Being on the road for more or less a year, we decided to split our trip in four parts: two cycling experiences on two continents and two on some islands. To start easily, we’re gonna (at least) try to get through the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route on the North American plate. At the moment, it’s the longest unpaved mountain bike trail in the world covering about 4000 km between the Mexico-USA border all the way through the ups and downs of the Rockies to Banff National Park in British Columbia, Canada. This Holy Grail for mountain bikers ends in Banff, where we take a left, passing through the wine area in British Columbia, and hope to be sober again around Vancouver. From Banff to Vancouver, we try to follow a part of the Trans Canada Trail. Depending on wind and mood directions in the first three months of cycling, we take a break on Vancouver Island and surroundings: explore the city of Vancouver, cover a big part of Vancouver Island itself, read few books, take some surf lessons, etc. After a quick stop in the Netherlands to reload everything necessary, we head up for the Way to Shangri-La.
War brings misery, but also the discovery by Western allies of a place called Shangri-La, somewhere in China. This Tibetan ‘land of sacredness and peace’ is defined as a heaven deprived from any Western craziness. Soon after the exploration of this region, the war ended. James Hilton is capturing the story in his novel ‘The Lost Horzion’, probably based on a poem of Tao Qian (‘Story of the Peach Blossom Valley’). The Yunnan province is designated to be the place to be ! We want to poke around there and see where this untained utopian horizon went to. Let’s get ecstatic in China’s Garden of Eden ! Furthermore, South of China, we’d like to explore the northern mountainous part of Vietnam and Laos (indigenous tribes in beautiful landscapes !), travelling westbound into Thailand, before we make a turn in the direction of Bangkok.
And then it’s time for a whole bunch of islands. First, New Zealand. Why ? Well, as you know it’s a top destination in the southern hemisphere for outdoor adventure freaks in a staggering scenery. That’s why ! However, at the moment there’s no ‘final’ plan as it’s too early for us to pinpoint routes among other things. Places we’d like to visit on the North Island are Cape Reinga, Waiheke Island, Wai-O-Tapu at Rotorua, Lake Taupo and the National Park of Tongariro. The provisional agenda for the South Island looks like a visit to the National Park dedicated to Abel Tasman, the survival of the Marlborough Wine Festival, of course a serious work-out in the Southern Alps (Milford Sound), exploration of the city of Queenstown and the city and the lake of Te Anau, the Franz Josef glacier and who knows ending up in Bluff. If not cycling we’re gonna try to imitate the spirit from the Endless Summer surf movie, perhaps some wine tasting or hot spring stopovers. High on the bucket list are also encounters with albatrosses and pinguins !!
The Return to Society: Hawaii ! These last groups of islands will be our stepping stone back to civilization. We could not find a better transition between our biking cycles and the working society. We’ll tell you which of the seven islands, Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Hawaii, Molokai, Lanai, and Niihau (try to pronounce them all asap), will match best with our mood at that time !