Actually for some carefree cyclists, they don’t even plan their routes. Just bring their bikes or buy one from the starting point and GO! It works for somebody, and they enjoy the surprise on the road. However, I do need a bit of preparation so that I can have a better picture of what to see, and the road conditions in the countries I am going to. Let me give you some ideas of what I usually do:
- Have a general concept of where you are going, be aware of the seasons, it affects what kind of clothes you will bring.
- Check Lonely Planet Guidebook or ask local friends, see which places in the country you should not miss. According to your interest, mark those places with bright colors on the map and gradually join them up with the roads.
- Use Google maps to find out distances between towns, and use your average speed as reference to decide briefly which town you will stop by the end of each day.
- Find out elevation profiles by using Google Earth, for you to get prepared if there is a big hill ahead.
- Make a table like this:
|Date||From||To||Route||Notes on Routes||Accommodation||Distance (Cycling)||Time (Cycling)|
6. If you are doing in a budget way, spend some time checking warmshower.org or couchsurfing.org to find if there are any hosts you can stay during your trip.
7. Buy a moderate quality bike, road bike or touring bike (if you are mainly riding on sealed road); mountain bike (if you choose to ride on rugged path), install Schwalbe anti-puncture tires, add carriers and pannier bags, and other accessories according to your preference.
8. If you already have a good bike, add some money and fly it to your starting point. Otherwise, buy one at the starting point, don’t buy too cheap one as you will encounter lots of problems. Remember that you can sell it with similar price (if it is not damaged) after you finish the trip.
9. Pack your luggage, including tent, sleeping bag, mattress, clothes, toiletries and computer/tablet (as entertainment and record your trip), the lighter the better.
10. Training is not necessary, once you get on the road, you are training everyday and you will see your endurance gradually gets better and better.
Really love this sign: Plan your journey, Create breathing space
Remember that your schedule is flexible, that everything is subjected to changes depending on the actual situation. You can always change your route after listening to local people’s advice, drop out and add some location they recommend.
And also remember that it is not a race, you gotta enjoy the journey, meet local people or other cyclists to share stories. No matter how many times your bike broke down on the road, SUCK IT UP, repair it and carry on with a BIG SMILE!