Thursday, 28 June 2018

Preparation is the Key to Success

Preparation is Key to Success

Having now proved to myself that the S40 is indeed a suitable long distance beast, I’ve been setting about proving it again and generally preparing for my summer tour to Scotland, or more precisely the Isle of Islay where there are several excellent distilleries, and then riding back down the West Coast of Scotland, across the border and to my parent’s home where I will have left my car.   It’s going to be a great experience, and a journey of cars, bikes and ferries, more on that later.  Firstly the preparation and planning.  

Since building the S40 I’ve been aiming to get in at least 100km per week, with at least one ride of that being 50km plus.  Including weeks of no cycling or just a couple of snatched one hour rides, I’ve been pretty successful and have about 1500km in total on the S40 since finishing the build in March. 

One of the May bank holidays also saw me take a ride from home near Ely, across to a cycling café near Bury St Edmunds and from there to Cambridge, or at least that was the plan.  I ended up turning right instead of left at the final turn, missed the café by about a mile and ended up stopping at a pub for a pint and a packet of crisps instead.   I’ve also been riding some more routes with COR* value in places, and rough and ready fenland roads in other.
Lesson 1 – route planning is as important as physical preparation
Lesson 2 – beer is a great isotonic drink
Lesson 3 – if you ride in a generally clockwise direction in the UK, on a sunny, cloudless day, you get a very good sunburn, but only down your left hand side.  Cue unexpected stripe.
Lesson 4 – when faced with a slow approach due to rough ground, a 90 degree bend and immediate humpbacked bridge, get off and push.  Failure to do so can bounce you out of your seat and the bike off the vertical. 

All that aside, the progress on the Cruzbike has been at least as good as I hoped, I’ve got the fit dialled in where I want it and it’s riding comfortably.  Since the last audax I’ve added a 12-32 cassette and a ventisit cushion.  The latter needed a tweak to the bar position as the ventisit moved me slightly forward, so boom out by about an inch and bars back towards me a touch to prevent knee strike.  All other systems are GO, with the rest of the bike performing well, including dynamo hub and lights.  I’m now on version 3 of the light mount though, as I wasn’t happy with V1 and V2 failed from fatigue caused by rattling around the Fens.  I feel V4 coming on sometime soon.  

I’ve also changed the chain, surprising how much stretch there was, even with my limited power.  I’m also rebuilding the Giant that donated itself to the S40, and as a result have put the old brakes back on the Giant, with a set of slightly longer drop ones on the S40.  Lastly, remaining adjustment will be to the mudguards, as the chain rubs on one of the stays in certain gear combinations.  Last resort will be to take a dremmel to the stay and rely on the other three and zipties.

 So, the plan
  • Day 1 – Get to Islay – Drive from my parents to Ardrossan on the West Coast, they’ll load me up into their camper van and then spend a couple of days touring themselves.  From Ardrossan, it’s three ferries to Arran, Arran to Mull of Kintyre, Mull of Kintyre to Islay, arriving in time for dinner, I hope
  • Day 2 – Saturday, an easy day I think, with a plan to tourist around Bowmore in the morning, and then head over to Bunnahabhain in the afternoon for a whisky tasting, with a steady ride back to Bowmore.
  • Day 3 – the Ride of the Falling Rain – a planned group ride around the island of about 150km-ish.
  • Day 4 – starting at Audax o’clock back on the ferries to the mainland, that’ll be about 50km and then another 114kmm from Ardrossan to Newton Stewart.  This is really the only pressure day, with ferry timings quite critical to get to the hotel for dinner.  The only really lumpy day as I head over the Galloway Forest
  •  Day 5 – Newton Stewart to Gretna, a fairly flat run along the coast mostly, about 150km, should be a breeze, as long as the wind is in the right direction, or an absolute slog if it’s not.
  •  Day 6 – the shortest day of not much more than 100km, from Gretna back to Kirkby Stephen through the fairly busy city of Carlisle.  A day to take it easy, as although there are a few hills, there’s plenty of time in hand to get back to my parents for a nice evening in the pub.
  • Day 7 – drive back home again.
Total should be about 650km over the 7 days so will be challenging but do-able and with enough time to sightsee on the way for most days
I’m planning on doing it as a credit card tour, i.e. staying in hotels, no camping – maybe next time if I don’t put myself off!   Kit list is therefore minimalist, but adequate would be how I’d describe it, but complicated of course by the need to carry my various spares for the insulin pump and blood glucose testing, plus enough carbs for emergencies as well as my usual ongoing top up.

