I’m bored.com today. Literally nothing to do. I’m on a come-down and feeling like I should be doing something despite aching all over. I’ve been thinking about the past week this morning.
Here are 10 things I’ve learned this week
Planning is key
If you plan, chances of things going wrong are minimised. You’ll see from previous blog posts that I planned my route, my accomodation, my equipment and the kit I packed. All tested, where possible, before I left. I had a couple of minor issues but overall it was a success.
Weather – cover all bases
Its important to take plenty of clothing so you can cope with any weather. Even on the dry, warm days I could get cold. Its better to carry an extra jacket than not have it when you need one. I just missed a pair of overshoes for when it got wet on Day 3.
34×34 is a low enough gear
Traditionally tourists will use a triple but I couldn’t be arsed or afford a brand new triple setup. I made do with what I had, on a budget, to get me as low as I could. My gear choice was vindicated when I climbed Bwlch-y-Groes on Day 3. If I can do that with 20lbs of gear, I can get up anything.
28mm tyres are the perfect size
This was one of the best equipment choices I made. They offer a great balance of comfort and speed and choosing the Schwalbe Delta Cruiser with a puncture guard I was able to ride some off-road trails without issue or worrying about a puncture.
I strongly advise at least put a new tyre on the back. It wears very quickly with the weight on the back
Routine saves time
I quickly found that getting into the same end of day and morning routine saved me time and faff. Where I placed my bags, getting kit out ready and the order you eat, dress and re-pack your panniers all made it smooth. I find if I don’t stick to a routine I’m likely to forget something and potentially leave something behind. Yes, I must have OCD!
Recovery is key
If your doing a multi-day trip. You need to pay attention to your body and allow it to recover correctly. You might be fine the next day but fatigue builds up as I found out on Day 4. Lack of sleep contributed to me been extremely fatigued that day which affected my outlook on the rest of the trip until I’d slept. Have a beer but moderate it, drink plenty of water, have a good meal, a good sleep and you’ll be fine. If you can get a hot bath for a soak, even better.
Your heavy bike means you engage your core more when you climb. Work on it and look after it with stretching when you’re away. My back had niggles and twinges all week which I had to manage
Research your accomodation location
You might be consumed with your route and kit. Don’t ignore your accomodation and book blindly just because of price or its where you are going. Make sure they can store your bike and its close enough to get an evening meal. You don’t want to use taxi’s or have a long walk. It took me a while to tick both of those boxes for each of the 4 days I needed one.
Cantilever brakes are fine
These can be notoriously rubbish for stopping power. Loaded up with a 40lb bike going down a 20% descent I had to make sure they were upto the job. They were and they are. Just make sure your rims are tip top, you use new, tested brake pads and your brake setup is refined and working properly. If you service your brakes before going, bed them in for a week, for example.
Its a much mental as physical
They run hand in hand. I’ve been in good physical shape all week but my week took a dip on Day 4 because I was exhausted. On at least one occasion I could have packed it in that afternoon. Then on Day 6 yesterday, I’m physically shattered but my head is telling me I can do this, hot bath, beer, achievement. You need both. Problems with either can derail you. Recovery is the key to keeping them in check.
I want to do it again
Overall it was an awesome experience. I want to do it again but when and where is too soon to decide. Perhaps in a group? Abroad? Thats the thing about touring I’ve fallen in love with. You can do whatever you want without any pressure. I made this week a physical challenge deliberately to satisfy my competitive urges I still have. It was a personal challenge and I have no doubt future trips will be in the same vein too.
I’ve been a bit taken aback by the comments on social media after I got back. I didn’t realise so many people were quietly following me. Thank you ALL for the best wishes. Means a lot. It was a bit of an anti-climax walking into an empty house with an empty fridge lol. But was great to read them after I’d recovered in the bath.
If anyone is considering a similar trip. If I can offer any advice based on my experience this week and during all the planning, just drop me a line. Happy to share any advice or tips I can help with.
Probably signing off for a bit now
PS Here is a link to my Tour Gallery. Some stuff in here that didn’t make my blogs