You are on page 1of 23

The

Bike Touring
Survival Guide

Packed with practical advice and


tips for life on the road, from over 50
experienced bike tourists.

Friedel & Andrew Grant

About The Authors


Were Friedel & Andrew - two Canadians who fell into bike touring
while living in London. We were searching for an adventurous way to go
around the world. That was in 2006. It was three years and 48,000km
later when we returned home with a new passion for discovering the
world on two wheels.
Our love of bicycles brought us to the Netherlands, where we live,
work and write about bike touring. We still take off on our bikes for a
few days or weeks at a time, and were planning more big adventures.
We welcome your bike touring tips for future editions of this book,
and your ideas for changes or additions. Share your thoughts by emailing
us@travellingtwo.com

A Note About Copyright


Its taken over a year of hard work to produce this book. Selling it
helps us to continue publishing free information on our website, and
to pay for IT costs such as server maintenance.
Please dont pass it around the internet, put it up on file-sharing sites
or make copies in any form - print or electronic - to sell. In other words,
this book is 2011 Friedel & Andrew Grant.
If youre writing a review of the book, feel free to quote brief passages
and thanks for reviewing it! Creative Commons material can, of course,
be reused according to the license for each object. Rights to photos from
our contributors stay with the photographer.
1

The

Bike Touring
Survival Guide
By Friedel & Andrew Grant
With Contributions, Editing and Inspiration By:
Aaldrik Mulder & Sonya Spry, Adam Thomas & Catherine
Mojsiewicz, Aitor Zabala, Alastair Humphreys, Alicia
Ackerman, Alvaro Neil the Biciclown, Amaya Williams
& Eric Schambion, Ann Wilson, Anthony Atkielski,
Chris Leakey & Liz Wilton, Chris Meyer, Chris Roach,
David Piper, Doug Nienhuis, Emma Philpott & Justin
Hewitt, Fearghal ONuallain & Simon Evans, Frederike
Ramm & Guy Moodie, Gayle Dickson, Grace Johnson
& Paul Jeurissen, Geoff Stanley, Heather Burge, Ian
Hincks, Jim Langley, Jim Wood, Josie Dew, Keith
Bassingthwaighte, Kent Peterson, Loretta Henderson,
Marten Gerritsen, Matt Picio, McNett, Michael
Meiser, Mike Boles, Mirjam Wouters, Oli Broom, Peter
Gostelow, Peter Lypkie, Primus, Quantum Cycles, Ray
Swartz, Rebecca Hogue & Scott Drennan, Richard
Masoner, Rob Moir, Santos Bikes, Sarabeth Matilsky,
Sarah Luttio, Scott Stoll, Shane Little, Simone & Trevor,
Stephen Lord, Steve Fabes, Steve Langston, Stijn de
Klerk, Steve Willey, Tara Alan & Tyler Kellen

Contents
Introduction
You Can Do It!
Keep It Simple

7
9

Part 1: Life On The Road


Getting Ready For The Adventure
Is it safe and fun to bike tour, even on my own?
13
Will this cost a lot? Im not rich!
16
How much do I need to plan?
19
Mapping out a route?
23
Bikes on planes, trains, buses or boats?
29
What to pack? 37
Getting sponsors or riding for charity?
41
Advice for women planning to bike tour?
43

Daily Logistics
Navigating my daily route?
50
What to eat? 56
Where to sleep? 67
Getting a shower? 77
Doing laundry? 79
Finding water? How much to carry?
82
Help! Wheres the toilet?
86
What if my day starts going wrong?
88

The People You Meet


Why do all these strangers want to meet me?
Weird questions people will ask me?
Should I accept offers of hospitality from strangers?

92
96
98

Staying Connected
Keeping in touch with friends and family?
Which gadgets and electronics to carry?
Finding electricity to power these gizmos?
Getting internet access?
3

102
104
107
110

Challenges
Dealing with traffic?
Will I be robbed or hassled?
Making sure my bike isnt stolen?
If dogs chase me?
Coping with bad weather?
Staying healthy?
Wanting to quit before my tour is over?

