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Route
... that is assuming all goes well, and I resist the temptation to buy a ticket to Thailand and lie on a beach for 8 months... click links below for detailed maps and route.
  • Europe
    April through to the end of May, arriving in Istanbul 7 weeks after leaving London.  Likely cold, damp and rainy for the first few weeks, warming up as I head through Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.  "Warming-up" in more ways than one - I'm hoping that by following the River Danube for most of the Germany & Austria sections, I'll be fit enough to tackle the traumatic mountains that are sure to start in Turkey, building me up for the main show - Central Asia. 
    About 3000km, all on the bike.
     
  • Turkey & Iran  ** Turkey & Caucasus **
    A week or more in Istanbul to see the sights and arrange visas.  Depending on time left may have to take a bus some of the way to Erzurum in eastern Turkey.  Then cycle across the border to Iran.  Meander across to Tabriz and press on to the Caspian coast before heading to Tehran.  Assuming I've managed to get a transit visa for Turkmenistan, I'll use a mixture of bus and bike to get to the border.  Otherwise, horror-of-horrors, I'll have to skip it and somehow get a plane to Bukhara in Uzbekistan.  Some buses (the shame, the shame...), but still mostly on the bike. Between 1750km to 2000km cycling, arriving at the Turkmenistan border end of June.
      ** Change of plan!  As my Iran visa application was denied ("political reasons") I'll now be cycling through Georgia and Azerbaijan, then boarding a ship to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan.  Hoping to see a few mirages on the way to Ashgabat, the capital. **
     
  • Central Asia
    Continuing to follow the route of the ancient Silk Road, through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan - with a possible detour into Tajikstan, Kyrgyzstan and finally Kazakhstan. Rather hoping I can avoid the very height of the summer by completing Uzbekistan mid-July and hitting the coolness of the Kyrgystan mountains.  About 8 weeks, and 3300km of "challenging" cycling, of which possibly up to 500km - depending on the Turkmenistan visa - may be by bus or train. Should arrive at the Chinese border towards the end of August.
     
  • China
    Deserts, mountains, ancient sights - it's all here.  This place is vast - it'll take me the best part of a month just to get through Xinjiang (including the Gobi desert) and pass through the Great Wall, onto China "proper".  Then almost another two months following the silk route to Xi'an and turning off to head towards Shanghai. Oh, how I'll be looking to Shanghai!  Assuming I follow quite a direct route, and don't get lost, around 5500km.
     
  • Japan
    Via Korea. Ideally a boat to Pusan (Korea), and then hop onto another boat to Kyushu, south Japan.  A break at a friend's house in the countryside (at last, someone I know!), and then onto Tokyo.  A mix of ferry and cycling, depending on time left and remaining enthusiasm for hard mountain climbs.  Anything from 500km to 1500km  - but I'll be betting on the former...

    ... Game Over!