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Cycle touring guitarist Robbie Sage reaches Adelaide

Alia Parker's picture
Robbie Sage, bicycle touring the world with his guitar. Cycle Traveller

When Robbie Sage farewelled Scotland and set out on a bicycle odyssey two years ago, he couldn't dream of leaving without his guitar. Through Europe, Western, Central and South-East Asia, he rode through everything from deserted landscapes to snowy mountains, all with his guitar in tow. Now, in Australia, Robbie continues his journey while recording his music for his Global Guitar website. Cycle Traveller touched base with the travelling musician while he was resting his legs in Adelaide.

CT: You've hit the two-year mark in your journey and you've seen some pretty amazing places in that time. Where was it the most difficult on your bike?

Bicycle touring Uzbekistan. Robbie Sage. Cycle TravellerRS: A few contenders for that – the mountain trails in Kyrgyzstan, having to push my bike for half the time, boring main roads in Thailand with intense humidity and headwind; but I'd probably go with cycling Japan in heavy snowfall, purely because my waterproof gloves and boots failed me and I had wet feet and hands for about 10 days.

CT: Not that many people take a guitar on a global bicycle tour. How much gear do you have?

RS: With the guitar I have a recording device and a big tarpaulin to wrap the guitar in when it rains. Beyond that I have what most other tourers have. I carry spares, winter clothing and tools to fix most problems. I think you can certainly carry less than me, but I like being self-sufficient and it saves me money. I look at the bike sometimes and think it looks ridiculous and that I have too much stuff, but I'm very used to the weight and I don't mind it knowing that I can sit and play my guitar at the end of the day.

CT: How does bicycle touring inspire your music?

RS: The way of life is such an interesting and happy one for me. It provokes many new lines of thoughts and I think the different environments reflect the music. When I listen back to the first album I recorded through Europe it sounds very excited and happy. Then the album I recorded in Asia is more dense and dark in places. I didn't get to play my guitar very often in Asia and had to rush through large sections because of visa restrictions. Now in Australia, the music I'm playing and recording is back to being happy and excited again.

CT: Your music is available for free on your website. Do you also plays gigs?

RS: At the moment I'm just playing instrumental guitar using lots of layers of guitar which could possibly work live if I had a loop pedal or something similar. If I met a vocalist or another musician on my travels or beyond that, it would be great to be able to play gigs every now and then.

Cycling in Turkey. Robbie Sage. Cycle TravellerCT: You've just come along the Great Ocean Road. How'd you like it?

RS: I enjoyed it very much. Some of the views of the coast were stunning. Possibly my favourite coastal cycling of the trip so far, up there with the Black Sea coast in Turkey.

CT: What route will you take through Australia from Adelaide and how long will you stay here?

RS: I'll be heading back towards Melbourne in a more direct route to see a few friends who live outside the city then I want to cycle through the Great Dividing Range up to Sydney. I think it could take 3-4 weeks to get to Sydney, then I'll probably stay in Sydney for another week.

CT: Tell us a little about your bike. How many gears? Does it have suspension? Type of tyres?

RS: My bike (her name is Betty) is a steel framed mountain bike with 27 gears. She started off with no suspension but the fork was too low so I ended up buying a new one in Istanbul and the only one they had which could accommodate my disc brakes was a suspension fork. I've been using different varieties of Schwalbe tyres, but have settled on using Schwalbe Duremes. They work great for me as they're so durable and last a long time. With all the weight I carry, my tyres, especially the rear one, wear down very quickly. I think I'm on my 4th tyre on my rear wheel so far.

CT: Does it ever get lonely on the road?

RS: Yes it does. Even if you meet people on the road or in hostels, it's always very transient and you miss having conversations with people you know and that know you.

Bicycle touring the globe with a guitar. Robbie Sage. Cycle TravellerCT: Where to after Australia and how long will you keep living the dream?

RS: I'm going to New Zealand next. The dream will continue as long as I can afford it. I'll be working in New Zealand to save up and at the very least hope to have enough to cycle the length of South America before returning to Europe. That should probably equate to 2 more years travelling, but who knows what will happen, best not to plan too far ahead.

You can follow Robbie's adventures on his blog Global Guitar, where you can also listen and download his music recorded on his travels.

Comments

Hey everyone!

I'm Robbie's cousin and live in Melbourne so have had the opportunity to see him on two separate occasions whilst he is no his trip, and it has been great to have him stay with us! i finally had someone within my on family to talk directly to that is my own age!!! :D

What the article doesn't tell you is that unfortunately Robbie at one point had a bit of a run in with a tractor and as a result his first and original guitar was destroyed!!! but thankfully through the support of many people he was able to buy a new guitar and now has the names of all involved engraved on the new guitar!

I also want to say that I really admire Robbie and look up to him a great deal, not only as my cousin but as my friend as well. Although we weren't able to spend much time together while he was here, the time that we were able to spend together was really eye opening and thought provoking. He made me think that there is more to life than big houses, fast cars and lots of money, which is how I used to think! He taught me that some of life's greatest treasures can be gained from so little and can be found in the most obscure of places! I am unable to pick a single person as my idol as i admire many qualities from many different people, but Robbie has to be one of the people i admire the most, he is a truly inspiring person when you are able to hear what he has to say and can teach you so much when you listen to him. I love spending time with him, i love listening to his music but above all i love him!

warren adkins's picture

Good luck on on your travels. What a great lifestyle you have.

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