Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days was, at the time of its publication, an ode to industrialization and with it, the discovery of quick(er) travel. We’ve since come from trains to planes, cutting the travel time from London to Tokyo from an average of 20 days to a mere 12-hour flight. Despite this convenience, however, globetrotters with a taste for adventure have turned away from commercial airlines and are opting for a more hands-on travel route, choosing continental road trips or riding their motorcycles instead.
The scores of fellow cyclists who shared their cross-country treks online is where Adam Faulkner and Tim Stephens got their idea to ride their bicycles from London to Tokyo. The duo, who make up half of the London indie synth band Bear Muda, arrived in the city mid-May. Their journey counts 400 days, 60 of which where spent cycling from southern Japan to the capital, where they met with us to talk about their expedition.
Both Adam and Tim were avid cyclers back in the UK and have completed similar trips, though it was nothing compared to the adventure they set out to realize last year. Fortunately, there are many sources and books available for those who are interested in this challenging travel alternative, covering extensively each country along the way. Research was needed to know the best climates and safest routes for a smooth and optimal trip through Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and South East Asia before arriving in Japan 12 months later in March 2019.
Tim says riding on a bicycle makes them more vulnerable and therefore more approachable. The mobility also allowed them to be more flexible when it came to traveling, being able to choose smaller, less crowded roads. Japan received an honorable mention for being an incredibly cycle-friendly country.
If cycling halfway across the globe wasn’t enough of a challenge, the two embarked on a mission to immortalize their journey into a musical album. Along with their bare necessities, they packed three synthesizers to help them find their sound, or rather the sound of every city they visited.
They met with musicians and artists from local communities who helped them not only with composition but with setting up a few shows, too. When they arrived in Tokyo, the duo had performed no less than 40 shows from Turkey to Taiwan. Collaboration with local musicians was at the heart of this production, and every step of the journey will be produced into an album and a feature-length documentary.
Those they would cross paths with, often through social media, were often inspired by their journey and were interested to be part of a project that included the work and art of so many people from around the globe. In addition to meeting their fundraising goal for the charity Alzheimer’s Society, the duo returned to London with what feels like an infinite list of samples of sounds from dozens of cultures and instruments. They will now transform these improvised performances and jams into a purposeful and thought-out instrumental.
Inspired to embark on a creative endeavor of your own? You can relive their journey on their website and read about the hows, the whens and the wheres.