FAQS

  • I'm confused by the dates given... when do I need to arrive?
    The dates given on the EVENT DATES page on this website are the dates which the event takes place, i.e. these are the dates on which you will be actually cycling.

    Unless otherwise stated or agreed, we always include in the registration fee a night's accommodation before the challenge begins, and we also include another night's accommodation on the evening of the last day of the challenge.

    If therefore the Penang - Phuket Epic is listed to take place from 17 - 20 October, this will mean that you will be cycling on 17,18,19,20 October. It also means that you will need to arrive at the start (the hotel in Georgetown) on the 16th October, and you the earliest you can fly home will be the 21st October.

    Therefore all in all, although it's only a 4-day event, your trip will be 6 days and 5 nights long.

    Occasionally, participants will desire to fly home on the evening of the final day of the challenge. No reduction will be made in the registration fee for this - and it's usually nice to use a shower before you fly home!
  • Is there specific FAQ-type information for each ride?
    Yes, please see the "Info" section at the bottom of each challenge page, underneath the description of the final day.
  • Can I cycle PART of a challenge, and not the whole event?
    YES, absolutely. This can be a wonderful way of gaining an amazing adventure, and many of our flagship Mad Dogs are ideal for this. The pricing page lists out the prices for certain numbers of days.

    If your preferred selection of days is not listed specifically, please contact us for a price.
  • What is NOT provided?
    i) Flights are your own responsibility.

    ii) Transfers to and from airports are not included. Should you desire assistance with this, it can be arranged on request at extra cost.

    iii) You may need to buy refreshments and water from shops along the route for times when you are between checkpoints. The support vehicles will offer water if they pass you and in an emergency you can always call on them.

    iv) Dinner is not included – there is plenty of scope for exploration of towns and restaurants in the evenings and we don't want everyone to feel obliged to all go to the same place. In general, people will want to join the group in which case each person will pay his or her own share.

    v) Sometimes we stop at a local restaurant for the checkpoint. In this case, drinking water will be provided but soft drinks are not included.

    vi) Insurance – you will need comprehensive insurance which covers this type of activity as a condition of joining and you will need to provide proof of this. We can recommend an insurance broker in HK who can make sure your coverage is sufficient.

    vii)You need to bring sufficient spares for your bicycle, especially if you have unusual fittings. We do bring some spares - you must pay for any spare parts which you consume.

    viii) You will need to buy visas if you require them. We can give you more information on these matters on request and for the Sapporo to Russia Challenge, we can provide visa support through our partners in Russia (which is the processing of a letter of invitation, before you can go down to the embassy to apply to have the visa stamped into your passport).

    ix) If required, you will need to purchase the bike box at the end, if you need to fly home. We will always help you source this, and it usually costs less than U$10. Please let us know on registration whether you require this assistance.

    x) Incidental small travel expenses are not included - such as "stamping fees" at immigration or the bus over the friendship bridge between Laos and Thailand, should you use it. These will always be extremely cheap (less than US$5). If something is not explicitly included, it is unlikely to be included, please enquire concerning specific items that you are unsure about ahead of booking.

    xi) Tipping for mechanics, drivers and local guides is not compulsory however if you feel you have received good service, a modest tip is always gratefully received.

    xii)You must bring all items on the Mandatory Kit List.

    xiii) Luggage porter services - please carry your own bag unless hotel staff are there to assist.
  • Can Mad Dogs help with getting me from the airport?
    Yes, absolutely. Please contact us to enquire about and to arrange this. There will be an extra charge for any transfers provided which you will need to pay in advance. This will be arranged via our partners, Jebsen Holidays.
  • How will I find the way?
    Mad Dogs provides GPX files which are loaded onto your GPX unit and will provide a track to follow. You must have a GPS but if you don't have one and can't borrow one from a friend, you can rent one from Mad Dogs for HK$100 per day.

    You will also receive a Critical Information Sheet ("CIS")which will tell you any other information which will help you find the way.

    You must use a GPS unit. Mad Dogs is now able to rent out GPS units which are pre-loaded with the route which you can follow, for HK$100 per day.
    For those with their own GPS units, you will be given GPX files / Garmin Links which you will be able to use on your unit. These will be provided before the start of the challenge.

    If you get lost (which generally does not happen in these days of GPS), just give us a call. We think it is generally a good idea to cycle at least in pairs, but this is up to you. Asian roads often have distance markers which are very useful in letting you know you are on the right track.

