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 http://www.periscope.tv/OneChallengeAtATime 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)
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,) https://www.justgiving.com/GoWithTheCrazy/
Every penny does count in the fight against cancer
Please like and share this blog post and my facebook page www.facebook.com/OneChallengeAtATime so that together we can make a difference.
Fight Back, Stay Alive and Keep Smiling!