So with 7 weeks to go I seem to have reached a weird hiatus in my preparations. In the beginning (3 or 4 years ago when I was first inspired by Ted Simon's 'Jupiter's Travels' to 2008 when I started the 'planning process') there seemed to be an insurmountable list of things to buy, routes to plan, journeys to arrange, research to do, visas to get.. I felt like I needed a planning team à la Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman before The Long Way Round. Yet now, I'm not too sure what there is left to do despite not having done hardly any of what I originally anticipated.
I've bought almost everything I expect to need for every scenario and no doubt a whole lot more (full kit list to follow for those interested in such mundane things, i.e. me), and I've planned my route to the accuracy of 'probably this country into that one' - see the wiggly black line above - but not down to the exact roads or cities as I had expected to. There's absolutely no point planning which road to take through Nepal from my living room in Eastbourne, I now realise.
Once I'm off the ferry in the Netherlands I won't need any other form of transport but my bike until I get to Singapore, and since I don't want any targets to meet or a schedule to follow (this is about freedom) I won't be arranging that until I get there - in any time from 6 months to 1 year.
Aside from researching a few handy facts: border towns to aim for (Harwich, Dogubeyazit, Mirjaveh, Darwin), nice hotels to look forward to (Yazd, Quetta), places to avoid riding or sleeping out after dark (Baluchistan), places to get a free night of luxury with friends or family (The Hague, Geneva, Nepal, Singapore), international visa regulations (global politics and the arbitrary drawing of lines on maps adds an administrative hurdle for the wanderer, denying us entry to or rushing our time in certain parts of the world - hopefully my only constraint).
Aside from these markers and waypoints and logistic inconveniences not a lot in the way of research really needs to be carried out - this is something that can't be pre-booked or micro-managed and I don't have only 7 days to make the most of my time somewhere; it just has to be done. Which brings me on to the biggest hurdle to the whole thing - leaving.
There haven't been many moments I've looked forward to less than the day I say goodbye to the most important people in my life (I've done it once but for only 4 and a half months, and that was only with the prospect of snowboarding every day!), but I know once I'm into it the tears and sick feeling will have been worth it... If anyone fancies a ride then my first leg is Eastbourne to London on Monday February 15th.