About Us

Blowing a gale – wedding photo, Musselburgh, Scotland, 2007


Esther Tacke and Warren Sanders

We met at Edinburgh College of Art in 1994. Which is not geographically accurate, as we were studying in Finland at the time at Lahti Institute of Design. Straight away we started traveling together with a trip to St Petersburg in Russia. Within months we were doing an extended trip ‘car tenting’ around the USA. We did the same sort of thing in Eastern Europe and then we discovered THE BIKE.

For the past 12 years or more we have been doing increasingly ambitious cycle tours. Starting at first onboard questionable mountain bikes and looking like tramps, we have since smartened up considerably. Ten years ago we had our first custom touring bikes built to bike across France. These joined an expanding stable of bicycles as we started to race Audax endurance events, ‘just to keep fit for the touring’. I became a ‘super randonneur’, completing a 200, 300, 400 and 600K in one year and Esther has a best of 400k in 24 hours but the distances we like the most are 200 and 300k. We have also done ‘sportives’, short and appallingly fast events such as the Hamburg Cyclassics, where Esther came top 10 in age with just under 26 mph average.

We have ridden the North Sea coast of Europe, from Amsterdam to Stavanger in Norway and several major trips in the UK and mainland Europe. Two years ago we rode the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway, through the Appalachians in eastern USA on folding bikes. We decided that we liked it a lot. International travel by bicycle was definitely what we wanted to do, and in substantial quantities that would make holding down a job impossible.

We contacted Dave Yates, the famous frame builder and had our first ‘hand crafted’ bike. This was Esther’s, and she did Lands End to John O’Groats on it, and other testing trips around Scotland. It worked a treat. Dave built my bike in 2010, and then we put together the rest of our wonderful equipment and were ready to go. Everything we own went into boxes and was put into store and we set off with a plan or two.

We intend to be ‘on the road’ for four years, ‘CHERRY PICKING THE BEST PLACES IN THE WORLD TO CYCLE’.

Year 1 2011- New Zealand a figure of ‘8’ and USA West Coast  ( LA up to Seattle ) and Northern Tier, the coast to coast ( Seattle across to Boston ). This totalled 17,000 km and the high point was the trip across the USA, which is to be recommended if you are looking for just one ‘ must do ‘ trip.

Year 2 2012- Europe, from furthest tip SW ( which is Portugal – for the geographically challenged ), to Sweden, returning via Finland and around the Baltic states. We enjoyed Portugal very much and had outrageously good weather for Jan and early Feb. We biked north, trying to stay with the progress of the Spring through Spain and France. It was then on to Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and back to Germany. A total of 10,000 km for that trip and 17,000Km in total if anyone is counting.

Year 3 2013- Asia. We flew to Kuala Lumpur the Malaysian capital ( mostly on the strength of them giving a 90 day, no question visa, on entry, and the population speaking English ).  Heat and humidity for the first time and the heat would follow us as we biked North through Thailand. We intend to bike in Burma, Laos, and India, but managed time only in Laos on account of Burma being still unstable in border regions, and India being just too much for our nerves. We managed to obtain a 2 month visa for China and entered through Laos into the Yunnan Province. China has to be seen to be believed. It is one very big construction site with no alternative way through. The route that last year was perfectly nice was now being turned into a rather bigger highway. Our conclusion is to do a well researched loop and save yourself the grief. It is amazing, and has wonderful people and the paper-work is not as bad as you may imagine.

We left China to enjoy its push towards world domination, and flew to Istanbul in Turkey. This is a great place to cycle, being blessed with so much to see and possibly the most welcoming people on the planet. Our route back through Europe took in Greece and up through Macedonia and the Balkans – with Bosnia being a gem and up to Hungary. Countries come close together, with cultures and longstanding disputes every few hundred kilometres. It is a complicated area and undeniably stunning. At southern Germany, we were on familiar territory after 10,000Km. This brings the total so far to 37,000Km as of August 2013.