    It should be noted that a major difference between a Mad Dog Challenge and a traditional cycling tour is that it is your responsibility to actively work to follow the prescribed route. If you become lost and require assistance, you must call the support team immediately. As a back-up, most smart phones will also double as GPS units (however they should not be considered replacements).
  • How far will I cycle each day?
    You will cycle between approx. 150 and 175 kilometres in any given day.
  • Sounds like a long way.
    This is the challenge! You would be surprised how far you can get when you dedicate an entire day to cycling. If you can't make it all the way, no sweat, that's why we have support vehicles - just call us up and relax!
  • Is it a race?
    NO it is NOT a race. The challenge element is in the "personal challenge" sense. The rules and regulations specifically forbid racing.

    You are challenging yourself, "Can I cycle from X to X?"

    There are no winners and losers - although everyone who completes the ride earns special distinction. We encourage you to cycle at a pace that is most comfortable to you.
  • What meals and refreshments will be provided?
    On cycling days, a hearty breakfast will be given to you first thing (when you can also take some snacks for the road) and "fuelling" snacks and refreshments will be provided at a checkpoint later during the day which for most people functions as lunch. In some places this will be prepared by the support team while in other countries we will use local suppliers.

    The vehicle is often on hand to provide further water and snacks during the day between checkpoints, although if it necessary to take the vehicle on an errand to assist a participant, this will not happen.

    On non-cycling days, such as the day after the final day of cycling, meals (including breakfast) are not included.
  • What support will be provided for the cycling?
    Support vehicles will be on hand should you need assistance and there will be a bike mechanic if you need help with something bike-related. There will be a checkpoint approximately 60% through the day where you will find refreshments and you will be offered refreshments whenever our vehicles pass you.
  • What if I cannot cycle any longer?
    Don't worry! There is a support vehicle to scoop you up if you have run out of steam although this will mean that you will not be eligible for a completion certificate; you will still be given a participation certificate which will detail exactly what you have achieved. You can still cycle on subsequent days although you may then be required to travel some of the distance by vehicle if you start to fall significantly behind. The support team's number one priority is always the cyclists who are still in the running to complete the challenge.
  • What if my bicycle breaks down?
    A bike mechanic will be on hand in the support vehicle to help with any issues that you cannot resolve yourself. Small, easy issues such as fixing a puncture will often be quicker to do yourself. You need to ensure you have the relevant spares and that they are in the mechanic’s vehicle. Often the mechanic will bring some spares too. If you use his spares, this will be a matter between you and the mechanic and you will need to pay him for this.
  • Will I need to sign a waiver?
    We hope accidents will not happen however cycling on open roads does carry inherent risks. You will be required to sign a waiver acknowledging and accepting your own responsibility for these risks. In taking part in an event you also accept these risks. You will also need to declare your intention to do your best to complete the challenge.
  • What if I have an accident?
    Don’t worry, should you take a slip, our support vehicles will be on hand at the other end of the phone to assist you. Our staff are first-aid trained. We believe it is safest to cycle at least in pairs if possible, which means that you will have someone to look out for you immediately if you do fall.
  • Do I need insurance?
    Yes, it is a condition of registration that you obtain travel insurance that will cover you for medical expenses whilst cycle touring in the areas you will be cycling. "Free with credit card" insurance is not sufficient.
  • Will I need to wear a helmet?
    All riders need to take full responsibility for their own safety and this includes wearing a helmet. It only takes one unfortunate landing to cause serious injury.
  • How fit do I need to be?
    A Mad Dog is a serious challenge; we make no apologies for this and a good level of fitness is very preferable or else you run the risk of failure. No worthwhile achievement is ever easy. There is no need to have been a serious cyclist in the past but it is best if you put in some training for both fitness and getting your body used to riding a bike. Those with less fitness will need to be gritty-minded. You should be able to maintain 25kph on the flat.
  • But I don’t speak the local languages! How will I cope?
    We will have local language interpreters in the support vehicles who will be on the end of the phone should you desperately need to communicate with someone. Just give them a call, explain what you want to do and hand the phone over. In the evening, they usually will be on hand to help. Thailand and Malaysia you will find that many people understand English. Aside from this, one of the joys of travelling is improvising with hand signals!
  • Where will I sleep at night?
    You will be booked into comfortable hotels for the entire trip with en suite bathrooms, unless indicated otherwise. These are not 5* luxury, but they will be very pleasant. In out of the way towns, we use the best accommodation available. Unless you indicate that you really want a room to yourself (a supplement will apply), you will be paired with (an)other rider(s) of the same sex. On rare occasions you may be in a triple/quadruple although this would never be for every night.
  • What are the Asian drivers like?
    It can be said that in most Asian countries, drivers do not follow the conventional Highway Code. They can honk the horn, pull out unannounced and perform highly unexpected manoeuvres. The only way to deal with it is to ride extremely defensively – their system only works because everyone is expecting everyone to do daft things on the road. This means cyclists must be extremely vigilant and not take anything for granted – you must assume that everyone on the road is a maniac and then you should be just fine.
  • What main kit do I need?
    The website has a fully comprehensive mandatory kit list. Please find download it here: http://gomaddogs.com/getting-started/
  • Do I need to bring a functioning smart phone and GPS?
    YES – this will be crucial for contacting the support team when you need us. You must download WhatsApp which is the main tool we use for communication. It will be sufficient simply to roam with your phone from home although you can easily buy a local sim card to avoid extra charges. Note that in Japan, it is not possible to buy a prepaid sim card. These must be rented on arrival at the airport - otherwise there is no other opportunity to obtain one and you will have to roam.

