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Sunday, 31 January 2016

95 RPM

Im currently sitting on my sofa... its 01:45... and it's also Day 0... D-day...

Ive been up now for around 18 hours having had next to no sleep the entire weekend and Im totally wired

Sentences form in my brain which dont make sense when I utter them aloud.... half thoughts that have fractured in my head floating round...

This day has been over two years in the making. With not much else to do but think as I peddalled from Chicago to L.A.. the seed was sown ... plans have been made.. and now is the time for action.

 Dream... Plan... Do.

Events in my life have conspired in the last few months to feel lost... without direction or purpose.. everything shattered into pieces. A feeling with which I am not comfortable with and that unsettles me further... kinda like a snowball starting at the top of a mountain and gaining momentum as it rolls down the slopes... picking up more disquiet as it goes and hightening the lost feeling.

This is where it stops...

Cycling a challenge like this makes the mind and soul free. The necessity of focusing all energy and attention on the things important to mental and physical survival leaves very little room for anything else. All thinking effort is put into answering questions such as... 'will I get to where I want to be by the end of the day?'  or shall I stop for food now or in 20 miles time? Have I got enough water to last me the day.? Will my legs last the day... or crumble under the pressure of the third 10 mile climb of the morning... and the big unanswered question.. Will I make it to the end?  All important questions to answer. This means that all the other shitty life problems.. big or small just sit floating in the back of the mind... organising themselves... with little or no help ... until they are sorted in alphabetical order and put the right way up (Donna and Simon!!) to be viewed at leisure.

This is why I like cycling long distances in short spaces of time - bike therapy in action!

I also like having a focus in my life... something to work towards...

My friends who know me well would just say its because Im crazy !

Whatever the reason... it has led me here... my sofa.. now 02:18 ... nerves jangling (though that may have been the large amount of caffeine I have consumed this evening)... bike in the box... rest of kit packed (bar the electricals to charge my phone and ipod) and trying to sort out checking in.. photos from the weekend... and other small things .. on a computer that is sooo slow tonight of all nights... that I reckon I could cycle to New Zealand quicker than it is loading my email page.

The Gathering weekend... as always... was a crazy wonderful soul uplifting and emotional few days. And it is here that I want to thank Mike and Jules, James, Smiley, Mark and Craig for providing us with our yearly january blues beater ... all my Alarm friends for their support of the ride and for friendship formed from (not pure innocence this time) a shared love of life and the music of the Alarm ...  and most of all thank the ones who have helped slow the snowball down.

The Gathering is hard to explain to those who have never been....

The conversation goes something like this...

So you are going away for a weekend in N Wales...?


In January....?


To see just one band...?


At this point a somewhat incredulous look passes over their faces and there is a slight shake of the head.. and then as if to clarify...

N Wales in January?

As I reversed my car out of its parking slot... another Gathering done.. (roll on G25).. I put on my ipod, which has been prefilled with songs (have a guess as to which musician features highly) that I will be listening to as I sweat up the mountain passes... the song that came on first was not an Alarm or Mike Peters song... but Louis Armstrong... What a wonderful world. ..  perfect song to describe at that moment how the Gathering had made me feel. Grateful to be part of The Alarm/LHS family and an overwhelming feeling of peace and tranquility.

It didnt last long... another 5 hours on the road ... followed by the sound of me revving up to 95 rpm.....


Enough of the waffle..  I have a plane to catch and a challenge to start!


(30 rpm)

The drive home was a long one... partly because I was crawling along at 60.. fearful of another bike rack road incident which my poor sleep deprived nerves could not have coped with. A short detour to hug my work mother... followed by a hug for my actual mum and dad... followed by a trip to work to hug my other work mother... oh and I forgot the detour to drop my brother off to pick up his van.

So we arrived outside my house faced with a long list of jobs... and it was already 22:30. I got mice out of the freezer to defrost for snake feeding whilst simultaneously starting to haul off my lycra .. worn for bike ride promotional purposes at the Gathering.. (quick question Mike/Jules... am I the only person to have turned up to the Gathering in lycra??).

Balancing on one foot... holding my bike in one hand and mice in the other clearly wasnt going to work and It dawned on me that a more organised approach may be necessary...

