With just a couple of working days to go until we finish work for eleven whole weeks (SO close!), I thought I should write a little post on here to address some of the most common #Zartusacan questions that we’ve been asked recently.
Riding in Scotland. Well, stopping.
How did you manage to get three months off work?
My answer to this question is always “well we asked”, and while I know that this response doesn’t fully answer the question it does bring up an important point. LincsGeek and I both work full time for the same large employer in Lincolnshire. I have been there for nearly eleven years and LincsGeek more than eight. When we started talking about this trip and wondered what might be possible, we decided to approach our respective bosses to ask if they might consider a period of unpaid leave. We are mixing our leave entitlement (although not quite all of it, we didn’t want to left having to work nine months straight with no break) with some unpaid leave and with the support of our bosses and HR department have been able to work it all out so we can take this big trip and be secure in the knowledge that we have jobs to return to when we come home. Doing it this way means we have had to save up extra money to cover bills etc while we’re away as we’ll not be earning for a few weeks, but the fact our employer has been supportive in our wish to go on this adventure is pretty awesome. And I’ll go back to my initial response – “well we asked”. If you are thinking of doing something like this but do not have the option to quit work and go off travelling for a year or two, then have a chat with your employer and see what might be possible. I’m so glad we did.
Bet you won’t want to come home!
Of course we will! We have lots of family and friends, a house, a car, a rabbit, jobs – coming home and picking up where we left off is going to be a very important end to this adventure. I’ve heard lots of stories about how hard this might be having spent all that time with no schedule, but we will fly home, sleep for a few days, and just get on with it. I am rather hoping this trip will open my eyes to new things and new ways of thinking that will mean the day job, paying the mortgage and everything else will be even more worth it than before. Being settled is good.
Are you worried about leaving your house for so long?
No, not really. We have a house sitter so our home is being well looked after. They will also be able to open our post too which is handy just in case we’ve forgotten any important bills that need paying! With any luck the grass might be cut too, but maybe a deep clean of the house is expecting a bit too much 🙂
How much is this costing you?!
This is a funny question as I get two distinct responses when I provide the answer depending on the person I’m speaking to – “wow that’s loads” and “oh that’s not bad”. Normally the question refers to flying the bikes over to Vancouver (rather than hiring when we’re there), and the answer to that is hiring vs flying our own out breaks even at three weeks. Hiring is expensive when it’s long term! To fly the bikes we’re looking at something in the region of an extra seat on the plane – so four tickets in total rather than two (though they go in the hold, not on a seat, as that would be very awkward!). This isn’t cheap, I know, but the benefits of taking our own bikes will certainly out way the costs. My own bike fits me perfectly and I know it inside out; this will surely help make the trip something very special. I can’t wait to add some stickers to my topbox! And yes, this is going to be more expensive than spending a couple of weeks in any North American city and doing some day trips from there, but that’s not what we’re going for this time. We have thought hard about this and have been saving our pennies, now it’s time to put that thrift to good use and go and have some fun.
On the train, on the train!
Why haven’t you planned a route?
Well we kind of have but haven’t really. And that is part of the adventure here. We have a very well populated map with places we really want to visit while we’re away, and based on that have rough idea of a workable circular route that would mean we see most of them. We know we are flying into Vancouver, heading across the border towards Seattle, down the West Coast of the USA as far as Monterey if not all the way to LA – maybe even San Diego, coming in-land sometimes to see things. Then we will head east a bit and weave our way back up (and I mean weave!) taking in lots of national parks and important sites until we eventually get back into Canada for the last two or three weeks of our time away. We have both lots of time and very little time if you consider the size of North America, so we know we aren’t going to take it all in. But we can explore a good chunk in ten weeks – we expect to include California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, although that could change as we go along. We’ve booked accommodation for our first two nights in Canada and our first two nights in the USA, just to get us started and settled into our new short-term life style, but after that we’ll just see where we end up. When we’ve toured in Europe before we have spent our evening meal looking at the map, deciding where to go the next day, and finding/booking somewhere to stay.
Riding in Germany.
Are you staying in hotels?
Yes, but I would think we’ll do quite a bit of camping (if we can get used to booking camp grounds and what kind of facilities different types of sites have) and make use of lodges and motels too. I imagine, although we won’t really know until we’re on the road, that we’ll camp or use wooden lodges (a bit like wooden tents – just a shell to keep you dry) half the time, and use motels and hotels the rest of the time. There will be times and places where only a nice hotel will do; you know, a girl has to bath in hot water every now and again! This is the biggest unknown for me. I’m very used to camping, I’m quite happy to book hotels as we move through the countries we are exploring, but I have never camped on my motorbike before. I hope we get into the swing of it and enjoy that part of it too, as I’ve always enjoyed waking up to bird song and in amongst trees and by rivers.
Won’t you get saddle sore?
I hope not! We are anticipating riding somewhere in the region of 10,000 miles on our road trip, around 1,000 per week. If we work on an average of around 200 miles a day that gives us time for a couple of days off per week, which will be important both to allow us to recharge our batteries (riding is tiring) and to explore where we are in different ways (can’t wait to go hiking in Yosemite!). While we haven’t ever done 10,000 miles on one trip before we are used to long distance touring – our ride to Italy and back last summer was around 2,300 miles in 12 days, and previously we have circumnavigated Great Britain in one week and done JOGLE a week. We are used riding in all weathers and have done enough long days on the bike to know when it’s time to take a break and when we can comfortably do 350 miles or more in a day if we just need to cover distance. And of course if our moods or any other circumstances change we don’t have to do all those miles; we can take more days off, hire a car for a week, ride the same particularly lovely 25-mile stretch of road over and over again all day, hop on the freeway for a couple of days straight or whatever. Who knows how many miles we’ll actually do. But saddle sore? I can always buy a cushion!
Heading to Scotland.
How will you carry all your stuff?
This is the thing that’s stressing me out right this very minute. Well not really stressing me out, but it’s certainly at the forefront of my mind. Having toured by bike before we’re all sorted with what we can fit where on the bike and how much stuff we can reasonably carry. In the past we have taken one dry bag between us (plus our panniers, of course), and so we know we can have that on one bike and all our camping stuff in another dry bag on the other bike. Packing light and mindfully is very important, though; choosing the right clothing for on and off the bike, the right shoes (way more difficult than it should be), the right number of gadgets. All the bike gear, tools, camping equipment as well as personal items and clothing takes up lots of space. We have a kit list we’ve used for our last few trips which has naturally evolved as we’ve learnt more about motorbike touring, so I will be paying close attention to that this weekend to make sure I have everything. Personally I will have two panniers and my new topbox, plus half a dry bag for soft stuff. No problem. Probably. If it doesn’t fit it stays at home, if I forget it I’ll have to find a Walmart.
In the Alps.
Will you be blogging your trip?
Absolutely! Although I can’t really say when you’ll get posts at this stage. I shall certainly be writing, and I’ll upload here to Splodz Blogz when I get time to sit and write nice words and edit nice photos. I’m hoping for once a week, but I’ll just see how it goes. And yes that means the posts on here will be primarily #Zartusacan related for the next three months! If you’re interested in keeping up to date in what I’m doing please make sure you’re subscribed or following somehow. And if you want to see photographs make sure you follow me on Instagram as I’ll use that to let you know where we’ve been when we get wifi.
Have other questions? Fire away below.