Thursday, 25 February 2010
As it's midday already (Thursday) it'll be a short one down to the Metz area and hopefully somewhere decent to camp. I definitely need to not make hotels a habit!
Just time for a brief bit of thinking - riding to somewhere gives a target and some direction and the reasurance of a warm dry bed but has the drawback of controlling the day's sights, routes and relaxation, whereas riding with no target at all allows you to take your time and enjoy the scenic route, but with the constant uncertainty about where to sleep. I'm not yet sure which I prefer.
I'm not sure where the next internet will be so keep an eye for the Ray Mears-esque camp photos!
Countries to date: 3
Miles to date: 486
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
But I should, I guess - 1 week to Geneva.
Miles to date: 363
Hopefully I'll get chance for a more detailed post soon...
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Now for the catch up - I can't believe I'm 4 days in already! I know the hump is still yet to be passed over but I'm happy that the difficult first few days are rolling by.
Day 1 was truly a baptism of fire - 72 ridiculously hilly, meandering miles from Eastbourne to East London. If there was one thing that was going to make me want to get to Holland quicker it was 1400 metres of uphills on a 60 kg bike followed by rush hour in central London! A big thank you to Kim, James and (route planner) Simon, and earlier Sam and Iain for their much appreciated company. It beat riding on my own up the A22 by a long way and really took away any worries.
My first night was spent with my friend James in Bow - and what a friend. I was looked after so well I really could have stayed.
Day 2 we'll ignore - 0 miles ridden (or even walked) but tired legs (already?!) well rested and emails caught up on.
Day 3 - Out of East London and into the sunny Essex countryside to Harwich. James rode with me the whole 75 (he'll say 78) miles despite his previous longest ride being half that. Top marks to him, we made it to Harwich albeit in the dark after 2 punctures (both his) and a nightmarish blast down a dark dual carriageway.
Woken by intercom at 05:45 having lost an hour somewhere in the sea, I rolled off the ferry alongside the trucks and touched the same contiguous bit of land that I'll be on all the way to Singapore - quite an amazing thought, but I was too tired to think it until now.
As the mist lifted I began to realise, despite having a map and a compass and having just come from the sea, I had no idea where I was. Hopefully my bearings and map skills will improve with time, they usually do, but it was thanks to the kindness and bilinguility of Dutch strangers that I eventually got on track. A 9 mile trip turned into double that but I was eventually met by the screeching (bike) tyres of my cousin Mike who I'm currently staying with (keeping the safety net there for now..).
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Frame and fork: Surly Long Haul Trucker, 56 cm - Cheaper than a classic Reynolds tubeset, I just hope it doesn't break (though it can (and has) easily be welded should the worst happen).
Headset: Chris King NoThreadSet - Expensive but (arguably) the best.
Stem(s): Thorn and Cannondale - Double stem setup with cut-down bars seen online - keeps bar bag out of the way.
Bars: Nitto Noodle
Brake Levers: Cane Creek SCR-5
Wheels - Rims: DT Swiss TK 7.1, Spokes: DT Swiss Alpine III, Front Hub: Schmidt SON Dynamo, Rear Hub: Shimano XT - Handbuilt by me (fingers crossed).
Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700x35c - Industry standard, no punctures after 800 miles or so.
Shifters: Shimano Dura Ace Down Tube - To avoid the risk of terminally broken STIs.
Groupset: Shimano XT front derailleur, rear derailleur, chainset (22/32/44), chain, cassette (11-34) - Solid.
Seatpost: Thomson Elite Layback - More expensive-but-quality.
Saddle: Brooks B-17 Special - SO comfy.
Brakes: Avid Shorty with Kool Stop pads
Mudguards: SKS Chromoplastics
Lights: Schmidt Edelux front, Busch and Muller 4D Toplight rear - Light sensing, no batteries.
Pedals: Shimano PD-A530
Bottle Cages: Topeak Modula
Racks: Tubus Tara front and Logo rear - Worldwide warranty, standard choice.
