it even creates routes for you from point A to B), view the elevation profile and share it between devices.

We also use Google Maps to scope out road and trail conditions because it shows a satellite view of the more remote locations. Between the two of these, we can plan a great ride even if it isn’t a recognised bikepacking route.

To decide where we are going to ride we read websites and blogs from cyclists that have ridden that area before, speak to other cyclists we meet on the road (which is the best for up-to-date information) or ask locals about the upcoming conditions (though always take this with a pinch of salt, “flat” always means “it is slightly uphill” and “it’s only half an hour away” translates as “it’s a six hour ride”).

Some of our go-to sites are bikepacking.com for route and gear inspiration, andesbybike.com for routes in the Andes mountains, tour.tk is a wealth of general information and crazyguyonabike.com is a bit of an outdated website but it hosts thousands of cyclists’ blogs, updated daily and is easily searchable by location.

In rural Ecuador, locals couldn’t understand how and why two gringos were in their small village way up in the hills. Ben showed them our route on MapOut and they couldn’t believe that their settlement was on there!

How far do we ride each day?

We ride anywhere between 40km and 120km per day, but it depends on a combination of factors such as: terrain, weather, road conditions, how we’re feeling that day, distance between resupply points or what there is to see on the way.

When we are on the bikes we tend to treat each day as a mountain bike ride so we don’t take many breaks, usually we stop every three hours or so when we get hungry and then when we get tired at the end of the day. We like to make the most of our time on the bikes so unless there is somewhere amazing to camp, a cool place to visit or the weather has closed in, we ride from early morning until about an hour before sunset when we’ll start to look for a place to wildcamp.

Rest days are usually every fifth or sixth day but again this depends on where we are, how far there is between towns, the weather and riding conditions. There have been stretches where we’ve ridden for 3 weeks with only two days off and times when we’ve spent nearly three weeks in one place. The nice thing about how we are travelling is that it doesn’t matter how long we spend in a place or how long we ride for as we have no time limit – only the seasons and the bank balance influence the rate at which we travel.

The bikes

For some the bikes would be the most daunting aspect of planning a trip of this type, but as Ben is a bicycle mechanic this bit was reasonably straightforward. Combining knowledge of what we wanted with what was available through the shop he worked at we came up with a custom spec for two bikes that would hopefully stand up to the rigours of our adventure.

Some details of the original 2017 bike build can be found on the blog HERE or read on for the actual spec list.

As the bike and kit list is an ongoing project, we’re constantly updating it with any items that we have replaced, lost or added along the way.

In 2018, we briefly returned to the UK to surprise our family for Christmas and replaced various parts on the bikes, making them more like the mountain bikes we used to ride before we started touring (see photos below). You can read more about our decisions on the blog HERE.

September 2017 bike build: 

January 2019 bike build: 

Luggage:

Bags/Storage:Ben:Steph:
HandlebarOrtlieb Handlebar RollOrtlieb Handlebar Roll
HandlebarOrtlieb Accessory PouchOrtlieb Accessory Pouch
SeatpackOrtlieb SeatpackPRO Seatpack Medi
Rear RacktopOrtlieb 13L Medium Weight DrybagOrtlieb 24L Racktop bag
Rear panniersOrtlieb Sport Roller Classic 25L (total capacity/2) - Bought in Montevideo for extra carrying capacity
Front RacktopN/AOrtlieb 13L Medium Weight Drybag (Moved on to rear rack for better weight distribution)
Frame BagOrtlieb 6LOrtlieb 4L
FeedbagsMiss Grape Bud (x2)Miss Grape Bud (x2)
Top Tube BagSpecialized Burra BurraSpecialized Burra Burra
Fork CagesBlackburn Outpost Cage (x2)Blackburn Outpost Cage (x2)
StrapsSurly Junk Strap / Voile Strap SelectionSurly Junk Strap / Voile Strap Selection
Empty luggage bags and straps weight:3.5kg2.5kg

Changes for 2019 include a Carradice rack top bag for Ben instead of the seat pack and Steph has small Arkel panniers instead of the Rack Pack. (Compare the bike photos above or see ‘Camping & Gear V2’ below for more.)

