Our friends Trevor & Simone are about to leave for a 3-month bike tour. They’ll be flying to Jordan and cycling back to the Netherlands.
The last few days before a big bike trip can be pretty crazy, with so many things to do, but when we entered Trevor & Simone’s flat, we were greeted by an impressively organized to-do list. It has 3 columns: Backlog, Doing and Done.
After admiring their list, we asked them to take a picture and explain the logic behind it.
The list is actually based somewhat on Trevor’s experience in IT and the task board used in the Scrum method of project management. Trevor explained to us a bit more about how the list works:
We started with a brainstorming session of everyone on the trip (in this case just the two of us) and used the collective wisdom to write a few words describing each task on a sticky note. We then put all the notes on the wall, discussed them, eliminated duplicates and made an initial priority list with the most important or useful tasks at the top of the list.
Items to focus on are those that absolutely must be done like fixing the bike, visas, vaccinations, tickets and so on. Yes, it is possible to cycle without a blog or Twitter account…
Once you have the tasks prioritized, put them into the ‘Backlog’ column. Don’t be scared. It’s not as bad as it looks.
The theory is you take the most important item from ‘Backlog’. Move it to ‘Doing’ while you work on it. When it’s done, move it to the right column. Rinse and repeat.
When you start itemising things like this, the number of small but time consuming tasks becomes a bit intimidating. The nice thing is that progress is easy to see. Everyone can see what is being done at the moment and there is less chance of forgetting something.
We like this idea as a simple way of keeping things organized in those chaotic few days before a big bike tour. It’s similar to our method, except ours is written on a white board (and therefore it’s not quite as easy to reorder items or move them from one column to another).
How about you? Leave a comment below and tell us how you make sure everything gets done before you go on a tour.
17th April 2011 at 3:04 pm #
This is such a great idea. Working in IT myself, I can’t believe I haven’t thought of using this method before for cycle touring/planning. And this advice comes just in the nick of time – thank you!!!
17th April 2011 at 6:17 pm #
I see brewing beer in to doing list, but don’t see drink beer in the backlog, who’s going to sacrifice themselves and do the dirty deed:)
19th April 2011 at 7:33 pm #
Actually, it wasn’t so much brewing the beer as bottling it that needed to be done. Finally completed that task on the afternoon before we left. The plan is that it will be ready to drink by the time we get back.
18th April 2011 at 8:52 pm #
would be very interested to speak with your friends about their plans as I am currently in Egypt and will be cycling through the Sinai to Jordan in the next two weeks and had planned to cycle through syria and lebanon before heading further eastward but the “feeling” on the ground here is that Syria is pretty unstable (and with no apparent resolution to the kidnapping of the 7 estonian cyclists last month). would be keen to know their thoughts on this.
18th April 2011 at 9:01 pm #
Hi Sam, they’ve just flown out to Jordan today. Your best bet is to try and message them via Twitter: @togetherbybike
I think they’re going to play it by ear, and take a bus through Syria if necessary.
19th April 2011 at 7:40 pm #
as Friedel says, contact us via Twitter if you need a direct update.
Currently we are in Amman and spoke to someone this morning that had been working in Syria until very recently. She says that provided we avoid the known hot-spots and stay away from the demonstrations then life is pretty much normal and the Syrian people are as welcoming and friendly as ever.
This seems to be the general consensus from everyone that we have spoken to. I suggest carrying on with your trip as planned and ask the locals when you get to Amman. If worst comes to worst you can always fly or bus your way to Turkey.
We’ll post here and on Twitter whenever we have some concrete news.
Good luck with your trip!
19th April 2011 at 8:23 pm #
HI T and S,
Thanks for your reply. We will certainly continue our ride up to Amman and think we will probably continue on through Syria, if not by bike then by bus. These are interesting days but we too have received similar advice from people in Syria that if you stay away from the troublesome spots, it should be ok.
Good luck, safe travels and enjoy the ride. I take it your bikes arrived in one piece?
19th April 2011 at 10:14 pm #
yes our bikes arrived in perfect condition. I was impressed – no sign whatsoever that they had been even slightly squashed. We flew with Royal Jordanian and I’d certainly recommend them.
We got through immigration and customs at Amman very quickly with only a couple of bemused glances at the huge bike-boxes we had with us.
All-in-all it’s been a great experience so far. The interesting part starts soon when we get on the bikes and head North.
Stay in touch!
19th April 2011 at 10:53 pm #
ps. I meant to say, please keep us posted on how you get on with in Syria, as it would be really helpful to know. cheers sam
21st April 2011 at 7:32 pm #
the border crossing was quick and painless, albeit rather expensive. $US100 for an Australian passport holder! ($34 for NL)
We have been restricted to the main highway for cycling so get used to breathing diesel fumes and the constant klaxons from nearly every vehicle that goes by.
The people have been extremely friendly but also gave us lots of warnings about where to stay away from. Best bet for you is just to ask around as you go through.
Currently in Dam, deciding the best way North. We really do *not* want to spend a further four days breathing diesel on the highway, plus of course there it’s the part next to Lebanon. We may look at the train, truck or a minibus to take us past the problem areas.
29th April 2011 at 7:57 pm #
I’m sure you have seen & read the news. All we can advise is to stay away from any demonstrations or crowds and seriously consider taking a train through the country. The ‘slow’ train from Damascus will take bikes in the baggage car although in our case one of them ended up stored in the toilet… 🙂
Currently one of the border crossings with Jordan (Deraa) is closed but as far as we know the ones with Turkey are open. Get to Aleppo and then cycle out via Bab al Hawa is our advice. It’s easy to get to Kirikhan (TR) in a day from Aleppo. There is a reasonable hotel there opposite the hospital.
Good luck and let us know how you go!
30th April 2011 at 7:54 am #
Hi S & T,
Thanks so much for the info. You have been very kind and helpful. We are still in Egypt but hopefully entering Jordan from the south tomorrow. We will trundle our way to Amman over the next week or so and then re-assess the situation from there. We do not have a Syrian visa at present, because they do not issue outside home countries and it would have expired if we got it before we left so we will have to try on the border. (I am told it is generally possible). This is a further complication but we will see what happens.
Thanks again and enjoy the quieter part of your journey!
1st May 2011 at 6:02 pm #
We also didn’t have a visa before crossing the border and crossed without difficulties. In fact we have not heard of anyone getting turned back so it should be OK. There’s only one way to find out. 🙂
BTW: Train is probably cheaper than bus – that’s what we found anyway.
Cheers, T & S
19th July 2011 at 10:16 pm #
Thinking if you were planning from a distance or want something a bit more techie, http://www.wallwisher.com would work well.
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