Trip Computer: Vetta VL110A HD
Pump: Lezyne Pressure Drive
Bar Tape: Brooks Leather
Luggage: Ortlieb Front Roller Classic, Ortlieb Sport Packer Plus, Ortlieb Rack Pack, Ortlieb Ulimate 5 Classic Bar Bag
Kryptonite Cable Lock and Mini D Lock
Topeak Alien III Multi Tool (+ loose allen keys 4 + 5), Puncture Repair Kit, Tyre Levers x 2, Saddle Bag, 2 Inner tubes, Tyre Boots, spare Schwalbe Extreme Tyres, Emergency WMFG Rear Mech Hanger, Quicklink, spare Kool Stop Brake Pads, NBT2 Cassette Removal Tool, Wet Lube, spare brake and gear cables, spare chain, spare cleats, screw spares, spare dynamo wire.
Hilleberg Nallo 2 GT Tent with Footprint - Pure quality, plenty of space.
Exped Downmat 7 Pump - Almost as comfy as my bed.
Exped Woodpecker WB Sleeping Bag and Cocoon silk liner - Super warm (down to -27, probably too warm!) and waterproof, so it's bivvy-ready.
Hennessy Ultralight Backpacker A-Sym Hammock (if I have space)
Lifeventure Mosquito Net
Primus OmniFuel Stove - Swedish, like the tent, and pure quality again.
Primus EtaPower 1L Pot - ditto.
Primus Litech Frying Pan - ditto.
Fire stick, waterproof matches, lighter
Fallkniven F1 Knife - Another Swedish brand and a very nicely crafted survival tool.
Light My Fire Food Set and Spork
Ortlieb Folding Bowl - For washing-up and washing in.
Primus Thermos - Coffee on the bike : )
Recipes - Thanks here to my wonderful Mum. I'd be going very hungry without her help.
Katadyn Water Filter (space pending) - For gunky water, hopefully unnecessary.
SteriPen Purifier - As long as the water is clear, this makes it safe.
MSR 6L Dromedary Water Bag
Bottles - 2 x 1L SiS, 1 x 1L Nalgene and 2 x Camelbak Podium - I can carry a total of 10 litres of water once it gets a bit warmer and drier.
Northwave Mission bike shoes, Birkenstocks
Merino socks, 2 pairs Endura, 1 pair DeFeet Woolie Boolie, 1 pair Chocolate Fish possum, 1 pair Sealskinz
Endura Humvee 3/4 shorts, Endura Singletrack shorts
Howies Merino padded shorts, 1 pair Gore and 1 pair Pearl Izumi padded shorts
Endura eVent Venturi waterproof jacket and trousers
Howies Merino longsleeve baselayer x 2, shortsleeve x 2
Howies Yurt Merino jumper and midlayer - I'm a Merino fiend. Warm, cool, doesn't smell - way better than synthetics.
Endura Merino armwarmers and skull cap, Specialized knee and leg warmers
Endura Deluge gloves, Chocolate Fish Possum/Merino gloves, Northwave mitts
2 pairs Merino boxers
Chocolate Fish Merino longjohns
2 x Craghoppers shirts
Davitamon Lotto bike jersey
Exped waterproof bags
MSR towels - 1 x body, 1 x bike/tent, 1 x dishes
Biodegradable wash stuff
Star chart - to make sense of all the extra stars away from towns and cities.
DaKine Heli Pack - A day pack for days off the bike and extra carrying capacity for food.
Pac-Safe - Potential extra security, unsure of its necessity.
Arno and toe straps
Diary and notebook
Books - possibly the most important thing, along with music.
iPod - 80GB full, about 6 weeks' worth of stuff to listen to and watch.
SD card reader - Removes the need for cables.
Zipties, duct tape, electrical tape - To solve anything.
Nikon and Panasonic charger
Cameras - Nikon D80 DSLR for the best shots and a smaller Panasonic Lumix TS1 for video and handlebar mounted snapshots.
Solio solar charger - For phone and iPod
Small mirror and toiletries
First aid kit and sterile equipment
Needle and thread
Trowel - for digging poo holes!
Uno - A fairly language independent game, has passed many an evening.
Brooks Proofide and spanner
Vaseline and Carmex
Pens and pencils
Batteries (AA, AAA, CR123A)
Downmat repair kit
Malaria tablets - 1 year's supply
Survival card - knife, laser, fire starter, whistle, tweezers.
Dummy wallet - sure, have this (expired bank cards and library cards)!
iPod speaker, 2 pairs earphones
Normal wallet and ID