As much as I like riding my bike – and I enjoy travelling by bike immensely – sometimes this bicycle tour feels like a full time job with unpaid extra hours. Lately it seems to me that I’m always busy.
So usually we get up by 7 or 8 am, have breakfast and pack up our gear. That can be a quick affair when we are staying at a someone’s house and haven’t spread our stuff too much or a slightly longer affair when we have to break camp.
Most days we are on the road between 9 and 10am. We then cycle for about 30k and have our lunch break. After that we cycle some more (between 30 and 80k) until we reach some sort of destination or are just too tired to continue or it gets dark. In between we usually take more breaks, to eat, to take pictures or have some juice or other rather unhealthy drinks. When we reach our destination for the day we settle in to talk to our hosts or set up camp and make ourselves at home. Mostly we’re hungry at that point so dinner or afternoon tea is quite important then.
To facilitate these days with all the riding we usually do lots of things in between: Finding supermarkets and grocery shopping being high on the list. Our favourites for fruit and vegetables are roadside stalls selling local produce.
We also have to find water mostly daily as we can only carry so much. Sometimes that’s an easy affair as there may be public toilets with drinking water or just water taps on the beach. Sometimes there is just nothing around only dry land and a farmhouse with a rainwater tank is our only option.
Our camp stoves run with gas canisters or white gas / petrol, so once we are low we have to find fuel. Other errands include finding a bike store selling the brake pads we need, going to the Poste Restante Office to pick up a parcel, bike maintenance like cleaning and lubing the chain and cassette, fixing flats, changing tyres and so on.
And of course we usually dedicate some part of our day to the task of route planning (see where we are in our world map). That is usually done in several stages: Now for example we talk about which islands of Indonesia we want to visit as it is still very far away. Regarding Australia we decided today which road we are going to take for the next four days (this was an easy one as there are basically only two options to reach Mackay) and sometimes we only decide in the morning which small roads we are going to take exactly. Or while standing at an intersection. But still, this is quite an important part.
Another part of the day is taken up by long term planning like how to leave Australia (boat / flight) and which type of visa would be the best for Indonesia. And once every few days we talk about areas that lie even further in the future (mostly SE Asia at the moment).
All in all that is a LOT to do and think about. One of the hardest parts is for me, that very rarely we manage to check these things of our lists in a straight forward kind of manner. Mostly something unexpected happens or we can’t find what we want / need or we just run out of time. It’s not like at home where you find out once where you buy food or sporting equipment or where the water tap is.
We are finding out about these things all the time every day. And that can go smoothly sometimes and be incredibly exhausting other times. Just like a full time job with lots and lots of overtime. What I miss is time to just be and not have anything planned. Time without errands but time to read and write. Time to get to know someone or time to be alone.
I very often relax once I’m sitting on my bike because then I have time to let my thoughts wander a bit or just concentrate on riding. And for the rest we decided that we need to give ourselves more time and take more rest days (that’s what we call the days when we don’t ride but have time for work and errands) and manage to have some down time as well. In that spirit – I’m off!