We’re keeping a monthly diary of preparations for our trip. This is the first entry.
In December we have:
sketched our route through Europe
been sized for our bikes
made a project plan with monthly milestone targets
set up this website
Our route through Europe
Before this month, we knew we wanted to start in Japan, take the Trans-Siberian train, and then cycle back to England. Now we have more details about the cycling part.
From Moscow, we’ll catch a sleeper train to St. Petersburg, then cycle north to Vyborg. Continuing into Finland, we’ll traverse the southern coast towards Helsinki. A short hop on the ferry brings us to to Talinn in Estonia, from where we’ll meander our way south. Gently through Latvia and Lithuania, and on to the city of Vilnius, where we’ll apply for Belarus visas. From Belarus, we’ll move into Poland, and then to Germany. Depending on how we feel at this point, we’ll also go on to Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, before France, and then over the Channel and home.
A moral dilemma: is it okay to get sized by a local bike shop, but then order your bikes from a cheaper online retailer?
After struggling with the sizing instructions on the Surly website, we decided to visit Sendai to be sized our bikes. Mr Sato at Nirinkoubousato measured our standing and sitting heights, and punched the numbers into a computer programme that fed out our ideal frame sizes. To double check, he measured me again, across the shoulders and down the length of my arms. As a test, he set up a bike with the same dimensions that seemed comfortable. The service he provided was outstanding, and we both felt confident that we’d be ordering the correct frame size.
Despite the additional cost, we’ve decided to order our bikes through his shop. The value of the after-sale support and the pre-sale sizing is, in our opinion, worth the difference in price.
Our plan has three workstreams: administration; purchasing; training.
Administration covers planning and budgeting for the trip. It includes researching equipment, route planning and legal matters such as visa requirements. We want to make intelligent, informed decisions, so this workstream is crucial to our success.
Purchasing covers buying things we need for the trip. As well as a shopping list for equipment, this includes train tickets, hotels and so on. Budgeting is also a big part of this workstream.
Training covers the physical and mental preparation we’re making for our trip. As well as training our legs, we want to practice living out of our panniers. The plan includes turbo trainer work, and some day and weekend tours during the warmer months. A longer tour during summer 2013 will test us further. We hope to have about thirty more days of touring experience behind us by June 2014.
Lastly, we’ve started this website. It’s for us, as a record of our trip. It’s for our friends and family, so they can keep up to date with our adventure. And it’s for anybody else out there who’s interested. Maybe you’re thinking of doing the same. Maybe you’re just curious. We love talking about our plans and our adventures, so if you have any questions, please get in touch.