So, things have been really quiet around these parts lately. But I can assure you we’ve been working away behind the scenes getting everything ready for our trip.
Notice periods have been handed in for both my work and our little bungalow here in North Wales. We’re officially on countdown. Well, we’ve been on countdown for a little while but now from the moment I handed in notice at work, we were 9 weeks away. Now almost every day I’m checking my countdown app to see how many days are left (today we are 49 days). As for our tenancy notice, we have a month to move out. We’ll be moving in with my mum in Manchester, in a tiny two up, two down, into a little box room. So over the past couple of months, we’ve been getting rid of all our belongings, and will ideally just have a few boxes to store over the next year.
Well, we finally made it to Lake Bala. We completed the 35 miles there, the overnight wild camp, then the 35 miles home. May I also mention we did this almost fully loaded and climbed 1400 feet. It was hard, but not impossible. We also have completed a 60-mile cycle to Llandudno, climbing nowhere near as much, carry no weight, well Ryan had one pannier for jackets and snacks. We only seem to be able able to get out onto bikes together on the weekends but are so proud of where we’re at. We obviously, have a long way to go yet but have come a long way since the beginning of the year.
Things we’ve learnt along the way
- Bring snacks and lots of them – this is key to keeping morale up, a little bit of sugar can be super helpful for the next 10 miles.
- Rest often, knowing we’re going to rest up at different spots helps me focus on the overall end goal; stopping for even just for 5 minutes to get off the bike and stretch around a little bit has been crucial.
- Drink lots of water, taking Ali’s advice from Cycling About, where he suggests drink until satisfied then drink that amount again.
- Listen to music on long, slow hill climbs, it certainly helps to give you something to focus on. We watched a Youtube video of a guy trying to become a pro mountain biker. His coach mentioned when your on the routes, one of the best things you can do is to sing a song to yourself as it keeps your mind occupied so physically you can just get on with the task at hand. My go-to song to sing to is Roar by Katy Perry as it’s unbelievable catchy and motivating.
- Wear sunscreen, on our last two biggest trips I’ve been stupid enough to see the overcast clouds and think I wouldn’t need any sunscreen. But each time I’ve been caught out and been burnt. Now I look like a mime artist where my cycling gloves have been but my arms are tanned.
- Breathing techniques, as a midwife I can spend the majority of a 12-hour shift encouraging a labouring woman to keep calm and breathe through her painful contractions. I’ve certainly drawn on these techniques on a fair few hill climbs.
- Giving ourselves plenty of time, if we have all day then use it, rest up where we need to rest up and if we get home earlier than plan then that’s a bonus, but also remembering it doesn’t go dark until 22:00 has been great.
Updating the bikes
Ryan has been working so hard on fixing the bikes up to our personal needs. We’ve changed the pedals to the Nukeproof Neutron Evo Pedals as they provide great grip with the added pins, they are also wider and longer than the standard pedals which came with the bikes. Also, after the hill climbs en route to Bala and thinking about travelling through Laos. Ryan realised we could probably benefit from lower gearing, so replaced our crankset and cassettes to help us on steeper hills. Ryan has also been trying to figure out a way to use our dynamo hub to charge our phones. He has bought a transformer that will convert the power generated by the dynamo to USB power, this means we’ll be able to charge phones/devices on the road. And finally, after our longest journeys yet we decided to invest in some handlebar bags. We went for the Ortlieb Ultimate 6S Classic Handlebar Bag as it has the transparent waterproof flap compartment to store your phone in, so you can still use your phone when cycling. It will also be super handy to store our camera in and any other frequently needed things (i.e. snacks).
Thoughts and Feelings
As I mentioned earlier, it definitely feels like the countdown is on. Each day brings with it a new set of emotions and anxieties.
We’re so excited and nervous; you can go from feeling incredibly high on the idea of what we’re going to be living and achieving. But on the other hand, it’s heartbreaking knowing that we are leaving so much behind; our home, family, work. At the moment, we’re mostly preparing for our move back to Manchester (18 days). Boxes are slowly being packed and bundles of things we no longer want or need are being distributed to charity shops and family members. Each time I see my sisters I have a new box of things for them.
Through this voyage of emotions, I haven’t ever thought I didn’t want to go on our trip but have certainly doubted my abilities physically to endure it. But so many other people have done it or are doing it, so why can’t I? Ryan said to me on our last trip, it’s not the physical endurance you need to worry about but the mental capacity needed to complete it. This will be the hardest thing either of us has done and together I know we will be able to do it.
The trip seems so far away and it can feel like we’re just sat around waiting to set off but the weeks slip past us as if the world is on fast forward.
We’re at a point of no return now; so much is going to happen over the next seven weeks, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride leading into an even bumpy-er road. We better buckle in cause there’s no going back now.