Day 25: Oz itinerary – How to plan a 30-day cycling tour.

Oz itinerary thumbnail Finally! After 80+-hour spent in book reading, region research, map shuffling and route picking, here is the 30 days Australia cycling route itinerary (PDF) for you to download. It contains a detailed town-to-town tour plan, with “from-to-distance” information for each leg, nice map and elevation graph. I’m pretty happy with this. Here are the steps to prepare an itinerary like this.

Step 1: City Research

  • Goal: List cities to visit. To get an good overview of the country, figure out you’d like to visit. Like almost all planning, this will be part of an iterative process since in later steps, you’ll always be forced to decide which route to give up .
  • How: Do a google search on australia tourism, read the wikipedia or wikitravel entry for the whole country and major cities you. Or buy the Lonely Planet Australia Country guide book and read the introduction section.
  • Example: For me, I feel Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Darwin are all quite interesting to visit.

Step 2: Tour or Town Research

  • Goal: Figure out how to go to each one by cycling.
  • How: For a visitor, it’s always challenging to get some concrete idea on which route to take and what does that feel like. Crazyguyonabike is very helpful to get the ‘experience’ things right for you. Crazyguyonabike.com is a place to find cycling tour journals. Most journals are well written with nice pictures and distance information neatly sorted out. It’ll provide solid ideas of each trip, like the Princes Hwy could become quite narrow without any shoulders from Portland to Adelaide. Or, in March the temperatures of Marlee region could still get as high as 35C.
  • Example: A quick check told me that I will have to choose between “Sydney -> Brisbane -> Cairns” and “Sydney -> Melbourne -> Adelaide”. Darwin and Perth are just too far away to cover within 30 days by bicycle. It took a little bit pain to compare the two options and decide to go for the “Sydney to Adelaide” one. My route plan bought a lot from Sydney to Melbourne – Audax Australia RAID and Victoria’s Golden West. I also found that due to the wind direction, it might be easier to go from Adelaide to Melbourne rather than the other way around. (Similar thing if you go to New Zealand’s South Island and decide clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. )

Step 3: Day to Day Plan

how_to_avoid_highway_and_calculate_distance

  • Goal: To pull all information together to work out a plan with at least “From, To, Distance” information for each day.
  • How: Based on the step 2’s town research, use Google Map to get the distance from town A to town B. Remember to check the “Avoid Highway” in More Options so that we won’t end up riding on motorway.
  • Example: This route planning process made me realize that even a “modest” route like “Sydney to Adelaide” is still too long to cover within 30 days. After lots of reading and head scratching, I found that in order to cover Adelaide, I’ll need at least 37 days. It was painful but clear that I have no choice to cross Adelaide out.

Step 4: Map Making

  • Goal: Plot the key towns onto map and use elevation graph as a double check.
  • How: Calculate the distance and elevation up-and-down for every single day to make sure that you haven’t pushed yourself too agressively. This used to be quite tedious and time consuming. But with bikely.com, it has become much easier.   Go register an account and start drawing, click each town in the order you have worked out in step 3 and the service will automatically fill out the rest route details for you. By the end of the process, you’ll end up with a quite nice route map and elevation graph like the one showing above.
  • Example: Here are the two maps I’ve created: Sydney to Melbourne and Melbourne to Halls Gap via Great Ocean Way. I have tried to plot the map using Google Earth, but bikely is much more simpler when you have the needs to generate the elevation map, whereas in Google Earth I just couldn’t find a way to do so.

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