Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Progress...kind of

Well the TD prep has taken a big step closer with out me swinging a leg over a bike for a while. The ACA maps have arrived (complete with adenda) and I have been busy studying them and typing out the direction changes for a South to North trip. I didn't bother with the trail info, ie "Mile 65.4 cross cattle guard" because I will have the maps for that should I need to confirm it further. I only want the "Mile 54.3 turn LEFT on to FR 3020" on the queue sheets and the GPS should confirm it :)

The wealth of info on the maps has also (with careful reading of various accounts of previous races) to note down the locations and distances between services so I can see long drags where I might need to stock up and other points where there is another gas station 4miles down the road. I have added this to the queues and hope to plan my days around what I can hit when. The down side of this is that I will hit Pie Town either Sunday evening when they are closed or Monday when they are closed all day. I was looking forward to pie too :(

So having seen the miles between towns / services, some idea of trail conditions (or what they could be) I have sketched out a plan of where I want to be at the end of each day and thus the total days on the trail...and it is a lot less than I was planning for. Which means I will go with my original plan and if I finish early all the better :) At this stage I need to test the new sleeping bag and get some 100mile+ days back to back before commiting to any numbers.

The kit is, pending some tough testing, pretty sorted at 20lbs ex food and water. I am sure I could drop some stuff but I am happy with that weight and I have clothes for all weathers down to -10degC and up to, well 80-90degF (yes I love mixing units!) pending me coping with it as I am not naturally a warm weather person as India and Nepal have shown me. They have also given me plenty of opertunity to find work-arounds for heat and keeping moving.

So on the body training front the gym looks like the only option so I plan to sign up on Monday and get some plan for core and upper body strength and possibly some strength work out for my legs as I can spin the pedals all day but short "grunts" of climbs leave me flat!



Tuesday, 12 October 2010

And now for something completely the same....

Not much to report on the whole TD thing except maps are ordered, 500g sleeping bag on the way and not much left to do but join a gym.

A while back I ordered a great T-shirt and stickers that I saw on MTBR from Bikeage. Their customer service to A1 and the T and sticers arrived today. Guess what I am wearing tomorrow :)

Spend money with them, they deserve it.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Epic / Revelate Handlebar harness drybag goodness

Possibly the longest title on this blog so far.

Any one who has used a dry bag on the handlebars either with straps or a fancy harness you will know that long, thin bags work best to keep them out the way of the cables and off the front tyre.

I have been using the Alpkit Airlock XT (and the previous version) in the past but with the increased kit to carry on the TD the 13L bag is a little short and fat and unless I add freaky long cable outers to the brakes (and I guess the Jones bars don't help) it precludes the use of the front pocket which is a handy place for kit you need to hand.

Having looked about the obvious option is the Revelate dry bag from Eric, but I found the LOMO dry bag available in the UK and for £7 so I thought I would give it a go. First inpressions are that it is a lot longer and skinier than the closest Alpkit size bag. The fabric is much tougher and thicker than Alpkit and has a rip-stop n' clear window / end to it.

At the end of the day its a bag with a roll top closure for little money and it will keep my kit dry. I have loaded it with the TD kit I plan to carry (fleece, merino T, longjohns and socks, waterproofs, arm / leg warmers, Sealskinz gloves and socks, beanie, glove liners and buff. It all fits great and a little room to spare and much lower profile meaning I can stash food in the front pocket that I can now use.

£7 for a bag....and I'm happy. Easily pleased as always.


Thursday, 9 September 2010

Loosing teeth and weight...

...and gaining bags. No I am not suffering from some terrible disease but amassing kit for the Tour Divide.

First up is a lovely Velo Solo singlespeed sprocket in 18t, 2 lower than I have been running for a while. While I will miss the winch-ability up loose climbs I hope that training with a harder gear will pay dividends when I fit all the bike packing gear and swap back to the 20t.

Weight loss comes courtesy of Mountain Warehouse. I was after some light weight baggy shorts to wear over my cycling shorts as the Lycra look is not always welcome, especially with legs like mine! So I looked at all the usual suspects and found that a) they came with various pop-in liner shorts that I did not want and b) had so many useless pockets, zips and buckles I would be suffering from Betty Swallocks in about 10minutes (as Nepal taught me!)