    We use Google maps in in our directions, meaning that with an ordinary smart phone's GPS function you can easily match the screen to the directions, pinpoint your location and avoid getting lost!

    It is MANDATORY to have a GPS unit on these rides. If you don't have one or cannot borrow one from a friend, you can hire one from Mad Dogs. The charge is US$13 per day.
  • How do I fly with my bike?
    Flying with a bicycle is as simple as flying with a suitcase!

    You just need to pack it in a bicycle bag or a cardboard box (usually these are the boxes that come with new bikes).

    You usually need to remove the pedals (easy), the handlebars (easy) and the wheels (easy). If you're worried about doing this you can get a local bike shop to assist, but it's really not difficult.

    Depending on how much other luggage you carry, you may have to pay excess luggage, however on some airlines "sporting equipment" such as bikes are carried at no extra charge. If you pack light, and carry on your other luggage, there shouldn't be excess charges.

    Boxed bikes will fit into the boot of an HK taxi (with bungees that the taxi drivers nearly always have) and inside a Singapore maxi cab.
  • I'm registering alone. Will I sleep in my own room?
    It's possible to pay a supplement in order to guarantee your own room. If, like most people, you choose not to pay this supplement, you will be allocated a room-mate or two of the same gender. On some nights, you may be sharing with two others. This will probably be another rider, but this may also be a member of the support team. Most people find that sharing with a "roomie" is a great part of the overall experience!

    Sometimes, if there are odd-numbers, you will be allocated your own room. If this happens, you got lucky - there's no extra charge! If this happens and you would actually have preferred to share with someone, we should have no problem in switching this round.
  • How much luggage can I bring and what form should this be in? How about bike bags?
    You must bring your luggage in the form of a rucksack. This will make it easy for you to transport both your bike and your luggage at times when you have to carry all your kit in person (such as border crossings or going onto a ferry).

    You will not however need to carry your luggage on your bicycle during the challenge – it will travel in a support vehicle between hotels. There are vehicle space constraints, so please do limit your backpack size to carry-on airline size which is approx 56x36x23cm.

    Since you will probably be flying home with your bike, you will want to limit the weight of your luggage. It is safest to contact us in advance if you have special baggage requirements.

    You are recommended to bring the type of bicycle bag which has a hard shell, but soft sides, which can be fully collapsed. We have extremely limited space for the fully hard, briefcase-style bike boxes. These are extremely cumbersome. If you're bringing one of these, please do contact us in advance. If you are bringing a hard-style bike box we may need to courier it to the end; an additional cost will apply.

    Please note that if you are crossing a border you need to carry all your possessions, including bike box, over the border. Certainly, if you're using a bike box, a soft one with a shoulder strap will make this operation easier.
  • Do I need to carry a backpack on my bike while I cycle?
    We strongly recommend against cycling with a backpack. The joy of cycling is feeling free and a backpack would only be annoying and uncomfortable. Don't forget you will be doing serious exercise for many hours each day. If your bike has a rear rack, you could secure a small bag with a bungee or you could consider fitting a handlebar bag (we love the large Ortlieb or Altura bar bags - waterproof and with a map holder on the top) or a saddle bag to your bike to carry the small essentials for the day.

