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.

第21天:自行车预览

今天下午3点钟约好大师,去他店里看正在组装的自行车。一进店门,就看到我的车子立在那里。最重要的部分如框架,前减震叉,轮毂,辐条,座垫已经搭好。趁着这个机会给它拍张照片。
选择“跑长途”的车子,不要求轻,但是必须结实,跑上几万公里,不能出大问题。 当然,由于这个车子要被空运到全世界各地,太重的话飞机票就要多出不少托运费,所以也不能太重。整车大约12公斤吧。 此外驮上五六十斤的东西上下坡不能有问题。 这个绝对是技术活,光是车架,据说就挑了很多款才最后选中这个捷安特的,主要原因是车架上有孔可以搭车架,放驼包。

车子的飞轮是金黄色的。配上黑色的车架,很酷。

车架大梁的横界面是倒三角,所有的焊路都是螺旋焊,漂亮。

在等待装车的时候,微风和我发现店里的猫很是可爱,尤其她喜欢自己独占一个椅子,不喜欢挤在人群当中。
微风突然说:”这只猫的耳朵如果藏起来,一定很像老虎“。于是我们两人合谋,给猫眯留了张照片。
怎样?是不是很像?

装上飞轮,变速器,脚蹬后的局部。

装上变速线和刹车线后的前把。注意蓝色的旋钮,是调整前叉软硬程度的。 山地时要软,跑长途要硬一些。
此外,轮胎的宽度也很有讲究。由于主要路面是公路,选择了”光头胎“,与山地车的胎相比,摩擦小,骑起来会轻松不少。

准备国外旅行的”长途车“,除了部件结实以外,很重要的一点是零部件的”可替换性“,要求到任何一个国家的任何自行车店都能找到配件。否则,要出了问题,一下子就要换一整套配件,价钱可就海了~~~ 
对于刹车系统,最终选择的是V轧,也就是常说的线轧,而没有选择碟轧。主要原因就是从”可替换“的角度考虑的。

手把选择了宽型的,据说这样一点点微弱的改进就可以让”跑长途“时的手和小臂轻松不少。

最后,装上脚蹬子。

裸车装好了! 后架,驼包,车载小电脑和其余的附加配件过后装。

我和微风都试骑了一下。

漫长的准备过程,又向前走了一步。

Day 23: Ready for another week

Another day in rest. Book reading and relax. The technician, who is responsible for designing our tour bicycle, just messaged zephyr.  Said that her bicycle is ready for a test. Will go to the shop and give it a try.  There are quite a few responses in the phred.org mailing list, people volunteering suggestions on our route planning. Should keep them waiting for too long.  Will spend some time to come up with another version of cycling route plan tomorrow. (Photo credits to Cyclemania. )


Finger crossed.

Day 22: Good rest

Had a fairly good rest today: enjoyed a fine dinner,  finished a science fiction book, watched an interesting movie and had some interesting phone conversation with friends.

The book is Double Star.  By telling the story from the mouth of a professional actor, it not only shows the inner thinking of an actor, it also opens a window into interesting politics between earth and mars citizen. It’s so true when people said: “All great scifi novels have some deep links to reality. “.  If you have one weekend afternoon to spend, try this.  ( BTW, try to compare the cover of the original book and the Chinese version.  I can bet that the Chinese publisher hasn’t really read this book carefully. )

The movie is The Queen.  It captured what happened in Britain in the first week after Diana’s death. Mostly from both the Queen’s perspective and Tony Blaire’s.  The relationship between the Royal family, especially the Queen, and the government surprised me.  The whole topic of Constitutional Monarchy, the dynamic between the permanent King or Queen and the elected government leader is *just* intriguing. Although it might be something people in UK, OZ, NZ or Canada have been quite familiar, it’s just so foreign to me, someone in a country where the world history was focused in rebellion rather than political changes.

Last but not least, the phone call from friends. One of them strongly suggested us to take the trip from French all the way to Istanbul. “Just to get experience of culture diversity”. Also the shorten the stay in US “since it’s culturely unified”. 

一切都悬而未决

今天可以算是毫无成就感的一天,在为梦想努力的道路上。没有为sun life写一行代码,没有为purifyr寻找可能的潜在领域,没有为出行查到任何有用的信息……有一点点沮丧和空度的感觉。唯一做的一件值得记录的事情,是早晨打电话给澳大利亚领事馆,居然一次就打通了,得知他们终于收到我们花了两天时间,在两部传真机上费力传过去的补充材料 — 但是,结果还不得而知,要等到下周……

我无法再计划下一步事情。就像大野狼昨天说起的一本书上的描述:人类是唯一具有计划能力的动物。一个脑部受到伤害,新脑损伤,旧脑完好的人,当别人问他:“你明天要做什么?”时,

他回答:“不知道。”

“‘不知道’是什么意思?”

