Seeing the task ahead!

When I first had the idea to cycle the east coast of Australia I was well aware that it was a very long way, anybody who embarks on something like this without a bit of prior knowledge is either crazy or has balls of steel!

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Not a bad view to open my eyes to!

My first port of call was to get a complete map of Australia to hang on my wall for planning, this is the map that I’m going to be using to plot the route in its entirety so I can look upon it, make small changes and generally provide me with a bit of motivation and inspiration. I tell you, waking up to the map hanging at the foot of my bed every day sure does get me in the mood for some planning to make the cycle the best I can for both my own experience, and most importantly raise some cash for the charities!

Finally, after weeks of searching, I’ve found all the maps I need to plan my full route from Adelaide to Cairns, taking in the breathtaking views the country has to offer whilst paying a visit to Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane along the way. I’ve already planned my route from Melbourne to Sydney with the help of Dani, a blogger from Canberra, hopefully on this route when I pass through we can grab a cup of tea… Yorkshire Tea of course… I’ll be updating this route throughout this evening hopefully so stay tuned.

Speak soon amigos,

Gary

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It’s actually quite a long way…

First Draft Route… Melbourne – Canberra – Sydney

I’ve been thinking about my big cycle non-stop over the past few days, and I’ve been eager to get my route sorted out. I’m still waiting on a map taking me from Adelaide to Melbourne, so I’ve decided to crack on without it for now and work backwards once I have it.

I’ve been throwing around the idea recently of not bothering with Canberra because from what I’ve heard there doesn’t seem to be that much going on and there is no real direct route to the city, but from a bit of reading I’ve found that to be not true! I’m big into my history, so to name a few places I’d like to visit they’d be Parliament House, the Australian War Museum and the National Botanical Gardens. I’ve even found a main road that takes me there meaning it’s a place I must factor in, if you guys have any suggestions for activities then please do let me know.

My provisional route in picture format can be found below.

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I want to do the full route in good time so I’ve been looking for direct routes from city to city that I can cane out in a few days but see some new sights along the way. I’ve kept myself close to the coast for decent chunks of it, passed some epic looking lakes, gone through some nice woodland areas, and hit the highways to eat up some mileage on the way. This is just a provisional route so please feel free to comment any suggestions for changes that’ll make the route a little more interesting but not add too much distance on.

The route with estimated kilometers goes as follows…

Largely following the Princess Highway until Cann River, then following the Monaro (Cann Valley) Highway to Canberra.

Day

Start

Finish

Distance (km)

1

Melbourne

Traralgon

161

2

Traralgon

Lakes Entrance

153

3

Lakes Entrance

Cann River

142

4

Cann River

Cooma

173

5

Cooma

Canberra

106

Once out of Canberra, I’ll be leaving via the Federal Highway and join the Hume Highway to Sydney.

Day

Start

Finish

Distance (km)

1

Canberra

Moss Vale

163

2

Moss Vale

Sydney

127

Remember guys, this is a provisional route, feedback more than welcome :-)

Gary

East coast treasures that have to be seen…

The Blue Mountains, best get used to low gears!

The Blue Mountains, best get used to low gears!

Over the past couple of days I’ve been reading through my Rough Guides book about the east coast. As a book that I bought off the back of a recommendation and one that I didn’t look at before I bought it, I’m happy to report that it’s turned out to be brilliant!

I’m not very far through it, but already it’s talked entry requirements, health, accommodation, food and drink, and even provided contacts for the local media! I can see from the contents too that there’s a decent amount of information in about what to do too in each place, so when I reach destinations I’ll know exactly what there is to do.

Close to the front of the book it lists 28 things not to miss, there’s a few that won’t apply to me because they’re specific events or are seasonal, like New Year for example, but the ones that tickle my fancy are:

  • Sydney Opera House (already been but love the vibe)
  • Wilsons Promontory National Park
  • Bondi Beach (already been but it’s full of birds, always a winner!)
  • The Daintree and Cape Tribulation
  • Sydney Harbour Ferries (already done them but I think they’re great fun)
  • The Blue Mountains (pictured above)
  • Australia Zoo
  • South Bank, Brisbane
  • Highland Waterfalls, Atherton Tablelands
  • Whitehaven Beach
  • The Great Barrier Reef

Is there anything that you would add to this?

Away from the above, there are some sights that I’d like to see during the trip, but I’m not sure if going out of my way for them is worth it. The city of Canberra is Australia’s capital, but through reading and looking on my maps, there really doesn’t seem to be that much going on, is this true?

On my maps the main road that I want to follow goes straight past the city, but goes through every other. In order to get to Canberra I need to go off the beaten track for a bit, something that I thought strange for a capital city, and don’t even get me started on the road maps, there aren’t any!

Any guidance you could give guys would be greatly appreciated…

Gary

Some essential reading…

Since cognitively committing to the cycle in Australia, I’ve been keen to read books about cycle touring and the country, and learn from others who have embarked on such a quest. I initially looked for a book by someone who had actually cycled the east coast, with the hope of stealing his/her planning ideas and bettering them for my own benefit, but as far as I could find this book didn’t exist! Maybe I’m missing a gap in the market here…?