    The only exception to this is for challenges in warm climates (in particular Singapore to Krabi) where a hydration system such as Camelbak is a very good idea - ensure the hydration system's backpack is as unrestrictive as possible).
  • Can I raise money for charity?
    Bagging a Mad Dog is an incredible accomplishment and it is a great opportunity to raise some money for charity. Let us know about your plans and we will feature you in our social media channels, which should help your fundraising!
  • What will happen in the evenings?
    There will be a particular restaurant of focus where our staff will go and most cyclists will want to come along too. It’s usually a cheap local place where we just split the bill, or if it’s somewhere where some dishes can be a little more expensive than others, such as in Japan, people will pay for what they consume. Evening meals are not included in the price and there will be no compulsion to join. We want you to feel free and if you just want to eat quietly and have some "down time," this is perfectly OK. There are usually massage or bath facilities nearby (if not in the hotel itself) which can be extremely pleasant after a hard, long day in the saddle. On the last evening, for those who want to, we will have a proper celebration!
  • What is it like crossing a border with a bicycle?
    There are no major issues in crossing the border with the bicycle in terms of customs, however you will need to carry all your kit, including your bike which can be a little awkward. A rucksack makes this easy.
  • When will the ride start each morning?
    As a rule of thumb we will be departing at first light each morning – the exact time will change depending on the location and time of year. The early start takes advantage of cooler mornings and ensures that there will be sufficient time at the end of the day for a little relaxation and perhaps a massage.
  • Can I cycle after dark?
    After-dark cycling is not part of a Mad Dog Challenge. If you have not finished cycling by a specified "cut off" time each day (usually one hour before sunset), you are required to call the support team. Depending on the season, you usually have approx 11-12 hours each day to complete the cycling in daylight, which is more than enough!
  • How long will I be cycling each day?
    This is impossible to say - some people are fast and depending on the distance will finish in the mid-afternoon while others will push on until near dusk. For an indication of the time it has taken participants in the past, you should look at the times listed in the Hall of Fame. Bear in mind that the clock is not stopped for any breaks or checkpoints.
  • What is the daily routine?
    As mentioned, this does change slightly depending on the circumstances but in general you can expect the following (timings also obviously depend on your cycling speed!):

    • 06.00 check out of hotel rooms
    • 06.05 hearty breakfast
    • 06.45 into the saddle
    • Approx 11.30-13.30 (depending on your speed) a checkpoint with food and refreshments
    • Approx 16.00-17.30 finish cycling
    • 19.00 briefing for next day / group dinner if you want to join.
  • I want to sign up as an individual. Does this mean I will be cycling alone?
    While in practice most people do end up cycling in groups of at least two (and this is encouraged), there is no requirement in Mad Dog Challenges for participants to stick together. If you are entering as an individual, whether you cycle with other participants or by yourself will be decided by whether you cycle at a similar speed as the others and whether they wish to cycle with you. No guarantee can be made that if you enter as an individual, you will definitely have a group with whom you will cycle.
  • What is the food like?
    If not provided by the hotel, we provide a delicious, energy-packed breakfast. We also give plenty of "fuelling" food (such as pasta, noodles or loaded mashed potato) at a checkpoint each day which is not billed as lunch but for many cyclists who do not want to stop in a small restaurant, it serves this purpose. In some countries we will make use of a local establishment. We do however want to encourage you to dive in and get stuck into the local fare - one of the best ways to meet people and engage with a country. In the evenings, we will always visit a local restaurant and you are always welcome to join. The culinary adventure of travelling through Asia is full of unexpected surprises!
  • How much spending money will I need each day?
    This really depends on your habits, but in general you can expect to spend US$5 on general things each day, and US$10 on dinner (although this does vary).
  • How many support vehicles will there be?
    If there are at least 10 people on a challenge, there will be two support vehicles. If there are fewer than 10 participants on a challenge, there may be one vehicle.
  • What minimum numbers are required for an event?
    We generally require at least five people to sign up to an event. On some occasions it is still possible to hold the challenge with fewer people. In the unlikely event that the minimum is not achieved, the event may need to be postponed and you will receive a refund of your deposit and a credit with our compliments towards a future challenge.
  • What will I get at the end for completing a Mad Dog?
    If you have bagged the Mad Dog without covering any of the event’s distance in the vehicle, you will receive a Completion Certificate with a time. If you have participated in the challenge but have not cycled all the way, you will still get a Participation Certificate, stating what you have achieved. Everyone who crosses the finish line will receive a final victory photograph.
  • What is the origin of these challenges?
    After our founder’s epic cycle ride from London to Hong Kong in 2009, Humphrey Wilson wanted others to experience the freedom, adventure and satisfaction of covering swathes of the world by bicycle.
  • What happens in the case of extreme weather such as Typhoons?
    In the event of a Typhoon, severe rainstorms or other extreme weather (or equivalent dangerous conditions), the Challenge will be suspended for all affected days. A degree of uncertainty is a part of adventure and we regret that we won't be able to make refunds for this. The challenge will continue as soon as possible, from the point at which it was scheduled on that day. Participants will receive transport to the point at which the challenge will continue and they will still be eligible for completion certificates. Participants will be included in the Hall of Fame, but regrettably without a time. You are advised to take out cancellation insurance.
  • What happens when there are places where cyclists are not allowed, or unable to go?
    There are a few rare places, such as certain (but not all) tunnels or bridges, where cyclists are not permitted to go. We design our routes purposefully to avoid such places however on the few occasions when they are unavoidable, it will be necessary to take a short lift through. This is inevitable in all long distance cycling endeavours, and does not represent a failure of the challenge. Likewise, when there is no bridge which can be legally crossed, it is necessary to take a ferry.
  • How are Mad Dog Challenge official times for the Hall of Fame calculated?
    The timing starts at the official starting time, which will be designated the evening before. This can vary depending on the country and the season. It will be close to dawn. The time ends for the day when the participant has arrived at the designated end point, which unless otherwise indicated will be the hotel. No adjustment is made for participants who leave after the official starting time, or for time spent in the checkpoint.
  • I still have some questions!
    Please don’t hesitate to contact us on [email protected] or +852 3904 3672. Our Skype name is gomaddogs. Or if you're in HK, why not drop into the office for a chat over a coffee or a cold one? Our address is 16/F "C" 21-27 Wing Kut Street, Central, Hong Kong.
  • I want to bring a bike box. Is this possible?
    We recommend bringing the type of soft bike case which has a hard "shell" but is fully collapsible. There are a lot of extremely robust collapsible soft bike cases on the market and you can pad your bike out with bubble wrap if necessary.

