THE BLOG

It's Not A Holiday, It's A Bicycle Tour

23/04/2013 16:40 BST | Updated 21/06/2013 10:12 BST

Don't be mistaken, an extended adventure trip is not the same thing as a holiday. If you're hoping to take six months off to relax, unwind, and recharge your batteries, book a hut on Tahiti and stay there. You might be bored, sure, but you'll be rested.

If you opt for the excitement of, say, cycling around the world, then prepare yourself for a much more hectic experience. Before we left home, we loaded our hard drive with TV, movies, and books to keep us entertained during our travels. Almost a month in, we haven't sat still long enough to enjoy any of these.

The business of keeping yourself clean, rested, fed, and moving is more than enough to fill each day.

For us, these five daily tasks keep us occupied on a full-time basis: packing, travelling, eating, sleeping, and planning.

Packing

This is my least favourite part of the day. It involves getting the vast quantity of items we have with us into one of eight little bags, called panniers, which we then attach the the bikes. We do our best to return every item to the pannier (and space inside the pannier) from which it came; this makes each item much easier to find the next time we need it.

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While packing, without fail, just as we get one pannier closed up, we find an item that needs to go inside. We open up, repack, and reclose each bag at least once during each packing session. It's amazing how much time this can take, especially first thing in the morning before we've had our coffee.

Travelling

Going for a 60km bike ride every day sounds like a lot of fun, and it is, but it's also a lot of hard work.

For a start, we aren't riding your average bikes. These are heavy steel bikes with fat 2 inch tires, which are great for handling the rough terrain and potholes we are encountering along the way, but not so great when it comes to zipping at speed along paved roads.

Then there are all those panniers. They amount to more than 22kg of baggage on each bike. Top that off with enough food and water to keep ourselves nourished for a day or two, and we are not winning any races soon.

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Instead, we are slowly plodding along, pedal stroke after exhausting pedal stroke.

Eating

After all that hard work, we need to eat: often and in large quantities.

The challenges of finding suitable food are many and varied.

Is there a village nearby? Does the village have a cafe or restaurant that's open? If not, does the village have a market? Is it siesta, or Sunday? Because if it is, there won't be anywhere to buy food.

Yesterday, we stopped for lunch in a town that, on the map, looked pretty bustling. In real life it was a line of seaside restaurants, all closed for the season, or because it was Sunday. We're still not sure. After an hour of searching for a restaurant, we gave up and used our camp stove to cook some spaghetti we happened to have with us.

We've found that cooking is far preferable to eating out. For a start, it's much cheaper. Plus, our bodies crave home-cooked food that we select and prepare ourselves. Finally, being vegetarian, our options are much better if we make it ourselves.

Cooking for yourself means planning ahead, stopping at the market each time you find one open, and carrying around heavy ingredients, sometimes for days at a time.

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Also, with all the exercise we're doing, just eating enough is a struggle. We have to eat more food, more often, which means even more time spent searching for the next meal.

Sleeping

If you've been particularly organised the night before, you'll have some idea where you're going to stay when you reach your destination. If you're anything like us, you won't have a clue.

Our accommodation has ranged from camping in an unattended olive grove to renting top-rated B&Bs. It all depends on the weather, our moods, and what our budget says. Also, this being low season, many of our choices have been dictated by what's open. Campgrounds are mostly closed at this time of year, as are many of the hotels, private rooms, and B&Bs we'd have liked to stay in.

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Information on the web and roadside signage almost all refers to high season. Often the only way to find out what is open is to ask any locals you might see until someone can point you in the right direction. And this takes, you guessed it, even more time and energy away from our "holiday".

Planning

It's impossible to plan too far ahead for a long-distance trip, so we usually spend some time in the evening picking a destination for tomorrow. This often takes place last thing at night, after everything else is finally finished and all we really want to do is fall fast asleep. Instead, we get out the maps, the guidebooks, the GPS, Trip Advisor, and anything else we have at hand to plan the next day.

By about 9pm we are done in. By 10 or 11, we finally get to sleep.

We Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

If all this sounds a lot like complaining, it's not. We didn't book an all-inclusive package holiday because that's not what we wanted. Visiting markets, talking to local people, challenging our bodies, and living one day at a time is exactly what we signed up for. We wanted to get out on the road and see where it would take us.

So far, it's taken us to some incredible places.

Still, we are finding it more than a little exhausting, so we are currently trying to figure out how to work in a sixth daily task: napping.