113
116
118
121
123
126
132

Far Away Places


Do I need many vaccinations?
Is it safe to go there?
What about getting visas?
Getting and exchanging money?
Bribes, bargaining and beggars?
Communicating without speaking the language?

135
137
139
145
149
151

Coming Home
Im home. Now what?
Will I ever get a job again?

154
156

Part 2: Bike & Camping Gear Maintenance


Repair Kits & General Bike Care
What goes in my repair kit?
Keeping my bike running smoothly?
Whats that funny sound?
What if my bike frame cracks?

160
167
170
172

Wheels, Rims & Chains


Fixing a broken spoke?
Truing a wobbly wheel?
Straightening a severely bent wheel?
Cracked rims?
Chain problems?

175
179
182
184
187

Flat Tires
Unusual causes of flat tires?
Out of patches and tubes?
4

190
192

Tents, Sleeping Bags & Mats


Pitching and packing my tent?
Cleaning my tent?
Holes and water leaks in my tent?
Fixing broken tent poles?
Caring for and cleaning my sleeping bag?
Protecting my sleeping mat from dirt and failures?

194
197
198
200
202
205

Stoves
How to keep my stove working well?
Making my stove more efficient?
Where can I find fuel? How much do I need?
Making an emergency replacement stove?
Flying with a stove?

208
213
216
219
221

Water Filters
Do I need a water filter or purifier?
Caring for my water filter?

222
224

Clothing
Caring for waterproof clothing?
Keeping shoes from falling apart?
Fixing failing zippers?

225
226
227

Closing Thoughts
Last But Not Least

229

Appendix
Packing List
Insurance
Recommended Equipment
Additional Reading
Acknowledgements

230
233
234
238
239

Since life is short


and the world is wide,
the sooner you start
exploring it, the better.
Simon Raven

You Can Do It!

his book will help you live your dreams. Think of it as your
personal cheerleader, here to guide you on your own bike touring
adventure.
We wrote it because its exactly what we would have liked to read
when we set out to pedal around
the world. Its a book full of tips
and practical on-the-road advice,
and a book that focuses on the
emotional side of the journey, as
well as the physical.
Everything on these pages
has been learned from the nearly
Get on your bicycle and go explore the
world. There are so many wonderful
60,000km of cycling weve done
adventures waiting for you on the road.
(often after racking our brains
for days to come up with a solution), or is wisdom generously shared
by dozens of other adventurous bike tourists.
Does that mean youll agree with everything? Of course not. We offer
ideas, suggestions and hints but you may well find a better way of doing
things. If you do, share it so others can learn from your experience.
The book begins by tackling the concerns that so many people have in
the planning stages of a tour. What
should I pack? Will this cost a lot of
It is difficult to relate the
money? Can I go alone?
profound pleasure of bicycle
Next comes life on the road and
touring; its a pleasure that
everything
that a long bike tour
takes root deeply in the
entails.
As
you
read, youll find out
soul. To feel the land rising
how
to
deal
with
challenges like a
and falling under the power
broken campstove, heavy traffic and
of your own legs, to take
bad weather.
immense joy in every bit of
food that you consume...
Youll learn to expect the
Ian Hincks and Geoff Stanley
unexpected, and youll become
excited to discover new cultures,
landscapes, foods and sensations.
Perhaps most importantly, youll learn how a bike tour can help you
discover not only the world but also a bit about yourself.
We also touch on coming home after a bike tour. Whats it like to
7

