Friday, 13 July 2018

So you wanted pictures

Let’s start with the ongoing last month preparations for the tour.

This week was supposed to be a week of reasonable training, and getting to grips with the packing, ahead of next week being one of 5 days away from home.  Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way, and as they say, flexibility is the key. 

The original plan was
  • This week, at home, short training rides up to 2 hours, but with some loading
  • Next week, take my yoga mat and running shoes to Aberdeen and a couple of short weekend rides
  • Following week, at home, ease off, focus on kit and packing, bike handling loaded.
  • Tour

  • This week “can you do a short job for me, go and visit a ship”.  Well it turns out ships move, who’d’a thunk it eh? This morphed from fly to Rotterdam on Tuesday, back Wednesday to, “the ship’s going to be late to Rotterdam, can you do the weekend?” NO!, to “we have another ship heading for Marseilles, probably arriving Wednesday, to fly to Marseille on Tuesday, hang around Wednesday morning because the ship is delayed, peruse various options and then finally, take a launch out to the ship at anchor Wednesday afternoon, back to Marseilles on Thursday, overnight and back home Friday.  At least I had my yoga mat with me and a new first of floating yoga! 
  • Next week has morphed from 5 days away to “Oh f&@k there’s an airport strike on Friday”, cue rev 4 of the audit plan and a return on Thursday.  In my view that makes Friday MINE, all MINE, and I intend to take an early, heat avoiding ride.
  • Week after that, normal so far!.
This is where I stayed overnight on Wednesday, with a very welcoming and accommodating crew, all Indian so great food as well, if just on my limit for chilli

The yoga was very welcome, I sometimes disregard that part of my overall fitness, and then as soon as I pick it up again regret having done so.  Still, two yoga sessions this week will have done a power of good.

Moving on to the kit for the tour.  First we have the “living luggage” clothes, snacks etc and the “tour luggage” maps, hotel bookings and so on.  In terms of what you are seeing here – one change of cycling gear, overnight gear, minimal washing kit, maps, snacks, hydration tablets and so on, and the banana bags to pack into.  Everything will be sub-packed into plastic bags or boxes to keep it dry just in case – all those bags my wife criticises me for saving!  What’s missing from here is my electronics as that stuff is used all the time when I travel and at home.  I’m hoping to be able to attach my camera case to the boom, dangling in the space between the headset and the front wheel. 

Note also the general first aid kit with the usual plasters, larger dressings for anything a bit more serious, water purification tablets, sudocrem for nose and ear sunblock and the, er, ahem! nether regions should there be any chafing.

I plan to navigate with the GPS, having spent the last month to 6 weeks riding without using the HRM, it’s giving pretty good battery life.  I will ALWAYS carry a paper map as backup, luckily (actually by design) there is a single NCN map that covers my entire route except the islands, in case of either GPS conflict, brain fart, or satellites falling from the sky.

Then we have the emergency kit I take on audax with me, you’ll note the repurposed airline business class amenity bags – every job should have at least a few perks surely?
  • Puncture repair kit, two tubes, CO2 cartridges, will be supplemented with a spare tyre as well
  • General spares including chain links, cleat bolts, zip ties, multi-tool, emergency spoke etc, with the smallest of small items in the tin.  The tin is labelled of course, or I’ll forget anything that went in there
  • Some other general bike related things such as the bottle of chain lube will also go in there of course
  • A few strategic spare gels – these are not general consumption. As a T1 diabetic, a “bonk” is not simply inconvenient, but potentially life threatening.  I have enough experience over the last 5 years of the condition to generally manage blood sugar above the critical 4.0, but there are occasional surprises.

This stuff generally lives in the rack pack, which as you can see also has little drop down panniers.  With my pretty light travelling, I’ll hopefully be able to fit everything in there, but will I have room for  a couple of bottles of single malt whisky?  Who knows, perhaps the distillery will do mail order?  

The top of this expands to fit in perhaps a bit of lunch, a bottle of beer or so, and still leaves room behind for my water bladder clipped to the headrest.  I may pack the electronics in a padded box in here as well, as this seems the most secure location in the (touch wood) hopefully unlikely event of an “off”.

Finally, the stem bag, sufficient for on the road snacks between “controls”.

So there are a few photos for you, plus here, another one I took this week in Marseille, walking on a piece of scrubby undeveloped land behind the hotel which serves as a local nature reserve.  My first ever praying mantis.  He (it?) was so well camouflaged I nearly stepped on it and only noticed, when it moved.


How cool is that?
plus the only bit of colour around in a single flower

Oh, and a few picture of me on a cruzbike


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