So I was toying with the Endura Humvee Lightweight but at £45 a pop it was a lot to spend to see if they were any good. Mountain Warehouse did some shorts in lightweight fast drying material for £10. Fit is good and they are not too baggy.

The bags in question are the frame bag and gas tank from Eric at Revelate. The frame bag is a little wider for fitting extra water in, mesh side pocket for little bits and a removable divider at the back. The gas tank has plenty of room for snacks, camera and other stuff you need to hand.

Other news is that some of my words have been published on the Alpkit website, I hope to keep them abreast of my preparation so keep an eye on their website.

Looking forward to trying all three out, weather depending, and will report back onhow it went.


Saturday, 4 September 2010

Where did it all start?

I guess it started years back with the first GDR race with MikeC and PeteB out front, while I was in awe of those guys I knew I could never jump straight in to that kind of race so I looked for something with a little more support but still plenty of tough riding. I found it in the MTB Himachal 2007, 9days of riding in the Indian Himalayas, with you kit transported for you along with tents, hot showers, tech support and lots of great people.

The 2010 MTB Himachal is being run from the 22 - 30 October this year, entry fee is still really cheap and flights are not to bad this far in advance. When I raced it it worked out cheaper than doing the Trans Wales with "Gold" support! Crazy! The food, tents and facilities, people and terrain made it the best event of any kind I have been to.

More info can be found here

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Ticking along...

So not much to report, the Revelate frame bag and gas tank are finished and on their way. It will be great to try a full load out. I need to start thinking about some off-bike training for core strength as my back didn't like the wrenching around on the slippy trails this Saturday. Some floor work each day should help and cut down on the proto-wok I am sporting!

I have a full fitness test next week at work thanks to some promotion they are running. It will be interesting to see how fit I actually am compared to the "average" I know the weight / height / body fat and blood pressure are OK (if on a little skinny side) but knowing the V02 Max and blood sugar etc will be interesting. Might try and get it done next spring too (although it will probably cost me!)

So only a quick update...

Friday, 13 August 2010

What's it all in aid of?

So this last week has been a welcome break from work and a chance to ride some, fettle the bike and catch up on reading and other stuff. Oh and I hit 34 (but still feeling 23!)

So my Epic, err sorry, Revelate Designs frame bag and gas tank are still about 3 weeks away but I was able to do a pretty good test pack of the extended trip bikepacking gear and get out on Wednesday for a ride. It started on the same route as the 210km road route I did earlier in the month but then diverted at Stanway and took in the back lanes around Guiting and some dirt tracks over the back of Cleeve Hill (including the Field of Treacle / Velcro Grass) up to the Pylons (Note for Phil Nightfire: I know that Pylons are the arms on transmission towers and the structures in question are radio masts...but thats the local name for them)

The bike was rolling well but the 15lbs ofr gear and 2 bottles slowed it down on the climbs. I had planned to keep the overall average speed (so including stops) above 10mph but with several long-ish climbs and one rocky hike-a-bike meant it was close in the end.

My Fred modification to the Blackbuck has been to add some Profile ZB Aero bars to help with the long flat sections. With a short section of 22mm plastic tube and a couple of zip-ties I was able to add a GPS and light mount to make up for the lack of bar space. All seemed to work well but I think that a Fred-Bar from Siren might be an idea to reduce the reach a bit. I will email Brendan and see whats what.

So I managed 40miles in the heat with all the gear on which is not bad but a long way short of what I can do although the 32:20 gearing and fat tyres were not helping! I did manage to keep above the 10mph average I had set my self but like I said...I have a way to go.

Another piece of the kit turned up today in the shape of an Inov8 Race 12 bag to take over from my Camelbak Octane 8. While the Octane is a great bag it was pretty heavy and short in the back. I used a 30L version of the Inov8 pack for my Nepal trip and worked really well with 15lbs of kit in it for 7days non-stop. The smaller version will do for day rides and essentials on longer rides (water, waterproofs, wallet and other stuff starting with 'W') I also got two small strap pouches for snacks and widgets as the waist pockets are really handy having another 2 to hand has to be good. Right?

So whats it all in aid of? Well next year I plan on racing the Tour Divide, South to North. Yeah, pretty big and scary but I have been following it for years, starting with the MTBR coverage of Mikesee's attempt, and have got to a point where I have to give it my best shot. I have a lot to do before June next year but if I am going to do it I will go in 100% committed, there have been too many under prepared noobs turn up in the last couple of years. If I am there I will be there for the long run or not at all.