return after an extended period on the road? Can you find a job again?
Will a bicycle tour change you? The answer to the last question is yes
in more ways than you ever imagined.
All of this is organised not by chapters but by groups of questions.
They are the questions that we once asked ourselves, and that hundreds
of other bike tourists have asked us over the years. Read the questions
in order, or flip through the pages randomly.
No book can cover everything, of course, and what makes this book
a little different from other how-to bike touring guides is that we dont
go into great detail about exactly which type of bike or equipment to buy.
Thats not to say that weve elimated discussions about gear entirely.
Over a third of the book is devoted to maintaining and fixing things we
all take on a bike tour - stoves, tents and, yes, your bicycle.
Weve also included a chapter on what to pack and several equipment
lists. If thats not enough, throughout the book youll find tips that will
help you choose between the many makes and models competing for
space in your bike bags.
For specific equipment recommendations, such as brands of bicycles,
sleeping mats and tents, check out our totally free Bike Touring Basics
book (http://travellingtwo.com/biketouringbasics).
If we were to distill the message of this book into a single sentence it
would be this: YOU CAN DO IT! Forget what others say and remember
that you already have everything you need for a successful bike tour.
You just dont know it yet.

Keep It Simple

s you research, plan and dream about your big bike tour, youll
soon discover just how easy it is to get bogged down in the details.
You can labour for weeks over which route to take, whether to
get the big tent or the small one, panniers or a trailer.
Even with more than 1,100 days on
the road, we still debate these types of
things. It is surely a human condition
to always be curious about the other
option.
There is one rule, however, that often
helps us make a decision, no matter
what the dilema: keep it simple.
Life shouldnt be too
Take equipment, for example. Its
complicated on a bike tour.
Great pleasures are found in
nice to think that when things go
simple things and moments.
wrong, youll always be within spitting
distance of a bike shop or camping store.
Unfortunately, Murphys Law says youre more likely to be in the
middle of Outer Nowhereistan and the next town, bus stop or bike
shop will be very far away.
When that happens, you want to be able to fix the problem on your
own, or at least engineer a temporary patch job. You can vastly improve
your chances by repeating Keep It Simple to yourself when picking
out equipment.
What does this mean? In a nutshell: as much as possible, buy equipment
that you understand and can repair in the field. For things like bicycles,
tents, water filters and other gear, there are enough expedition products
that are designed with field repairs in mind that getting something with
hard-to-locate parts is usually avoidable.
These expedition-quality products can be expensive but theres a lot
to be said for a good product that stands up to abuse and prevents you
from dealing with breakdowns in the first place.
Keeping It Simple doesnt mean that you shun every high-tech gadget
you cant fix yourself. Obviously, sending emails from a small netbook
that fits neatly in your panniers is preferable to going back to the very
simple (but now barely used) post restante, which was the main form of
communication for travellers until the internet became popular. Even
9

when picking out the latest gizmos, however, keep simplicity in mind.
Go for brands that are known to be reliable and have a good battery life.
Dont buy things that come with expensive contracts or that is so pricey
that youll be constantly worrying about it being stolen.

Questions to ask when buying gear:


1. Is this product known to be reliable?
2. Do I understand how it works?
3. Can I fix it in the field?
4. If I cant fix it, how easy will it be to find someone who can?
5. Are the components commonly available?
6. Are the related batteries or tools standard and easy to find?

Go Multi-functional
Keeping It Simple also means buying
things with more than one function. A
Swiss Army knife can replace several kitchen
utensils. Trousers that zip-off and convert
to shorts can be used in warm and cool
climates, allowing you to carry one piece
of clothing instead of two.

Stay Open To Change


Keep It Simple is a state of mind as well.
One of the great joys of
Try not to complicate your life by obsessing
bike touring is stopping
you like. Photo
about daily distances, setting deadlines or wherever
Steve Willey.
deciding to cycle every mile, no matter how
difficult those miles turn out to be.
These self-imposed pressures are sometimes invigorating challenges
but they also run the risk of being more stressful than fun.
Its better to stay flexible and, when you feel like a change, look
for ways to make life easier or more enjoyable. If you feel tired, take a
shortcut, stop and read a book or treat yourself to a hotel and a really
good nights sleep. When youd rather be somewhere else, dont feel
guilty about using public transport to jump ahead to the next region.
The bottom line is that its your tour not anyone elses. Its certainly
not a race or a quest to prove yourself to the world. Make sure youre
enjoying the ride.
10

Getting Ready:

packing, planning,
finding a route...

