As I’ve been talking about this trip the natural question many people want to know is of course the route… what is the plan? Well, while details are still to be planned we – yep, I think I now have a companion - do now have a rough outline.
The original world cycle challenge followed Mark Beaumont’s route around the globe – an 18,000 mile journey over 9 months. The route would go through 20 countries leaving London and travelling through Europe, Iran, Pakistan, South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and back through Europe. It was a route that had been selected for speed, following pretty much the exact route Mark had taken as part of his Guinness world record back in 2008. It was to be an exciting trip and the sections through Iran and Pakistan were of particular interest to me.
However, as that trip was cancelled and the possibility of planning my own route was then an option this also provided the chance to look at the route again. To decide where one would like to cycle if choosing a route that was not based on world record rules and the key driver of speed. Sounds simple eh?
Of course, it started with the wish list and was then whittled down on the basis of round the world flight tickets, climate, cost and common sense. Further, by this point someone was interested in the trip too and so compromise also needed to be added to the equation. However, given as my wish list covered pretty much everywhere then looking at the trip from a travel fatigue and companionship perspective were now more important.
Instead then I looked at ways to plan meeting up with others or take the ease from map reading and language at strategic points. While Iran and adventure gave me a real buzz I also wanted to feel safe given we were now travelling independently i.e. without the security advisors and 24/7 support back in London. I was sure that my parents too would be pleased I was taking this into account!
So, following much discussion and research here it is…. , still subject to detailed planning, VISAs and availability…. my 20,000km route.
The trip will start in the USA, heading down the Pacific Coast Highway, a gentle ease in before heading to Japan for our first delve into travel with an obvious language barrier. The original trip set out to be physically challenging and spurred on by this we also decided to add two more demanding parts to the journey. Given we will also now be lugging all our own kit we plan to join organised trips for additional company support and bag carriage for the two tougher sections!
The first of these comes after Japan as we head to China and will then cycle the Friendship Highway from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Going via Everest base camp and cycling at altitude through the Himalayas will certainly not be for the faint-hearted. The reward will of course be stunning viewpoints and curry on arrival in India. We’re still looking at the India leg but plan to head from there to South East Asia. I’ve cycled through Vietnam before and look forward to seeing more from this part of the world.
We expect the journey so far will be the first 5 months of the trip and in December are looking to head to New Zealand for Christmas and Sydney for New Year. Well, it’s important to plan in some fizz for new year and this will be a well deserved “rest” before we plan to join a tour cycling from Cairo to Capetown. Africa is somewhere I have never traveled to and the thought of going to this part of the world, not part of the original cycle challenge, is quickly becoming a part of the trip I am really excited about. The journey through Africa will itself take 5 months and as that trip comes to an end so too the overall ride will be drawing to a close. Finishing off with a poottle through Europe seems simple to say at this point…. I wonder how simple it may feel come May?