South to North? Yeah Antelope Wells is the arse end of no where and I would rather figure out getting there while fresh than after 27 days on the bike! Plus Banf has hot springs, cool cafes and a shuttle to Calgary so much better for post-race recovery and extraction. Fixie Dave and a couple of others should be starting from there too so I won't be on own for too long until we get too spread out. I hope that we should have good re-supplies to as the N-S Leaders won't have snaffled all the chocolate milk and peanut butter (not sure about the second half!)

Only other news was that I got an email from my friend Matt who I have not heard form for a while. It was great to catch up and talk things over as Matt has attempted the GDR and had some great advice.

"Platforms + freewheel = The best way for bikepacking....along with a low-ass gear. You've got to prepare for Day 10+ and if someone that you don't know for a fact is really light and strong tells you otherwise, they're full of shit."

Good advice from some one I know and has been there and done that. Priceless.

Other than the Internet the bok Two Wheels on my Wagon has also been a great source of entertainment and information and is recommended even if you don't want to ride 2745 miles.

The only gaping hole in the plan is the psychological side of things and while Google has turned up various "self help" books it is pretty short on anything else. While I would love to employ a sports psychologist I don't have the money for that so the search continues.

OK, that is enough for now.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

What can you learn form a really long ride?

Well I took Friday off work with the plan of re-riding the 200km Audax route from 3 years back. What with work, not sleeping well and other stuff I woke up an hour after I had planned to get going and to the sound of blustery winds. Undetered I (slowly) got ready and left the house at 0930. What followed was 12 hours of pretty much constant riding taking in some lovely parts of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. The route took me to Bishops Cleeve, Bourton on the water, Cirencester, past South Cerney, under the M4 motorway, west to the top of Chippenham and Calne (complete with view of white chalk horse on the hillside) before heading due north across the tops of the Cotswolds passing Westonbirt and Tetbury before dropping back into the gathering gloom to Cheltenham. 216Km / 134miles. The furthest I have been in one day by bike!

So, considering I have not done this sort of mileage for years I was happy that a) I finished, b) my knees did not play up and c) the bike fit was spot on.

So I guess the next stage is some long days back to back to see how my recovery is as I am pretty tired today!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

What can I learn from a long ride?

Well I got off my ass and put in the longest ride I have been on for a long while. I managed a 87 mile round trip to Ledbury and back on narrow lanes and even some dirt road Guitar Ted would be proud of. Considering my longest trip for the previous months has been to work or the shops (3miles<) I did pretty well. Some mild knee pain that disappeared after a few miles. Need to get the saddle angle (and height, the TNF shoes have thick soles) tweaked to make sure my legs and ass are happy and look at some aero bars for, err, longer dirtroad trips as my hands were a little sore from the pressure. Nice day in the sun, now to re-fuel :)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Big shout out to Alpkit and BPL

LOLZ! That was my instant reaction to the Alpkit Aireo 120 sleeping mat. Perhaps working in IT with people 10 years younger is rubbing off on me.

Super light (<400g) compact (would fit in a 2L cider bottle) and stealth black. £35. Super fast delivery as usual from the Alpkit staff. Can't wait to try it out.

I ordered a new tarp to replace my MASH poncho for light weight trips as it will weigh less, be more compact and not have a hood in the middle of it! To keep it upright I ordered some Dyneema cord and glow-in-the-dark line-loks from Backpackinglight which arrived today with some jelly babies included! The line is 1.5mm thick, 1.3g/m and will support 11stone (14lbs per stone...work it out!) 15m of it should be plenty for the tarp and the line-loks will make pitching and packing back up a snap. Thanks guys!

So no excuse not to get back out this weekend!

Interesting debate about the "Ride The Divide" movie on Bedrock+Paradox blog...some really experienced riders and interesting folks commenting...and some loud-mouth Brit :)



Sunday, 20 June 2010

What use is a very short ride?