Year 4 2014- anywhere that we have missed and still want to go, ( This is a frighteningly large list, but will probably include a return to the USA – we are running out of energy and need their natural enthusiasm and hospitality to keep us smiling ).

The stories of our trip so far are in the body of the ‘ blog ‘. If you are looking for some inspiration, pour yourself a cup of tea and nip over to the blog. If you have a specific topic, then type that into the search function at the top, or just look in the archive at the right year. Anything you want to know, then just fill in a comment, and we will get back to you ASAP. If you have had the merest thought about doing a bike trip, then you must do it. Money and time almost never occur in the same place, at the same time, and there may never be the perfect time – so GO NOW. If you have never had the urge to travel you are lucky. As soon as the thought occurs to you to make a plan and travel, you are cursed. You will have the regret of not doing it if you do not follow through. Have a look at the equipment section, and save yourself from buying rubbish that will fall apart, leaving you at the start of a what may be a long walk.

In the end we did 32,500 miles on that trip through a total of 39 countries. You would think we have had enough of bike stuff, but not a bit of it. Now we are back in Scotland doing mostly short trips and trying to get things lighter. We have started doing bivvying and plan to combine that with our racing road bikes. We have lots of projects planned. We hope at least some will be an inspiration to you. So get across to the blog and have a look at the latest story.

89 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Hi there,
    Hope that you are enjoying the USA. I crossed the US earlier this year and am now in Western Australia. I assume that you are Scottish. I met many Scots on my trip . We seem to be an adventurous race. Doing it by bike also seems to be a favourite and cheap way of seeing various countries.
    Any plans for Australia in the next few months?
    Enjoy the ride.

    1. Jim
      You are not the MacTaggarts from Galashiels in the Borders that do Audax? Our plans have a year 4 option, to do the places we forgot. SE Australia is a possibility – what do you think of the biking?.W

  2. Liebe Frau Tacke,

    ich hoffe, Sie sind gesund und es geht Ihnen gut …;-)
    Auch bei Ihnen und Ihrem Mann möchte ich mich ganz herzlich bedanken für die tollen Bilder-Serien und die vielen interessanten Eindrücke Ihrer Reise.

    Ich wünsche Ihnen ein glückliches Weihnachtsfest und ein gesundes neues Jahr, wo auch immer auf der Welt Sie dies feiern. Genießen Sie Ihr Leben
    und bleiben Sie gesund …

    Thomas (Germany / Bavaria)

  3. Hey there. This is Francisco from the restaurant Retiro Sadino in Alcacer do Sal.. How are you? Still wainting for your review.. It was great to have met you and keep up the good work. It’s been great to watch the whole world from my couch but it’s even better to realize there’s something inside of me pulling me out to follow you..

    Best regards,
    Portugal welcomes you

    1. Well I am sitting down just now to write about Alcacer do Sal. How nice to meet someone with such energy – great resaurant indeed. Portugal has treated us very well even though we are struggling with the language. Thanks Francisco for telling us about the country and answering questions. – Warren

  4. Olá.
    Espero que a vossa viagem esteja a correr bem.
    Admirei muito o vosso espirito aventureiro, mas fiquei com alguma curiosidade de saber como é que é possivel duas pessoas viajarem dessa forma pelo mundo… Gostava um dia poder fazer isso, mas só tenho 1 mês de férias :).
    Desejo-vos as maiores felicidades, vocês pareceram ser um casal maravilhoso!

    Hernâni Neto

    P.S.: tenho uma fotos vossas que vou tentar enviar-vos.

    1. Great to spend some time with you guys. 1 month holiday is enough to travel 1,500k or more by bike. You would enjoy it – a circle route of Portugal would be great fun. – Warren & Esther

  5. Hi, This is Paco, the nurse from Lucena. I have enjoyed so much the breakfast in Doña Mencia, it’s been a pleasant break in my everyday routine. I hope you liked the bats cave and the village of Zuheros. If you need anything during your stage in Spain, don’t hesitate to call. Wonderful days are waiting for you in the south of Spain. I hope you find a nice cave-house where to experience this way of live. My best wishes for you both, although you fill me up with envy. Good luck!

