Sunday, 23 November 2014

End to end planning, 2

I thought I'd try to post where I'm up to with my planning at monthly intervals. So now it's five months and counting before the trip.

Since last time I've had an overnight camping trip with the Thorn (see separate post) and this revealed a number of significant points.

i. I can easily top up the charge on both my phone and satnav in the evening, from the Powergen AND, importantly, a five or six hour ride next day, charging the Powergen from the dyno hub, will virtually put back into it the energy I took out. I say virtually cos, in fact, it wasn't fully charged when I left home, Chrissie having charged her phone with it earlier in the week, and it was still taking charge when I got home, but was almost full. It certainly looks like an effective system; at worst I may have to "beg" a charge for the Powergen from a campsite occasionally if I don't manage to fully charge it. It's also fair to say I don't plan on keeping my phone turned on all the time.

ii. I have a real problem sleeping in a normal, mummy-shaped sleeping bag on a mummy-shaped mat. At home, I normally sleep in the recovery position, on my tummy with one knee raised, which is difficult in this kind of bag. So, I've bought a Rab Ascent 700, which is still mummy-shaped but significantly wider lower down. It's a three season bag which should cope with my bicycle touring needs; still have "colder" bags if I put up with a narrow one for any colder trip. Yet to try it in anger. And we do have rectangular mats in our arsenal, just not full-length. So, I'll try one of these next trip but may yet buy the soon-to-be-available full length rectangular Thermarest Neo-Air X-Therm.

iii. My backside ached badly after two, back to back, 40 odd mile days. Now, it's fair to say I don't regularly ride this far. My usual daily rides vary from 10 to 30 miles. So I may just need to get used to increasing mileage. I expected the Thorn Velo saddle to be up to the job but I wonder if it's too soft, so I've switched to the Charge Spoon from my road bike as an experiment. Tried it for 15 miles yesterday and it was OK but I didn't have time for a longer ride. Watch this space.

In addition to the above, I've bought a set of front and rear Ortlieb Roller Classic panniers. I had a mix of older rear Karrimor Kalaharis and Altura front panniers, but I've been lusting after waterproof Ortliebs for a while. They're smaller than the Kalaharis but seem to be quite big enough. Fitted 'em in the warmth of the lounge a coupla days back.

And a plug for Scotby Cycles, where I got the panniers. Good price, very fast delivery and discount for returning. Recommended.

Also spent some brass on a Topeak Hexus II which is highly recommended on CycleChat. Super bit of kit with built in chain splitter. And I bought a Leatherman Crunch, which appears to be the only tool of this kind with lockable pliers, like a Mole wrench. This was suggested in Stephen Lord's Adventure Cycle Touring Handbook.The thing's a joy to handle and behold, if a tad expensive, and weighs only a few grammes more than the pliers I used to carry.

Latest thoughts on route is to follow Nick Mitchell's, Cicerone guide all except for a significant deviation to avoid the A82 in Scotland. So, following Jackie's (Bikerta) lead, I plan to cross Dumfries & Galloway to Ardrossan, cross to Arran, then Kintyre and Mull before heading up the west side of Loch Linnhe to then follow the Great Glen Way, after which I'll rejoin Nick's route. This way I can rely on maps in Nick's guide except for the stated deviation. Course, I'll probably change my mind several more times before May!

I'll be keeping an eye on weather forecasts through the winter. Should I spot a window of clear weather for a coupla days I might well charge off on another trial camp, hopefully wild camping somewhere in the Peak District (sssh ... don't tell the Ranger Service).

Shortly off in the camper up to t'North Pennines. Bit o'hillwalking, bit o'cycling, bit o'socialising (not too much, lest it waters down my inherent grumpiness).

Think that's it for now.
Enjoy your own adventures, whatever they may be.

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