First a quick comment on the Welsh Ride Thing: Super event, great terrain and big thanks to Stewart and Dee for putting it on and the sponsors for the raffle prizes. No thanks to the weather, angry Scotish guys in Bothies (he f**king drove there!) and lack of motivation. On the bright side the car decided to die after I got back home (timing chain, and yes its terminal)

So what can you learn from a short ride? Well having hit the local trails for an overnighter and considering I didn't hit 12miles in all quite a bit. I cycled out of 'nham about 9pm and headed up Leckhampton with the intention of bivvying at a nice spot I had found a few years back...but in the dark in dense woods I came out on the wrong spot and ended up instead in a meadow overlooking Cheltenham and a sunset over the Malvern Hills. Lesson 1: Make sure your feet are lower than your head as this will exacerbate lesson 2: bring a pillow. I always sleep with a big pillow at home and hate with a passion the nasty thin things they give you in hotels. So as well as checking out the ground angle before lying down I will pack a lightweight Alpkit drybag just big enough for my Alpkit Fillet down vest...and it will keep it 100% in the seat pack too.

Lesson 3 is that I always over pack on food. A chilli and tortillas before I left and a big try of Sushi is more than enough. Chocolate milk and jaffa cakes are the breakfast of champions! And I didn't miss my stove (just as well as the wife took both stoves and my Ti mug camping to the 3Counties Show yesterday!) If I was going out for a whole day after a fry-up and strong coffee at the first town would have sorted me out.

I slept pretty well and was warm enough in a 1 season down bag in my bivvi with Merino leggings, hat and long sleeve top. Leggings can be swapped out for leg warmers (dual use) but if it was a really nasty day a clean dry pair is nice to pull on! Lesson 4 placing feet on rucksack makes a huge difference if you only have a 3/4 length pad. I was toying with a full lenght pad (the new Alpkit ones look great and are pretty light and pack small...not bad for 1/2 price of a Thermorest!)

So quite a few important things learnt in a space of a few hours. Its now 08:13 on Sunday and I have already been up for 4 hours and the shops won't open until 10:30....guess I get to relax :)



This post was brought to you thanks to Alpkit, they don't sponsor me but I am getting the feeling that I am sponsoring them! Visit them: Alpkit

Friday, 28 May 2010

Welsh Ride Thing

Is tomorrow and I am packed, pretty much. Looking forward to 200km in Wales...I hope to finish a little ahead of time and get back early.

Total kit weight 12.5lbs excluding food and fuel. Camelbak has 3 days worth of food and 2L water...not weighed that but it is hefty but will allow me to keep off the main roads and out of "local shops" that frequent mid-Wales.

Might report when I get back...or I might not.


Sunday, 25 April 2010

Nepal Photos

An amazing trip which I night write up one day soon...or not.

Thanks to Joe Cruz for inviting me along, Mark Slate for the amazing OS Bikes BlackBuck frame and forks, Amanda at Chocolate Fish for providing the Merino clothing for a race 2 years ago...and still going strong! and Becca for letting me go and "lending" her gears for the trip :)


Tuesday, 6 April 2010


A write up and photo dump will follow but only once I have recovered from the food poisoning I got on the flight back. Bad dice as one friend put it.

In short: Tough, amazing, friendly, hot, cold and dusty.


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Not long to go

Pretty much sorted now, got my Manopoly Money (aka US$) and all bags are packed and weighed (coming in grams under the allowed weight despite careful selection!)

Just need to finish the last day at work, get a haircut on Friday AM with Nick the Greek as the forecast is warm and I don't do well in the heat let alone with a mop-top.

Joe is leaving a day early (as far as I can make out with those pesky time-zones) but will arrive with in an hour of me should it all go to plan :) First couple of nights accomodation have been sorted and plans for the rest sketched out.

Look out for a quick brain fart should I get to a 'Net Cafe while on my travals or a photo dump when I am back.


Monday, 1 March 2010

Dull list for my records

Crank Bros pump, Topeak tool, Gerber micro, 2x tubes, puncture kit, zip ties, chan links, chian ring bolts and tool, tyre boot, 2pr brake pads, gear and brake cable - all in seat bag on bike

Alpkit Headtorch
3x AAA batteries
Sun Glasses and case, cleaning cloth.
Ricoh CX1, LowePro case and memory card
Ricoh battery charger and 2x spare batteries
Sandisc Clip 8Gb MP3 player, head phones and 4gb MicroSDHC card
4x Lithium AA's and charger for MP3
Leatherman lock knife
Passport / insurance documents
Copies of above
Moleskein note book with useful info
Pages from guide book
TNG Map of the Annapurna Circuit
0.1mm Technical pen
2x 1L Ziploc bags
Money belt
Wallet - 2x credit cards, cash (NRs and $US)