    1. Paco – Great to meet you. We went on to the end of the bike path. The bat cave was good but the signs to it put is on a long walk away from it. Made it a hard day. Need to rest now – W

  6. Hi Esther and Warren,
    we met us in Sigmaringen some days ago. I hope you could enjoy Tübingen and I would like to know where you stayed there. Isn´t it a really nice town?
    Aniway – best wishes for you. Yvonnr

    1. Hi Yvonne, great to hear from you. That day we had some trouble with finding the ways (to many cycle paths :-D), thus, tired and hungry we made it to the campsite and had some food from the restaurant.Tuebingen is a most beautiful town. Spend to little time there. It was so nice though to get that tip from you. I think we also passed through the town where you live. Nice area. We are in Pforzheim right ow and try to make our way to Speyer. Stay in contact. Esther

  7. Hi Esther and Warren.
    I am the waiter from Līgatne.
    It was realy nice to meet you and i hope that our rough roads won’t cause any problems.
    I hope that the three cows and Bently on the same road will not be the only impression about Latvia. 😀
    I am waiting the post about your trip through our country.
    Good luck,

  8. Hey Esther&Warren!

    A few days ago we returned from our trip and now I`m thinking about the time we spent togehter at Madis´ place! For us it was such a great experience with Madis and his sauna and the salmon! 😉 And it was so cool talking about music with you! (I already listened to Marconi Union etc!)
    So I hope you are doing good on your trip and i hope we meet somewhere again! And don`t fortget, if you come to Munich just write me, your are invited!

    Have good time and take care!


    P.S.: Warren, nice photos! 😉

    1. Hi Jan, so good to hear from you. Yes, Madis was rather special; send him a postcard already. We intend to move again today. Poland is calling and Autumn is rolling in with a force. We very much liked Vilnius.
      Thanks very much for the invitation! E&W

  9. Hi Esther&Warren!
    What a big travel since we’ve met in april at Castres (south of France, near Albi). I love reading your cycling amazing stories.
    We just returned yesterday from a trip in Pyrénées mountains (south of France and Spain), and we met cycling travelers with two kids…

    Keep on having fun and sharing the world, and of course take care!


    1. Fanfan – Hello there and greetings from Rugen – a little island in the Baltic. Now we are sitting down to plan the next project – Asia. You are so lucky living where you are – you managed to do any more bike races?


  10. Dear Esther and Warren
    It was great to meet you in Satun/Thailand.
    We wish you an interesting trip through this marvellous country, a happy New Year and many good rides in the future. When you ever touch Austria (Baden, South of Vienna), we expect your call/visit.
    All the best, Andrea + Thomas

  11. It would have been nice to repay some of
    The gracious hospitality you people showed
    Me all those years ago.

    Kevin C.
    Tacoma, WA US

  12. Hallo Ester & Warren, ich wünsche euch weiterhin allzeit gute Fahrt. Habe mich sehr gefreut euch heute in Nong Phok auf dem Weg nach Mukdahan getroffen zu haben.

    1. Hallo Hans-Joerg, wir waren auch total begeistert. Haben natuerlich die Abfahrt verpasst sind nun einer Eisdiele in Loeng Nok Tha. Die Strasse bis hierher war allerdings gut. Bleib in Kontakt! Du hast bestimmt auch einige (Bike) stories zu erzaehlen :). – und viel Glueck mit dem Training! Lass uns wissen, wenn deine Reise los geht.

  13. Hey there Esther and Warren,

    hope the heads were not to bad this morning. We bravely stayed until 23.40. Far over the normal cylists bed time, but very enjoyable. Hope you enjoy the costal road to Thakhek. We are off tomorrow. Was lovley meeting you, hearing about the cyclassics and now browsing your webside. I love the equipment descriptions and you have a pretty cool weddig photo! That’s why I post the comment here.
    Take care, we are looking forward to THAT island in Thailand. Bis die Tage. Alexandra and Jim

  14. Enjoyed meeting you. Blog looks great.
    Your “unknown crop” in Thailand is the bundled stalks of cassava plants. The roots have already been harvested to make tapioca.The stalks will be cut into segments about 40cm long and stuck in the earth to produce new plants.
    Hope you have a wonderful time in Laos.

