Since the idea of riding to New Zealand was mentioned by a friend, on that sunny day in Battersea park back in July 2010, I have been excited at the thought of the adventure that would lie ahead. I was itching to go there and then. Now 8 months later and less than a month before I set off on an adventure of a lifetime. With hindsight I now realise that every minute was precious and necessary for the planning and organising of this trip. In some ways finding more time on my hands in September was a blessing in disguise because it gave me even more valuable time to organise.
This I have needed because when it comes to adventure cycling I am a complete novice I have never done anything like this before. So starting from scratch. There has been a lot to do.
At times it has been intense, spending hours processing the huge amounts of information while researching equipment, countries, visas and more than once I was suffering from information overload.
CHOOSING A BIKE
The first thing I did was buy a book called adventure cycling by Steven Lord. This was immensely helpful in helping to choose a bike and deciding what set up to go with. It pointed out such things as the advantage of a steel frame. It might be heavier but definitely sturdier and a lot easier to weld if something goes wrong if you’re in the middle of nowhere.
PLANNING THE ROUTE
I started by buying a world map.
I have then gone for the most direct route possible. Avoiding those dodgy countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Visa considerations also came in to play.
Unfortunately, some countries like Burma just won’t let you in.
Stamfords in London was great for getting more detailed maps of regions like Central Asia.
I had to pay a visit to the local nurse to see what vaccinations I would need and what I was entitled to on the NHS for free. I got Hepatitis A+B Typhoid, 3 months supply of Malaria tablets and some antibiotics. I needed to go to the Travel clinic to get a Rabies booster.
It was very time consuming researching visa requirements for each country and then planning where to apply for a particular visa. The Iranian visa is the only visa I could apply for before leaving London.
I got a dozen passport photos to take with me for the numerous visas I will need along the way.
From the Internet I got a one year (one way) adventure insurance (which I hope I will never need).
– Adventure cycling book.
– Lonely planet travel guide books
– Lonely planet travel forum on your bike (here one can gain knowledge from fellow cyclists with on road experience and can ask any questions and get some really good advice).
– Adventure cycling travel blogs (it’s great to hear and see other adventure cyclists experiences).
– Visited and talked to people with adventure cycling experience (their wealth of information and tips are invaluable).
SETTING UP A BLOG AND FACEBOOK PAGE
It has taken hours and hours to set up in the first instance a facebook page, Google map, just giving page and now this blog. This will be a great way for you to keep an eye on how things are going and to pinpoint my position and to keep in touch.