Tallying up the rough distance of this trip according to google maps = 16,068km.
Just a wee jaunt really.
Of course, this rather specific figure will inevitably be inaccurate: the google maps ‘cycling’ option only works in a grand total of 14 countries around the world – few of which we will encounter on this trip. Instead we’ve been a little lazy and used the driving option on google maps; no doubt including many a highway on which you wouldn’t dare risk your life on a measly little bicycle. Furthermore, anyone that knows us, will confirm that we are not the most exciting people (literally ask any of our university flatmates). However, we’re hopefully not bores who stick to the main road the whole time; with nature reserves, beaches, major cities and mountains along the way, we are unlikely to stick to the pre-set route precisely.
So, instead we’ve decided to call it an even 15000km trip; you must admit, it’s an easier number to remember.
We are two lucky individuals. The powers that be have allowed us to have a whole 5 months off of work (ie. we will be unemployed). We finish work in late February 2018, and have to be back for the start of August 2018. Naturally we thought, why not do a cycle; in fact why not cycle 16,068km!
Actually, no. We originally wanted to go travelling, ideally to South East Asia like all the cool kids these days. We had considered volunteering abroad, but over many a discussion we decided that ultimately we wanted to use this time to raise some money for a charity close to our hearts and home, as well as challenging ourselves. Quite clearly, the natural solution was to combine these options; cycle home from South East Asia to raise money for charity – surely anyone would have arrived at this conclusion…
So slowly a silly idea, became a plan which has become a reality. Initially our families made a generic “oh really, good idea, what’s for dinner tonight?” comment, taking our ideas with a pinch of salt (to be fair we had gone through a number of ridiculous fundraising ideas). But we were committed, this one was a go-er.
So here it is. Our plan. It is 100% definitely, subject to change.
For some reason Google maps will not allow us to calculate a route going directly from Ho Chi Minh airport to the Royal Hospital for Children Glasgow. Odd.
So instead, we’ve broken it down into segments that mighty google can cope with.
THIS IS THE MOST EXCITING BIT. Fly to Ho Chi Minh, disembark the plane, realise how hot it is, pass out, and then attempt to re-assemble our bikes with our limited technical skill. We will depart with (false) self-importance and (genuine) naivety. Crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia, across Thailand and into Laos.
We’ve heard good things about the food in this region; I mean who doesn’t enjoy a nice spicy curry in the 40 degree heat when you’re already a sweaty Betty. Apparently SE Asia is relatively forgiving to cycle touring newbies with good availability of cheap hotels, so hopefully the trusty tent will stay at the bottom of our panniers for this leg.
All of these countries look quite simply amazing, we cannot wait (if only we weren’t cycling). For all of you who have been to these countries before, we would absolutely appreciate your suggestions for places to visit!
CHINA. This is a bit of an epic. Whilst cycling in India would have been fantastic, we’ve done our research and feel that this option allows for safety, scenery and ..serenity(?).
Tibet has restricted access and awfully big hills, therefore we are planning to skirt around its border; thus- HELLO CHINA. Our main issue will be with the 30 day Chinese visa – our wee legs cannae hack 190km/day. As a result, we will have to extend our visas midway through this vast country, which could cause some difficulty, but let’s not dwell on that. Instead we have been considering- if there are apparently 9 million bicycles JUST in Beijing, how many are in the remaining 9.5 million square kilometres of China? I’m excited to find out (#KatieMelua).
KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN, KAZAKHSTAN – literally my 3 favourite countries. Central Asia will bring a host of challenges and surprises. We can’t wait for our impression of Kazakhstan to shed its Borat notoriety. With the staple dish of central Asia being the almighty ‘Plov‘, we hope to mozel-tov in Aktau as a round-off to these interesting countries which we likely otherwise would not have had the chance to visit.
We won’t be expecting to see too many other tourists here, and will probably be spending a good few nights in our tent, and maybe the odd yurt along the way…
From what we’ve heard, tourists get by fine if their Russian is adequate; any advice from any fluent Russian friends would be much appreciated – we will repay you in ‘boдka. (although most likely Glen’s from Asda on our return as we will 100% not be willing to carry any extra weight for the next 10,000km) *please excuse the Russia = vodka stereotype – it was either that or a quip about Vladimir P* .
(Quick side note : note the yellow traffic indicator in the above map – there is heavy traffic specifically in Western Kazakhstan at 8 o’clock (GMT) on a Saturday night!! Please make no mention of the fact that we are sitting in creating this website on a Saturday night. Many thanks).
Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Hungry, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands. Throughout the whole journey, this is section is most likely to change owing to the flexibility in choosing a route. The current plan is to travel along the Danube river cycle path from Eastern Romania to Western Germany. Why you ask? Well, WE HOPE IT’LL BE FLAT. Rivers don’t go uphill generally speaking. Our poor achy legs will be desperate for some guaranteed flat/downhill days. In addition, some of these Eastern European countries look to be a treat to visit.
Doesn’t this look simply thrilling?
Hmm. Maybe more of a necessity.
Unfortunately, despite my google searches, a (cheap) ferry will not take you from mainland Europe to Glasgow. The closest port is within the land of dreams, Newcastle. Whilst this journey alongside the famously beautiful M74 is nothing other than thrilling, Matt feels it’s a necessity – stating that you cannot set out to end a cycling trip by plane. By golly though, we may require a helping hand- therefore, this is a formal request for any of our pals to meet us in Newcastle in mid to late July 2018 with a couple of tandems; forever will we appreciate you and your magnificence.
The last leg of the journey may be rather a slog, and without a shadow of a doubt – it will rain. Nevertheless, as the whole purpose of this trip is to raise money for the fantastic Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity; and therefore it is only right to aim to finish at 1345 Govan Road.
So that’s it. Our plan. Nothing more, nothing less… Well, actually, maybe a little bit less. In order to accomplish the above, we need to average of greater than 100km per day, every single day. Every. Single. Day. In all seriousness, 153 days back to back of cycling more than 100km per day without a single day off is madness, for a pair of amateurs. Possibly some days we may achieve more; but with certainty there will be many a day in which we achieve less. Currently the longest that either of us has cycled per week is a grand total of 250km (450km short of our anticipated weekly target). Hence in the event that we don’t make it all the way home, will be stranded, left to survive Castaway style forever, proving we find an adequate Wilson.
Just kidding; if we are struggling and falling too far behind, we will try to arrange a bus, tram, train, plane, or bus/tram/train/plane combo. Indeed, there is the slimmest of chances that we will fly to Ho Chi Minh, fail to successfully re-assemble our bikes, and simply fly home again. Hopefully not. Maybe though.
So what’s the conclusion here. Well, we have grand, but likely overly-ambitious plans. We’ll give it our best, but we may not manage the full 15000km within the timeframe. Regardless, the main priority is to raise as much money as we can, all in the name of this wonderful charity.
We would be incredibly grateful if anyone could please find the time and pennies to sponsor us.