Lesson number 5 – stick to the solid bars and gels. I tried liquid carbs yesterday for the first time in about a year and found my blood glucose all over the place and legs lacking oomph. Time to find a home for the unused sachets I have. 

A good note here - NEVER, and I mean NEVER make a change to nutrition on the day of a big event.  ALWAYS try things out with plenty of time to see if they work or not.

So, kit list for the tour is based around three main things
1)     Minimal clothing, two changes of cycling kit, one being worn and then washed, to dry ready for the next day plus one; lightweight change of clothes for the evening, walking trousers that convert to shorts, tshirts etc
2)     An Audax sparing philosophy, enough to get me to the hotel or an LBS coupled with a robust bike to start with (no 16 spoke racing wheels with carbon spokes for me!)
3)     GPS, backed by physical maps.  Mostly following NCN routes which are well signposted generally, so ease of routefinding should not be a significant issue.  I’ll leave major route planning to another time
4)     A bit of inevitable electronica to record it all

Here’s the list in full, all to be packed into my Carradice rack pack with little drop down panniers and my small radical banana bags.  I have pretty much all of it now and test packing has started – an essential part of the prep (see earlier audax report re trying to fit a bike in the car for the first time!)

1) Tools, spares equipment
2) riding gear (have all already)
3) Evening gear
4) Nutrition and health
Multi tool
Cycling jerseys x 2
convertible trousers
Insulin and cannulae
small flat spanner - pressed metal
Baselayers x 2 - LS
next day's baselayer
2 tubes hydration tabs
2 x tubes
MTB Shorts x 2
socks x 2
2 x 750ml bottles
1 x tyre
Lycra undershorts (no pads) x 2
pants x 2
water bladder
tyre boot material
Arm warmers
Light merino jumper?
Selection bars, nuts, dates plus buy en-route
co2 inflator + 3 cartridges
leg warmers
altra sampsons – very lightweight running shoes
Gels x 2 per day
emergency spoke
Socks 2 x
chain links
quick link
gloves - fingerless plus long fingered summer gloves
glueless patches
chain lube
cable ties assorted
wear set 1
spare brake cable (long)
Evening - wash set  1
spare gear cable
next day wear set 2
rear mech hangar
evening wash set 2
wire - various lenths and diameters
wear set 1
baby wipes
first aid
clothes washing soap
Leatherman multi tool
charger + cables
Garmin 800
Power bank
hard-copy map

And of course, as important as training is the rest – something I learned to great effect during my ultramarathon running days is the use of the taper.  As I write this, D-Day is Thurs 2nd August to drive up to Cumbria.  That gives me about 5 weeks to go with a general plan of

- Week 1 – multiple 50km rides, squeezed in around work, taget 200km week
- Week 2 – away on business, train accordingly, maybe a single 60km ride and a couple of shorties
- Week 3 – home again, practice packing and short laden rides
- Week 4 – away all week, rest, yoga, maybe a short run or two with a 50km at the weekend
- Week 5 – home, final kit checks, final packing, buy any last minute additions, a couple of short rides only
- Week 6 – Start doing it, legs nicely rested.

That’s about enough of it for now, will report back again as I get a bit nearer the time.

Next: some photos from the new camera I treated myself to for the trip

 COR – Comedy off road – An audax term for taking a normal road-going bike down inappropriate tracks, bridleways etc

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog! Please slot in some pictures whenever you can.