What are you doing? How are you feeling?
It’s just three weeks until I set off and the nervous energy is vibrating through my body. My bike is fixed, and I’ve even been doing some cycling in preparation this time around! There are a few bits to sort still but I will be ready to rumble without a doubt.
I’ve been umming and ahhing about north to south or south to north and in the end it was a coin toss….north to south! That means I will need to get myself and my bike up to John O’ Groats which I’m still working on.
I learnt lessons on my America trip and the following are all a part of my advice to myself (you can use it too obvs):
Less is more – Put everything you think you need for the adventure in front of you on the floor. Now pick 10 of those things and forget the rest. The heavier the bike the more frustrating the journey. My first time around I took wayyyyyy too much junk and less than a week in I was binning things at every opportunity.
Don’t bin your roll mat! – One of the things I foolishly decided to fuzz was my roll mat. I didn’t get a new one for a month and in that time each night I would put all of my belongings in a pile in the middle of the tent and would lay on them to keep me off the ground. Laying on the ground takes all of your lovely heat and in return gives you nothing but horrible cold. In one small town up at a decent altitude I even bought a door mat from a shop just to help me get a warmer night sleep, it said “welcome home”.
Pack thermals and gloves – The nights can get cold and on top of that you will likely be getting on the bike early each morning. Those early mornings can be really chilly wherever you are and it’s so shit getting on a bike in the cold.
A waterproof poncho could be your saviour – It’s pretty much undoubtedly going to rain. Rain can put any fire out including the one in your heart. Your legs will go forever in the rain so let them drown, but if you let that rain soak your torso it’s going to make you pull over.
Gut feeling – That feeling is so important on the road. If your gut is giving you a signal about people you encounter, places you sleep, routes you’re headed down, the weather coming in, just trust it and make that decision.
Wear a helmet – There isn’t a person on God’s green earth that doesn’t look like a twat in a helmet, myself included. But you should absolutely wear one because regardless of your prowess on two wheels shit does indeed happen. Wet drains, white lines, potholes, badgers, other road users, they’re all a recipe for accidents and if you are heading off your bike a helmet could be the difference.
Finally, remember that even when you hate it and want to give up it will all be so worth it in the end. I had several occasions where I just stopped cycling, got off and let the bike drop. The main cause of this for me personally was the weather. Headwinds and rain really get on my tits. But I’m so glad that after 10 minutes of walking around effing and jeffing I got back on and carried on with the mission.
Your body will hurt like never before, you won’t sleep like you do at home and you won’t eat like you do at home. You will feel these pains and may just think about calling it a day.
But remember that in these dire times; the pain is temporary. It may last a minute, an hour, a day, or even a couple of months. But eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If you quit however, it will last forever.
I will no doubt be reading this post in a few weeks as I’m pacing beside my downed bike effing and jeffing to the skies.
Yours in cycling,