This last month has not been an epic month of bicycle rides.
I grimace a bit writing that as of today we have just under 3 months to go until we set off and need to be training in earnest, but with storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin we have been somewhat at the whim of the weather.
What has been epic is the admin… Mark Beaumont often comments in how hard it can be to get to the start line of and epic challenge and boy don’t we know it at the moment!
With Australia finally opening its borders we could finally start applying for visas and after filling in what felt like the name of every childhood pet, what we had for breakfast a week last Tuesday and the shoe size of our great aunts twice removed we are most of the way through the process. It’s still unnerving to be waiting on the last few to come through with the potential to complicate our plans. This combined with the fact one of our lovely sponsors Cycle Touring Life is on the East coast of Canada we’ve decided to give USA customs a miss and re-route across Canada! After a bit more research into bear spray and route options (there is a cycle across Canada route network!) we looked like we are finally getting our plans set.
It’s also a good time to finalise our route in general before flights are booked and as much as we are relieved we were never intending to ride through the Ukraine and Russia, the horrendous situation there has made us realise just how privileged we are to have this opportunity and how we need to make the most of experiencing different places and cultures.
Route planning itself has been a challenge- in some places it is fairly obvious which route to take due to there being limited roads e.g. the Nullabor plain in Australia but in Europe and India there are a miriade of options.
Sometimes we are able to use routes from those that have ridden before like Mark Beaumont, Jenny Graham, Tandem WoW and Ian Walker but the individuality of our ride means no one route fits all our needs. Where we are routing ourselves the best we can do is use a combination or cycle OSM maps (showing cycle paths and lanes), heatmaps (showing where people have ridden before) and satellite images on Ride With GPS. We will likely run the GPX files through Komoot too before we go to break it down into more manageable distance but Ride With GPS perform as well for such long distance route planning. But just because there is a cycle lane or someone has ridden down that road before doesn’t mean it suits our purposes; there are plenty of dust tracks, miles long tunnels or 3 lanes highways people have allegedly ridden down. And then there are ferries which we are keen to avoid to prevent being slowed down and the odd bridge that may or may not exist… we take no responsibility for online route which may not be updated!
So after painstakingly going through the route mile by mile we also need to plan for the day to day necessities. In places like Thailand and India there are shops, hotels and restaurant every few miles but in Australia and Uzbekistan facilities are distinctly more sparse so it is worth planning whether there will be anywhere to get food and water in the next 100miles, never mind somewhere to sleep!
We also need to be careful to abide by the Guinness World Record requirements and a refresher geography lesson about longitude and latitude was needed to make sure we didn’t go back on ourselves unnecessarily, check the co-ordinates of various twists and turns of our route. Another thing to get our head around has been time zones and the date line… somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic we will be crossing over the International Date Line and where we had been losing minutes everyday suddenly we gain a whole day back!
And as if this all wasn’t enough to figure out we still had actually figured out how to physically get to the start line. The bike is obviously capable of being flown but with every flight is a risk of damage whilst it is our of our sights so we prefer to make sure it comes with us to the start. Whereas on our Land’s End John O’Groats trip previously we were able to hire one way vans from the start and finish we quickly figured out this just wasn’t possible from the UK to Europe. So after looking into numerous options the simplest solution seems to be to hire a car from the UK to drive over with the bike and very kindly my Dad has offered to drive it back!
The tandem itself is still yet to materialise but is in the UK and is currently having a special wrap courtesy of Essential Wraps for our sponsors Huub. It is then to be lovingly built by tandem expert Pete at the Tandem Shop before we get our hands on it to start trialling and testing it. It all seems a bit surreal we haven’t ridden the bicycle we will be depending on to get us around the World but there’s plenty of time still and we don’t want to wear it out before we go.
We have managed a couple of spins this month and it was third time lucky for my planned “Fixties” ride… a completely arbitary early year challenge I set myself by ride one of our favourite training routes the “Fixed fifty”, firstly “broken” on heavy weight steel framed Betty then on the slightly lighter but fixed wheel “Kathrim”
And a spin up over down and back of the Snake Pass while it was briefly closed to car but open to cyclists- what a joy!
And now with hopefully most of the admin in hand we can start to focus on the fun stuff including some AMAZING episodes of “Stoked to be here“, an in store talk at Alpkit Hathersage and planning our grand depart and leaving do… oh and more riding bikes of course 😉