We are now just 3 months away from the start line and bursting at the seams with excitement! We are also overloading with information that we are learning each day as we plan and prepare for whatever this adventure may throw at us.
So lets fill you in on where we're at with the preparations;
Deciding which way to go..
This all began in 2010 in our living room in France where we had an entire wall pinned with maps of the world's continents. Our general ambition in life is to experience as much of the world as is possible, so narrowing this choice down was not going to be a straight forward task! Originally, cycling the America's had been top of the cards. Then, we decided that it would be a lovely idea to simply wake up one morning at our home in Cornwall, have breakfast with the family, jump on our bikes and head straight out the gates and just keep pedalling. On the very same note, it would be incredible to arrive home to family and friends and a party at the Dairy Tavern on the homestead of the Partridge family in Australia.. Home to Home by bicycle. Now all that we had to decide was which way to go in between!
More than any other question, people ask us how long we think it will take to cycle half way around the globe. Well the answer is very straight forward; as long as we possibly can. We will be taking an extended route which we estimate will see us through approximately 42 countries between the UK and Australia. Keep an eye out on our website in the coming weeks and we will update you with our planned route on the maps section of the website. Once we are on the road we will have a SPOT GPS system with us and you will be able to track our progress throughout. We think about 18 months for this trip.
Which bikes to use..
We currently own 2 Specialised Tri-cross bikes which have served us superbly in our adventures around the British Isles. However, with the added weight and extra stress from rugged terrain, we decided to invest in a couple of new steeds. With much deliberation between whether to go Titanium or Steel, the latter eventually got the vote. As we speak, 2 steel frames are being meticulously hand-crafted by Enigma bikes in the South East of England. David and I have spent many hours researching each and every component that we want fitted to the frames, hoping to achieve a strong, reliable and efficient set of wheels.
Preparing to be self-sufficient..
As you will see on the equipment page of the website, we are well on our way to completing our kit list. Researching and choosing our kit has been labour intensive, but a very productive exercise in learning the in's and the out's of our gear before we hit the road. We intend to be almost entirely self-sufficient on this trip and we will be wild camping the majority of the time, therefore we need to pre-empt and prepare for a number of situations. Our kit has been carefully selected based on durability, performance, weight, pack size, weather resistance and cost. We will be taking a few justified luxury items, which are not necessarily compulsory, but we feel that by having a few creature comforts with us, it shall make long-term camping much more pleasurable. Pedal power and solar energy will be our primary source of electricity.
Any help, information or local knowledge on the above will be very welcome!
Our next task in hand is to start contacting the consulates of the prospective countries to establish the entrance requirements. We are planning to cycle across Scandinavia and enter Russia, travelling around the outside of St Petersburg and back into Estonia, so acquiring a short-stay Russian visa will be first up.. we'll let you know how we get on!
Many visa's can be applied for in the neighboring countries, others must be arranged before leaving the UK. The restrictions imposed by visa's and the requirements for application, teamed with the fun of having dual nationalities, shall undoubtedly have a profound influence on our timings and choice of route, it shall also be another challenge to over come in this challenge of challenges!
Language and etiquette is very important to David and I. We love to immerse ourselves in the local culture and learn as much as possible about people and how they live. We will also need to ask for help and accept invitations of help at times, so we shall carry a translated letter with us to introduce ourselves and explain what it is we are doing. That will hopefully break the ice and from there, I guess we'll have to be resourceful! It is our primary aim on this journey to learn and embrace the culture of the places we visit and document our experiences effectively.
Using social networking..
With the aid of social networks, it is now possible to give oneself a huge helping hand with all the above. Through websites such as WAYN (Where Are You Now?) and Couch Surfing, it is possible to speak with people beforehand and even arrange to meet on arrival in new countries. David has been very busy making invaluable contacts in all the different countries, already we have received recommendations of places to visit and invites of stay.
Getting to grips with media and technology..
Capturing the essence of this journey through photography, video and blogging is our goal. We will be using this website to archive and broadcast our story, so we need to brush up on the use of visual mediums and start getting savvy with a mouse and keyboard! We have had a tremendous helping hand from Philip Partridge in setting up this website and Philip will continue to support us throughout with technical support and editing of footage. You can check out a short video of Philip's work by clicking on the You Tube icon above, or, to find out more go to GetStunted.Com on the links page.
Before the introduction of digital cameras, David and I both studied a little photography. We get a great kick out of taking photographs and are eager to broaden our photographic skills on this trip. To do the job, we have indulged in an Olympus OM-D EM-5 micro four thirds system camera. We chose this camera for a number of reasons;
We will update you on the performance of the Olympus OM-D and provide you with plenty of photographs to make your own judgement!
How to finance an extended trip..
We have been working very hard to raise the funds for this particular project. We set ourselves a figure of how much we would ideally set off with and calculated how long it would take to save. As this trip will be on a budget we aim to live off just 10GBP a day, or 70GBP a week if that sounds more palatable! If we were to achieve the total amount in this timescale, it would require sheer determination and commitment to the cause. For every 10 spent, we loose a day on the bike. For every 10 earned, we gain a day. David and I are 'pro's' at wild camping and masters of the camp stove and I also possess a particularly valuable ability to seek out a bargain! It is surprising how easy it is to sustain ourselves once on the road.
There has been a lot of training going on, not particularly cycling specific and mostly because that is what we love to do more than anything else in our spare time. We have an awesome squad that we train with at the Aberdeen Sports Village (you know who you are!) and when we are not there, you will find us in the hills, up mountains and occasionally on our bikes!