Round-the-world bicycle race begins tomorrow

The World Cycling Racing Grand Tour, the first round-the-world bike competition, gets underway tomorrow. From Greenwich Park in London, ten competitors have signed up for the event which will send them on a month’s long odyssey that will cover more than 18,000 miles and span multiple continents — just before returning to where they started in time for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

The competitors in the event are given quite a bit of leeway in terms of determining their route and strategy for the race. They are required to cover a minimum of 18,000 miles, and GPS devices will be used to track their progress and ensure that they are adhering to that rule. But they can cover that mileage on a route of their own choosing, and can even decide if they prefer to pedal east or west along the way. Additionally, they must also visit antipodal points on the planet – which is to say, two points that are on the opposite side of the globe from one another. They are also allowed to use scheduled public transportation to cross impassable barriers, which simply means they can use ferries or aircraft to get across large bodies of water.

The current record for a circumnavigation of the planet by bike is held by Brit Alan Bate, who managed to accomplish that feat in just 96 days, 10 hours, and 33 minutes. In order to beat that record, one of the riders will have to average more than 190 miles per day. That will be a challenging and grueling pace for any rider to maintain throughout an event that if five times longer than the Tour de France.

Once the race starts, we’ll be able to follow the progress of the riders on the WCR website and track the routes they take around the globe. It should be interesting to see which way they elect to go and how long it takes for them to get back to London.

[Photo credit: Douglas Whitehead]

Round the world trips for every budget

For many people, booking a round the world trip is a distant fantasy, up there with “win a Grammy” and “marry Ryan Gosling“. But as most seasoned travelers know, there isn’t just one way to travel, and global adventures can be had at multiple budgets.

Our friends over at BootsnAll recently profiled 11 travel bloggers to uncover the real costs of round the world trips, getting them to spill the beans on itineraries, expenses, and travel tips.

On the low end of the per diem spectrum were Warren and Betsy, a married couple in their 40s who spent $34 per person per day on their round the world trip. They traveled through 11 countries in South America, Western Europe, and Thailand for 396 days, spending a grand total of $28,826. The couple stretched their dollar by using frequent flier miles to book tickets, and by taking a boat from South America to England. Their budgeting advice? “Take 2-3 minutes each day to track your expenses for the day. It will help you to know how much you are spending, but more importantly what you have left.”

Justin Troupe and his wife were a little less cautious about their spending, burning through $116 per person per day on their round the world trip through Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean. The 150-day, 24-country adventure cost a total of $35,000. Their speed of travel was admittedly one reason for the high cost. Justin advises, “Slow the pace down, my trip was quite expensive because we did 26 countries in 4 months. It was expensive if you look at the cost per day, but not it you look at it from a per country point of view. $30,000 divided by 26 countries works out to $1250 per country, which is not bad.”

He continues: “The craziest part of Round the World Travel is that so many people think it is out of reach for them. Yet people waste money constantly on things that don’t make them happy. In life, you can buy things or you can buy experiences. I have found that experiences make me much happier. For the cost of a used car, you can actually go see the world. All it takes is the courage to dream big and then set goals and make it happen.”

With a little bit of planning, there’s no reason you can’t embark on your own round the world trip. You’re on your own with the Grammy and Ryan.

[via BootsnAll; flickr image via Steve Cadman]

Airbnb launches sublets

Airbnb, the company that provides a peer-to-peer accommodations marketplace, announced today that it will launch sublets. Currently, Airbnb offers only nightly or weekly bookings, but the new sublets category will enable travelers to book a home, apartment, houseboat, and scores of other types of lodging for a month – or months – at a time.

As Airbnb notes in its announcement, sublet rentals are convenient for students needing a place for a semester and business travelers on extended work assignments. But think, too, about the enormous potential sublets will have amongst the growing segment of round-the-world travelers or even families who want to take a long summer vacation. Subletting someone else’s home or staying for a month in a well-appointed Bed and Breakfast sounds far more appealing than booking at cookie-cutter extended-stay hotels.

Airbnb already has thousands of listings in its sublets category, from Portland, Oregon, to Paris, to Bangkok, and a quick search got me thinking: maybe I should list my home on AirBnB and go south for the winter.

[Photo courtesy Airbnb]

VIDEO: Many steps around the world

A new video by Japanese filmmaker Takayuki Akachi shows people taking steps all around the world. Sounds simplistic, because it is, but the video shows a beautiful slice-of-life from around the globe. His concept is described as “collecting the steps from all over the world and playing a music with the steps.” The artist specializes in a “lone backpacker” style of filming that allows him to travel without a film crew. This isn’t his first round-the-world video effort: last year he made the stop-motion Traveling Denim, documenting a pair of jeans over two years and 50 countries. Check out all of his videos on Vimeo.

Music by Dulo, video sponsored by Onitsuka Tiger sneakers. MANY STEPS from Takayuki Akachi on Vimeo.

Chinese artist creates sculptures from suitcases

Ever packed so much in your suitcase that it felt like you were carrying around a whole city? Apparently you’re not the only one. Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen had a similar feeling during her recent travels and decided to turn it into art. Xiuzhen has recently been using suitcases and discarded travel clothing to recreate miniature model cities in a project she calls “Portable Cities.”

The idea for Portable Cities got its start when the artist was waiting at the airport baggage carousel for her luggage. Xiuzhen began thinking about how we carry our homes around with us when we travel; the natural extension of that thought was to think about suitcases as the symbolic “home” of the global traveler. Ever since her revelation, Xiuzhen has been recreating intricate sculptures of her favorite cities like Seattle, Berlin, Vancouver and Beijing using pieces of random travel clothing as her medium.

For a generation of travelers groomed on round the world trips, AirBnB and Technomadic lifestyles, Xiuzhen’s art makes perfect sense. What is a home when you’re constantly packing your life into a suitcase? Is it a physical place? Or simply a state of mind?

[Photo via DesignBoom]

[Thanks Liz!]