Sun screen (SPF50)
Hand wash
Chlorine Dioxide drops
First aid kit; inc syringes and hypodermic needles,
Mini-towel (A3 size)
40 antibacterial wetwipes
Lifeventure multi soap
Toilet paper
Toothbrush and paste
Ear plugs
Glasses cleaner

Rapha LS merino top
Chocolate Fish Merino T-shirt x2
Chocolate Fish Merion LS top
Chocolate Fish Merino boxers
Chocolate Fish Merino longjohns
Chocolate Fish Merino beanie
Chocolate Fish Merino socks
Montane Velocity jacket
Montane Velo over trousers
Swerve Cycling cap (waterproofed)
Silk glove liners
Long wool socks
BBB winter gloves
Lusso Repel thermal leg warmers
Swimming trunks

Karrimor Global 900 synthetic sleeping bag
Silk sleeping bag liner

2m electrical tape (on bike)
4m Gaffer tape (on bike)
Epic Designs handle bar harness
Inov-8 Pro 30L pack and 2L bladder
2x small, 1x Medium Ditty bags
2x 8L Alpkit drybags

On Me:

Fox Merino SS top
Rapha 3/4 shorts
Endura FS-260Pro Bibs
Chocolate Fish Merino Socks
SBC gloves
Bell helmet

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Change is good

Buddhists teach that impermanence is one of the things you must accept if you want to achieve enlightenment.

Joe sent me a copy of his packing list and accompanying photo. First off a 22L pack (vs my 30L one) and he is putting the sleeping bag on the bars! Cue a quick tinkering session and I have now re-jigged the set up putting the 2Kg of clothes and drybag on the bars with the Epic Designs strap-on bag harness.

This makes the pack a lot lighter and give me a little more room. I have thrown in some extra toilet paper, sandals and merino t-shirt. I can still cram it all in the bag if needed and probably will on the longer hike-a-bike sections. Speaking of hiking with a bike next time try carrying the bike over your shoulder with the front wheel facing back...much easier especially up hill.

Training has gone well with 2 days off work and some extra miles on the bike with all the kit. Even had a traning session riding forest roads being chased by a shire-cob cross horse and cart up all the hills. He can not stand anyone being in front and has to try and catch them so I am the bait and get a 50m head start :) Pretty good interval training for us both.

Caffreys and Naked Gun DVD,



Thursday, 25 February 2010

Riding and eating

Not much to report, just keeping the wheels turning and engine fueled.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Video from the weekend

None of me as I was off the back with cramps. Nice trail though despite the tree felling in progress :(



Sunday, 31 January 2010

Practicing: Take2

Nice ride in the FoD today despite the early start as Sheldon has to drive to Poland this afternoon! Nice 18-20miles around the woods with plenty of hills and techy trails. Dungeons and Dragons trail is pretty muddy and cut up, logging operations have not helped and the boardwalk is missing although it did not stop The Swede making the drop! I rode with all my Nepal kit / in the clothing I will use and it all worked fine, I even lost the jacket after the first climb as it was warming up to 1 or 2 deg C. Bag worked well and only a little strap adjustment as I drank the water from the wrap-around bladder.

Bike did great and the new DX thumbshifter is much better than the XT pod I was using. I put the Stout back on the front for extra grip in the sludgy conditions but the rear Weirwolf did really well in the bad conditions and gave a little cushioning on the frozen ruts.

I have packed my pedals with grease again and loctited the nuts on, this should be the last time I touch them but the right one is getting a little loose on the inboard bushing...I'll keep and eye on it.

Wise words from Mikesee: "Build it strong, build it comfey, use loctite"

Pretty worn out now, beef stew and dumplings for tea :)

Saturday, 23 January 2010

First ride out

After a quick trip into work I was able to escape for a couple of hours to give the pack and the new bike set up a try over Cleeve Hill and 3deg temps. All the kit worked well and the bag did not stress my shoulders and neck at all. The 6gears certainly helped especially across the sucky wet grass of doom towards the Pylons (Locals will know this one!) The bike is shod with WTB Weirwolf 2.55s and they are running Bonty tubes...the last two with removable valves so I can add some Bonty Super Juice that apparently will work with tubes and not only those troublesome tubeless setups.