We unpacked the car in short order and then Paul made the fatal mistake of lying down on my sofa...
Meanwhile I sorted out repacking my bags with the kit I had been wearing ... exchanging them for my 'off the bike clothes'. Once that had been acomplished... it was time to cross my fingers... find a four leafed clover ...beg the gods of plane baggage to keep my kit safe.. and put my bike in the box.
Being slightly tired by now... I did this in a somewhat arse over tip manner... taking off the front wheel before the pedals (makes it a bit  trickier) .. putting bubble wrap and foam protectors over the vulnerable parts of the bike before ensuring it would fit in the box first. Despite all this kerfuffle.. between us we dissembled the bike (or is it disassembled.. Im not sure) slid it into the box where it sat looking like it was the perfect fit.. and then proceeded to throw in (I mean place with careful precision) the rest of my kit that I was not carrying as handheld. I knew that my seat pack would have to go separately .. but with the bike went my helmet... my bike shoes... the bivvy pole... the frame bag the top tube bags and my shorts that I decided to wear over my cycling shorts (has pockets.. always good.).

Triple check that all the components that I had taken off the bike... and the tools that I had used to do so... were all in the box. Pedals.. seat post and saddle and front wheel skewer were bubble wrapped and taped into the box.. followed by my pedal wrench. Tape the box shut... with as much tape as possible.. write fragile on it enough times that the baggage handlers get that it is fragile and then cross fingers that the bike ends up in the same part of the world at the same time as me... I have no contingency plan!


Check in for the flight on the aforementioned slow as a tortoise computer..  which has very narrowly survived having something thrown at it! Only problem is .. due to my lack of patience (approaching 20 hours up) and my slow computer..  printing the boarding passes was One step farther from home than I could manage and so I gave up that idea and turned to putting up a few photos from the Gathering. ...

MANY expletives later.....

... It was approaching 0300 which meant it was time to wake Paul up (difficult) .. continue to try to be patient with my computer (impossible) and pack my handheld rucksack.
This was accomplished with the minimum of fuss and although I had to leave behind the water bladder... as it was a toss up between that and having a bit of space for food... (I figured I get several hundred separate slaps if I didnt leave room to carry a bit of food)...
Paul eventually dragged himself up and we proceeded to load the van..  with a few checks of passport and money.

80 rpm
It seemed no time at all that I was stepping out the door... suddenly a bag full of nerves... 2 years planning coming to fruition. Given all that had befallen my bike so far (fell off my car onto the M40 for anyone who hadnt read the blog entitled S$#&e.. F*$#.. B*$$#r) ... I think Im going to be a little more nervous until I am reunited with my bike.

Traffic free roads ensured a speedy passage to the airport and a last minute dodging of the height restricted parking meant Paul had to go to the Drop off area instead of short stay parking. So abandoned to negotiate the check in with a very unwieldy trolley after the parting words of "For F$@* sake EAT" (Love ya bro) I made my way through check in over to outsize baggage drop where I watched in horror as the baggage handler proceeded to KICK.... YES KICK my bike onto the conveyor belt! You should have seen the expression on my face!!
He certainly did.. because he told me that I had seen nothing. Protesting loudly that I had indeed seen something (with a smile and a dagger at the ready) , he said if I had any complaints to put them in his colleagues name๐Ÿ˜€  I think he was joking and it was actually all in good humour though I have visions of broken spokes and mech hanger issues. He wished me a nice day and we parted ways.

Next up... security! Damn Im good at this! Smugly having already removed everything from my pockets .. taken off watch... belt pouch.. money wallet and in short ensured I had everything covered... they asked me to dig out my tablet ... which of course meant practically emptying the entire contents of my rucksack... EPIC FAIL!
I then followed my brothers tip and headed to 'EAT' to locate some breakfast..although in reality this probably qualified as dinner as well due to fact that I had now been up an inordinate amount of hours.

How do I feel?

Well my sixth wind has kicked in so I still feel a bit wired...

Nervous... on two counts...
Hoping my bike makes it to Auckland in one piece and secondly about making it to the end...

This is what happened to me before though and as soon as I started turning the pedals.. all the nerves dissappeared..  leaving me free to concentrate on the task at hand.