“就好像你让我在一个空的游泳池里找一条鲸鱼。”

我也不知道下一步要做什么事情,我也无法计划什么,因为一切都悬而未决。澳大利亚签证,挡在了我内心通往计划之门的锁眼上。

——————————界标

不过说到常规的生活,今天还是过的不错的。花旦邀请我们去看了他们的成果展示(类似汇报演出),十几个7到9岁的民工子弟学校的孩子,在义工的带领下,在一周的时间里排演了《美女与野兽》风格的音乐剧,简单却不失冲击力。他们在台下的父母,有着一张疲惫却全神贯注的脸。

看完表演,我们顺便参观了国家大剧院。发现它果然是摄影的好地方,图案的变化、光影的明暗相交错,每一次取景,都让我感叹设计的伟大之处。

当我一边记录,一边回忆的时候,沮丧一点一点减轻了。庸常的生活,也自有它让人沉醉的一面。也许我太着急了一些,也许,这个周末应该take a break。

Day 21: Psychological Fatigue …

Human being is such an interesting creature. I could still remember the excitement on Day 1 when we realized the possibility of this one year trip. But as time slides by, the excitement ebbs while tremendous teeny-tiny things seems to over-whelm us. Endless visa application for just one country. Cycling route planning for every single day.

After continuous 20 days work, I’m feeling tired. Need some good rest to move on. (Photo: bookstore in Amsterdam. Credits: llibreria)

llibreria - bookstore - Amsterdam - HDR by MorBCN.

I’m a big fan of Standford Entrepreneur through Leadership podcast, today Stan Christensen’s The Art of Negotiation really gave me a happy surprise. He talked about his experience as a traveler in Los Angels or sitting in the back of NYC cab to show how the core idea of negotiation goes into our everyday life. Even more important, he explains that the essence of Negotiation is not grab a larger share of a pie, but to build long-term relationship. He also brought up two principles: objective reference and alternatives. This might be a bit off topic for this travel blog, but I am pretty sure that we’ll have some serious chance to practice what we’ve learned here.

自行车托运

今天不用写代码。所以早晨起来的第一件事就是查询自行车托运事宜。本来以为空运太贵,走海运比较便宜,谁知Fedex根本没有海运,DHL有海运却不承运个人业务。而它们空运的价格都贵的吓人,一辆20公斤左右的自行车,从北京运到悉尼要2400元。几乎和买一辆新的一样了。没办法,退而求其次,找别的国内的货运公司,谁知他们一听我们是旅游签证,都礼貌的拒绝了我们。至于中国邮政,借用一位网友的评论:如果你恨一个人,就给他寄中国邮政包裹吧。算了,太不可靠,要是在悉尼等个把月自行车还没有运到,我们的计划就全泡汤了。

此路不通。看来只能想随机托运的办法了。超重也比别的方式更省钱和省心。先去了解了一下各个航空公司的行李托运规定,一般都是免费托运20公斤。于是又和大师联系,问他自行车的重量。他说尽量帮我们把重量控制在12公斤以内。太棒了!我还想出来一个办法,反正从北京走的时候还是冬天,我们可以把所有的衣服都穿上,这样衣服的重量又减轻许多。就是到了悉尼比较麻烦,大夏天的,会很热。:p

接着进澳航和新西兰航空公司的网站进一步查询,呵呵,又有额外的奖励:原来20公斤仅仅是指托运的重量,每个人还能免费携带不超过7公斤的随身物品。嗯,这下更有希望了!

qantas

澳航网址:

http://www.qantas.com.au/international/cn/contacts/contactspartners.html

http://www.qantas.com.au/travel/page/airline/flying_carry_on_baggage/cn/zh_CN

其中

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澳 航 北 京 办 事 处
地址:中国北京市朝阳区建国门外大街乙12号双子座大厦西塔10层7-8单乙 邮编:100022

订 位 部
电话:+86-10-6567 9006
传真:+86-10-6568 4011

澳 航 驻 北 京 机 场 办 公 室
电话:+86-10-6459 0296/97
传真:+86-10-6459 0298

————————————————

我先打订位部的电话,一个上海口音的姑娘接的电话,态度很冷淡,而且对于澳航网站上的规定很不了解,不知道

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托运行李限额的重要变更

由2008年12月1日起,澳航实施新的托运行李限额,这项政策将令旅客搭乘澳航时感到更轻松。使用购买于2008年12月1日或以后、及出发日期在2009年3月1 日或以后的机票的旅客均可享受新的行李限额。

