Age? I turned 28 this May. Started traveling when I was 19. Where did you grow up and/or where did you reside prior to your tour? Cologne, Germany. Normal childhood, not more or less travel than usual. For the last eight years (with two years rest) you have been cycling the world. What was your initial motivation for embarking on the trip? I really couldn’t say. I knew in school that I wanted to travel one time around the world, so while people prepared for university or jobs, I saved money and planned a RTW-trip. I started right after military service, came back a year later, and decided that this is what I’m going to to, instead of the university that I was supposed to go to. I picked up cycling right after that because I missed the regular exercise I had had at home, combining sports with traveling. How many countries have you visited thus far? What is the cumulative mileage? I’ve visited 123 so far. I’m not sure about the mileage, around 80.000 miles on the bike I’d guess. I don’t always travel by bike and do not do all the distance by bike, so you can add a healthy number in bus, train, plane and boat travel to that, as well as road trips, hitchhiking, walking and rafting. You began your journey at the tender age of 19, how do you feel you have grown as a person throughout your tour of the world? While I do lack the normal higher education that a university would have granted me, I think my world view is a lot more open and positive than of most people in the west. People are generally friendly and you will never lack help when you need it, no matter what corner of the world you are in. I personally have learned a couple of handy skills over the years and I’m a lot calmer, more confident and open than my 19 year old self. The first five years of your tour were spent traveling to different locations in search of the eternal summer. Was it weird to live without seasonal changes? Do you plan to do any winter riding on your overall tour? I did not hunt the eternal summer, it was done out of necessity. Summer touring is cheap, you only need light clothing, crappy camping gear is fine, days are long and most tropical countries are far less expensive than places in the first world. It was not weird, although I got very excited whenever I saw snow on mountains/passes. Long term I do prefer seasonal changes, I couldn’t live my life in the tropics. I’ve done lots of winter riding by now, and did several mountaineering trips up to 6.000m. I want to cycle to the Southpole in future, in preparation for that I crossed Siberia this winter. I had -25° at day and -45° at night, it was amazing. I didn’t do trips like this when I started, because the equipment I took with me cost over $10.000, a steep price for a backpacker. Now that I have sponsors, I can get most of the gear for free. What has been your favorite country to date, and why? There is no favourite country, although I get that question every time I talk to someone. 😉 All countries have good and bad sides, I couldnt pinpoint that one best place of them all, it would do a disservice to all the others. I very much like Germany (social security, home), Nepal (landscape), India (food), Arabic countries, especially Sudan (people) and many more, for different reasons. Do you change bicycles depending on the terrain of your current objective? No, I change bicycles depending on the question “Have I done a tour on such a bicycle before?”. I tried six different types of bikes so far, from hardtail mtb and full-suspension mtb, over cyclocross and roadbike, to crappy city commuting bike and a self-build rigid mtb. I prefer the roadbike over all others, but future tours will most likely include folding bikes, e-bikes or a fat-bike. Certainly something new. I really dislike seeing advice online from people that only rode a steel-frame drop-bar touring bike, recommending steel-frame drop-bar touring bikes to everyone, with no personal experience with other types. Tell us about your strategy for your packing choices (bikepacking bags, pannier and rack system, etc). I’ve always packed relatively light, the last couple of years making a point about packing as light as possible. I never had the classical 4 pannier setup, while I always tour with a backpack, which is something most other cyclists find strange. I don’t think it’s important for your tour if you use bikepacking bags or panniers, as long as you keep out unnecessary crap. The only difference I found between the classical setup and bikepacking is, that is automatically saves me 2kg on the bags alone, making it worth it for me. It was also new to me, this trip is the first I ride with proper bikepacking gear. I like it so far. (7000km done) The reason I carry a backpack is safety. If the bike and all the gear gets stolen, I can still travel with the gear I have in the backpack. It includes a backup of all my pictures, a second credit card, a second passport and all other documents I need. While cycling it’s mostly empty, I only carry 2-3kg on my back. It also serves as daypack, when I’m not cycling. Often times you incorporate backpacking trips and hiking in your schedule. Is this to help break the monotony or what is your objective with this? To learn new things, same reason I change bikes. I do travel to learn, but that doesn’t have to be restricted to the countries I’m visiting. I like to accumulate skills, be it hiking, mountaineering, climbing, diving, paragliding. Words in new languages, local games like chess, go or mahjong, etc. Many places are inaccessable by bike as well, or I meet/travel with someone without a bike. Other trips, like the 4 months in India, where done completely without a bike. So yes, I like to mix it up. The majority of the tours is still on a bicycle, about 100 countries I’ve done that way. Where are you currently? I’m currently in the special administrative region of Hongkong, heading to Macau tomorrow. Sadly they don’t count to my number of countries, both belong to China, since 1997 and 1999. The UK and Portugal decided to give them back, after the lease ran out. Where do you plan to go next? This year I’ll finish the silkroad, across Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Usbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Aserbaidschan, Armenia, Georgia and Turkey, followed by 2-4 months in Germany. Next year I’ll base myself in India to visit nearby countries that I’ve previously not been, mostly the arabic peninsular and Afghanistan, Pakistan, Buthan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The year after that… Central Africa? Caribbean? I’m slowly running out of places. 😉 Is there anyone you would like to thank? The people I meet on the way. Locals that invite you without incentive, people that go out of their way to make you, a traveler, a guest, feel at home in their country. Bloggers, who take the time to write about their trips so that others can do research online. Redditors, Couchsurfers, Warmshower hosts, Facebook travel groups… there is an enormous network of traveling people out there and all you need to do is to reach out. For more information on Martin’s journey, visit his website and Facebook page!