Mapping the Way

Hong Kong:   There are a million possible ways to get from Lisbon to Istanbul.  I just need one. 

Yesterday I spent nearly the whole day online researching the my way to Istanbul.  I’m trying to balance freedom, flexibility, and a desire to ‘follow my nose’ and improvise, with having some semblance of a plan.   It’s a challenging but fun balance.

In early April I bought a big road map of Europe and created a theoretical route for my journey from Lisbon to Istanbul.   I met with other cyclists in Hong Kong who have “done Europe,” and connected with more cyclists on-line.  

I have mapped out a plan to Munich, with 100% of the journey up to Geneva through unfamiliar territory, and keeping the hot summer weather in mind.   That’s why I opted for northern Spain rather than the south.  I then calculated distances and broke down the route to Munich into eight stages [see:  Trans Europa 2011 Route page], passing through places that I specifically want to visit, including Marvao in Portugal,  San Sebastian in Spain and the Bordeaux region of France.

My task this week is to get specific and develop a daily plan for the first stage, considering distances, terrain and most importantly, the availability of accommodations at the end of each day.   In this process Mapquest has become my new BFF, and I have generated daily route sheets using Mapquest.   If I choose to deviate, I can.  And likely will.  This is the daily route plan I devised on Mapquest for Stage 1, from Lisbon to Salamanca, Spain:-

Stage     Mapquest KM Mapquest  Total KM Cume Cume Date Arrived
        Cume KM 30% margin KM Days  
  Lisbon to:              
1 Santarem    78 78 101.4 101.4 1 5-Jun
  Ponte de Sor   71 149 92.3 193.7 2 6-Jun
  Marvao   74 223 96.2 289.9 3 7-Jun
  Alcantara Spain   79 302 102.7 392.6 4 8-Jun
  Ciudad-Rodrigo   123 425 159.9 552.5 5 9-Jun
  Salamanca    97 522 126.1 678.6 6 10-Jun


Once I get onto the road and into rural Europe I may not need such detailed daily planning.   And if I can’t find decent wifi then I won’t even have a choice about whether to plan or not to.  In the end I may ignore all these plans, anyway.   But when I start pedaling at the crack of dawn on Sunday June 5 (a time specifically chosen to avoid traffic as I navigate my exit from Lisbon) at least I have a sense for which way I should head.  To create maximum flexibility, I also do not intend to prebook hotels.   Having said that, for my first night on the road, in Santarem, Portugal, I may book a room in advance just to reduce the variables that day.

As the great American philosopher, Jon Bon Jovi, says:  “Map out your future — but do it in pencil.  The road ahead is as long as you make it.  Make it worth the trip.”


About Todd

Around-the-world cycling, one continent at a time
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4 Responses to Mapping the Way

  1. Exciting moments – the mapping of the trip!
    When all is possibility!

    You are taking on so many challenges, I just can’t imagine.

    One question – what languages do you speak?
    Or will you get by with just a warm smile?


    • Todd says:

      Thanks Helen. Yes, this is the exciting part. I am language-deficient. My English is pretty good, but my French and German is so-so, especially the verbal skills. I’m winging it and smiling the whole way.

  2. Dan Koch says:

    Wow Todd!!! What an exciting adventure. I’ll bet its fun just exploring the maps. I have found that the anticipation and planning for a big adventure is almost as exciting as the actual undertaking. Have fun and be safe!! I believe you’re doing Colorado in early July — see you then.

    • Todd says:

      Thanks Dan. Unfortunately, I won’t make it to CO for the reunion ride. I’ll be somewhere close to the Alps as you guys tackle the Rockies. I am very much looking forward to the NEXT reunion ride. Have dun on CRR-ABB. Todd.

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