This is my first blog post so I should probably introduce the idea – riding the Great Divide, Banff to the Mexican border, leaving Friday 25th July – and my bike, hereinafter known as Reggie. It’s an off-the-shelf Surly Troll which I haven’t changed at all, bar putting a pair of 2nd hand suspension forks on. I’m not that interested in bikes per se so haven’t gone down the route of building one out of separate parts – Reggie is pure breed and I’m hoping his pedigree will show on the trail.
Bit worried I should have invested in a better saddle though and 2,700 miles could see a somewhat fractious relationship with my bottom. Although if we keep the communication lines open and chamois cream to hand, hopefully we can work through the tough times together and come out stronger the other side. I also have a pair of eye-wateringly expensive cycling shorts – a motivational treat before RideLondon 100 last year – which may make up for any short-comings of the saddle.
As well as not being naturally that interested in bikes and liking the idea of (potentially) proving that you don’t have to be that into bikes and kit to do a long-distance ride, I was also keen to avoid doing too much research into it as, when I did take a brief jaunt down Kit Avenue, I realised that it’s a very time-consuming path to go down! Upon Googling ‘lightweight bike tools’ I got lost in cyber space, reading reviews and being about to buy something then stumbling upon one negative review at the last moment which put me right off and I ended up repeating that cycle with various different options, all tools weighing within about 10g of each other. When I ‘came to’, my face burning in front of a massively over-heating laptop, I learned that the world has gone bonkers and voted for UKIP, Andy Murray hadn’t got as far in Wimbledon as we would have liked and suddenly everyone wanted to be German.
This book http://gearforcycletouring.com/?from=13 proved a very useful tool to quickly dip into and see the range of options out there for various items, and generally get tips on how to make your trip a success.
My main tactic to traveling light has been cheese- rather than titanium-based. I figured it was easier and cheaper to shave 5Ibs off your cumulative load by shedding one’s winter coat of a few extra inches of body fat. Cutting out cheese and (momentarily) bread – didn’t last for long on that one – seemed to do the trick and I am now slightly lighter. Didn’t actually last long on cheese either after a particularly strong craving one afternoon saw me making a special trip, at pace, to Planet Organic for some cheddar #middleclasstraumas.
Additional preparation has involved going on 2 bike maintenance courses, one at the London Bike Kitchen and one ‘somewhere else’. The LBK one was good but – and I see this as a fault of the pupil, not teacher – I’d forgotten most of what I’d learned about 3 weeks later. I signed up for a 2nd one where the, as advertised, “you’ll hear him before you see him” teacher contorted my arm into an ‘urban handshake’ at first meeting (awkward when you don’t know it’s coming), ranted about Margaret Thatcher and occasionally threw some words in about bikes. I left the course £60 lighter and wondering whether I’d been too uptight during the initial greeting and could have relaxed into the novel handshake better but, alas, no better equipped to mend a bike. So I’m hoping, nay praying, that Reggie doesn’t suffer any damage and regular maintenance at the local bike shops along the route keeps him in premium shape!