Camping and Gear 

So this all started when we managed to pick up a cheap deal on an MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent and from there we continued to buy kit that we thought would take us around the Americas. Sleeping bag research and how to find the best deal on a Thermarest took over our lives for a few weeks (spreadsheets were made and nights were spent restlessly considering the options!) until eventually we found what we considered to be a good deal and met our extensive criteria. *It is worth nothing here that our ‘criteria’ was from information that we had researched online, from other people’s blogs and simply a guess really. We had never done anything like this before so everything was a gamble, albeit a well-researched one.

First night camping in South America in our trusty MSR Mutha Hubba HP tent. Tierra Del Fuego National Park

Below is our final packing list as of September 2017. No doubt this will change as we go around but this is what we are taking and how much it weighs, excluding food or water.

Overall kit weight (Ben 2017): 22kg

Overall kit weight (Steph 2017): 16.5kg

Camping:Ben:Steph:
TentMSR Mutha Hubba HP
Extra PegsMSR Groundhog/Mini (x6)
Sleep matThermarest NeoAir All Season SVThermarest NeoAir All Season SV
Sleep bagMountain Equipment Xero 550Mountain Equipment Glacier SL 600
Compression Bag for Sleeping BagExped Telecompression SExped Telecompression S
Bag LinerLifeventure Silk LinerLifeventure Silk Liner
PillowSea to Summit Areos Premium - LargeSea to Summit Areos Premium - Large
Footprint/GroundsheetMSR Mutha Hubba HP
TarpTyvek Sheet
Pole repair sleeveMSR
Mat repair kitThermarest (w/Mat)
Cooking:Shared:
StoveMSR Whisperlite Internationale
Stove Service KitMSR Expedition
Fuel bottleMSR 30oz (Lost one but replaced, identical)
PotMSR Stowaway 1.6L Pot
BowlsSea To Summit Xbowl
CupsSea To Summit Xcup
Frying panSea To Summit XPan
Simmer ringQuiche Tin
Chopping boardGeneric (GSI Ultralight - lost)
Tea towelGeneric cloth (Mountain Warehouse packable towel - lost)
Water filterSteriPen UV
Detergent bottleGeneric
Spice bottlesGeneric
ScourerGeneric
Dish ClothGeneric
Universal plugLifeventure travel bath/sink plug
Lighter/Waterproof Matches!Both!
Multitool/PenknifeLeatherman Signal
Victorinox Swiss Card
Bulldog clipsx8
Sporkx2 Primus folding spork (As of 3.6.18 - Both broken but still useable!)
Knivesx2
Silicone Spatulax1
Sharp Knivesx1 Paring
Clothes:Ben:Steph:
Clothing Stuff SackDrawstring nylon stuff sack x4Drawstring nylon stuff sack x4
Down JacketMountain Hardwear Stretchdown RSMountain Hardwear Stretchdown RS
Rain JacketSweet Protection SalvationSweet Protection Salvation Womens
TshirtsIcebreaker x2, Bamboo x1Icebreaker x 2
SingletGeneric CottonGeneric Cotton
Casual ShirtsParamo Katmai x1Craghoppers Nosi, Paramo Socorro
L/S Base LayerIcebreaker x2, HikeBike jersey (Bought in Paraguay)Icebreaker x1
Mid LayerOn-One Merino Half Zip JerseySpecialized Therminal MTN Jersey
TrousersCragghoppers Kiwi Pro StretchCragghoppers Kiwi Pro Stretch
Waterproof TrousersEndura SuperliteEx-Navy Goretex
Baselayer LeggingsIcebreaker Long JohnsIcebreaker Long Johns
Leg WarmersEndura Thermolite
ShortsTroy lee x1, Madison x1Madison x2
Cycling Padded ShortsPearl Izumi Escape Quest x2Pearl Izumi Pursuit Attack x2
BikiniGeneric
BraIcebreaker Sprite Racerback (x2)
UnderpantsIcebreaker x1, IsoBaa x1Icebreaker (x2)
ShoesFive Ten AccessSalomon XA Pro 3D
Sandals/Flip Flops/CrocsTeva Kimtah SandalKeen Whisper Sandal
Socks (Hot)Icebreaker x1, Generic cotton x2, Madison x1 (worn out)Icebreaker Multisport Lite Mini (x2)
Socks (Cold)Icebreaker Hike x1Icebreaker Hike x1
Waterproof SocksCraneCrane
NeckscarfBuffs x3Buffs x3
HeadbandBuff Headband
Hat (Cold)Buff Merino Single LayerIcebreaker Liner
Hat (Hot)Buff UV CapBuff UV Cap
HelmetLazer RollerSpecialized Andorra
GlovesPearl Izumi mitts (Bought in Uruguay), DRB generic mitts (Given in Chile but worn to destruction), Specialized (lost)Fox
Winter/Waterproof GlovesSealskinz Dragon EyeSealskinz All Weather
Casual/Thermal GlovesLowe Alpine Power Stretch
Electronics:Ben:Steph:
HeadtorchPetzl ReaktikPetzl Reaktik
PhoneiPhone SEiPhone SE
Phone CaseOutdoor Tech Safe5Speck
Phone Bike MountQuadlockQuadlock
Laptop/TabletiPad ProiPad Mini 2
CameraGoPro Hero+ LCD Sony RX100 (M1)
TripodGorrilla Pod
Tripod Phone AdaptorQuadlock
HeadphonesAppleApple
Travel adaptorsSyncwire USB Charger
External batteryOutdoor Tech Kodiak Plus 2.0 & Kodiak 2.0Outdoor Tech Kodiak 2.0
Charge cables etc.VariousVarious
Bike ComputerVDO M3.1 wired
Front lightCygolite Metro 650 (Bought in Paraguay)Cygolite Metro 650 (Bought in Paraguay)
Rear LightInfini SwordInfini Sword
Airstash/SD ReaderAirstash A02Evita Lightning to SD
The many tools and spares we initially took. You can tell Ben is a bike mechanic!

