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.