11

Is it safe and fun to bike tour,


especially on my own?

istory is filled with the stories of bike tourists who set out
on exciting and successful solo journeys and one of the most
inspiring cycling personalities is Dervla Murphy.
In 1963, Dervla
embarked on her first
long-distance bike tour
from Ireland to India. Roz,
the bicycle, was her only
constant companion.
For that journey, Dervla
carried a gun for protection.
She sold it in Afghanistan,
In the middle of nowhere, theres little to
concluding that it was safer
worry about. No people. No traffic. Bliss.
to travel without a firearm.
Dervla later reflected that the world has not become drastically more
dangerous in recent years, despite what we tend to think.
To a certain extent, we have become hysterical about our own safety.
Perhaps big cities are more dangerous than they used to be, but once
you get out into the wide open spaces, I think that you are as safe as
you have ever been, she said.
Its a sentiment that we found reassuring when we nervously turned
our wheels to the road for the first time, without really knowing anything
about bike touring.
Josie Dew (http://www.josiedew.
Security is mostly a
com), who has cycled tens of thousands
superstition. It does not
of miles on solitary world jaunts, also
exist in nature, nor do the
children of men as a whole suggests that there is no great danger
experience it. Avoiding
in getting out there and exploring
danger is no safer in the
despite what your family, friends or the
long run than outright
local newspaper might have you believe.
exposure. Life is either
After 20-odd years of cycling in fits
a daring adventure, or
and starts around the world, Ive found
nothing.
that most people dont want to kill you,
Helen Keller
they want to help you, she says, noting
13

that any occasional scares have been far outweighed by kindness.


The books and biographies of yet more cyclists Anne Mustoe, Heinz
Stcke and Louise Sutherland, to name a few along with the journals
of thousands of lower-profile
bike tourists confirm that
the joys of bike touring far
outnumber the scares.

Identify Your Fears


If youre still not
convinced, pin down your
fears and address them.
Concerns about traffic or There are literally 1000s of organized bike
being hit by a car can be tours to choose from, including extended
tours. We met this group on
helped by taking an on-road international
their way to Bejing from Europe.
cycling course, wearing highvisibility clothing and planning a tour on backcountry roads (see p. 113).
Scared of wild animals and things that go bump in the night? Pick
a destination where its easy to find alternative accommodation in case
you dont feel like free camping.
Very often its not one specific worry that holds people back from bike
touring but a general fear of the unknown. The best cure is to start with
a day or weekend trip around an area you are familiar with. Branch out
slowly, making each trip slightly longer until you start to feel comfortable
with the routines and adventures of bike touring.
You can also begin with an organized group tour and get a feeling
for life on the road, without being thrown into the deep end all at
once. Biciklo (http://www.biciklo.com) is a good searchable directory
of organised bike tours.
Whatever your concerns, youll probably find that once youve been
on the road for a few days or weeks, the fears you had before your tour
fade with your growing confidence and skills.
That may not be the case, however, for your friends and family. As
your departure date approaches, you may be pressured to stay home or
do something more sensible than bike touring.
Try to alleviate their concerns by promising to check in regularly (see
p. 102). At the same time, accept that your mother will always worry a
little bit, no matter what you do.
Are we promising nothing will happen? Of course not. Just like life
in general, nothing is risk free. You might have a problem when you
14

go bike touring. You might also stay at home, fall down the stairs and
break your leg. Usually bad luck is exactly that. It can happen no matter
what you do or where you are, so dont let fears push your dreams aside.

