“The Ride” just kind of fits doesn’t it?
Now, referring to my upcoming trip with such a dramatic title may be silly. People spent years riding bicycles across the world. But they aren’t me, and this is going to be the biggest feat I’ve ever undertaken. Certainly, it isn’t small.
But, The Ride is going to be somewhere between 10000 and 11000km (roughly 6200-6800 in American). Australia itself accounts for over half of the distance. It’s hard to judge distance by using Google maps, since large sections aren’t mapped well. And it certainly doesn’t account for altitude gained and lost on the route. If you estimate that I ride 100km a day (I wont) it will take me 100 days. I’m thinking a minimum of 6 months, including rest, relaxation and getting lost. The Ride is going to take me from my current home city of Chengdu to Sydney. Yes, I’m fully aware of large bodies of water in the way; thank you, jackass.
The first thing to know is I’m planning to build my bicycle for the trip myself, entirely out of bamboo. Chengdu is kind of famous for pandas and bamboo, so I want to take a part of that away with me. Also giving myself a greater sense of achievement.
Beginning in the Chinese province of Sichuan, I’ll aim to ride south to Yunnan to see Kunming and organise a few important visas. Next following southwards through Honghe to cross the border into Vietnam. I’ll begin a southeastern route towards Laos crossing at Tay Trang. Through Laos I’ll continue this same direction rising more northward to cross into Thailand most likely at Huay Xai. I’ll then move south across northern Thailand (sounds, like an oxymoron) towards Myanmar, crossing at Mae Sot. I’ll continue southerly crossing back into Thailand at Kawthaung, and keep this direct route to Malaysia. I have two options either Sadao or Pedang Besar each having it’s own unique advantage or disadvantage. Finally, I will cross Malaysia into Singapore over the one bridge accessible to bikes in Johor.
Not quite done yet, I intend on a ferry crossing to Indonesia to ride across to South Sumatra and another ferry to Java and carry on until I reach Bali where (hopefully) my first airplane ticket will be purchased. Me and my little bike will be carried to Darwin where the intention is to detour to explore Kakadu before heading down into Katherine. Probably head down the 66 to Rockhampton (or Townsville to include Whitsundays) and from there follow along the coast seeing Brisbane, the Sunshine coast, the Gold Coast, and finally arriving in Sydney.
Throughout the trip I’ll let myself rest for days or go off to explore exciting local things. The journey is real important, but also what I see will be unforgettable and needs to be appreciated.
I intend to have on the bike; front and rear panniers plus one handlebar bag. I want to travel lightly, so that also means stinky. I’ll have minimal clothes and extras packed away. Basic camping equipment included; varying my nights between tent, guesthouses and possibly friendly people’s homes. Piled in every place will be equipment for filming, charging, entertainment and health! Food can get stocked up on every few days as you cross through small villages so it’s not so necessary to have it stockpiled. Snacks and emergency food, however, will be critical. I’m a snacker you see! There will without a doubt be plenty of miserable days due to the minimalist approach. However, I think the effort saved on packing, unpacking and lugging around too much stuff will be well worth it.
I’ll be doing the majority of filming myself, since at this moment; there will be no crew and no partner coming along. So I’ll have to be thinking carefully about shots and locations.
Before leaving next year, I’ll give an in-depth look at what’s in the bags and what probably should get left behind (that wont).
There are a ton, in drafting this blog; my list here exceeds anything from the lists above! They could even be subcategorised, which I probably should do, but I think it looks weird.
The most pressing challenge is my birthday and my personal goals. I’ve wanted to do the Australian Working and Holiday visa for a long time. The cut off is 31 years old, if I turn 31 before the visa is granted I’m out of luck. So if it is coming too close, some section, however regrettable, will be getting cut out. I don’t want to give up that opportunity; it won’t lessen my achievement at all. Though… maybe numerically it does!
Visas are possibly the most awkward part of this trip, only 4 countries require me to get a visa. However, due to the nature of my trip it gets complicated. Normally, American passport holders get 30 days in Thailand without having to apply for a visa, for me crossing by land with no onward departure evidence… 15 days. The first section of Thailand is about 900km, which means I’ll probably have to “cheat” and get on a train or hitch a lift. This is a theme throughout the Asian leg of my journey fighting visa time-constraints. It’s all part of the adventure
The dangers I guess are the next real challenge; unsafe riding conditions, theft, injury, murder, mayhem, alien abduction… Again these are all part of the adventure. I’m actually only fearful about theft and injury, I’m going to be carrying quite a bit of fancy kit with me while travelling in remote places. So preferably to make the situation the most ideal, I’ll manage to have partners or a crew for the majority of the legs.
Boredom and loneliness will go hand in hand. Hopefully, I’ll have human company for the majority of the trip, which will really help with loneliness and boredom. I’ll have with me some type of e-reader and about a million books. I’ll have my notebook for journaling/blogging… Additionally, you can expect me to vlog a bit and film the things around campsites and exploring areas.
Getting lost, probably will happen, however I’ll be doing my best with a GPS map and laminated printouts of trickier areas to ask locals. Falling back on a compass in emergencies.
Funding this trip, well, this is the hardest thing. I don’t really want to spend my own savings to support it. Though it’s completely expected I’ll have to pitch in. I hope to convince enthusiastic people in this great wide world to fund me with a crowd-funding page, my goal of about £5000. This should be able to cover all of the electronic equipment and majority of visas and food costs. I hopefully will get a sponsorship deal from a drone company because they decide “Hey, you’re alright! Have a drone you cheeky devil!” … For the kick-starter I’m thinking offering the funder’s name in the credits of the documentary for the first tier of donation. Tier two includes the credits plus early copy of the documentary, the final tier would be inclusive of the first 2, plus your name engraved on the bicycle.
Oh! Electricity you shout! Well I’ll be using a dynamo hub to generate the power for the various bits and bobs I am carrying around. Plus a solar panel, I will be living the dream! Endless power! Nothing will stop me! Apart from the fact the drone I want isn’t able to connect to USB ports right now… More challenges!
The image above, obviously isn’t my route… Mine will be way more wiggly.
As always, I’ll keep updating you closer to the set off date… Thanks for getting on board.