As the book that was going to make my life easier didn’t exist, I headed to the maps section, booooooo! I managed to get hold of a massive map of Australia in WHSmiths, which is now pinned up on my wall for me to see each and every day when I wake up for a bit of inspiration.

Photo 20-03-2013 17 31 27I’ve since come across two books that I can actually have a thorough read through to get some hints and tips, the first being “Cycling Australia” by Lonely Planet (2009), a very specific book to touring Australia by bicycle. I’ve pretty much read this book cover to cover already, and I think it’ll be one that will be invaluable throughout the whole planning and cycling process. The second is “The Rough Guide to East Coast Australia” by, you guessed it, Rough Guides (2008). I haven’t yet had chance to look at this thoroughly, I bought it off the back of a recommendation from a friend, but flicking through it looks pretty good! It’s packed with city maps, activities, places to see, places to eat, and all else in between, so should come in handy for putting a route together. I found both of these treasures in Waterstones in Leeds, somewhere that I’ll no doubt be visiting again and again over the next few years.

To finish off with, you can never have too many maps, or at least that’s what my mate Hodson always tells me! When I was in Waterstones buying the previously stated books, I came across the map section and found some great city road maps.

I’m not just a bookworm though, I believe that true learning is through Q&A with people who’ve been there and done it, not necessarily Australia, but a similar kind of cycle. I did a bit of Google searching and found Cycling Forums, an online forum for everything to do with cycling. I’ve been posting on there when I have questions or the need to interact with likeminded people, why not give it a whirl?

These bad boys combined are gonna help me in a big way when it comes to planning, something that’s just around the corner, muchos readingos to do beforehand though…

Gary

Early prep route planning…

So I’ve had the bright idea to cycle the east coast of Australia, but there’s a hell of a lot planning to do before I can even think about the trip itself. At the moment, I think the most important of tasks is the route, once I have that in place, I should then be able to:

  • Accurately record my mileage for forward planning
  • Break the cycle down into sections
  • Propose a timescale for daily and overall completion
  • Cost the whole trip so I can save the cash!

For me the route truly is the backbone of the whole cycle! I’d been scouring the Internet for a decent map of the country for ages, looking for one which had a good road detail, but also specified the surface types so I knew what I could/couldn’t do on my racing bike. I’m a lad who likes to see what he’s buying before handing over the money, for this reason Internet buying doesn’t always sit well with me; so after a few hours I donned my trainers and headed in to Leeds to have a scout around.  I visited all the travel shops looking for one that was suitable with zero success, but of all places I found the perfect map in WHSmiths, it details every road (including surface types!), town, city, and even marks out all the points of interest to help me plan the route… winning!

The next few weeks will see me putting together a proposed route, then comes the daily distance breakdown so I know exactly what I’ll be doing…

Gary

The awkward moment you realise just how big Australia is...!

The awkward moment you realise just how big Australia is…!

It all begins with a stupid idea…

Firstly, you may know that my friend Andy and I have been taking part in various different challenges over the past couple of years to raise much needed funds for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre based in Leeds, a charity close to both of our hearts. For all you guys that have been reading my blog “If It’s Not Raining, It’s Not Training” since the very beginning, you’ll be sad to hear that I’ve permanently deleted all the previous posts from it and replaced it with this… but don’t worry, I transferred them all to the G-Rex Fitness site so you can still re-read them should you wish! :)

Going ‘Down Under’

So, down to business. In November last year I was lucky enough to visit my friends in Perth, Western Australia for the wedding of Oli (Hirst) and Klasey (Pendlebury). One evening when sat with the Pendlebury family in the back garden around a pool, I noticed a large map of Australia hanging from the wall with a full detail of roads and distances clearly indicated on it. I’ve been getting more and more in to my cycling over the past year or so, and can think of no better way to spend my weekend than out in the Yorkshire countryside on my racing bike. The Pendlebury’s are very proud Australian family, and when I asked about the roads and the outback they were only too happy to tell me all about it. That was it, my mind was made, I was going to put together a massive cycle.

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I’ve chosen to do it in a few years time, so I’ll be jetting off to the other side of the world for August 2016 with a timeframe of up to 6 weeks, this’ll give me loads of time to plan and save, it’ll be the year of my 30th birthday, and it gives me some extra time for a well deserved holiday at the end! For the cycle itself there were three routes that I was pondering over, Perth to Sydney (left to right), Adelaide to Darwin (south to north) or Adelaide to Cairns (south to north following the east coast). Weighing up the three different options I decided to go with the latter, the main reasons for this were:

  • More interesting
  • Better temperatures
  • Bigger support possibility through exposure
  • I’ll get to see the majority of Australia’s main cities

In my opinion, there’s no point setting out on a challenge like this without having a worthy cause to do it for, so I’m going to be fundraising for 50% Yorkshire Cancer Centre, and 50% for an Australian charity which is yet to be decided.

I’ll call it a day there for this post now, but I’ll be regularly updating it with my progress so please follow this blog to keep up to date with all things related to the cycle, and if you can think of a name for the expedition then fire away in the comments section.

If you fancy getting involved, even if it’s just for a section of the cycle, please get in touch.