The Lonely Blues


Being lonely isnt a big problem on a long trip because even if youre
cycling solo, youre rarely alone. There are people to chat with at every
stop. They approach to offer help when youre pondering your map, or
out of curiosity when they spot your bike.
The kindness of these strangers is often overwhelming. They seemingly
come out of nowhere to offer cold drinks on a hot day, or a meal and a
bed at the end of a long ride.
Theres also a lot to do on a bike tour. By the time you ponder over
your map, savour the beauty of a downhill stretch, shop for food, eat
your food and find a campsite, theres not much time left to be lonely.
Life isnt all roses though and loneliness does occasionally strike.
It may arrive when you are pedalling through a desolate landscape,
with a bit too much time to think, or around the time of birthdays
and holidays. You may ask yourself questions: What am I doing here?
Shouldnt I just go home?
When these blues set in, remember that most loneliness is temporary
and not necessarily bad. Loneliness can force you to see a place from a new
angle and be the catalyst that pushes you to embrace new opportunities.
On a long bike tour, a lonely spirit can often be soothed by stopping
in one place for a while. Rent a room. Become part of the community.
This will bring a bit of routine back into your life and give you time to
think about whats really bothering you. You also get a chance to form
deeper friendships, which can be hard on a solo bike tour.
Here are other ways to shake those blues:
EE Find a popular route so you can meet other travellers; maybe
another cyclist who will join you for a few days.
EE Call home. Friends who make you laugh are good!
EE Do something out of the ordinary. Go to a movie. Learn a
skill. Treat yourself to a meal in a restaurant.
EE Share your experience. Write about your trip. Talk to schools
and charity groups.
EE Take a trip home. Its nice to see the people you love and
theres no reason why you shouldnt take a short break from a
longer trip.
15

Will this cost a lot? Im not rich!

multi-year world tour on a low to medium budget, including


daily expenses and one-off costs such as flights and insurance,
will cost about $10,000 U.S. a year or $15,000 U.S. for a couple.
This is a broad estimate and
will naturally be influenced by the
destinations and route you choose,
as well as your own personal style.
If this seems like a lot of money,
perhaps thats because it is. Several
thousand dollars is no small chunk
of change for most of us but theres
another way to look at this figure.
For the cost of a new car you can
quit your job, travel the world for
and have an adventure that may well
change your life. Bargain!

Daily Costs
We can break the cost of bike
Youll save a lot of money by
touring down into 3 broad categories.
embracing wild camping.
Prices are the top amount that one
person might spend on any given day. Multiply by 1.5 for a couple.

Low Budget (Up to $15 U.S.)


To bike tour on this slim a budget youll have to cook your own food,
be dedicated to camping in the wild and get your kicks from simple
pleasures like the surrounding landscape and people you meet along the
way. It will help a lot if you eliminate transport costs by starting and
ending your trip from your front door.
If you do go somewhere far away, youll get a lot more for your money
in countries where the cost of living is cheap (Southeast Asia, India, the
Middle East and South America).

Middle Of The Road (Up to $75 U.S.)


This is where we normally fall. We revel in the joys of camping out
in the wilderness and cook most of our own food. On many days $20
16

U.S. is enough to cover expenses. When the weather is bad or we reach


a city, however, we dont hesitate to
splurge on a hotel for convenience
and comfort. We also indulge in
treats like an ice cream, glass of wine
or tickets to a local museum.

Luxury Tour (Up to $200 U.S.)


With this kind of budget you can
live the high life. You might pay for
a guided tour so you dont have to
worry about the planning. You can
stay in hotels, visit all the tourist
attractions and eat out regularly in
restaurants. You wont need to carry
camping gear, which means your
bags will be lighter and youll be able
to easily cover longer distances.

If youre travelling on a budget, you


may want to make your own tarp
out of plastic for a fraction of the
price of a new one.

