Planning and Prepping
A lot of time and work goes into planning, preparing and training for a trip like Black to Black before the tires even touch the German roads for the first time. This post explains some of what I have done to prepare for the trip since agreeing to ride the length of the Danube.
Obviously the cost of doing a trip like this is significant, so it was important for us to get an idea of how much our trip would be to make sure we were willing and able to afford the trip. Costs that were important to investigate included transportation (airfare, train-fare, etc.), lodging (a rough estimate of accommodation price per night), food (with the realization that we will need to eat a lot), gear (clothing, bicycle parts, first-aid materials, etc.) and other intangibles (beer gardens, tourist attractions, etc.).
The initial budget was not particularly detailed because first we wanted to have a general idea of whether the trip would be affordable prior to doing all the work to actually make the trip happen.
Transportation to Donaueschingen, Germany
I am flying to Europe from Canada and had to buy a plane ticket to Stuttgart, Germany. I made sure to check the different airlines’ policies for transporting bicycles as cargo. Most airlines will let you transport bicycles as long as you pack them into a box. In some cases, you will have to pay extra luggage costs for the bicycle. I printed out both Jet Airways’ and Lufthansa’s policies when I bought my tickets to avoid surprises at the ticket counter, plus I called the airlines to double check that I understood their policies. In Lufthansa’s case, the airline requested that I give them an estimate of the size and weight of the bicycle package two weeks before traveling. I found this video useful for learning the basics of how to pack a bicycle for airline travel.
The next leg of my trip is from Stuttgart to Donaueschingen where I will be taking the DB Bahn train. I simply bought my tickets at this website. It indicates that bicycles are fine to transport, but I will check in at the train station when I first arrive in Stuttgart to make sure I fully comprehend their policies.
Tom and Woody have an entirely different set of obstacles in transporting their bicycle to Donaueschingen because they are riding a tandem, which is a lot longer and bigger than a single bicycle. They have elected to rent a car and drive the bike to the start point.
I’d love to say that I have had a hand in planning the route, but, since we’re riding in a group of three, I’m not going to do absolutely everything. We’ve split up a lot of tasks. Tom and Woody have taken on planning the route, and I’ll let them explain that if they wish.
Setting Up the Blog and Fundraiser
I didn’t get off scott free for evading planning! I promised the guys I would set up the blog and fundraiser since they are doing the route planning. I get great enjoyment working with a team to divvy up the tasks and we each take on something to bring the whole thing together. Plus the entire process can be a ton of fun and very educational.
I have had a lot of enjoyment learning about WordPress‘ blogs to be able to share our journey with all of you. Plus, working with the people at the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation to set up the Black to Black Fundraiser has been particularly meaningful to me.
Gathering the Gear
I’m already a pretty avid rider, so I luckily had a lot of gear prior to the trip. However, it has been important to pick up some extra stuff like extra panniers and a saddle bag, an ultra-light rain jacket, a light sleeping bag, cycling shorts and other cycle specific clothing. I’m sure that we’ll post photos of all of our gear once we’re on the road. I have found that the Bicycle Touring Pro blog has been useful in gaining insight into what to bring (particularly the Complete Bicycle Touring Gear Checklist post and the Bicycle Tour Clothing Essentials post).
One thing that has been very important to invest in is a few basic cycling tools that will be used to take my bike apart and put it together, as well as fix any minor breakdowns that occur en route. I will be bringing along a pedal wrench, spoke wrench, spare spokes, spare tubes, a patch kit, a multi-tool with hex-keys and Allen wrenches, chain tools, grease and chain lube among other tools to be prepared on the road. I have also purchased and been reading Lennard Zinn’s Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance to educate myself about bicycle maintenance.
This post is getting a bit too long! I’ll leave training and photos from my rides in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland for another day!
Now you all go outside and stay active,