Archive for the 'planning' Category

We bought our tickets to New Zealand

Monday, November 6th, 2006

Some major mile markers for trip preparation are happening here, people!  Yesterday, after much painful research & deliberation in an effort to get the best possible tickets (read: cheapest possible), we bought our plane tickets to New Zealand.  We’ll be leaving on Dec 28th from Wilmington NC, making connections in Charlotte NC and Sydney Australia, and arrive in Auckland at 2:45pm on Dec 30th.  That’s right – two days later!!  I bet you’re jealous of that nice little agenda.

I also got my front & rear racks on Saturday from my very favorite bike person – Bill Davidson at Elliot Bay Bicycles.  I haven’t gone for a ride with the new racks though, because it has been awful awful weather here in Seattle.  And I really do not need to hear things from you people about how I will definitely be stuck in weather like this when we’re on the road, etc, etc! :)

Last weekend, James & I went on another test ride.  We went a little over 25 miles.  The bikes were perfect, the ride was beautiful, and the only thing that really hurt the next day was my butt.  Which is perfectly fine – that’ll go away as I start riding regularly.

In an earlier post I mentioned how non-sexy we are going to be on this trip.  Well here are some more pictures to prove it!  And please keep in mind, this is really nothing compared to what you’ll be seeing in a few months. 

James got hot on a ride up a big hill.  This is the resulting fashion statement:

Sarah’s helmet fits crookedly on her head.  Which annoys her very much:

We took a break for a snack at the halfway point on Lake Washington. Some ducks were very interested in our granola bars:

Close-up of the very cute duck:

Pretty scenery on the shores of Lake Washington:


Saturday, November 4th, 2006

The FAQ and Resources pages have some content now! Let us know what you think. The Gear and Finances pages are next on my list.

Also, a belated Happy Halloween from Mr. Peacock & Pocahontas!








Sage Advice

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

We had a wonderful dinner with Karen Anderson and Dave Henderson tonight. Karen and Dave are experienced bicycle tourists who did a trip similar to ours in 2000. We got in touch with them through Will Knight. (Thanks Will!) They gave us a lot of great advice about our upcoming trip during dinner, including the folllowing eight zumers.

  1. Bring a mesh diver’s bag. It packs up extremely small & light, but is also very strong. You can put all your panniers in it and check it as one bag on a flight.
  2. Bring mirrors that mount on your helmet. These are extremely useful for keeping an eye on traffic and each other. As Dave said, “At least you’ll realize you are about to die when you see that truck bearing down on you from behind.”
  3. Bring bowls and cups to eat out of & a teapot for clean water. I don’t know how we forgot about this. :)
  4. Fly into and out of smaller airports if possible. This makes it much easier to ride your bike right out of the airport and onto the road.
  5. Bring a tupperware container big enough to store a loaf of bread.
  6. Put covers on your panniers during the day when riding. This way the covers get dirty and you can bring your clean panniers into the tent with you at night.
  7. Bring a down jacket with you for warmth and also to be used as a pillow at night.
  8. Bring a shortwave transistor radio, so you can listen to the BBC and keep in touch with the world when you are out on the road.

Thanks Karen and Dave for having dinner with us and sharing all of your experience and advice!

Next step, fully loading our bikes and going for a test ride…

Getting Ready…

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

We’re getting closer & closer to being ready for the trip! Last night we went to REI to pick up the final important items. A few odds & ends are all we need now. Here’s a picture of our dining room. Looks like something exploded. We don’t really try to walk through here anymore, we take the long way around to reach the kitchen.

We also went on our first bad(ish) weather bike ride yesterday. 40 degrees and really high winds. I guess it doesn’t sound that bad, but it wasn’t particularly pleasant. Jamie almost got blown off his bike in an especially windy corridor downtown – it was his first ride with the rear panniers and they seem to catch the wind quite nicely! The best part is that the panniers were really lightly loaded. This is going to be hilarious once we’re truly fully loaded.

Total time: 1 hour.
Mileage: I dont even want to post it.

Here’s a picture of us with our bikes in Myrtle Edwards Park – we are not going to be sexy at all on this trip – this is merely a tame preview

Keep on Truckin’

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

I got my Surly Long Haul Trucker this week! Adam and Peter at Counterbalance Bicycles built it up for me and did a great job. The bike is a 60cm, steel frame and fork made of 100% Surly 4130 cro-moly steel. I gave some general guidelines to Adam and he built the bike up to be as simple and reliable as possible for our trip. The wheels are hand-built with Mavic’s heavy duty A719 rims and Shimano Deore XT hubs. The tires are Panaracer T-Servs, which are a little different than the Panaracer Pasela TGs that Sarah has on her bike. We’ve heard varying opinions from the touring community on tires. Some people swear by the Schwalbe Marathons or the Continental Top Touring tires. Those tires seem to be preferred by people who value puncture resistance over comfort. The Panaracers are supposed to be very comfortable tires that also have decent puncture resistance. We are going to ride them for a while before we had overseas to see if they are going to suit our needs. The drivetrain is XT in the rear with Sugino cranks up front and I got a silver Chris King headset for some sex appeal. Adam also put on the Surly Nice Rack on the rear for me. I was originally going to get a Tubus rack, but the Surly rack is amazingly overbuilt and the silver looks cool on my bike. I put on the Brooks Flyer Saddle (Ouch!), SKS Fenders, ESGE kickstand, Jandd Handlebar & Frame Bags, and Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus rear panniers that we got as wedding gifts (Thanks everyone!), so after I get the front rack and panniers I will be ready to go! I am going to start commuting on the bike to get used to it and make any needed adjustments before we leave. Right now, I’ve got a decent drop between my saddle and my bars and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to raise my bars up. The total cost for the bike so far is $1764.96 which brings the total for the trip up to a whopping $6602.94.

