Sunday, 29 April 2012

Major delay moan

It is quite possible, no, probable that I am going to have delay this trip a matter of weeks if not months. My recurring knee injury has reared its head again. And again a wonderful plan has been put on hold due to this problem.

I wonder to myself now, will I ever be able to properly take part in long distance tours or is my cycling future going to be solely based around short distances... Maybe I'll take up time trialling more seriously!

Either way, this is supremely frustrating. I am all ready to go. I am sitting here just waiting for a last item to charge fully, because with the weather forecast as it is, I am unlikely to get much in the way of solar charge in the next couple of days. Suppose it doesn't really matter as it is unlikely to be a matter of days, before I am forced to quit. I expect to get a few miles down the road before the pain kicks in and I am forced to turn round and submit to weeks/months of off bicycle recovery.

Not ideal when you've planned to take up your next few months on a cycle tour!

It took months to recover last time. I even had a professional bike fitting in the hope to solve the problem, but to no avail.

Anyway, it is likely that those of you reading this are active, like minded people and as such have probably had experience of injury, so it is not necessary that I spend time explaining why it is so frustrating! IT JUST IS!

You never know, I might feel miraculously healed today and set off on the 4000 mile trip with no issues! Here's hoping!!!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

UK Circumnavigation by bike - Not left yet!

I made a sensible decision yesterday and decided I needed a few more days to recover and sort myself out. I was having a conversation with my mother and out of the conversation came a great idea, that my grandmother's house in South Devon, which we are visiting for Easter and is on the sea would be a great start and end point! So instead of riding down there - starting the route at Southampton - I am going to go in the car with mum and start at the end of our Easter family gathering. Much happier with this, because then I can actually say goodbye to my younger bro as well!

I am very glad I made this decision in the end, because on going for a test ride yesterday evening, my packing solution failed within 100 metres of leaving home! Not great! I realised that I needed a wider base for the top of the rack, for my Alpkit Gourdon to sit on.

So where do you find an appropriate base?
Well in the shed of course! An old Skool 'seen better days' waterski.

Initially I just cut it to the size in the photo above, but it was half a kilo and it was a bit disappointing that after so much work and expense acquiring lightweight equipment, I'd be adding this lump to the bike. So I began 4 hours of what can only be described as ultralight bodging!

Great fun and great success! Sawing, drilling, sanding - All my hard work culminating in an under 250 gram base, satisfactorily secured and after testing, totally capable of supporting my pack.

I decided that I'd better go for a dress rehearsal, so having worked out a better means of securing the Gourdon with bungees, I set off with all weight and equipment. 

Three hours later, having covered some good miles, some steep ups, steep downs, tight turns, bumpy roads and four torrential downpours at 4 degrees above zero, I can safely say it was a pretty thorough test! 

My touring set up passed with flying colours, so I can actually leave now! I feel far better prepared now!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Circumnavigate the UK by bike

Best man duties are out of the way!!! RELIEF AND FREEDOM. Wouldn't change it for anything! A superb day and a happy couple, just quite stressful and nerve racking!

What this does mean though is that I can fully concentrate on the upcoming cycle tour.

So I might or might not be leaving tomorrow to start a circumnavigation of the UK. The intention is not in doubt, it is just departure date. I don't really know what the departure is dependant on. I am on a complete comedown from yesterdays wedding and as such, can't really consider my situation fully! I am in need of some down time.

If I start tomorrow, there will be a short section down to South Devon, before I spend some time with family for Easter.

I then intend to head South West from there, continuing round the coast.

I expect my trip to be punctuated with detours because of various other wedding commitments. So I don't expect to do it in one sitting, but as good as. As soon as weddings are done, then I shall continue.

Of course the whole thing is dependant on whether my knee can take the repetitive nature of cycle touring, so to a degree, we are just going to have to wait and see. I am not in a rush though! Plus, I have managed to sort the gearing out on my bike, so it is much more appropriate for touring and my knee.

Having also toyed with multiple packing options, I have now made the choice to dispense with the panniers and the trailer, over the minimalist and lightweight drybag on rack solution. I purchased a Gourdon 30 drybag rucksack from Alpkit and the idea is to use this as the only main bag and bungee it on top of the rear rack. I stole this idea along with many others from a great read, Ultralight bicycle touring. Check it out!

This means that I will not have multiple unweildy pannier bags and will be able to lock the bike up, stick the rucksack on my back and go exploring when the mood takes me. If this plan works, it allows me much more freedom. Granted I won't be able to carry as much, but this isn't a bad thing. More stuff equals more weight and with several thousand miles on the agenda, the less load the better!

Anyway, if you don't see ant posts for a while, you know why!