We tried to translate the most important information into English, so that our English speaking friends all over the world can be part of our big adventure as well…
We are planning to write our blogs about the tour in both languages, German and English…
A TANDEM DOWN UNDER…
Cycling round Australia with a tandem. Travelling 16,000 km from Darwin to Darwin in ten months.
The world record in riding a tandem is 38,143 km. The British couple Phil and Louise Shambrook did this back in 1997. It took them three years. Well, we won’t break this record but there has never been anybody circumnavigating Australia with a semi-recumbent bike.
The fifth continent is far away from Bavaria / Germany. 85 % of the plants and about 90 % of the indigenous animals can only be found in Australia. The continent is 21.5 times as big as Germany and covers an area of 7.7 million square kilometers. Its coastline extends over 36,000 km. Only about 22 million people live in Australia. That means that huge parts of the continent are desolated.
The journey is our destination! We don’t want to be in a rush. That’s why we decided to travel on a tandem. However, it won’t be easy to travel round Australia with a bike. The temperatures in summer can get up to 50 degrees and in some areas drinking water can hardly be found. Most Australians live on the east coast. The west coast and the center are pretty much desolated.
It is definitely going to be an enduring test for us and for our tandem.
Why did we choose to travel on a bike then?
We are thrilled tandem bikers. Riding a tandem is team sport. You and your partner always have the same pace and you will arrive at the destination together.
Our Pino bike is a semi-recumbent bike: The front is a recumbent bike and the back a normal one. Thus ensures great communication between the stoker and the captain. Furthermore, the non-steering stoker in the front position has got a great view as well (that is different from a normal tandem where the stoker just sees the captain’s back). Riding a tandem is all about responsibility and trust.
For those of you who are interested in our journey check out our homepage (www.tandem-down-under.de) or visit us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Tandemdownunder). We want to share our experience with you.
We are not pretty sure where we got it… this strange feeling. Maybe it was on one of our InterRail trips in Europe, our Work & Travel year in Australia, our hiking trip in the lonely Hardangervidda National Park in Norway… But then we found out what it was and the diagnose was obvious: itchy feet!
We suffer from this strange and wonderful feeling regularly. There is nothing that can be done about it… except of one thing… Dedicating yourself to this feeling and plan another trip.
We have spent the last years with school, apprenticeship, university, work and teaching. Now it is time to leave all this behind. We want to experience our next adventure.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
We are Alex and Steph, grown up in Straubing in the heart of beautiful Bavaria. Actually, we used to be horrible couch potatoes. This has totally changed during the last couple of years. We love all kinds of outdoor activities and of course we are addicted to riding our Pino tandem.
To sum it up: Itchy feet and an addiction to cycling… This demands a rapid cure.
We have spent a year with planning the trip, with losing 50 kg of body weight, with riding thousands of kilometers with our bikes, with studying uncountable blogs and books about travelling…! Now it is our turn to fulfill our ambitious dream.
The plan is so start in Darwin around 1st September 2014. After cycling for 16,000 km and 10 months on the road we want to be back there in June 2015. We want to cycle about 80 km every day. That allows us some weeks without cycling for recovering, meeting friends and so on. Half of the way is said to be the “outback” area and the other half is “civilization”.
We are going to cycle round Australia anti-clockwise. We are going to leave Darwin heading for Katherine, Kununurra, Broome, Karijini National Park, Tom Price, then down the west coast to Perth. After that, we are going to pass Albany, Norseman, the Nullabor Plain, Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road before arriving in Melbourne. We want to do a detour in Tasmania as well. Back on the mainland we are going to cycle along the east coast up to Cairns stopping in Sydney, Brisbane…. Then back to the outback to Mr. Isa and finally to Darwin again.
How much water do you transport on the bike?
We can carry 31 liters of water on the bike. We hope this will last for two days even in remote areas. There should be a gas station every 200 km so that we can refill our water bottles there. Furthermore we hope that there will be a lot of friendly travelers who will share some of their water in the worst case;-)
Where do you sleep?
We want to sleep in our tent as often as possible. There are picturesque spots everywhere in Australia to pitch up a tent. We want to avoid official camp sites but there are a lot of rest areas where you can stay overnight for free.
How heavy is your luggage?
We hope that our luggage won’t weigh more than 35 kg without all the water.
How many kilometers do you want to cycle a day?
On average we want to cycle at least 80 km every day. There should be no problem to do so. 80 km a day would allow us some weeks of relaxing and meeting some Australian friends. So there is plenty of time to do the trip and have some holiday as well. We have read about some travelers who cycled more than 250 km a day in remote areas because there is just nothing else to do but cycling.
Why do you start in Darwin?
Due to weather and wind conditions we learned that a start in Darwin is the best option. The plan is to avoid the wet season in the North of Australia and the blazing heat in summer. Maximilian Semsch (www.what-a-trip.de) told us not to circumnavigate Australia clockwise. He did so and there was heavy headwind for more than 4,000 km.
How can you afford this trip?
We have saved some money for a long time. However, it will be a low budget trip of course. We want to live on 5 euro per person a day (that’s about 7.50 AUD).
Why did you decide to travel on a tandem?
We want enjoy the landscape and the nature and therefore travel slowly. A bike is perfect to do so. We love to ride our tandem and we have cycled thousands of kilometers on it. There is less air resistance and more power when you ride a tandem. The best thing is that both cyclists, the captain and the stoker, always arrive together at the end of the day.
When did you decide to do the trip?
It all started in November 2012 when Alex read the blog www.cycle-the-world.de. Then one thing led to another. We read various blogs, we went to presentations, registered on www.warmshowers.org and met some cyclists, bought a new tandem and then, in a twinkling of an eye, we had our own homepage, a logo, a visa…