Like most people life has been a bit busy lately with the festive period, so I though it time to write some stuff down so I can empty my head a bit. Its been so full of late I need to clear some space to fit my PIN numbers back into it. I’ve been having to keep my food shops under £30 so I can use contactless.
Since the initial conversations with Matt Jones the idea of Lap of My Mind grew and grew into what can only have been described as a monster of a challenge. 4500 miles round the coast of the UK mainland in December.
I’m blowing a little smoke up here, but the likes of Matt, Budge, Alan and everyone have put in huge amounts of work to make it happen. And happen it has.
With a few hiccups along the way Matt crossed the finish line in style where he handed over the Exposure Lights baton to Alan Colville. Alan is currently descending Aconcagua with it as I’m writing this to hand it over to Jon Ferne, who will carry it back up as part of their altitude training in preparation for the Mind Over Mountain World record attempt later this year. If that baton could talk it could tell some stories and probably educate all of us in some new swear words through tired, gritted teeth.
Needless to say, I was bricking it about my leg which was 430 miles ish from Suffolk to Portsmouth. I was taking over from a triple world champion and handing over to a double British champion. Bearing in mind I used to get the odd sticker from my mum for doing the washing up, I hoped this would go some way to offset the skills gap.
Probably best to just say. “I got it done” it stung a bit in the middle with the driving freezing rain and gale force winds, but I finished in Portsmouth in good time. Thanks to Edward and Stuart for riding with me through some terrible conditions for so long to keep me company. In fact thank you to everyone who helped you are awesome, especially Sally. With the controversial tri bars and leather saddle set up my back and arse were fine, so a single day off the bike after a good sleep and I was back on it. I need to work on the multi day legs and if this was anything to go by then I am off to a pretty good start.
So, it’s on to the next stage for me which is the prep for a 5 month riding break from work. It had been hard saved for, and on my mind for a number of years. Now that its drawing close though, the excitement has ebbed somewhat and is being replaced by a soupçon of fear. Not the kind of fear that requires a change of under crackers as yet, but my heart is skipping the odd beat when I think of the size of it.
The plan is to take in Battle on the Beach, the Scott MTB marathon in Builth, the Dales divide, Trans Germany, Tour Divide and cycle tour the US before heading back to the UK and remember what my long suffering and rather tolerant wife looks like.
Getting my head round the gear I need and more importantly don’t need, has been a real headache so far. I’ve never thought of a full length toothbrush as a luxury item before! Having worked for Trekitt Mountain Sports in a former life I turned to them for help and they have been awesome in helping me out with kit and advice. I certainly don’t plan on breaking any records, but I would like a half decent time.
I’m new to all this long distance bike packing racing stuff and keep thinking the questions. Do I go super light and risk a breakage? or go slightly heavier and more reliable?
The whole journey so far has made me think a lot more about the design on a bike and the parts you fit. Owing to the likely nature of a breakage over in the states at some point there are certain parts like Hope bearings that I just can’t get easily. So I’ve tried to spec everything with readily available parts off the shelf from American firms. Only time will tell if this works or not.
Trekitt have supplied me with some cracking lightweight shelter and warm gear that has shaved about 2 kilos off but I could really do with shifting a bit more.
The last week has seen panic stations.. not your normal oops I forgot my wallet panic stations… I mean full on HOLY CRAP what have I done panic stations!
I will freely admit I’m an idiot at times… Others would say more often.. This was one of those times… I’ve been checking route cards and planning the route as best I can. I’ve bought the tour divide maps and I have the GPX files but until sitting down I failed to realise that the two aren’t the same..
Shortly after leaving Banff there is a 100 miles ish detour up a hike a bike and completely off the route. Two things sprung to mind, it looks brutal!! and how did I miss this!!!
After cutting caffeine out for a few hours and some internalising of mild to moderate swear words, some perspective came back online. At least I get to see some of wild Canada hey?
I’m now commuting to work on a fully laden bike and it’s becoming a bit more natural to ride. My set up is a bit heavier than the lightweight boys and girls but I am planning to keep riding for a month or so after the finish of the TD back through the states, so I will need a bit more comfort than the sub 20 day elite. (I don’t think my wife reads these things so I will say, “if it goes well and I fancy it I may go back and hit it hard another year”).
The deeper I get into this time off, work to live not live to work, no good story starts with a salad world of clichés, it is becoming more and more apparent that I have had my head buried for years. Although I have met some incredible people, been cool places and enjoyed what I have done in the most part. I can’t help thinking my eyes have been blinkered somewhat and there is so much more to life. I’m on a journey at the moment and this is before I have even started, I can’t wait to see where I end up.