Start-up & Emergency Costs


No matter how much you plan to spend, set aside an extra 10-15%
as a rainy day fund for emergencies. On longer trips, this money will
also help you cover expenses during the transition period of coming
home, before you find work again.
Youll need to count on set-up costs as well. This can be daunting,
especially if you start looking at pricey new equipment in camping shops.
The thing to remember is that you dont really need all latest and
greatest stuff to go touring. Our friend Greg went from China to Europe
in a tent that cost $10 U.S. from the local supermarket. It was far from
perfect but he made it, and he had the time of his life along the way.
To cut costs, you can search for used bikes and accessories. With a
bit of luck, a few hundred dollars can buy the bicycle plus some basic
accessories like racks and panniers. You might even do it for less by
borrowing or making your own gear - a project thats both fun and
satisfying. People have made bike
bags out of plastic buckets and
The price of anything is the
stoves out of cat food tins (see p.
amount of life you exchange
219).
for it.
That said, nice gear is, well, nice
Henry Thoreau
to have. Its built to last, which
17

means peace of mind and fewer hassles replacing things along the way.
Money can also buy lighter, more efficient gear.
To get set up with all the best equipment, you might spend $2,000
U.S. on a touring bike (for about $1,000 U.S. youll can already buy
a very good bike) and another $1,000-2,000 U.S. on camping gear,
accessories and outdoor clothing. Its a big initial outlay, but one that
will pay for itself over time if you plan to do a lot of touring.

This Is How To Save It


Whether youre dreaming of a small trip or something bigger, the
principle remains the same. Set a financial goal and start saving. Work
towards an overall goal as well as a monthly target, and put money in a
special account so you can clearly see your progress.
Try these cost-cutting ideas:
EE
EE
EE
EE
EE
EE
EE
EE

Cancel your subscriptions (satellite TV, magazines, cellphone).


Sell your car and bike to work.
De-clutter your home and sell everything you dont need.
Rent out a room in your home.
Downsize to a smaller home or rent a caravan.
When you need something, buy it second-hand.
Cook at home and take leftovers to work for lunch.
Dont buy a fancy bike. Tune up an old one. Youll save money
and learn about bikes at the same time.

If youre having trouble identifying areas to cut back, keep track of


your expenses for a month. This can be a real eye-opener!
At the heart of all this scrimping and saving is the idea that money
spent is money you cant put towards your dream. That doesnt mean
you should never treat yourself but try to be more conscious of your
spending. When youre tempted to spend $20 U.S., ask yourself: Would
I rather have this, or one day on my bike?
Though it may seem hard to believe when you start, you really can
stash a lot of cash away quickly by separating your wants from your
needs and cutting out everything that falls into the nice to have but not
necessary category. In the last year before leaving on our epic tour, we
went from living on two paychecks to one, simply by forgoing what we
outlined as unnecessary extras.

18

How much do I need to plan?

very time someone asks about planning a trip we think of Lee,


the most memorable bike
tourist weve met. We met
Lee in the middle of a sandstorm on
a long and lonely stretch of road in
Turkmenistan. We were going east.
Lee was going west.
Since we were the only bike tourists
either of us had seen in weeks and we
somehow had the good fortune to
meet each other outside the only cafe
for 100km, we naturally stopped to
have a drink together.
Over a glass of soda, Lee told us
that he was from China and hed
been cycling for 14 years. When we
asked exactly where he was going, Lee Lee: On the road for over a decade
wasnt sure. He held out his hand and with little gear or planning but a
lot of spirit.
waved it roughly towards the west.
Iran, perhaps. Or maybe Armenia.
His bike was as haphazard as his route. Everything on it was a wreck.
The panniers in particular stand out in our minds to this day. They were
faded, crumpled bits of fabric. Every zipper on them was broken; split
wide open.
Lees packing style was also interesting. Other cyclists would have used
the limited space in his slim panniers for a waterproof jacket or a stove
but Lee crammed his bags full of photo albums. To this day, we arent
even sure if Lee had a tent. If he did, it must have been tiny because there
would have been little place for it in his bags, between all the photos.
In spite of this stunning lack of planning, limited equipment and
basic bicycle, Lee had managed to bike through 100 countries. When
we met in 2008, he told us he planned to stop in a few months and
return home. Over a year later, we turned on the television to see Lee
on the news. Still cycling, hed been kicked out of Somalia for illegally
trying to bike through the country without a visa.
Clearly Lee was not the kind of man to let something as trivial as a
19

