In my free Guide to Cycling in London I mentioned two of my friends Dan and Alex who are moving from London to Melbourne in Australia and doing so by bike. Their trip will take 8 months and I’m sure will be the adventure of a lifetime. As I write this they are just a couple of monthly away from setting off and I’m set to join them for the first leg of the journey down to Dover.
It is an incredible trip no doubt and they will soon be exploring far away places such as Cambodia and Japan (they’ve decided on a route that covers additional countries they wanted to see). I’m proud of them as neither are fitness fanatics or even hugely keen cyclists. In fact Alex (The Aussie girl who is stealing our good friend Dan!) hasn’t touched a bike in years. They are a true testament to having a dream for a trip and going for it.
Of course, that’s not to say there hasn’t been difficulties along the way. Finding the money to buy all the equipment, choosing a bike, planning a route, working out Visas and so forth all needs to be considered.
One guide I recommended to them and wanted to also recommend to you is the Bicycle Travellers Blueprint by my good friend Darren Alff. It is a guide that will remove half the hassle when planning a trip like this. Meaning there is more time to dream of beautiful destinations and enjoy the cycling without things going wrong.
It is the sort of thing you have to read before taking a big cycling trip such as this one. Though, I’m not suggesting an 8 month tour is possible for everyone or is even something everyone would like to do. However, perhaps you want to do a 1 month trip around Eastern Europe or a 2 week trip along the beautiful British Coastline.
How to plan the perfect trip
The first necessity is obviously all the equipment. If you, like my two friends, Alex and Dan don’t even yet have a bike that is suitable for a long trip then this is where the guide begins. It helps someone make the right decision as to the type of bike they should buy and also how to transport things on that bike. There is also a number of useful sections in this chapter that discuss the sort of equipment that makes a huge difference but you’ll probably forget to take and how to keep your bike safe while you’re travelling.
One of the most useful sections in this first chapter is the packing checklist. This makes it incredibly easy to get going and not forget any essentials. Having someone with a ton of experience explain what is and isn’t necessary sets you off on the right gear (pun intended). Oh, and while you are out on the road climbing a big hill you’ll be making a promise to yourself to email Darren and thank him on the section about things you can leave at home!
Once all the equipment is done and you know how to pack your panniers like a professional you need a route. This can be one of the most difficult parts of the planning stage but Darren has broken it down beautifully into an easy to follow method. Everything including how to research, find accommodation and create a budget is covered in this second chapter.
You might think that is where the guide ends. However, Darren has then gone on to talk about what it is like to be on the road. This is good for the mental element of the preparation which especially for particularly long trips might be something you didn’t consider beforehand. He also outlines how you can stealth camp – as in camp for free and not be seen while you are touring. A useful skill that you’re unlikely to learn elsewhere.
There is a ton more contents in the downloadable eBook but I hope you get the idea that this is an “all your questions answered” guide. I’ve been recommending it since last year when I was first told about it to anyone who comes to me with questions about doing a big bike tour such as my two good friends who are due to ride Lands End to John O Groats next week as a warm up to their 8 month tour!
If you have any questions about the eBook before you buy then please leave them below. I’m happy to answer them or I can direct them to Darren.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.