    1. Dan – So now I know – not a crop that I knew. I am sure we will be asking you more. WE did 82Km, found a hotel and then were so terribly sick. Lost a day and now are rather weak. Warren

  15. Hello Esther and Warren, I’ve picked up reading your blog again. The adventures never stop, along with the interesting people you meet along the way. As always, great reading, Warren. Wishing you well, rita

    1. Rita – That is the sort of encouragement we need – hard few days with lots of climbing here in Greece. Nice shower and a hotel now – I am human again – but only just.

  16. Hello Esther and Warren
    I have just read your blog about Manisa. You did say it would be difficult to have to go between Manisa and Izmir every day because of the mountain roads and the Sabuncu Belli (Soapmaker’ s Pass).

    Well I did this 6 days a week (for more than 2 years) in 1979-80 when l lived in Izmir and worked in Manisa. In the end I spent my weekends in Manisa and helped in the fields picking cherries and peaches.

    I am an Englishman (Coventry) but now i live in New Zealand, but I still have many pals in both izmir and Manisa.

    I am an old man now and I must admit that i shed a tear while i was reading about Manisa and looking at the photographs. I spent some years working in Turkey and I have been to many places Cesme included. I do not think that I shall ever be able to visit there ever again; more’s the pity…

    So I would like to say thank you for bringing back many happy memories.of all things Turkish.
    John Guise – Kawerau, New Zealand

    1. John – I think we passed through your town 2 years ago – NZ was our first place on the tour. It would be very easy to fall in love with Turkey – we hope to be back this winter to spend some time in the south. Happy that you liked the posts – I do picture myself looking through what I have noted down here in years to come. Coventry would have been a tough place to be at your time – I spent quite a bit of time in te area around the baths in 70’s, waiting for my races when I was a swimming dim star. W

  17. Isn`t it a little bit arrogant to say “all you need is a stick with dog poo” to get rid of the protesters at Taksim after their traditional 1. May demonstration was disrupted by police and the civil rights existed no longer in Istanbul?

    1. Now then – t-online would be a German language reader – It is a British joke, meaning you should not use such terrible force against unarmed people. The police force use tear gas and water cannon far to readily in Turkey against their people.

  18. Hi Esther and Warren,

    Just stumbled across your blog and think your lives sound awesome!

    I’m just out of uni, going into the dreaded grad-job pool and all I now want to do is pack up my bike and head off.

    Do you mind me asking- are you living off of your savings for this awesome four year trip or have you found a way to finance it as you go on?


    1. Michelle – We are living off savings – and trying not to spend any money. We met many who travel on almost no money – that makes the whole thing so much more hard work – but it can be done – head to Asia if you want to live and travel cheap. You could drop Andrew Charmley ( in list of blogs ) a note on living cheap – he stayed at temples and lived off cheap food. TFEL course teaching qualification is a good thing to have to travel and work. Best of luck, and let me know if I can help more.

    1. Frank – Savings and being a miser. It is a cultural thing how much you think you need to travel. People in New Zealand and Australia have next to nothing and go. People in Europe think you need a fortune. Asia is very cheap – we new of young people with €400 and big plans for bike travel.

  19. Hi Esther and Warren. I just heard your story on WYPR with Dan Rodricks. I am amazed and quite envious of the trips you’ve taken! I live in Baltimore and a few years ago did a bicycle tour across the United States (from Baltimore to San Francisco). I would love to take you guys out to dinner or a drink while you are still in Baltimore to hear more of your travels and maybe get some inspiration for another trip of my own! Please let me know if this is something you’d like to do!

