Tour of Gondwana - Stage List
Seek Out Diversity;
Worldwide Route Planning
One of the few things that can begin to approach both the fun and challenge of a tour like this one, is the actual planning that comes beforehand. I have lost track of the countless hours that have been spent investigating possible routes, searching for the right supplies, setting a budget, determining the best dates to travel, and so on. All the while it felt, at least a little, as if I were already out there rolling along. In fact, I enjoy that sort of thing so much that there is a great danger of over-extending the tour plan. For I am constantly learning of different and interesting places, and then thinking, "Well, why not go there, too?..." If I don't I learn to ignore those thoughts, or begin the tour soon, there may not be a road left on the entire globe that is not part of the route.
In all seriousness, it's safe to assume that the longer the tour, the more one can benefit from a well thought-out plan. There is certainly great appeal to the more relaxed mode of touring, where one simply "makes it up as you go." I enjoy that type of travel quite a bit, and, for day-to-day decisions, that is probably the way I expect to operate on this trip. However, for the major factors I think it is best to work out good solutions before the tour begins.
Probably the most important of these is to try to be in each region of the world at the "proper" time of year in terms of climate. This is much harder to do than it might seem. Unfortunately, the Universe has not taken touring cyclists into consideration when spinning the Earth on a tilted axis. There are many competing factors to consider. Will it be the rainy season, or the dry? Too hot, or too cold? Will you be riding into a monstrous headwind for months at a time? Will the length of available daylight be enough? Will you be able to maintain a pace that will allow you to cross an entire continent during its "good weather" season? Ignoring these considerations may find you stuck in a far-off place with only four unattractive options; try to "beat the weather" by covering more distance before it turns bad; stay put wherever you may be and wait it out, possibly for months; abandon a section of the route and skip ahead by rail, sea, or air; or struggle along through unsafe, or at least unpleasant, conditions.
None of these choices are satisfactory, and I spent many hours searching though climate databases and almanacs, trying to decide the best dates for each stage. The challenge is that any change you make at the beginning of the tour affects the end as well. So, if you push the start date back to get better weather at the beginning, you may find yourself stuck in terrible conditions later on. Though I did the best I could in this regard, there are always compromises to be made. I think the schedule is as good as it can possibly be, but not perfect. I will be in Malaysia in rainy December, in southern India and Sri Lanka as the spring heat is rising and the monsoons approach, and Central America when it will be hot and stormy with a risk of hurricanes. However, if that's the worst of it, I think that I can handle whatever may come.
Of course, where bicycle touring is concerned, there is no plan that is so important that it can't be changed along the way.