We also have a fairly extensive medical kit and toiletries but these aren’t overly exciting to look at. If you really want to know what we took though, you can see the full packing list below.

Camping and Gear V2 (2019)

Way back at the start of 2017 when we were planning our trip across the Americas we used websites and blogs to help us choose our kit, as we had no prior touring experience. After riding for over a year from Argentina to Ecuador, we have a much better idea of where we want to ride, what kit we like or dislike and we’ve met lots of people who we have taken inspiration from. This has all helped us form our own opinions about what makes a good setup for mostly dirt road touring.

Below is our updated kit list with changes and upgrades, mostly for lighter kit, that we have made over the first 16 months of travelling and when we returned to the UK in January 2019.

The new tent – A Big Agnes 2 person replaced our bombproof MSR 3 person tent. This is much lighter!

Disclaimer: We are in no way sponsored and everything we have with us has been bought at our own expense. All choices and opinions are our own.

To understand how we’ve colour coded the list, an orange box indicates an item that we no longer carry, green is an item that we have changed and grey is something that we’ve never had/isn’t appropriate.

Everything that Ben has previously carried and now currently carries on his bike are in the first two columns (labelled “September 2017” and “January 2019”) and Steph’s the second two.

We’ve explained some of our kit choices and the decisions behind some of it on the blog HERE.

** If the text is too small, you can view the spreadsheet online HERE too.

With a few upgrades and changes the bikes feel lighter and ready to go explore!

Get in touch! >> What do you think about our kit list? How do you share out your gear when travelling with someone else? Do you carry anything that we don’t? Do you want any more information about some of the changes we’ve made? >> Feel free to send us a message, we’d love to hear your thoughts.