Lusso leg warmers have two great resons to buy them: they are super long, even with my long legs the go from ankle to crotch with no problems. They are also super warm and pretty windproof which for a chilly descent over Harp Hill (or Thorung La) is what you need. Also pretty water repellant. £18 well spent.

The MP3 charger has turned up along with 2 AA Lithium batteries...not bad for £2.30 from FleaBay. Battery charger for the camera has been added (174g) but I might try and source a shorter 2pin plug flex as 1.5m is a little excessive!

More riding tomorrow, if my legs can take it!


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Ouch! x3

Ouch one is that I have just been for my jabs for the trip. Due to a pretty comprehensive pin-cushion session before India I only needed a Hep-A booster :)

The second ouch was the cost of my new Passport that arrived today, £77.50 for 32 lovely pages to fill...not that I used more than a dozen in the last one over the last decade...I blame the EU as you don't get a stamp going to the continent any more :(

And number 3 is that I seem to have been suffering from a quantum case of Kathmandu-belly and have been felling as rough as a badgers behind for the last 3 days, hopefully I am over the worst of it as I am bored senseless sat in the house. I did get to read the Lonely Planet guide book for Nepal.

While it contains much useful information there are quite a few chapters on all the terrible stuff that could happen (and if you believe some people will) as soon as you step off the 'plane. I am not sure if they are mentioning it to legally cover their asses or to disuade nervous people from venturing abroad but having traveled before I can't see too many problems with Nepal.

Last thing to sort is the insurance, camera charger and batteries and fettle the bike...which will be a days work in its self!

Bike stuff includes:
Loc-titeing all nuts and bolts,
Getting the bike box and packing sorted,
Fitting a thumb shifter (and possibly new cable and outer...damn),
Re-wrapping bar tape,
Stopping the Ourys moving all over the place,
Changing brake pads (I'll keep the old ones for spares),
Saddle angle adjustment.
...the list goes on

I want to get all this done in good time so I can spend a month shaking it down with a full pack. Tyre choice (having pored over photos of the area) will be WTB Weirwolf 2.55" with probably Bonty self-sealing tubes (my slime ones are past it...add to the list of stuff to do!) as they give good grip and comfort at low pressure and pumped up hard will roll fast on reasonable surfaces...even tarmac should I encounter any!

Right, might try some food and see if it does not bolt for the exit!


Sunday, 17 January 2010

The low down for the kit weenies

So here is the current iteration of the kit I intend to take and the bike set up (well the gears any way)

First up the gears, as described in my last post its an 8sp cassette minus the 11 and 30t sprockets. XT mech and old 8sp pod shift the SRAM PC58 chain. No dropping issues which is a shame as I really like the Paul Chain Keeper :) Shifting has been pretty good considering the two weeks of snow / slush and salt that has been thrown at it. Cleaned on Thursday night and oiled as there was a little noise from it but still working fine. I might have to go back to Finish Line Wet lube as the Rock N Roll King of Lubes might be a little out of its depth in this bad weather. Teflon tandem gear cable and standard gear outer (full length) are working fine and will do for years :)

Right, the kit. I have picked up a Inov-8 30 bag and bladder. The bladder sits on the lower back and wraps round the wing pockets and looks to keep the weight low down on your hips (ie how rucksacks are meant to be worn...CamelBak take note!) It fits really well as it is really long in the back compared to other 30L light weight bags.

I have got everything inside the bag (and a little room to spare) and the mesh side pockets are free for snacks / souvenirs / Kukris :) Total weight with 2L of H2O is 17.6lbs

Right the kit: (left to right from top)

Top row:

Crank Bros pump, Topeak tool, Gerber micro, tube, puncture kit / zip ties / chan links / tyre boot etc... [missing Avid pads, gear and brake cable]
Alpkit Headtorch, 3x AAA spares.
BBB Glasses and case, cleaning cloth.
Ricoh CX1, LowePro case, 2x spare batteries and 2 memory cards.
Sandisc Clip 8Gb MP3 player and head phones [missing 2x Lithium AA's and charger]
Sun screen (SPF50), hand wash, Chlorine Diox, Lipbalm in ditty bag (waist pocket on bag)
First aid kit; inc syringes and hypodermic needles, painkillers. [missing Imodium, Diamox and wide spectrum antibiotics which I will get in Kathmandu]
Leatherman lock knife
Mini-towel (A3 size) and 40 antibacterial wetwipes