    1. Alanna – Inspiration is our number 1 aim for our blog and travels. Trying to show how little money is takes and the lack of planning that you can get away with. We do dinner dates and have time at the moment and can talk until strongly told to stop.

  20. Hello,

    My name is Katie, and I’m an intern at Adventure Cycling Association in Missoula, Montana (creator of the TransAm maps). We love your blog, and especially the photos you posted recently of US bike route 76 in Virginia! We are about to begin our US Bicycle Route System campaign on May 1st, in honor of national bicycle month. If you would be willing to share your photos with us, we’d love to use them in our campaign as examples of why the US bike route system is so important. We will of course provide credit for any photos you provide. Thank you so much for your beautiful blog.

    -Katie Kramon

    1. Katie – just click and use the images. If you need bigger files let me know which photos and I can mail them. Always good to have a bit of publicity. There are posts of year 1 USA – just put USA into the search box and let me know which you need. I should be dropping into your office in a few months – hope to meet you then.

  21. We look forward to seeing you in Missoula in a few months! If you get the chance (I know you’re out on the road!), we would love copies of the two photos with USBRS 76 signs in high resolution. We will truly cherish them here!

    Thank you,


  22. My sister Rose and I so enjoyed talking to you this morning @ Huddle House. You two are a breath of fresh air! Almost like making a best friend and then losing touch all within an hours time. I sure hope you two get the rest needed tonight to continue on your long journey. May your trip be safe, you both will be in our prayers!

  23. Thank you for telling my brother and I about your journey! We really enjoyed hearing what you had to say about all of your adventures. We hope when we get big we can ride our bikes to Turkey and all the places you told us about. Next time you go to Turkey you better have a turkey sandwich and then when you go to Hungary you better be hungry. We can’t wait to see where you go on your next adventure. Be safe you’re the best! 🙂

    From, Marshall plus Mason in Drexel Missouri

  24. Love your sketch books, I think I recognize the B&B in Hastings , mi we met you in, couple years ago. Keep safe

  25. Esther and Warren, My fiancee felt It was such a pleasure meeting you on the Katy Trail near that old run down church. Also, I really appreciate you finding my wallet!!! That was so amazing and nice of you to move it out of sight so it wouldn’t get snatched. I got it back safe and sound, except for the couple of dollars missing… joking!
    If you are ever in Kansas City, please stop by for a hot shower, comfortable bed and delicious BBQ. We would be more than glad to come pick you up and drop you off.
    Thank you for inspiring my fiancee and I to one day bicycle around to our favorite places in the world. Hopefully we will get to do some bicycling in Costa Rica on our Honeymoon. Should you be in Columbia, Missouri around October 18th, please come to our wedding. That would be a wonderful surprise. Maybe we could send you an email with invitations.

    1. N&K – good to meet up with you two. We will be cycling in Scotland and back to our home by Oct. Getting out on your bike to see the world is a wonderful thing both on good days and bad missing wallet sort of days.

  26. I just finished reading your “About Us”. At the end you say to plan and do or it will be regretted. There is no better truth than that statement. I never followed my wish to travel more by motorcycle than I did mostly around FL and NC once. Now it is to late as now I am disabled. You just don’t know what the future holds that would make regrets if you don’t follow through.

    1. Vickie – Bit of a curse having the idea. But once you do, the you must follow the dream. I got hit by a car and almost killed – from that moment, we had to travel. Thanks so much for your comment.

  27. Hi there! I was totally amazed and honoured to bump into you two in the Dalmeny Estate yesterday. Me out for a casual afternoon ride on my horse and you on your last day of an incredible 4-year cycling adventure! Final stretch before getting home. Hope Musselburgh will be sunny to welcome you back.

    When you get the chance, pls send me the links to the podcasts you’ve been interviewed for and the ones you recommended re. long-distance horse-riding.

    All the best and very best congratulations.