Im looking forward to the mountains.. the lakes..  the warmer weather and blogging about it all to share it with anyone who is interested.

(Engine malfunction)
One Chai Latte and some kind of wrap later I have that annoying post food slumping feeling and the brain is fast shutting down (emergency power only)

And so begins the journey...
No doubt it will contain some crappy days and some mishaps along the way but thats what makes a journey into an adventure.

Share the journey with me...

Marvel in the scenery with me (instagram)

Suffer the hills with me (Action -cam footage and live updates via the Periscope App - @OneChallenge)

Fight Cancer with me (


Thursday, 28 January 2016

S#@t... F@*^.... B#@&*r

The day started well... no sign of the impending doom and disaster that was to befall me. Finished my night shift a bit early and raced home to get everything sorted that hadnt been sorted because of my seven day work stretch.
Currency picked up.. car packed... and bike on the bike rack... Half eleven... on the road to Wales for The Gathering pre flying off on Monday.

Tootling up the motorway ... no traffic... all good. I stopped off at Oxford services just to recheck the bike rack as you are supposed to do... all looking good. 
Off onto the motorway again... love the M40.
The wind was gusting pretty bad and every now and again I had to fight the steering a bit. But all was going smoothly... 

I felt the car being pulled back by the wind... then it settled. I glanced in my rear view mirror and in slow motion... I saw the back wheel of my bike drop a little... then settle... then tumble from my car and bounce behind me down the middle lane! Couldn't quite take the whole scene in... its not a regular occurence. I could see a lorry move slightly to the left as it manouvered round my now still bike... 
Time stopped standing still suddenly and I pulled over to the hard shoulder... plan b... c... d...x rattling through my thoughts in the time it took for me to slow to a standstill..
Hazards on and then ... well what to do next?
I shakily dialled 999... havent done that before (today a day of firsts)... and they assured me someone would be along shortly and advised me to hop over the barrier and wait there. I did as instructed and looking back down the motorway could see my lovely new shiny bike.. now with a wheel in the air. It didnt appear to be in bits at least but a new bike (again) was surely the order of the day. Perhaps there was a bike shop in Llandudno.
In no time at all I saw a Police van draw up on the hard shoulder and the policeman get out and retrieve my wounded bike. He drove up the hard shoulder and asked with a grin 'is this yours?'
As he wheeled my bike out a quick glance told me a lot... the frame miraculously was intact... the wheels appeared not to be buckled (how the hell did that not happen) The front tyre was flat and the rear mech appeared to be bent into the spokes... but it was in one piece (again... how the hell did that happen)
I explained to the policeman what I was doing.. where I needed to be.. and above all... why I needed to fix my bike asap. He suggested a nearby halfords but on seeing the look of disgust on my face.. then suggested a 'proper' bike shop in bicester.
We ascertained that it probably wasnt the best idea to tie my bike onto the rack and he offered to take my bike and let me follow him to the bike shop. What a fantastic bloke.

Ten mins later I was standing in the middle of the bike shop in bicester... explaining what had happened... could they PLEEEAAASSSE fix it now.??

So up it went onto the stand and inspection ensued. Cost??? Didnt ask... didnt care. All I knew was... if they couldnt fix it... i was buying a bike on the spot... because come hell or high water (Alarm fans- see what I did there๐Ÿ˜€) I was going to The Gathering... my bike would be in a box on Sunday night and it would be on the plane Monday morning! 

The good news... its not your rear mech... its the mech hanger (a lot cheaper part... good spot Mark Davies๐Ÿ˜€) 
The bad news... we dont have one in stock! B#@@*r! 
They then proceeded to phone round and found another bike shop 20 minutes away. I hopped in the car and sped (carefully) away. Meanwhile my brain is still trying to compute what has happened and above all work out how to get my bike from bicester (if they fix it) to n wales.
I ran into the second bike shop ... got the mech hanger... and ran out again. Quite why i was in such a hurry when if they could fix the bike... it would mean at least two hours! 
When I got back... a closer inspection revealed why the bike had fallen. Simply put... the bike rack had had a total and catastrophic failure of the straps holding the bike... they had simply split in half. So at least it wasnt due to incompetance or lack of care on my part... it did still leave me with the small problem of needing a way to carry my bike.

