Jin Jeong from South Korea started her journey to cycle around the world on 1 Sept 2011. She has been on the road for seven years in total and has not gone home since. Click here to read more about her story.
Jin bought her bicycle and bags from San Francisco where she began her journey. She spent a total of US$2,500. Her bike is called Lucky, a 26″ Surly Long Haul Trucker which weighs 19kg, inclusive of the racks.
Her full bike set-up, together with the bags, weighs a whopping 60kg (bicycle: 19kg, bags: ±45kg).
However, she is not bothered by the weight nor her speed, even though sometimes she finds it a struggle to cycle with people due to the added pressure of having to keep up with them.
“There is nothing wrong or right about carrying too much luggage. The most important thing is that I am happy with what I have. I am not racing, but enjoying on the road.”
Jin’s bike packing philosophy is simple; she brings what she wants. She does not care about what people think. Those bags are her “home”; everything she wants and needs is in there.
“It is not about having the best and most expensive gear, but what has value to me.”
Where do you pitch your tent?
“I will cycle around the town to check whether it is safe first. Generally, I feel safer with families. I try not to camp outdoors as I am afraid to be alone at night. If I have with no choice, I try to camp in an area where I am not visible to passers-by.”
What’s in Jin’s bags?
Check out her blog post for a more comprehensive breakdown of every single item she brings with her.
“I choose to carry more because I want to be comfortable. Some of my things are donated by people such as the sleeping mat, cooking gears, and tent.”
“My rear pannier bags are filled with my clothes and laptop. I carry many clothes because I want to dress nicely on occasions, but it is up to you.”
Jin’s big yellow luggage at the back contains her tent, sleeping bag and cooking equipment.
Concerning bicycle maintenance, she has a bag of tools with her, including a cassette remover. She replaces her tires once every 15,000 to 20,000km. She brings with her three inner tubes in case of punctures and a mini pump which is attached to her frame.
#1. You have to be organised.
“I have to remember where I put all my stuff.”
She places her most valuable belongings- passport, swiss army knife- in the front pocket. Her 15″ laptop is stuffed together with her clothes so that it has enough cushioning.
#2. Similar weight on both sides of the bags for balance
“You have to balance the weight on both sides if not your bicycle will topple over and your riding will not be stable.”
#3. Do not carry too much cash with you
“I carry very little money with me, only around US$50. You always have to be prepared to be robbed. Thankfully my bicycle has never been stolen before.”
#4. Equip yourself with basic bike maintenance skills
You do not need to be as skilful as a bike mechanic, but you need to learn how to fix your bike in case of a puncture.
Said Jin, “To be honest, I am not very good at bike maintenance. I picked up the basic skills while volunteering at a local bike shop in the US before I started my trip.”
Bonus: Some quick-fire Q&A’s
Q: What is the item that you have kept for the longest period:
She happily whipped out her swiss army knife which she had kept from Day 1. It is also her favourite and most useful tool.
Q: Furthest distance cycled in a day?
216km, from 9am to 3am. She averages 80-100km per day.
Q: Do you have insurance?
Jin: “No I don’t have one.”
Q: What about your food?
Jin: “I tend to always have emergency food rations with me, especially when I travel in remote places. When I cycle, I eat a lot. I gained 6kg in China. I ate very well.”
Q: How do you plan your route and navigate?
Jin: “I love to see Google Maps. That is my hobby. I search on google for “attractions” that I would like to visit. Then I draw my lines from A to B. I do not use paper maps because I find myself having to ask passers-by for directions frequently as I am unsure of the route. I have been using my phone to navigate- maps.me in particular because you can use the maps offline, just switch on your GPS.”
Q: What does your mother think of your trip?
Jin: “As an Asian mother, she had the mentality of me having a stable job, marrying, and starting a family. But I told her that I will do what I want. Sometimes, I don’t tell her the truth. I don’t want to make war with my mom, I try not to let her worry.”
But once, she told me this, “I admire you for what you are doing because you are doing what you like. So i guess she is ok with me doing this.”
Q: Power management?
“I usually stay with people so power sources are readily available. I carry a portable battery bank with me.”
Q: How do you sustain yourself financially?
Jin: “I started with US$9,500, spending $2,500 on the bicycle. I also collect donations on my blog. Writing for a magazine, earning US$260 per month but now I have stopped. I have small income from Youtube. I have also taught English to a South Korean and done some translation work. I spend about US$200-400 every month.”
She was thrifty and tracked down everything she spent.
Q: What is your average speed?
Jin: “14-16km/h on the flats, 4-6km/h when climbing uphill. Of course, she flys downhill due to the weight of her bike.”
Q: Have you had any major accidents?
Jin: “Thankfully no so far. Just minor bouts of sickness such as flu, stomachache, weak throat, catches cold easily but have never been sick badly.”
When people told Jin that she is brave and what she did is impressive, she would refute by saying that she is not. “People who are activists, who fight for human rights, are those who are amazing. Sometimes when I cycle in poor areas, I have everything with me, but the villagers are poor and have very little. They are living a hard life every single day, but for me, it is only one day.”
Still, we can learn many life lessons from Jin, who overcame her fear, challenged the status quo, and listened to her heart; all because she wanted to satisfy her curiosity of travelling the world and meeting people from different walks of life.
Kudos to you, Jin!
Author: Esther Koh
Cycling is her drug and therapy.
She is a certified Nutritionist (BSc Nutrition, University of Leeds) and loves both road cycling and mountain biking. She hopes that more females in Singapore will discover the joy and simple pleasure of riding a bike.