With a mere 11 days before we set off - where did the time go?! It's now a case of checking plans, equipment, getting bikes serviced, last minute purchases etc. etc.
We're almost ready, well, nearly almost!
The next week or so, will include more training rides, with more hills! At least the first couple of days of the actual ride will be fairly level - but after that, we'll start to encounter hills, potentially some very nasty hills!
It's all very well riding up hills with no weight, but we'll be carrying everything we need, on our bikes. That throws a whole new light (or should that be weight?), on some of the hills we are likely to encounter.
I don't subscribe to the "drop down to the lowest granny gear, and pedal like hell" method - what's the point of pedaling like fury, whilst travelling slower than a sleeping tortoise?!
At that point it makes more sense to "get off and push!" There may be a down-side to going up hills, but there's always an up-side to going down them.
Did I detect some mixed metaphors in there, somewhere?!!!
Hills and riding aside, we need to sort out exactly what we need to take with us, and how we are going to pack it all. Then start all over again, and again - until we hit just the right balance - literally as well as metaphorically - so that we can ride comfortably, and more importantly, safely.
On the subject of safety - I hate cycling helmets! But, as a responsible cyclist, I wear one. I've even attached one of those annoying (to drivers), little red flashing lights, to the back (of the helmet). In poor visibility, I intend to be seen - even if I'm not heard, when I curse other inconsiderate road users. My action cam might pick it up though!!!
As for visibility, as well as the helmet light, we've got some very bright front lights, and some fixed (also with a flashing mode) rear lights. The panniers also have hi-vis rain covers.
Anyway, I digress. On to the lists.
Well, without boring everyone senseless, my current list consists of 183 items, including the bike, and everything from the smallest items needed, to larger essentials, such as tents and sleeping bags. That list is likely to grow and shrink, and probably grow again, over the next few days!
How many pairs of pants and socks do I really need?
Joking apart, it's amazing how many things are actually needed, apart from socks and underwear that is! And that includes a first aid kit - which only counts as one item on the list mentioned above (not the cartoon).
After carrying out endless research into apps available for smart phones, printed maps still come out on top.
And, they never answer back, tell you to make a u-turn, or nag you about your speed - or probable lack of!
Fortunately, OS Maps are now available online (subscription required for a full set of UK maps), you can plot your route using their online app, and then print out the maps required, on A4 sheets.
But, that's still 41 x A4 (or 21 double sided) sheets, for the whole route!
To laminate or not to laminate?
That IS the question. (Apologies to William Shakespeare)
In fact, there are two options available - one is to laminate the maps printed on to paper, the other is to print the maps on to a waterproof substrate.
As I've already got some laminating pouches, I guess I'll opt to laminate - I haven't really got time to test out the other stuff! And, I know that laminating works.
That's it for now...