Once you realize that sitting in front of your computer for ten hours a day won’t take you anywhere, you realize that you could be sitting on your bike instead – travelling around the world. Crazy as it sounds, for some people this is the ultimate adventure and the best way to explore our planet’s heritage. Besides determination and a strong heart, there are a few other things you should know about biking the globe.
Do your homework
Learn everything you need to know about border crossings, visas, dos and don’ts, gear, routes, weather, budgets and time frames. Alternatively, you can just leave at once and trust your instincts and free WiFi to figure out things on the road. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, and perhaps to take the middle course is the best. Your journey may last up to four years, and a lot of things can change in between.
Again, there’s no definite recommendation on how you should prepare yourself physically. For some, it will be a gym membership and a personal trainer, like professional athletes (and movie stars) do. Others will take their training on the road, pushing themselves harder during the first few weeks on wheels.
Several tens of thousands of dollars on the bank account will create a feeling of security while you are pedalling on through arid wastelands of central Asia, but not everyone can afford it. You could sell most of your belongings and start off – live rough, couchsurf, eat frugally, accept all invitations and avoid sightseeing.
Start a blog
Setting up a blog, Twitter and Facebook page to communicate your journey to your followers in real-time will give you a lot of coverage, as well as a lot of potential support on your route. Still, some people will use this opportunity to disconnect themselves completely and turn their online presence to zero.
Get a bike
For a long time now a standard option for globe bikers has been a simple rig with a steel frame that every back-alley mechanic can weld if it breaks. However, modern alloy frames became pretty tough, and with bike parts standardized, every city or flea market will have what you need. A rigid-forked touring or mountain bike with slick tyres will serve you just fine. Unless you planned to cycle on sealed roads only, a sturdy frame is a must. Whichever bike you choose, keep in mind that it is the single most important piece of your gear.
Buy essential items
The items you will use every day through the most part of your journey are a tent, sleeping bag, stove, cooking equipment, and tools for repairing the bike. Invest in a quality off-road specific floor pump, such as Topeak, with a sensitive gauge and an air release button. If you have decided to blog and/or get the information on what lies ahead online, a small netbook computer or a tablet won’t take much space. A Kindle ebook reader is perfect for such a journey, as it can load a whole library and its battery lasts for weeks.
Set an end date
You can set a series of global milestones that will help you arrive back home in a planned point in time. The world is huge and, as Bilbo Baggins says, The Road Goes Ever On. On the other hand, if you approach the journey as a life-changing experience, or you happen to fall in love, you may realise that those milestones don’t make sense anymore.
The beauty of a bike ride is that there is always something new around the corner. The speed of the bike allows you to experience the world and its people unlike any other mode of travel.