Here we are, less than 3 weeks before departure. Starting on May 19: the Tour d’Afrique Silk Road, a 4 month bicycle tour from Shanghai to Istanbul. By bicycle over the Silk Road from China, through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran to Turkey! When I look back, time flies and quite a lot of work went into preparations before the tour even starts.

It all started with  a 2010 article in National Geographic: 50 Tours of a Lifetime for 2010 for the outfitters’ commitment to authenticity, immersion, sustainability, and connection. The Silk Route was one of those tours and immediately this tour was on the top of my list (I will evaluate the remaining 49 tours after my return 🙂 ).

After discussing this with family and friends, preparations started slowly. The most obvious: training! Although I admit it could have been more, I did start training. Spinning twice a week and long tours throughout the Netherlands were part of that. Part of the training was also climbing the Alpe d’Hues in France as part of the charity event Alpe d’HuZes (http://www.opgevenisgeenoptie.nl/) for the Dutch Cancer Society (http://www.kwf.nl). Together with 4300 other cyclist, we raised more than 20 million euro! And I climbed the mountain 4 times that day! Besides training, I had to make arrangements with my manager, who was quite impressed when we talked about my passion outside work, and the HR department provided me with an approval of my intended time of absence. Thank you Ger and Suzanne!

My bicycle received a full maintenance check last December. It looks (and costs) almost like a brand new bicycle! But then again, that was also needed since I’ve made quite some kilometers on this bicycle already. I don’t want to end my tour due to my bicycle so I spend a lot of money in repairs and gadgets (but that’s also a men’s thing 🙂 ).

What to bring for 4 months? Luckily, Tour d’Afrique provided me with a list ‘What to bring’. But they also mentioned: it should fit into two 90 liter duffels, preferable 80% loaded… nothing more nothing less… If it were only clothes (for minus 10 degrees and max 50 degrees), that should be OK. But included should also be: camping gear and mattress, sleeping bag, a lot of bicycle spare parts (chains, chain rings/cassettes, spokes, tires, saddle, derailleur hanger, pedals, front and rear hub, and more), basic tools, personal first aid and toiletries, laptop, 4 liter water bag, helmet, … They also provided a list of items not to bring, but that’s a short list… Anyway, it’s a challenge to get everything into these two duffels, but it seems to fit…

So here we are, less than 3 weeks to go, and just a couple of small things to do… and then board my flight to Singapore! It’s kind of weird: it takes approx. 10 hours flying time from Amsterdam to Singapore, all for the benefit and joy of cycling 4 months back home (well, almost). Anyway, next week a High Tea party for friends and family, and then the adventure will start soon!

Will those 4 months on my bicycle also go that fast? Given the challenges, I guess not. But we’ll see… I’ll keep you posted!