Back in the shop...
So .. do you sell bike racks??
£120 later.. I was in the posession of a very nice bike rack and they kindly fitted it onto my car too (not taking any more chances.)

Back in the shop... the good news is... (uh oh) 
Your back wheel is fine...
The bad news is... your front wheel has a slight pinch point in the rim (i.e the rim is bent ) ... new wheel then! 

The handlebars were also damaged ... but the aero bars had survived... along with my bike computer (how the hell... Again!)

New bars meant new bar tape.... choices of colour and padding... hmmmmm what colour to have???

Whilst the rear mech hanger ... the wheel... the tyre... the handlebars... the gear cables... and (nope that was it) were being replaced.. I stood and chatted with the three mechanics. They asked about this ride... we discussed gear ratios and mountain bikes and advantages of 29er over 29+ and other crazy adventure plans and actually it was a very pleasant couple of hours ... given the circumstances ๐Ÿ˜€

Then came the worst bit... the bill. Prices were entered into the till and the amount of time it took to tot up gave an indication that this would be more than the price of an AMT coffee or two.

This is where Im going to name drop the bike shop....
Broadribb Cycles in Bicester... thank you so much... you have saved my next four weeks! 
The cost of labour (extensive I might add) was slashed by 50% and a little money knocked ofc the cost of a couple of parts. Very kind to be sure. And this is the result....

And as you know... a glass is always half full... and every cloud has a silver lining and they are as follows...

No one got hurt (top of the list)

Somehow .. my frame and most of my bike was undamaged.. in fact my frame literally did not get one scratch.

As pointed out to me by one of the bike shop chaps... at least it didnt happen on the way home (sunday evening... no bike shops open... flight monday morning) which would have meant me purchasing a bike in Auckland - far from idea

It cost me less than a new bike

I still got to N wales for The Gathering and my bike will be in a box on sunday night... and on a plane Monday morning

I have shiny new blue bar tape - this alone makes the glass half full!!

I kept my saddle as although damaged... it now has character....

Fittingly... I wrote this below on my bike before I left this morning....

A good omen for the ride to come?
Could well be.  ๐Ÿ˜€


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Lessons learned - Part 2

So where was I.... oh yeah... heading like the proverbial steam train towards bonking big style...
Funnily enough the two cereal bars and gel didnt halt the decline and in short order I found myself at the lowest ebb possible... worse than the headwinds in Arizona and the hills in Missouri combined. (Search for 'Putting the metal to the Pedal' to read my book about my American experience)
And so when I reached this point I had a choice... continue on the planned route... or hightail it to my 'campsite' for the night.
I battled with my headspace for a good five minutes before deciding to continue onwards ... at least for a bit. Food was now a necessity in order to put fuel into my now useless legs. So I made a slight detour to a co-op... made the cashier laugh when I explained I wouldnt need a bag because I was just going to eat it on the spot... and pulled over to a nearby bench to eat my lunch....

Lunch was interrupted by the two town crazies... one of whom accused me of flashing... explained by my rear bike like... the other repeatedly asking me where I was from. 
So when the rain started gently falling.. it provided a handy excuse to jump on my bike and making my speedy escape. It was actually more like clamber ungainly onto my bike and escape slower than the disabled scooter crazy number 2 was riding. Oh well.
It was around this time I looked up to see a Chinook helicopter hovering overhead and my first thought was 'yay its come to rescue me' ... bit it wasnt to be and my tired legs were forced ever onwards.

The rain now pelting down was at least washing the mud off my bike somewhat and in my head made it slightly lighter.. but the legs were still screaming at me on the ever present uphill. I was in familiar territory.. which provided a good excuse when I decided to switch my front light on to discover it had no charge (back to LESSON Number 1) ... Lesson number ?5... always charge stuff up the night before. I therfore needed to be back before it got dark... having no front light  (shhhh dont mention the headtorch) and decided it would be wise to cut across a portion of the route to shorten it a little.  

So across I went... up and down dale.. just turning the pedals ... struggling up the hills... and resting on the aero bars (not for the aero effect... chocolate or otherwise) to give my poor cramping hands a bit of a break.

