The other major focus, as ever, has been researching our route. This has proved a challenge in itself; it seems if we’d tried, we couldn’t have picked two countries more difficult to get good maps for! The maps available for Mongolia and China are very limited, and as yet my search for anything topographical has led only to dead ends. Nevertheless we’re making steady progress, and despite on occasion proving a frustrating task, planning a route is also an incredibly exciting one. I’ve heard many adventurers and travellers say before that one of the best parts of any journey is sitting somewhere warm and cosy with a cup of coffee to hand and a huge map spread out in front. I can only agree; the potential for dreaming is immense, and I often find myself tracing tiny roads with my finger, wondering what they are like in reality. Maps possess an almighty quality to inspire and excite, and so despite the trials that may be raised by a lack of detail or information, this stage is mostly hugely enjoyable.
Our biggest news regarding our route is that we have slightly altered our predicted distance. I say slightly; it’s actually quite dramatic! We now put the overall distance needing travelled at around 4,800km/3,000 miles (as opposed to our previous estimate of 4,000 km/2,500 miles.) I think both Rob and I still work on our cycling instincts, which is to see an extra 500 miles as a mere inconvenience; ah, the joys of speedy two wheeled travel, eh? The reality is that this distance on foot is quite significant, and requires not only more time on the road, but also a new level of mental focus.
When the logistics are seemingly overwhelming me, it feels like it could be 500 additional miles of endless blisters, blocked passed, frozen rivers, heavy packs and cold toes. However, that attitude achieves nothing more than committing a grave injustice against the wonderful country and people we will be lucky enough to pass through and interact with. More often than not, our calculations seem like 500 extra opportunities to witness spectacular scenery, speak with some fascinating people, get to know more about a new culture and even if the worst comes to the worst, we will surely learn new depths of temporary misery– it’s still all part of the experience!
And, in honour of our 500 miles...