It was in the summer of 96 that Odyssey 2000 first came to my attention, advertised in the American "Adventure Cycling". I sent for details more out of curiosity and when I saw the cost and duration I have to admit it went into the waste paper bin. Two days and two sleepless nights later I took it out, and thought to myself I will be 68 years young in the Millennium, if I don't do this I may live to regret it, plus the fact that it will take me to Countries I would not venture into on my own.
So what exactly is Odyssey 2000 ? as you will have gathered from the heading it is in fact a World Tour starting in Los Angeles on 1st January next and returning to LA 366 days and 20,000 miles later, the mind boggles at the sheer logistics of such a massive tour with a budget of around $7 million and 6 years in the planning. The Seattle based organisers are already promoting this as a regular tour every 3 years.
For the benefit of folks who are not familiar with my background or lifestyle I suppose I could be classified as a born again cyclist. Having given up a 14 year relationship with my bike back in the sixties with family and business responsibilities staring me in the face, I renewed that relationship 5 years ago following the death of my wife just 4 months after retiring.
Since then I have undertaken tours - expeditions to Israel, Canada, 3 trips to America ( including one C to C ), New Zealand, Australia, France, Holland, and Spain. The main attractions of this tour for me, was the combination of travel, cycling; :and people.
The advice of friends outside the family, including my Doctor was "go for it" so I sent off the $500 non-refundable registration fee and broke the news to my family.
At the time of my registration I had no idea that there would be around 240 registered cyclists from 11 Countries taking part and only 2 from the UK (both CTC members). Or that there would be overnight stops in Canterbury, London, Winchester, Bath and Cardiff half way around.
The name of the organising Company Tim Kneeland & Associates of Seattle was not familiar to me so enquiries were made, including a letter for information in the CT&C. Pleased to say I had a very favourable response from both British and American cyclists who had been on Tours with the company.
The provisional Itinerary which is subject to minor changes with political and climatic uncertainties around the World will cover 45 Countries and 6 continents. We will average just under 80 miles per day with approx 2 rest days per week, this will be extended in locations of special interest ie Costa Rica, Cape Town, Rome, Barcelona, Washington DC, New York, Quebec, Paris, Greenwich, St Petersburg, Sydney (in time for the Olympic Games) Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hawaii (FOR XMAS 2000) So at just under 20.000 miles this is still 5000 less than the circumference of the Globe. That would have meant another 18 miles a day, which the organisers felt might put some folk off.?
Included in the hefty price of this tour will be the cost of two meals per day, plus all lodging and overnight stops (60% camping), approx 12 support vehicles. These will include lockers for every riders personal gear, mobile showers and toilets, mechanics, a mobile bike shop with all anticipated spares, catering and medical staff. Transportation between countries will be covered by 21 flights, 3 train, and 10 boat trips. A detailed route guide will be issued to all riders on a daily basis. The organisers have covered the World numerous times in the last 5 years mapping out the route which is expected to provide the best weather and scenery the World has to offer. During November every rider will receive an individually made, aluminium, 27 speed, top of the range touring cycle produced by the Raleigh USA cycle Company. The reason is to standardise the equipment to reduce maintenance, and problems in obtaining spares in remote parts of the World. The bikes will come minus the most intimate parts for any cyclists i.e. the saddle and peddles.
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