At one point I saw a big bird (red kite) rising majestically up from the middle of the road just in front of me... to my knackered brain... it was as if my phoenix had risen up to show me the way... and it did make the next ten minutes or so feel betterer.

I counted down the villages as they passed... marking in my head the way home. Nettlebed... peppard Sonning Common and finally Caversham... WAYHEY! 
I knocked/keeled over onto my parents door and collapsed in a heap inside... 
I had a coffee in hand and was sitting by a fire in short order... reasoning that both MAY be found at a campsite. The restaurant of mum and dad was open for business and a huge amount of calories consumed! 

Ride stats then: 60.79 miles... average speed 12.1 (bit slow) ... Max speed 36.1mph (how the hell..????) And total moving time of 5:00 hours. So not too bad... with all my kit.

And what of my plan to camp outside you may ask.. bet you think Ive chickened out right??

Tarp was set up in five mins flat... air bed inflated and sleeping bag stuffed into bivvy bag on top of air mat. Its pretty cool. Maybe wont completely protect me but if I survive this... NZ wont be a problem. 
Essentially... if I think I may be developing a problem overnight that could jeapardize my getting on that plane in a couple weeks... then I will head inside... but im talking about froztbite... not lack of sleep or being merely cold. That said ...leaving the fire will be hard so I may be 'in bed' later than usual

So check out my fb page tomorrow... see if I survived...

And for those that were waiting for the pain and suffering to begin before sponsoring me... is the link!

My kit will stay inside in the warm and dry tonight minus all the clothes I have in my kit which I will be wearing.... so as you snuggle up in your nice warm bed... have a thought for me before you drift off.๐Ÿ˜€


Lessons learnt...

It all started with too much time driving in the car back from snowy scotland.... too much time to think and plan.
I rang my mum. Tomorrow Im going to cycle a long way with all my kit and Can I possibly set up camp in your garden tomorrow... oh and tea would be great too. Now my parents being my parents and having set me on the path of who I am today... did not question the sense behind camping in january with kit meant for a summer in New Zealand and temperatures to match... instead the question I got was.. and what time will you be here for dinner??

So that was that. In fact... details of freezing temps aside... it was actually a sensible plan... to try to find out any problems with the kit in an area I knew and if necessary could be easily rescued from... should all go completely pearshaped. The camping thing was basically... if I can survive January in the UK then NZ will be fine... so went the theory.

So when I arrived home my plan was to pack ready to just leave in the morning... 
Plan ruined by food and that tired sleepy feeling... probably caused by two exvellent days in the snow covered hills but herin lies... LESSON Number 1 (of many today). .. Always get stuff ready the night before... no matter how tired you are... because otherwise you find yourself waking at 5am.. scrambling around to get stuff done... only to leave later than planned... with things not done properly... but more of that later.

So I set off at 08:45 (planned for 8)
As you can see I was smiling... it wasnt raining and although chilly... wasnt ridiculously cold.
I had uploaded a route to my GPS to check it out and see how it worked... not great. Clearly I havent read the manual but it wasnt prompting me to turn at all. I can see the track i needed to follow on the map but no prompts to turn.. sound or visual. If anyone knows what i did wrong... Matt Dixon.. Mark Davies... any other cycling nuts out there... please message me!! So I spent the first 6 miles... stopping and starting... pressing buttons... and generally trying to make it work. Then I gave up and just kept checking the track on the map and following it... and that was fine. And then I started to enjoy the ride.... (see video one on my facebook page) LESSON Number 2.. dont rely on technology!
It didnt stop me seeing the deer that ran across my path though ... and that made me smile.
Shortly after the photo above I had turned off the main road onto a smaller paved track... cycling merrily along... when I encountered a puddle. No I wasnt being overly precious about my lovely new road bike... this puddle was the width of the road and looked deep. Sod it! I had overshoes right. Ankle deep water turmed into calf deep water and I struggled to keep forward momentum whilst all the time expecting to just disappear up to my neck in muddy water. It looked a bit like this...

And Im not exaggerating this time...
 Fortunately neither did I fall off or plunge into an underwater chasm and emerged from the 'puddle' a bit wet .. but chuckling out loud! LESSON Number 3 - If it looks deep... it probably is!

