How will you get your bikes on a plane? And other frequently asked questions…
At the time of writing we are less than three weeks away from the “grand depart”, so we thought it might be useful to write a blog with some frequently asked questions we often get once people have got over the initial “you’re doing that on bikes…?”
How will you get your bikes on a plane?
It’s actually pretty straightforward: most planes take bikes as regular hold luggage, you just need to notify them in advance. It would be impractical to cart a suitcase or bike box round the world with us, so our strategy is to procure a big cardboard box, like the ones new bikes come in, at each city we catch a flight from: Dublin, LA, Christchurch, Sydney & Delhi. We’ll then “break down” the bikes, (remove the wheels, take off the saddle/handlebars etc) and pack them in the boxes with load of bubble wrap, gaffa tape them up and then pray to the plane gods that they make it safe and sound to the other side!
What’s your route and how did you come up with it?
A detailed breakdown of our route can be found here. Due to work commitments and various weddings and other events, we determined our leaving date to be 2nd October 2016. Initially we were planning to head east through Europe and into Asia, however with our leaving date in mind, we would then be travelling through Southern Europe/Turkey in November/December/January which will be bitterly cold. Due to this we decided to go west from London, flying into Orlando Florida on the 13th October and traversing the southern American states in the winter which although cold should be more bearable than Southern Europe. Once we get through USA we fly to NZ (via Fiji) and land on Christmas day in the middle of summer!
Other major considerations we made with the route was to decide not to cycle in Australia. We had thought to go from Melbourne to Perth but then decided we would rather have some precious time back to explore other parts of the world rather than hammering out mile after mile in the middle of the scorching sun in what is essentially 4,000 miles of desert. Instead we’ll be stopping in Sydney for five days.
We were both really keen to explore Asia and so the route from Vietnam to India is a leg I’m extremely excited about, likewise with central Asia and the “Stans” as this is a part of the world I know very little about. If our current route goes as planned we should miss the monsoon season, and the crippling summer heat in India.
We are currently planning on entering Europe via the Caucasus, then Turkey, sail across to Greece, then spin back home via the Balkans, Italy and France in summer, ending up back in London.
Aside from our flights, our route is flexible and will largely depend on what is going on in specific regions closer to the time. We’re aware things can change very quickly and so we are keeping a close eye on the FCO website and will I’m sure make loads of changes once we get on the go.
Where will you sleep?
Our plan is to camp as much as possible, particularly in “Western” countries. In Europe/USA/NZ to pay for accommodation each night you’re talking c $30USD/head/night which we can’t afford. Once we get into Asia and more developed countries accommodation becomes cheaper and we’ll be taking full advantage of this. We’re also excited to try out various “traveller” websites such as Warm Showers (specifically for cycle tourers), and Couch Surfing. Finally if anyone knows anyone anywhere on our route who may be keen to put us up for the night please let us know!
Will you be blogging about the trip?
Yes definitely. You can sign up to receive our blogs at the bottom of each page on our website. We’re really keen the blogs won’t be “look how much fun we’re having/how’s your Monday?” type posts with pictures of us next to a beach. The intention is for them to be informative and interesting - giving people a snap shot of the world in 2016 through the many different countries we’ll be passing through.
Are you doing it for charity?
We thought long and hard about this, but decided not to. Doing it for charity, although undoubtedly a great thing to do, would change the dynamic of the trip and put an additional set of pressures on us. Whilst we definitely want our friends/family to follow us and have an interest in the trip, we wouldn’t want people to feel obliged to give us their cash. Anyone that knows us knows we’re always doing marathons, cycle rides etc for charity, and so we’re really comfortable with the decision that this time we’re going to focus on getting round in one piece, and being able to tell the story at the other end. Whilst we’re on the way round, we’re hopeful that there will be some great causes we can highlight, so even if we’re not going to be donating them cash, there are other ways we can benefit the communities we’ll be cycling through.
How are you carrying your kit with you?
A touring bike is a lot sturdier than a road bike and so enables you to load it up with paniers which will contain all our clothes/sleeping bags/cooking stuff and everything we will need. This is about the amount of stuff we’ll have for a whole year…
How much will you be cycling per day?
This is going to vary between country depending on weather/road surface and various other stuff, but in general we have budgeted to cover 80kms/day with one day off a week. We’ve also got a few “stop over” breaks i.e. a week in California, Sydney, Greece and somewhere in Asia. Our flights are all booked so we do have certain drop dead dates we need to hit which if we’re behind we’ll need to put in some big days in order to not miss our flights!
How long will it take?
12 months. Ewan has a sabbatical agreed with his work which means he’ll be returning to work in October 2017, and Katie is working freelance but has told her clients she’ll be back to work then as well.
Which bit are you looking forward to most?
It’s hard to pick one because each leg offers something totally different and a whole new set of challenges. I’m (Ewan) excited about the whole trip, but if I was to narrow it down it’d probably be going back to New Zealand which is a beautiful country where I lived for a year and have a load of friends. I’m also excited to go to central Asia and explore this part of the world that few western people have been and I know very little about. It will also be fascinating to be in the USA at the time of the presidential election.
I’m (Katie) excited about India and Nepal – I know these will be challenging regions to cycle through at times, but I can’t wait to try the food, take in the scenery and meet the people. The great thing about cycling is that we can eat as much as we want as we’ll need lots of fuel. I will be particularly interested in trying local food, although steering clear of peanuts (to which I’m allergic) which could be tricky in South East Asia!
How much will it cost?
We’re roughly looking at £15/head/day. In Asian countries this will be plenty, but will be tighter in Europe and USA and will mean we’ll need to camp as much as we can. If we can stick to this it’s £5,500 for the year, but we’ve both got a fair bit of contingency saved for when things inevitably go wrong…