Maiden Voyage

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Yesterday Sarah and I went out for our first real ride together. We parked the car in Carnation and then road 10 miles to Sammamish to watch some football at Sarah’s manager’s house. You can see the route here. The weather was perfect and the ride was beautiful. It was sunny but the air was crisp and the leaves were changing. There are some very nice roads to ride on East of Seattle. It is a very rural area and you are often surprised with views of the Cascades and Mount Rainier. Sarah was pretty tired after doing ten miles and her derriere was sore, so I rode back to get the car alone. Sarah’s coworkers caught on to this and spent the next hour inundating her with comments about me pulling her in a trailer or on a tandem bike. I hope the jokes don’t come true! It was good to get out and put some miles on Sarah’s bike and ride together. Next stop – 20 miles.

Route Planning

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

Here’s a preview of our trip route. In the next few weeks we’re planning to create an actual Route page on with a detailed map of the countries and cities we’ll travel through. As we continue on our trip we’ll try to keep the route page updated with the actual cities we visited plus our current location. The first 1 1/2 months will be a roadtrip across the United States. After Christmas we’ll leave the US and start riding our bikes in New Zealand.

US Road Trip:

  • Seattle
  • Crater Lake National Park
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Ventura, CA
  • Channel Islands National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Yuma, AZ
  • Saguro National Park
  • Big Bend National Park
  • Austin, TX
  • Fargo, ND
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Wilmington, NC


  • New Zealand
  • Southeast Asia
    • Singapore
    • Malaysia
    • Thailand
    • Vietnam
    • Laos
  • China
    • Yunnan Province
    • Sichuan Province
    • Guangxi Province
    • Guangdong Province
    • Hong Kong
  • Russia
    • St. Petersburg
  • Eastern Europe
    • Specifics TBD
  • Argentina
    • Only if we have time, money, and energy left!


Friday, September 22nd, 2006

Yesterday, James & I went to Northshore Public Health, in Bothell WA, to get immunizations for our trip. We had no idea how many diseases we’d need to be immunized for, so the first part of our appointment was a consultation with the nurse. As we listed all the places we plan to visit (New Zealand, Southeast Asia, China, Eastern Europe), he said “Whoa, we are going to have to sit down and think through all the stuff you’ll need.” Then, when we told him we’d be biking the whole way and spending a lot of time in rural areas, he blew a gasket and exclaimed “You are at high risk for practically every disease known to man! Are you nuts?” After calming him down, we ended up deciding on four vaccinations – Hepatitis A/B, Tetanus, Polio, and Japanese Encephalitis. We’ll get Typhoid pills next week. We skipped Rabies. If one of us gets bit by a rabid skunk, bat, or dog we will have 24 hours to get to a hospital for a vaccation. Let’s hope our pepper spray and rocks work well against all the rabid creatures in the Russian countryside. Our nurse then loaded up 8 syringes, lined them up neatly on a tray, and said “Who wants to go first?” James was the brave volunteer. The nurse swabbed his arm with alcohol, said “I think I can get all four on one arm” and then went at it. He was a complete maniac (a very competent maniac, I must admit) with his execution – he’d grab a syringe, jab the arm, squeeze the plunger, and then theatrically toss the used syringe up into the air behind him before speedily grabbing the next one & starting over. He did all four in about 15 seconds. I was next – same speedy & frantic routine. It was great to have it over with so fast, and I can honestly say I barely felt a thing. Grand total for 8 vaccinations? A whopping $678! We are submitting the bill to Microsoft insurance today. My fingers are crossed that they pull through on their reputation for stupendous coverage…

Bling, Bling!

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Sarah's New Rivendell AtlantisSarah got her fancy new bike today! She is going to ride a 61cm Rivendell Atlantis on our trip. Sarah wanted the Atlantis because she has long legs and a short torso and the short top tube geometry of the Atlantis means it will be comfortable for her and allow her to sit upright. Bill Davidson of Elliott Bay Bicycles built the bike up for her with a mixture of components. The wheels are handbuilt with Shimano Deore XT 36-hole hubs and DT Swiss TK 7.1 rims. The headset and front derailleur are Shimano Ultegra and she got Dura-Ace 9-speed bar end shifters. Sarah was originally thinking she wanted moustache bars, but after trying them out at the store she thought they were awkward and went with a standard Nitto Dream drop bar instead. The drivetrain is a Deore XT derailleur with a Deore LX crankset. We went with an 11-32t cassete so we can (try to) climb hills while carrying all our gear. The brakes are Camagnolo Veloce Linear Pull Cantilevers. Sarah is still afraid of clipless pedals, so she just got toe clips for now while she gets used to the bike. Last but not least Sarah will spend the next year sitting on a Terry Butterfly saddle which we heard is one of the most comfortable saddles for a woman. We are going to start doing short rides and making adjustments to the bike. Eventually, we’ll put racks, panniers, and everything else on it. Now that Sarah has the bike, our trip definitely seems more real. The total cost was $2244.11 which brings our running total for the trip up to $2843.17.