—————————————————–

更加没有听说过“无人陪伴行李”这个说法。我和她解释我是在他们网站上看到的,她很不耐烦的说:我们没有接到这样的通知。

抱着试试看的心理,又拨通了澳 航 驻 北 京 机 场 办 公 室的电话,这次是一个北京口音的姑娘接的电话,亲切、自然,熟悉各项规定,她把行李托运变更条款解释给我听(3月1日开始澳航免费托运行李重量又20公斤改为23公斤,手提行李不变),又告诉我货运部人员的手机号码,让我和他们核实“无人陪伴行李”的收费标准。

air-new-zealand-b787-9-0506a

接着打新西兰航空公司(http://www.airnewzealand.cn/traveller_info/baggage/check_in_baggage.htm)的电话。新西兰航空公司网站上的行李托运中有这样一句话:“如果您购买的是Round the World或Four Corners机票,则请查阅您机票上有关行李限额。”我们买的就是Round the World机票,我和接电话的姑娘确认,她说详细的规定要我们拿到机票后报出机票号码才能确定,但是,她告诉了我几种方案,最后我们一起得出结论,只要托运的行李不超过20公斤,就没有问题。手提行李始终是7公斤。和她通话,就像和朋友打电话一样舒适放松,她很熟悉公司的业务规定,也很为我着想,一直在用商议的态度和我讨论。

打完电话,我们对于自行车托运这件事情基本上有了结论:和我们乘坐的飞机一起走。这几天来一直困扰我们的大问题解决了!

来自朋友们的支持

朋友们知道我们要周游世界,通常的第一反应是吃惊。

然后,基本上会有两种态度:支持或是反对。

反对的理由,主要是担心搭顺风车和露营比较危险,劝我们等资金充足一些再说。

支持的,常常自己也有这样的想法和冲动,但时机不成熟,一直未能成行,借用魔幻(一起走墨脱的驴友)的话说:你们是在替我们实现梦想~

无论是支持还是反对,都让我们心中充满了感激。世间有如此多的困难,也有那么多的不公,幸好还有朋友;我们多么幸运,有人关心,有人帮助…

书

每次旅行,大部头的旅行指南必不可少,这次走这么多地方,光买书就是一笔不小的开销。

当我在书店犹豫不决,后悔没有带相机来拍下重要内容的时候,Chris慷慨大方的帮我们分担了这笔费用。

e8838ce58c85

背包

这是哈里和魔幻送给我们的背包,《Outside》杂志2007年“年度装备”(Gear of the Year 2007)的获奖作品。我已经迫不及待的想像背着它在新西兰梦幻般美丽的山石间奋力攀登,或是在西班牙巨大的输水管下漫步。


相机

相机

这是尼康的D80相机,我们本来只是向朋友打听,有没有闲置的相机可以借给我们,谁知他买了包括镜头和存储卡在内一整套新的送给我们!

这真的是意外的惊喜,这次,一定要努力拍出好片子来。

e8819ae9a490

更有许多朋友,请我们吃饭,为我们送行,帮我们修改旅行计划,联系自己的亲友,帮我们寻找住的地方,千叮咛、万嘱咐,为我们加油……

谢谢大家,因为有了你们,这次旅程有了更多的快乐和意义~

Day 15 to Day 20: Oz visa, Scope and Cycling Plan

Tons of things have happened in past a few days. I should have updated this blog more often, my bad.

First: Oz visa.

We have prepared all the materials the official tourism visa website requires, but yesterday afternoon, a lady in Oz’s Shanghai office called us up and asked for a detailed itinerary, company’s approval of leave request, Zephyr’s experiences as a freelancer and flight reservation information. We finished up all the paperwork yesterday afternoon but their fax machine seems to have some weird problems of accepting more than three pages. When I get back to home, it’s already 9pm. This morning, we managed to get the papers fax out via two different numbers, but another phone call from Oz embassy said they only got the first two pages. Z finally found out that it’s possible to scan the paper and send those supplementary as images via email to the visa office.

To me, this is simply ridiculous. Technically speaking, fax is less trustworthy yet much more expensive than email, uneasy to process and archive. But the official procedures seems to have hard coded the fax concept deep into their brain. I know it’s just impractical to issue a private/public key pair for all citizens, but for those who have the knowledge/skill to use them, why not? Oh, forgot to mention this: there is an electronic material submission gateway on the official website, but Chinese citizens have to go through the old process. Wondering why.

Second: Cut down scope.

