Jake Jones and Mara Pattison-Sowden are leaving their journalism jobs at The Observer for a 12-month cycling tour around Asia and Europe.
Jake Jones and Mara Pattison-Sowden are leaving their journalism jobs at The Observer for a 12-month cycling tour around Asia and Europe. Mike Richards

Observer journos hit the road for year-long cycling trek

GLADSTONE. Beautiful. Intelligent. Hardworking. You are many things to us and we'll miss you.

But Gladstone has also been an inspiration for us.

For a start, this man from Wollongong and this woman from Melbourne would have never met. Now we're almost inseparable.

We bought bikes - thank you to Matt Jenkin at M1 for your help, advice and support - and began riding, tracking our paces across town.

From Toolooa St to Kirkwood Rd, Glenlyon to Spinnaker Park, Red Rover to Dawson Hwy - we cycled.

We weren't as fast as the hardcore Lycra cyclists, but the point is we gave it a shot.

Our friends watched our rides on Strava and we strove to beat those the next time we went out.

When 30km became easy, we started planning. We'd both had a future plan - it's not a dream, because we're making it happen - to cycle across South East Asia.

We decided on six months in Asia, six months in Europe. We handed in our notice.

We bought pannier bags. A tent. A lightweight camp stove. We did a test run with equipment in north Queensland during August.

While the grey nomads next to us enjoyed a laugh as we attempted to light the stove (we had to borrow their lighter) and pitch a tent in the dark (they insisted we use their mallet) we enjoyed our chicken pasta dish and the beginning of a nomadic life.

On September 28, we fly to Phuket, Thailand, where we'll enjoy a hard-earned break before beginning the 880km trek to Bangkok.

From there we'll head into Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam before catching the Trans-Siberian Railway through Russia and then across Europe.

Along the way we hope to meet friends, get fit and have fun wherever our pedalling - and hard-saved pennies - will take us.

Jake and Mara's website will be up and running by the end of the month. You can join their adventures at www.pedallingpilgrims.com.