The last time I counted down months was a year ago, when we were traveling the world. A year ago today, we were en route to Valparaíso in Chile (which is what you see in the picture above), crossing the Andes and even catching a glimpse of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. It was one of the last places we visited in South America, before flying to the Cook Islands and ultimately New Zealand where I celebrated my birthday on the beach, flying kites, eating fresh strawberries and drinking excellent wine on a picnic blanket. It was perfect.

This year, I’m sure the weather for my birthday in a few weeks will be as dreary as ever, and there will be no beach in sight. I’ve been in serious weather denial these days. Yesterday I dragged myself out of bed early in the morning to go for a 2 hour cycle before spending the day baking, winning 2nd place at our stable’s “tournament” and carving pumpkins. It was cold, it was raining, and I looked like I had done downhill afterwards. But what can you do? When the weather’s bad all days, you still need to go out and train. It takes some determination, but I’m learning that I actually HAVE the determination to do it.

Now I’m counting down months again. On November 1st, I was very aware of the fact that I am only four months away from flying to London with all my kit and setting off into the unknown.
People around me are starting to understand that I’m actually doing it and that it isn’t some very distant plan. I’ve been asked about my route plenty of times and while I’m still working on the details and the individual days, I do have a plan in place, aided by the gigantic map of the world that we happen to have hanging on the wall here anyway. It is laminated, so it is perfect for drawing routes and trying out stuff.

Since I’m going low-budget, I have to maximize the time I get out of each continent. I won’t have enough cash to fly to South America or stop over at some fun island (I’d love to add the 30km of Rarotonga..). Going with the seasons I will be going eastward.

Leg 1: London-Istanbul via Eastern Europe
Leg 2: Mumbai-Calcutta
Leg 3: Bangkok-Singapore
Leg 4: Perth-Brisbane
Leg 5: Dunedin-Auckland
Leg 6: Vancouver-Boston via Denver, Chicago and Charleston
Leg 7: Lisbon/Porto (depends on flights)-London

So, pretty standard. As a woman I won’t be going through the Middle East, and I don’t feel like crossing Kazachstan or China with a road bike and limited options for storing food and water. In the US, I’ll try to cover some new ground by going with the north route after cycling down to Arizona and New Mexico. There are only a few states left that I haven’t been to and this is a good opportunity to see them. Obviously I want to visit my Colorado friends, too, if only for a night. And I’ve been dying to go back to Charleston, South Carolina ever since I first visited there in January 2010. I already know where I’ll eat at and pack sandwiches from – five loaves café!

Tomorrow I’m packing up Blitzi and taking him a couple hundred kilometers north, from where I’ll cycle to Hamburg. The weather forecast says rain, rain and wind, good thing I have some waterproofs…