Four days to lift-off!

I am excited.

I set off for New Zealand in four days. Wednesday 2nd May will be the culmination of hundreds of hours of preparation over the past seven months. I am generally an over-thinker, and consequently have been beyond meticulous in my planning. Each preparatory task since November has been carefully scheduled onto a double A3 calendar and ticked off, one by one.

This level of care has left me in the luxurious position of perhaps being too prepared with a few days to go, prepared enough at least to sit down with a bowl of banana-porridge and an English breakfast tea to finally update the blog. I have found that organisational tasks have roughly fallen into three categories: Equipment, safety and logistical stuff. I thought I would record for the blog an update on each of these categories.

Working out what equipment would be needed to ride a bike across the world by yourself for a year was actually the easiest category to organise (and the most indulgent!). My rosta of worldly possessions for the year is now largely complete. Unfortunately the rosta is also strewn across the living room floor, much to the irritation of my family. Importantly, the bike is ready. More importantly, it’s absolutely stunning! (If I may say so myself). For bike nerds, I will do a full break down of the bike componentry in a following blog post.

The loaded steed just before my test run on the top of the North Downs.

When I told my parents what I was planning to do this year, they were understandably concerned about my safety, particularly in a few countries whose names end in “Stan”. In my head I thought “this is rich coming from a pair of pack-up-and-go nomads who between them have travelled half the globe”. Really though I could understand the anxiety in letting your accident prone son who has never left Europe cycle of into the wilderness by himself. Consequently, some unwritten rules have been written. I now have health insurance for the duration of the trip, as well as a GPS tracker which will ping my location back home every hour. Click here to see where I am right now! Other safety bits include rabies, tetanus, diptheria, polio, hepA, hepB and typhoid vaccinations, alongside enough malaria tablets to knock out a small horse.

SPOT GEN 3 GPS Tracker

The logistical organisation was by far the largest brain ache, and has resulted in the production of no fewer than seven different Excel spreadsheets to keep track of everything. The largest spreadsheet comprises an expedition timeline, with dates of arrival and weather reports for every country I will pass through. The timeline is also useful for coordinating with friends, family and suggested contacts across the planet. Working out which visas I need and where I can get them has been a time-consuming logistical venture. This is particularly true for several central Asian countries, where the visa websites suffer from a lack of consistent information, or in some cases, a  lack of information at all. Hours spent on travel forums and email correspondences with foreign embassies has mostly clarified the situation, and I am feeling (semi) confident about my ability to navigate border crossings.

I believe that my over-preparedness has alleviated the nervousness that I was expecting to experience with four days to go. Or perhaps it’s just ignorance... Anyway, with my panniers stuffed full of spreadsheet print-outs and malaria tablets, I will soon venture forth with confidence and excitement on my 27,000km journey to New Zealand. I can’t wait.


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