So on I went... and here is the part you might slap me for... no breakfast... I know I know... anyway I was starting to feel a bit crap so stopped and ate a cereal bar and ingested a gel to ward off the inevitable... coming at me like a train... cycling bonk. No (you dirty minded lot) Im not being rude. Its the cycling terminology for when you hit the wall and have nothing... none... zip.. energy left. Wasnt quite there yet... so on I continued. LESSON Number 4 - Always... Always have breakfast where possible!

It was this point that my route planning was found to be very 'Lid like'. Not content (david and nic substitute road for path here) with the easy tarmac I headed off (following the GPS track) the road and instead followed the 'road' .. which in this case started off as a gravel track and quickly became a muddy... rutted... stone filled... tree banch dotted... road.  I hadnt been planning a spot of cycle cross but this was a good impression of it for sure. I kept my fingers and toes firmly crossed as I bounced in and out of water filled holes.. across sharp stones... over roots amd other assorted obstacles. 2 miles later... I emerged victorious with wheels/tyres/frame and chain intact onto Dave and Nics definition of a road (if their path definition is anything to go by)

So no worries about my tyres on 'bad roads' then. I did shed a tear over the state of my once pristine bike

I reached the northmost point of my planned ride and halfway and to be fair... despite being slightly tired the cyclocross had re-energised me a bit and I stuffed another cereal bar ready for the second half. It was all downhill from here... right???

Part 2 coming shortly....

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Kit is all around me ....

30 days to go.... yup that's right 30!! Aside from the general (ahem) lack of training - ok to be completely honest I haven't put my leg over (MY BIKE - you dirty minded lot) for a good couple of weeks other than to pedal the 2 miles to work and back on my ridiculously heavy mountain bike. Though to be fair - the wind and the rain have made that 2 miles a hell of a workout!

Aside from all that I feel pretty much ready to go - small details like currency and last minute service, bike box to be sorted, flights to check in for, finding my passport.... (only kidding) are all that's left between now and me boarding the plane.

My room resembles a Ranulph Feinnes Expedition preparation hut, with kit piled up to the ceiling (slight exaggeration) and in my infinate sleep deprived wisdom I decided that it would be the perfect time post a run of three night shifts to sort my kit and pack as if I was leaving tomorrow.  Bright idea... and 4 hours later, back hurting, knees aching and somewhat less kit on my bedroom floor, I had managed to squash the ceiling scraping pile into precisely three bags - well not precisely if you count the two small top tube bags, but close enough, and had assembled them onto my steed, which now resembles a shire horse rather than the thoroughbred it actually is.

My cockpit looks quite cool - with those aero bars (not the chocolate version) and my Garmin Etrex nestled between them.  I just hope it's as comfortable as it looks over 100 mile distances!
So back to the packing - my task was to sort the wheat from the chaff, which given I had already pared down the bone, would be a challenge, but never one to back down, I set to the task.... and failed somewhat!  It's not that I didn't set aside stuff to be left behind - it's just that the pile of kit to pack was growing larger by the second and led to wonder how it would ever fit in the miniscule bags I have.

First up, the easy part,.... Clothes.  Never one to need 6 pairs of shoes when one pair will do, this was easy.  Limiting myself to 1 set of spare biking clothes, 1 set of off the bike clothes and an assortment of layers for higher colder elevations and those hopefully rare wet days.

Both sets of clothes fit comfortably in a small dry sacks and the leg warmers, arm warmers, overshoes and thin gloves fit nicely into one side of my frame bag. So far so good, until I glanced back at the piles of kit still to be found space.....

Next up - First aid and hygeine kit...  First Aid consisting of Steristrips (lots of steristrips) and Ibruprofen with an odd bandage. I am a big fan of steristrips and maintain that 1) You can never have enough Steristrips and 2) you could probably re-attach a severed limb if you adhered to principle number 1. Ibruprofen - otherwise known as Vitamin I because occasionally it becomes necessary to down them like multivitamins - is a wonder-drug for aches and pains, sprains, ripped tendons and broken legs (possibly going a bit far with the last one).  Hygenine kit included the most important item of all my kit .... arse cream. Otherwise known in this case as Udderly sMOOth (geddit?) in my particular brand choice.  It has the power to stop saddle sores in their tracks whilst you are heading for the hills and one of the few things that may put paid to any further pedalling momentum... is a sore arse.  I don't know if you have tried to cycle 100 miles standing up... I haven't and don't intent to try on this trip :-)

