Its been a few weeks since my last blog and now less than that until I go on my solo cycling tour around Wales in May. Time to get serious now.
For me the tour consists of a few key elements.
I think my fitness is fine. I’ve been diligently commuting pretty hard twice a day for at least 4 days a week for some time now. My body is now recovering much better daily and I’m not so wiped out at the end of the week. The only question mark was my endurance. I rode the Mad March Hare sportive last weekend. 75 miles, 1100m of climbing and I averaged 19+mph solo with something still in the tank so I’m confident that will be enough.
The route is sorted. I just need to double check for proposed road works and note where I can get food and drink en-route. I’ll confirm my accomodation this week and get the routes onto my Garmin ready.
In previous blogs I’ve talked about my bike and what I need. My pannier rack has been fitted for months now and I’ve tried my pannier bags on commutes to work. My bike was due a service so I’ve run my current transmission as long as I can before I switched onto my touring setup. I’ve decided to change it this weekend to give myself a week to bed it in while I commute.
Back when I decided to embark on this trip I identified I needed super low gears but as my current transmission was pretty worn I opted to buy the parts and change it all in one go. Over the last few months I’ve bought wheels, a chain, cassette, rear mech, new chainrings, tyres and brake pads. All done on a budget. Here is how they break down.
I originally had Mavic Aksiums. They were a few years old. Great wheels, really strong. I had a look for alternatives but decided to stick to what I know when I found a set on eBay which were 2nd hand but had hardly any use. I picked them up for £80.
I wrote a blog on my tyre choice for the tour. In the end I bought Schwalbe Delta Cruisers again but narrower 28’s with a classic gumwall. I popped them on a couple of weeks ago as my rear tyre had worn out. The 28’s are great. They retain the comfort of my original 32’s but they roll much better…and look awesome too of course! I picked the tyres up on eBay again for £27 the pair.
My rear mech took a bit of research to find a model that would work with a 11-34 cassette and then get one. The RD-350 is a discontinued model but I found one on eBay and got it for just £12.
I wanted a 34 on the back which isn’t a problem as 11-34 is a pretty common ratio and a 34-34 gear is very small too. I’d found a compatible rear meach so I just had to decide whether I bought a road cassette or MTB. I looked at the weights and there was 1 gram in it! Went for the road (Tiagra HG-500) rather than the SLX version. Cost me £20
Chains are easy. I always use KMC x10’s. They’re robust, wear well, change gears fine and are easy to fit with the quick link. I picked one up online for £10.
If you’ve read my blog you will I know I run a 46 outer on all my bikes for a reason. I also have Rotor QRings on my bikes too but they’re pretty expensive. My current rings I’ve had since I had my shop so I know they wear really well. This project was on a budget so I opted to seek out alternatives. I stumbled upon DOVAL rings. They’re not Q, not as oval but still a bit Oval though. Both chainrings £42!
My bike has cantilevers. They’re not the most powerful so I need the best pads. I tested the BBB BBS-22HP pads in the Alps a couple of years ago so I know they will work for me stopping my 30lb touring bike. £10 for a set of 4
So I bought wheels, tyres, chain, cassette, rear mech, chainrings and brake pads for just over £200. I think thats a bargain! I didn’t need to change my cables or bar tape either which saved me some more $$$.
The last thing to do is to work out what kit I need and get it in my panniers. I’m thinking 3 sets of cycling kit for the 5 days (I get to wash it on Day 3), some basic clothes and simple toiletries. My spares are taken care of in my saddle bag. Bedding the wheels, tyres and transmission in should highlight any issues I may have before I go.
…and thats it. After months of research, purchases and training. Its nearly here.