As with every challenge I’ve taken on, I tend to get carried away with planning and organising, and part of the whole experience for me is the hours spent going through notes, lists and doing endless research prior to getting to the start line.
So, this challenge is in no way different, but so far I reckon I have already spent a good 12 months researching everything from training, diet, kit, planning and more importantly, working on a route around the country that works for me
Most of my spare time spent so far has been organising the route, which seems easy enough, but I want to use roads that are as quiet as possible, I also want to ride to and through places of interest so that I can fly the flag for there MS Trust at nice locations as well as photograph and video our beautiful country. I also want to link up from accommodation to accommodation using the most direct route too, as well as passing village shops and local pubs for breaks.
So as well as scanning every possible road map of Great Britain I have in the house to get a rough idea of where I am heading, I’ve googled, watched endless Youtube videos and read Wikipedia on each place that I will be riding through, to and staying, as well as plotting my route on cycle routes, cycle paths, minor roads, towns, cities, villages and not forgetting the hills and mountains!
But, technology has come to my rescue too, my Garmin Edge 1000 SAT NAV is a crucial piece of my kit that allows me to plot each days route so that I can follow this turn by turn, Also using Strava makes life easy too, by setting out each day it will calculate your distance and put you on the quietest roads too, this is then saved and uploaded to my Garmin each day. my route can also be followed live through the Strava App
Reading and learning from those that have done similar rides certainly helps. I cant remember the last time I spent an evening at home where I wasn’t reading something that would benefit my ride.
Eat, Sleep, Cycle is an amazing read, and although this journey is in the opposite direction it certainly highlights the highs and lows of riding solo around the UK, from battling the British weather to the unforgettable landscape
One Man And His Bike is another great read about a mans life changing road trip and the surprising things he encountered along the way, it highlights the funny things that can happen on such an epic adventure and it certainly puts a smile on your face while reading it!
Its truly amazing to have the support from two of the UKs greatest adventurers on two wheels! Both Sean Conway and Mark Beaumont have cycled thousands of miles around the UK and the World, so who better to learn from. They both have different ideas on things but the end results are the same, I find both of these guys truly inspiring. Mark has kindly donated a signed copy of his book to help raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust
I thank Sean for dedicating these two books to me with words of encouragement, it means a great deal to have the support of such an inspiring maniac! some great reading and lots of pointers
Its not just books and maps on the route that I sit reading for hours, its also research on cycle maintenance and multi day cycling
I’ve done many multi day cycle events around the UK and Europe, and (touch wood) I have never had any issues with my bikes, but I am expecting a puncture here and the odd cable snap there, but quality gear is a must on an adventure like this. Once again scanning Youtube for films on correct gear and cycle maintenance has filled my watch history, and buying this maintenance book has been a great addition to my library. What I don’t want to happen on the ride is something to break and I either cant fix it or I spend hours scratching my head pushing my bike to the closest shop for repair.
My good friend and neighbour Alistair Mclean of Fatcreations has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to anything and everything at all to do with cycling, what he doesn’t know isn’t worth knowing, he has helped me out no end with advice and information from what spares to carry and how to adjust the gears, to how much weight and gear I should be carrying and to what riding position I should be in to gain an extra few mile an hour with no extra effort! He has the patience of a saint as most days something will pop up in my head and I will text Alistair my concern, but he always replies with good advice.
Finally, this little book will be my Bible which I will carry with me each day, it has everything from cycle maintenance to places to eat, sleep and also facilities along the way, it wont cover the entire route for me but it will give me an idea if I get caught out.