I’m on the train en route home after Christmas with my family and thought I would use the time to pull the strands of my preparation for my trip to Puglia in the summer together. Let’s kick off with the route. That is more or less in place: National Cycle Network routes 4 and 1 from Reading to Dover via London, follow the canals to Brussels and then use the route maps supplied by Jean-Marie Vion all the way to the Great St Bernard’s pass. That’s where he and his cycling mates finished but I will of course continue south following the Pilgrim Cycle Route number 3 of the Italian Cycle Network. That takes me all the way to Brindisi. So that’s the route. Other people: never really thought that anyone would be interested in what I am planning but how wrong could I have been? Ian Hendry in Adelaide is cycling from London to Rome a few weeks before me and I hope to meet up with him when he arrives in the UK. It will be interesting to compare plans and then maintain contact as he cycles ahead of me. Jonathon Scott – the other Australian – is doing Rome – London earlier in the year. Again, it would be interesting to meet up with him when he arrives in London to use him as a source of advice and guidance, albeit in reverse! It would be interesting to have a beer with the aforementioned Jean-Marie Vion in Brussels. He sounds like an experienced cyclist and come that point in the journey, I may need some advice and guidance. Brussels is also, of course the point at which I will hopefully be joined by Richard Burton (if he has managed to do the Essex to Belgium bit earlier in the year otherwise he may join me earlier). Richard is able to stay with me for about a week to ten days so I imagine that will mean somewhere between Strasbourg and Switzerland. I have wondered whether contacting either Claus, my friend in Stuttgart or / and Richard Laid, a teacher in Reading who I haven’t seen for a while but who has a flat in the Alps where he spends his summers (or did the last time I spoke to him). It is further to the west than my route over the mountains but he is a keen cyclist and if he is in the area he may want to join me for a few days. Can’t imagine Claus will be up for cycling but he and his new wife may fancy meeting up on one of my rest days. Once into Italy I have no firm contacts until south of Rome where Massimo and his friends are expecting me. Not sure what that will entail! Finally, a warm welcome is guaranteed in Brindisi by Basil and Liz. Equipment wise, I imagine that a new bike is on the cards. That Bianchi might just be too tempting and then there is the tent. I will have to revisit all my research prior to last summer’s trip before I decided that I would stay in hostels instead. So that is a rough summary of my planning so far. Like all good plans, it will of course change… Roll on 2010!