Some take this obsession around the world: like these guys, for example, who pedalled from Europe to China.
So what is needed in advance of tackling a long distance cycling trek? What should you consider in terms of supplies and equipment?
Here are the hard facts to get you pumped for your two-wheel experience.
Before you set off, first you’ll want to calculate the average miles per day you expect to cover on this expedition. An average cycling time of five and a half hours per day is realistic. Aspects such as temperature, weather, terrain and weight of the equipment must all be considered. Don’t plan more than six days a week cycling, you have to factor in a rest day. You should decide what routes will help you achieve your daily target, and the existing accommodation information - campsites, hotels, B&B - is also important.
Make sure you do your research about the areas, especially with bigger tours involving several countries. Think about the arrival and departure conditions. Language could also be important - knowing a few words in the local tongue is always handy. And what if the tour has to be cancelled? Are there possibilities for an emergency exit? Any number of reasons could put the brakes on your journey; natural disasters or civil wars can quickly throw a spanner in the works, not to mention your own health.
Anyone who plans on travelling hundreds of miles in the saddle needs one thing above all: a reliable, robust and practical bike. A solid frame, 26-inch wheels and tyres suitable for the terrain are the kind of standards that are recommended. Keep the mechanics of the bicycle as simple as possible; this makes it easier to carry out repairs. And don’t compromise on quality when it comes to the bike you choose. You’ll end up paying dearly later on should you encounter tough conditions. Long-distance trekkers have learned this from experience.
Luggage and packing lists
Luggage facilities on a bicycle usually consist of two rear pockets, two front pockets, a handlebar bag and a tent and transport bag on the rear rack. Resist the temptation to experiment and pile up more. Create a test list in advance by gathering everything you want to take and measure the total weight. A good tip is to try to pack the items in two large shopping bags. Find out what you can do without and what is really necessary. In this case, less really is more - remember that you’ll always have the chance to buy certain things depending on the point of the journey.
- What equipment will you need and can it be transported safely for a long duration?
- Which countries will you pass through on your tour, and will adjustments for your equipment be needed?
- What are your plans for night time (tent and/or other accommodation)?
- What eating and drinking conditions await you? (How often and where can you stock up?)
- What about the climate and do you have the appropriate equipment?
- What information do you have on the political situation of your travel destination?
- Do you have a good feeling for the track, and for all eventualities that may come?
In the end, preparation is key. On any extreme bike ride, your plans should be adapted for the environment, route and destination. However, some events just can’t be predicted - in this case, draw on your experience, respond as best you can, and embrace the challenge.