The plan is to start from home. Somehow that just feels right. Not the riding away from home part...I know when the time comes, that will not feel right at all. But starting the adventure from my driveway, riding west some 29000k and wheeling into my driveway again 135 days later. (a bold statement I know). That feels like the right way to do this. Originally I plotted the trip west to east. Mostly that made sense. All the other attempts had been made in that direction and it worked from my position. I could ride away from home early in the spring of 2011, drop down to California, make my way across the southern tier. Pedal up the coast to Newfoundland, pick the ride up again in Portugal, ride to Athens, pick it up again in Perth, Australia Ride east. Drop down to New Zealand and finally back to BC Canada and home.
The biggest problem with that route was what I kept coming back to. Australia. Along with its vast deserts and extreme distances between towns and roadhouses, especially up north, a big challenge was going to be the headwinds. Unlike every other leg of my route, Australia's prevailing winds come from the east. More than one riders website mentions the relentless headwinds in OZ. Riding into headwinds day after day really wears you down mentally and physically.
Then the light went on. The thought I had been dismissing every time it formed suddenly seemed to make great sense. "Go west". So I began to sketch out a new route. Essentially, it was the same route in reverse. As I proceeded, I liked the idea more and more.
Going west means I can leave earlier in the year. Oceania will be first instead of last and after the 1600k across New Zealand, (who's prevailing winds are unfortunately from the west), I'll have fair weather and tailwinds for the next 9000k. (in theory). I might pay dearly for this once back in America but my plan is to tack across America anyway.
ADVENTURE CYCLING is sponsoring this ride by giving me a whole wack of their invaluable maps. I purchased the Southern Tier set of maps from them a few years back. The set took much of the guess work out of the tour made getting from San Diego to Miami very enjoyable.They are full of detailed info that cyclists need to plan distances, roads to travel on, elevation gain to expect, highlights along the way etc. each set of maps has state info as well. I usually bring a novel along to read after settling down for the night but found i was opting to read and reread the Adventure cycling maps instead. I want to be able to pick my route from day to day as I make my way across the USA rather than plotting my way ahead of time. that way, if I discover that the weather forecast in one direction looks bleak I can easily change directions. With these maps I"m armed with important info about where I'm headed.
The thing I like most about the new direction (after wind factor), is the idea of gaining an extra hour of daylight every time I cross a time zone instead of losing one. I think this will give me an advantage. The route is very much a guideline. Not etched in terra firma by any means. It offers more than enough space to get the 29000k in while keeping on a westerly course. The rules state that I must pass through 2 approximate antipodal points during the attempt. I have chosen Hamilton, NZ, and Cordoba, Spain.
I feel like a bit of a wimp sticking to the countries that are most like my own culturally speaking. Some of the other attempts have incorporated South America, The former USSR,China, Africa, India, Thailand and Malaysia. As much as these appeal to me in an adventurous way, the reports of .....lets say serious tummy troubles, police escorts, elephants, bad or crowded roads and jaguars, encouraged me to pick my path prudently.
It is a race after all. And just as there isn't any segregation between supported and unsupported attempts, there isn't a category for most 3rd world countries visited, most days with dysentery, or most flats either. don't get me wrong...I fully expect to get food poisoning and flat tires along the way. These can and do happen anywhere. I'm just hoping to lessen the number of incidents and the severity of them. Having said that, It would be pretty damn cool to share the road with an elephant.