Next up - bike spares and tools... limited to pedal wrench (given that I have to take off the pedals before putting my bike in the box), a chain link remover, tyre irons, spare tubes (4) a couple of tube patches, some lube and Xip ties (for anything broken that I can just tie back together - not as good as steristrips for severed limbs however)

My camping kit this year - was bought with the intention of small and light - sacrificing every and I mean EVERY comfort - a tarp (in case of rain), bivvy bag, sleeping bag, air mat - yup that's it... for 4 weeks. Okay so I may - once in a while - succumb to the comfort of a motel, but given that there are a lot of campsites along the way - ranging from luxurious to v sparse in terms of facilities - I may well find myself sleeping under the stars more often than not. The result is that all together this weighs around 1Kg in weight only - much lighter than a tent.  My sleeping bag liner was one of the sacrifices made - in the name of 'no space left' and I just have to remind myself as I sit here in a wet and windy January, that it will be 23 to 24 degrees C over there, dropping to around 10 degrees C at night,  and unless I sleep at the top of the passes, I shouldn't (YUP EVEN ME) be cold.

Electricals was my last section of kit to arrange and pack.  With a tab, a phone and a garmin and the possibility that I may not see an electric socket every night - I have combined solar charging, with socket charging and a few powerbanks 'just in case'.  The need I discovered on Route 66 was to remain connected - albeit from a few thousand miles away - to friends and family, necessitates the electronics.  that and to tell tales of the pain and suffering I am experiencing so that you in turn feel sorry for me and sponsor me - so that together we can raise lots of money for LHS. ( Apparently a few of my friends are waiting to read about the pain and suffering before they feel I deserve sponsorship - so Im sure I won't let them down on that score!) I also intend to try and give live updates from the road, using the periscope app, so if you want to be notified when I'm about to go live, sign up to the app and go to and click the 'follow' button. Having sorted out the myriad of plugs and adaptors I needed -all the electrical kit fit nicely in a 1L drysack - RESULT!!!

Last but by no means least was my 'nutrition' section - a very loose terminology assigned to my collection of Dextrose tablets, Energy gels and electrolyte tablets. Needless to say - I was struggling for room in my bags at this point and the necessary sacrifices had to be made - 5 Gels disappeared back into the box - whilst the rest were crammed temporarily into water bottles (in prep for the flight - they will go in with the bike) and down the sides of my seat bag.  I did have a horrible vision of baggage handlers abusing my seat bag and me arriving in Auckland to burst gels and sticky kit - but I've never been able to predict the future so hopefully it will be grand (fingers and toes crossed please)
 (sugar overload)

Now all that remained was to squish all of the above into three bags... hmmmmmm

Bloody hell.... it fit!!
it then took me a further 15 minutes to put the bags on the bike and complete the metamorphisis from kit hut to bikepacking. *** Mental note*** Must get better at that****

So now - if the details of my kit were sending you to sleep - now is the time to wake up ... because this is the important bit....

I will suffer
I will be in pain for most if not all of this journey
I will share it with you.. all the highs and the lows... the embarrassing bits and the beautiful life moment bits...

Starting from Cape Reinga on February 1st and ending in Bluff (prevailing winds being kind) on February 27th... with a gig organised (Thankyou) by Auden guitars in Dunedin

I am trying to raise money for the wonderful Rock n Roll charity called Love Hope Strength Foundation.  Founded (as many of you will know) by Mike Peters from the Alarm to raise awareness about the bone marrow donor list and raise money to help cancer sufferers, not just in the UK and the USA but all around the world. Mike inspires me with his example of living every moment and his efforts whilst suffering with Cancer himself and I hope that you will follow my journey, become a part of the LHS journey and perhaps sponsor me (if you feel I am suffering enough to be deserving of the sponsorship,) 
Every penny does count in the fight against cancer 

Please like and share this blog post and my facebook page  so that together we can make a difference.

Fight Back, Stay Alive and Keep Smiling!