    While we can accommodate some hard bike boxes (please advise in advance), these are cumbersome and are discouraged. For "briefcase-style" hard bike boxes, on occasion it may be necessary to ship them to the end destination. This is not difficult to arrange. Please advise us in advance.

    Please do bear in mind that on rides where you will be crossing a border, you will need to carry all your luggage YOURSELF, unaided. Hard Bike boxes make this rather cumbersome although not impossible. With a healthy sense of humour & patience, you would be fine.

    Please note that our preferred method is to use robust, soft bike bags with hard shells, or cardboard bike boxes, which are available from most bicycle shops. You can package up your bicycle, perhaps using some bubble wrap.
  • Where will my bike go at night time?
    If you want to bring your bike into your hotel room, you will need to put it in a bag which entirely covers it. This inexpensive plastic bike bag does the trick: http://www.wiggle.com/ctc-cycling-uk-plastic-bike-bag/ If you don't have one you won't be able to bring your bike into your room. In such a case, it will need to be locked in another place which, depending on the hotel, may be the the car park, lobby, left luggage room. Very occasionally you may be allowed to bring your bike into the room uncovered, but it's not your god given right. We recommend you bring the bag, it's very inexpensive.
  • I see that you have organised rides all over Asia. Do you still offer other rides?
    Over the years, Mad Dogs has organised adventure cycling challenges in every corner of Asia. We have however come to the conclusion that nowhere else quite has the "magic dust" of Northern Malaysia and Southern Thailand, therefore we came to concentrate our energies on the Penang - Phuket Epic. It has all the ingredients of an exotic Asian adventure, plus a good measure of "holiday spirit."
Answers
  • I'm confused by the dates given... when do I need to arrive?
    The dates given on the EVENT DATES page on this website are the dates which the event takes place, i.e. these are the dates on which you will be actually cycling.

    Unless otherwise stated or agreed, we always include in the registration fee a night's accommodation before the challenge begins, and we also include another night's accommodation on the evening of the last day of the challenge.

    If therefore the Penang - Phuket Epic is listed to take place from 17 - 20 October, this will mean that you will be cycling on 17,18,19,20 October. It also means that you will need to arrive at the start (the hotel in Georgetown) on the 16th October, and you the earliest you can fly home will be the 21st October.

    Therefore all in all, although it's only a 4-day event, your trip will be 6 days and 5 nights long.

    Occasionally, participants will desire to fly home on the evening of the final day of the challenge. No reduction will be made in the registration fee for this - and it's usually nice to use a shower before you fly home!