How does this begin?
This story, if you can call it a story, begins some years ago, as Jordi, whilst living in Munich, hosts some people who are cycling along the Danube for a couple of weeks. Two years later Dani, a good friend of Jordi who has been on bikes all his life, is looking for a plan for the summer. Jordi, working in Berlin at the time, jumps at the opportunity and the two of them start planning. They end up following the Danube aswell, from southern Germany to the Black Sea and making it to Istanbul in the hot summer of 2015. That trip opens their eyes to the beauty of bike touring, which is much more than cycling from A to B.
Joan has been offered a job in Madrid at the time and spends an even hotter summer there. Like every other July, most of his afternoons consist of a nap and the Tour de France on the telly. This time it feels different though, he knows he could be out there himself, just as his brother. So on dead hours he starts digging for information, and it turns out there are many people out there, going all kinds of places on their bikes, and all of them are having the time of their lives. One of the first blogs he stumbles upon describes a British guy’s solo trip around the world. Wittily written, it talks about routes and places Joan had never thought about visiting before, like the Silk Route along Central Asia.
One year later, Joan quits his job, and now it’s his time for a bike trip. He manages to convince a couple of his friends and they cycle the Jacob’s Way from Barcelona to Santiago in the summer of 2016. Jordi already has other plans that summer and can’t join the adventure.
They finally manage to travel together next spring though, as Jordi, now living in Hamburg, flies out to meet Joan in Asia, where he has been spending a few months. They ride through Vietnam on motorbikes for 5 weeks. When they return to Europe Joan moves to Hamburg as well. It is there in the hot months of 2017, between summer jobs and cold beers, that Joan and Jordi start discussing their next trip.
If you’ve followed the story so far, you’d have realized there’s was only ever going to be one outcome. With their sights on the following summer, they start saving up. During that winter Jordi finishes his studies in Hamburg while working as a cook on the side, Joan spends three months delivering food in cold Montreal, and they meet in Barcelona in April 2018 to head eastwards towards Central Asia and beyond.
What are we taking?
Well, for starters we’re taking a bike each. Considering our budget limitations we couldn’t afford to buy new fancy ones, so we got two old Dawes Galaxy from eBay for a pretty good deal instead, which we then repaired and tuned up for the trip. Those models were quite popular for long trips in the 90s and are still reliable. They are so old they might qualify as vintage already, but after a few upgrades they should bring us far enough if we treat them right.
On the accommodation side we have a spacious tent, mats and sleeping bags. Our idea is to spend as many nights as possible in the nature, which gives us the freedom to sleep everywhere we want for no money. We settled on a 3-person tent, for we stopped sharing a room a long time ago and we’ll thank the extra space while doing it again. Sleeping bags were chosen thinking about cold nights in remote parts of the world, no cheap stuff here. We also start with a small camping gas and basic cooking gear.
As for clothes, we don’t take much. Taking into account that everything we take will have to be carried for months or discarded, we settled on a few resistant multi-purpose items: a couple of sport T-shirts, a culotte, a fleece jacket, a rain jacket and some socks each for the riding; a pair of shorts and two t-shirts each for when not riding; a casual shirt for mingling with people without looking like hobos and a light winter jacket for the cold days. On our feet we wear sport shoes (think running or trekking) and sandals.
Additionally, we take a couple of notebooks that serve as diaries, one e-book each, a camera and a small laptop to update this blog, and a myriad of other little things that we hope will make our life easier at some point. Here’s a picture of what we left home with.
We fit all of it in our panniers, two in the front and two in the back each. Joan has some extra space on top of his back panniers, Jordi carries the tent there instead. It looks amazing, doesn’t it?