The plan to have the flights booked by the end of 2011 did not become a reality. Work was busy as always during December leaving me that bit more exhausted after every day. Christmas parties and social gatherings took over most nights, leaving less than ideal quantities of sleep in the bank! Christmas then consisted of lots of driving to locations over Victoria, Christmas day is always rushed and never quite relaxing enough.
Our relaxation did come in the form of a cycling trip in the alpine region of Victoria, Mt Beauty more specifically; a location often referred to as the ‘nirvana’ for cycling in Victoria. There we rode our road and mountain bikes every day, riding up, down and around the stunning mountains surrounding the Kiewa Valley.
Mt Beauty ride week occurs every year between Boxing Day and New Years Day and attracts Australia’s best riders who go out on organised rides together as both training and a time to catch up. A short ride was sometimes three hours, but most days we were out for six or more hours either chewing at our stems up the steep long climbs or grinning with excitement as we descended.
Our relaxation time may seem odd to you, but being surrounded with rider-friends doing what we all love is no doubt our equivalent to massages, sunbaking and cocktails on the beach. Actually, if we could do both at the same time we probably would!
So anyway, ride week took over the last week of 2011, which brings us to 2012. I missed my self-imposed deadline…
Travelling with bikes means that we have to consider more than just a cheap flight. We had to look at what the baggage allowances were for particular airlines, whether bikes can travel for free and also consider what the potential exorbitant excess baggage rates might come to.
We were lucky. Our second-cheapest flight option turned out to be a ride with Emirates, who offered 30kg of checked-in baggage. That will almost certainly get the bike and all of our gear on the aeroplane, provided we are smart about what baggage we take on board! We waltzed on down to STA Travel and snapped up that great deal. Our travel agent Simon Hemmingway turned out to be a fellow bike tourer who was envious of our journey. Winning!
We chose the 9th of July for a few reasons:
– It seems like a random enough start date;
– It gives us six months of solid preparation time;
– It shoots us into the middle of summer in the northern hemisphere;
– It gives us time to complete our tax returns, which will add a few thousand into the bank account; and
– It allows us to escape from the coldest part of Melbourne’s winter.
We chose to fly into Amsterdam for a few reasons:
– I have family there who will be able to nurture us after being beaten up over our 30 hours travel;
– It is a relatively central location in Europe to start (we haven’t worked out exactly where we want to go yet!); and
– It is flat, so we will be able to prime our poor bodies for the ridiculous mountains we will be taking on.
So it’s on. Excitement plus!