knackered bicycle, bureaucratic hassles or a lack of technical equipment


get in the way of a good time. Hes probably still pedalling somewhere
out there, with the same worn
panniers.
Concerning the roads that we
It was Lee who got us
might expect to encounter,
thinking that most bike tourists
we were unable to obtain any
ourselves included fret too
information. However, we did
not hesitate to set out ... and take much. We can spend months
things as they came, resolving to before a trip sketching out
every last inch of a route and
find pleasure in every incident
buying endless pieces of gear,
which might be in store for us.
all guaranteed to save us from
Allan Eric, Through The Adirondacks
Awheel
disaster. We set out on bike tours
and big adventures because we
want to get away from the routine, and yet we try to plan for every
unexpected moment and make our adventure as predictable as possible.
Its easy to lose sight of the fact that the most important thing is
to get on the bike any bike thats still capable of moving and ride.
Nothing more. Nothing less. Just pedal.

A Little Planning Never Hurts


That said, a bit of planning can make things simpler. A lot simpler. It
stinks when you turn up at a campground only to find it closed for the
season. It stinks even more
to be cycling through the
desert and discover youre
short on water.
If you plan things well,
youll find yourself glowing
with the liberating feeling
that comes from riding your
bike down remote roads,
knowing that you have all
Plan enough so you dont run out of
the skills and tools required supplies in the middle of nowhere but not
to solve any challenges that so much that you become inflexible. Above
all, just enjoy the experience of exploring
might come up.
the road ahead.
So yes, by all means, plan
your trip. Depending on the journey you have in mind, you might start
a few days or a few years before you leave. Find journals online and
books of other cyclists who have travelled the same path. Browse through
20

guidebooks. Email tourist associations for information and brochures.


Buy maps for the places youre going and download GPS tracks from
the internet (see more on all of this on p. 23).
Get a highlighter and start marking down attractions to visit and
practicalities like places to sleep or get water. Some people even like to
plan out a day-by-day itinerary in a spreadsheet.
Planning also means thinking about the challenges you might
encounter. Research the likely weather and read about some of the
things that can happen on a bike tour. Learn what to do when the hotel
you expected doesnt appear (see p. 67), when a crack appears in your
bike frame (see p. 172) or when your stove wont work and all you want
is a hot cup of tea (see p. 208).
Its not that these things happen very often, but once in a while your
day will taken an unexpected twist (and thanks to Murphys Law this
always seems to happen in the pouring rain). When the unanticipated
occurs, its nice to know what your options are.
Above all, learn to trust in yourself and your own resourcefulness.
When everything else runs out, its this confidence that will carry you
through. Just like Lee, youll soon learn that its not about how many
guidebooks youre carrying around, the gear in your bags or even the
bike. Its about your dreams and desires. Take those two things on a bike
tour and everything else will follow.

21

Planning Timeline For A Big Trip


Its possible to take off on a whim but most of us spend a few
years dreaming and planning for a big bike tour.
Three Or Four Years Before
EE Start saving money (have a goal and a budget)
EE Read inspiring books about the journey you want to take
EE Set a rough departure date
One Year Before
EE Set a firm departure date
EE Tell friends and family about your plans
EE Research and pick out a bike
EE Start clearing out your stuff
Six to Nine Months Before
EE Create a website (if you want one)
EE Select the rest of your gear
EE Set aside weekends for test runs of your bike and gear
EE Research visas you may need en route
Three Months Before
EE Apply for visas youll need early on in your trip
EE Visit a doctor and get your vaccinations
EE Book flights and renew your passport
EE Tell your boss that youre quitting
EE Set up internet banking
EE Scan important documents and store them digitally
One Month Before
EE Get your bike serviced and pick up any spare parts
EE Buy any remaining supplies
EE Sell or store any stuff you have left
Just One Week!
EE Have a goodbye party
EE Pack your bike for the flight
EE Try to get some sleep
22

Related Interests