If you’re following our tour planning process, you’ll notice that at the very beginning, we were thinking of covering all 6 continents including Africa and South America. But a careful budget planning shows that we’ll have only $40/day, which should cover food, accommodation, commute, basically everything except flight ticket. In our last post, I wrote about sponsorship. It turned out that the financial crisis is making most companies nervous enough to freeze their marketing budget for 2009. So given current situation, it’s essentially impossible to get significant sponsorship within one month or two. A traditional business problem: how to increase net profit if the revenue is fixed.

As most experienced managers have been reminded often: if the budget and time is fixed, cutting down the scope is the only reasonable thing to do. By giving up Africa and South America, we’d cut the flight cost from CNY 40k to CNY 27k per person. Even better, we could spend slightly more time in each continent since we now have 3 extra months. Even better, cutting down Africa means let go the visa headache for 6 countries. Another pile of visa application fee saved. More time in one country, more likely we could run into local life like this:



The two changes above has successfully lifted our daily budget from $40 to $72 per day.
Less is more, isn’t it?

Third: start thinking of cycling.

One purpose of this world tour is to get to know each country. Fly around is definitely the best way. Neither car rental. The car offers a psychological protection shield that will bounce off lots of ‘accidental events’, which is actually the most interesting thing in travel. We have thought about hitchhiking since it’ll give a perfect chance for us to spend long enough hours to talk to local people. It will also make the trip full of randomness. But a couple of friends have raised safety concerns which really worries Z. On last Sunday afternoon, I suddenly realized that we could cycling around with our camping equipments loaded. This way, we could move slow enough to really see a country, open enough to meet local people and cost efficient enough for us to feel comfortable enough to depart without worrying of capital shortage.

More on tour planning tomorrow.

Day 14: In search of Sponsorship

The more I read about Australia, the clearer I realized that one month is far from enough to understand this country. In dinner time,  Z and I had a serious evaluation on our budget:  we have CNY 250,000, USD 36,587, allocated for this trip. Put the flight tickets and visa cost aside, for one year trip, we have USD 40 per day for food, lodging and commute.  This is not very bad but if we want to stay a bit longer, especially to cover more distances, this is not even enough for renting a campervan. ( I did some research on hitchhiking but it turned out to be very time-consuming. It took someone 5 months to go from Adelaide to Darwin and back.  )

Are there any way to get more funding?

Right after dinner, a friend called me up just for a chat. I told her about the plan and our very tight budget.  She, being a successful business woman, immediately suggested that we should look for sponsorships.  Z and I have had some discussion on this but we gave the thought up, afraid that accepting sponsorship will force us to do things we don’t like. (I get this impression from the great marathon book 50/50. )

But after our phone call, Z and I decided to give it a try? If we could raise another CNY 300,000, ie USD 43,950, we’ll have $160 per day for one year or $80 for two years. That is whole lot better.

Then I gave Nancy a call to listen to her suggestions. After understanding what I’m having in mind, she, being an experienced marketing person, suggested a plan like this: 

0) Brainstorm a core theme for this trip. It should be something that’s relevant to my software and entrepreneur background that could make the whole plan credible. It should be deep and serious enough that could evoke thinking and discussion.  It should also be interesting enough to the people the sponsors is willing to spend their marketing dollar on. 

1) Write down the plan. Be it a powerpoint or a sheet of paper. Just something that we could send to others as a way to get leads.  “Treat it as an elevator pitch. An executive summary.” 

2) Find a couple of media as a platform to get the messages out. The bigger, the better. The goal of working with media is not to get the money, but to have a channel into the target audiences.  The wider the coverage, the more lucrative it is to the potential sponsors.  

3) Contact potential sponsors. The situation has to be a win-win for all three players: us, the media and the sponsor company.  

4) Once the major deal is closed, we could talk to Camera manufactures, Outdoor gadget or equipment companies to figure out other relatively small items.

This sounds quite interesting. The worst case is that we might end up with no sponsorship at all. But through this process, we should have a clear and concrete idea of what we really want to see in this trip. Plus I could gain some first-hand experience in fund-raising. Doesn’t sound like a bad choice, right?

Tomorrow: call some media and marketing friends and figure out a time to get people together for a brainstorm session.

PS. A checklist Z and I worked out to address the money shortage issue:

  • Increase incomes
    • Find sponsorships.
    • Take some freelance work from friends or websites like Rent-A-Coder
    • Find local labor works like fruit picking.
    • Work for the hostels we’ll stay at in exchange of free beds and food.
    • Sell photograph or travel writings online. 
  • Cut costs
    • Stay at people’s apartment or houses to save on lodging.
    • Buy fish, vegetables in wet market outside urban area and cook our own meals.
    • Stay in tents in rural areas. 
    • Hitchhike or share cars with others.