  28. You’re back!!
    Watching the adventure show and thought of you guys

    Would love to see you and hear about your adventure
    Love amy Andrew Oliver Bea and William x

  29. Dear Mr. Tacke,
    My name is Araya. I am an officer of Mahasarakham University. I’ve seen your photos and got impressive with the one: riding a bicycle in front of a group of cows on a morning day at Maha Sarakham. So I’d like to ask for permission to use the picture into my work because I am working on the university’s international student guidebook and I will accredit to you.

    Best regards,
    Araya Kamhaengmit
    International Relations Officer
    Mahasarakham University Thailand
    E-mail: doremee.AK@gmail.com

  30. Hi Esther and Warren,
    Thank you for your site. I buddy and I are going to bike and hike in the Salzkammergut, home basing in Bad Goisern. Actually seeing the bike path on the Hallstattsee is very inspiring.

  31. Hi there
    I would love to use an image of yours to promote our church. It is a blurred image of you coming down a trail. What could I do to get permission and would there be a fee if I decide to use the image?

  32. Esther and Warren
    Great to hear about you on Radio Scotland, helped inspire us for our first proper 3 month cycle tour next year. Likely to be the only trip my husband gets this nervous cyclist on. Your New Zealand blog suggests it might not be the ideal adventure with wind, hills, drivers. Would you recommend something else for a mature novice?

    1. Jenny – We always recommend the bike ride along the Danube as a starter. It is flatish, has lots of infrastructure and a huge amount of history. You could do this up till about end of Oct this year ( you could link this into Poland, Switzerland, Czech Republic ). As far as an easy country – Thailand is easy in the winter – very easy and cheap too. Many parts of the USA are great as well – and there are 1,000’s of miles of rides – take a look at Adventure Cycling for advice. New Zealand, was hard, very hard. Hope that helps a little

    1. Now I feel bad that we have not yet cycled there. I think there are about 250 countries in the world. So, I have over 200 to apologise to. Happy travels in your beautiful country my friend. Warren

  33. I just found your website and am enjoying your visit to Islay. The sketchbooks are lovely and I’m curious what art supplies Esther takes on the road in her art kit.

    1. Hi Jamie, I came to love the Watercolour Moleskine Books (13 x 21cm) as the paper is really nice and the size makes them fit in my frontbox. I usually do a very quick outline in a Fine BallPoint pen (nothing special!) on the spot and colour them in later with the watercolours. For that I use one of those 12-pan small travel sets and an all-plastic brush that holds the water in its handle. (like “Derwent Waterbrush”). And that’s it – light and versatile and no fuss. Esther

  34. esther, i just purchased the city restaurant in ashby mn to keep the 100 year tradition going. i love your painting. could i purchase to put up in the restaurant with a pic. of the two of you?

    1. Hi Greg, I am very happy that you can and will continue to serve Ashby’s and surrounding communities with this great restaurant. I wish you all the best luck!. … and I am very honored that you wish to have the watercolour and image of the Warren and myself. There is just one slight problem: the watercolour is in a book and I cannot remove the page from it. However, I would be very happy to repaint that for you. Would that be ok?

  35. Hey Esther & Warren!

    Just thought I’d let you know that Jerry and I are 3 days into our journey across the northern states of the United States on the Northern Tier route that goes from Anacortes, Washington to Bar Harbor, Maine.

    The decision to start late this year came rather abruptly. I left my job last week. I am sort of semi-retired. We threw together our plans and launched without training. Tomorrow we head into the North Cascades. So far all is well. I have enjoyed reading your Sportswool diary posts. Wondering about your next adventure?

    I have started a new blog. It is 4panniers.blogspot.com

    Jerry and I often talk about the good times we all shared riding across the country. Remember all the riders that converged on the Sheridan Lakes Church in Colorado during the storm where we met? Hope all is well with you both.

    1. We loved the North Tier route – suited us more than the Trans Am. As long as the winter snows do not come early you are fine. Back in Scotland we now do hundreds of miles on road bikes. Scotland is great for touring – so get across here. We use the images from that storm when we give talks – always gets a wow!

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