The Trans-Oceania Cycling Expedition is over
Once a long ago time ago – before our youngest participant on the Trans-Oceania trip was even born, the idea of cycling from Cairo to Cape Town was born. It took a few years but in January of 2003 the thought was converted from a concept into a bunch of cyclists standing in front of the Pyramids of Giza and embarking on a four months trip across Africa.
Today, almost 12 years later (two weeks short of that day in 2003), another group of cyclists are celebrating another great achievement – the completion of the first ever Trans-Oceana cycling trip from Medan, Sumatra to the iconic Opera House in Sydney, Australia. The idea of crossing one continent on a bike has grown into something much bigger, something we call the 7Epics – that is 7 long distance cycling tours each with its own challenge and appeal.
The Trans –Oceania is the 7th of the 7Epics tours – the last one on our list that we have conceived and run, and like the previous ones it certainly lived up to the word Epic. Right from the first day we were challenged by the hills of Sumatra, only to raise the intensity with the climbs on the roads from one volcano to the next in Java. We cycled from west to east, with no respite, through the subsequent islands of Bali, Lombok, Flores and Timor.
Fortunately, each crazy climb was compensated by magnificent scenery, the warm hospitality of Indonesia and just plain adventure. It was as tough of a ride as it was rewarding.
After two months of Indonesia we flew to Darwin in Australia, to take on a new challenge – the crossing of the Australian Outback on the Stuart Highway. The Australians we came across thought we were nuts. But we faced the obstacles, the heat, the winds, and the harsh environment and made it to the southern coast thinking that the hard part was over. But the gods of cycling had other ideas and during our next few weeks we were faced with unusually strong winds (not to mention the flies) that almost always challenged the riders.
Not only the winds were a challenge – but considering the Australian reputation for sun and heat, at least at this time of the season, neither the heat nor the sun wanted to make much of an appearance. Nevertheless this hardy bunch of cyclists long time ago adopted the mantra “it is what it is”, and cycled on and on. In the process they managed to have a great time, establish relationships that will last a lifetime, and got to know some beautiful parts of the world.
And now comes the time to reflect on what we have done, to return home to our loved ones, to look at our pictures and videos and ask did I really climb that volcano, was I really able to cross Indonesia on a bike, did I really cycle in 45C heat day after day, am I really still capable of doing such things at this stage of my life? But whatever else we will think about the Trans-Oceania cycling tour, one thing is for sure; those who dare know the rewards.