2nd Row:

Cotton trousers and linen shirt casual / flight clothes
2x Chocolate Fish Merino T-shirts
Chocolate Fish Merino long sleeve zip neck
Lifeventure multi soap (will take 100ml bottle due to restrictions, 200ml shown)
Toilet paper, toothbrush and paste, glasses cleaner, ear plugs, Otravine (all wash kit fits in blue ditty bag)

3rd Row:

Montane Velocity jacket
Montane Velo over trousers
Silk sleeping bag liner
Swerve Cycling cap (waterproofed)
Chocolate Fish Merino boxers and longjohns
Chocolate Fish Merino beanie
Silk glove liners
Long wool socks
Chocolate Fish Merino socks
BBB winter gloves
Lusso Repel thermal leg warmers

Bottom Row:

Karrimor Global 900 synthetic sleeping bag (good to 0deg C, -5 with liner + merino layer)
Inov-8 Pro 30L pack and 2L bladder.

Not shown:

Topeak XL seat bag (for tubes, tools and pump)
2x 600ml bottles on the bike
2m electrical tape (on bike)
4m Gaffer tape (on bike)
Snacks for along the trail - bought locally.

And it all fits in this:

Not shown are the clothes I will be wearing:

Endura FS-260Pro bib shorts
Rapha 3/4 shorts
Fox Racing Merino short sleeve top
Chocolate Fish Merino socks
Cheap watch
Prescription glasses
Bell helmet
TNF Hedgehog GoreTex shoes
SBC long finger gloves

Thats all for now. I need to see about getting the bike strapped to the backpack for those long carry sections :)


Saturday, 9 January 2010

Back on the bike at long last

Well I have been commuting by bike every dau for 9mths but off-road recreational riding has been pretty thin on the ground.

2010 started with a cold, slightly hung over pootle in the FoD and we crammed another one in on Sunday too with Sheldon / Mandi and the usual suspects. Really good fun. It was also the first time since 2002-3 that I have ridden with gears. < pauses to hear all the jaws hit the floor and awaits a Ray Capo like backlash... >

Yes gears, only 6 of them so its not like I can't handle it. As background I got an email on the 27th Dec from my good friend Joe who I raced with in India a couple of years ago. He had a crazy idea to bike round the Annapurna Circuit this spring going super light stylee and mixing in some sight seeing, great food and mountains. Well how could I turn it down? Work are OK and I have booked the time off, flight booked and most of the kit sorted (and weighed!) One thing Joe did say was that it would need gears due to extended climbing at altitude and long, gradual downhills (that worry me more than the climbs!)

He also advised 26" wheels incase of needing spares...I'll (have to) take my chances on that one.

I have a source for custom boxes and a double thickness box will be about £25. I plan to take both wheels off and strap them either side of the frame and also remove the bars, seatpost and pedals. This should make for a much more manageable box to get in the airport / between planes / on to taxis. With the tools and first aid kit in there everything else can go in my carry on bag (25-30L rucksack!..we are going light!)

Merino will feature heavily in my clothing but I have also got a silk sleeping bag liner and glove liners on their way. The flat DMR V12s (with longer pins) are great with the TNF shoes I have and mean that I can take one pair of shoes. Grip is easily as good as the Time ATAC and a damn site easier to walk in / step on or off in. The old (new-ish) shoes and old but servicable pedals will be going on STW soon.

So the gears, you can fit 6 8sp cogs on to a Hope SS rear hub. I disassembled the 8sp cassette from Becca's Bontrager and also borrowed the shifter pod, rear mech and chain. I lost the 11t and 30t cogs so I have 13-15-17-20-23-26 x 32 range which seems pretty sensible and I have had no issues with the chain coming off the Middleburn Uno ring. I would put this down to a tight chain, tall teeth and no ramps or pins. I might get a Paul Chain Keeper if it is an issue but at the mo' its all cool.

In slightly related news Mark Slate has announced the BlackBuck frame will be in 3 sizes with a new fork and a really nice looking head badge. Check MTBR.com 29er forum for more info.

Right enough spew, just to say that all up pack weight with 2L of water will be 18.1Lbs :)