Over the past 20 years I have been privileged to have had many adventures around the world. Nowadays it’s on two wheels rather than two feet but the adventures still continue. My next one starts in a few days time when I will be cycling the length of the Pacific Coast Highway starting in Vancouver and finishing 1,848 miles later at the Mexican Border.
Training wise my biggest rides this year have been Hell of the Ashdown, incredibly tough but loved it; 200km (only managed 175) and 300km Audax events; the 200km Castle Ride; cycled around, through and across the Isle of White and recently completed Prudential Ride London with lots of other rides in-between. Each time I go out on Pebbless (my bike) my confidence grows and I’m now feeling rather more like a cyclist than a bikelyst! My confidence took a bit of a knock back a couple of weeks ago when I came off in spectacular style in order to avoid being hit. Thankfully Pebbles was OK and I came away feeling quite shocked, battered, bruised and very sore ribs.
I’m doing this adventure with my friend Cat who is a way more experienced cyclist than me. She has just completed Paris/Brest/Paris so keeping up with her is going to be hard work!
On my birthday weekend in July I cycled from Lands End to Bristol over 6 days with my lovely friend Becky. The weather was fantastic and although incredibly hilly it was without doubt a fabulous adventure. This was the first time that I had the opportunity to try out my panniers on the back of Pebbles and although at first they felt a bit odd I very soon got used to them. They did however make climbing up a couple of the hills extremely difficult, so much so that we were forced to walk the last sections to avoid falling off our respective bikes!
The lessons I learned were invaluable. Towards the end of the first day I had a mega blowout on my back tyre which was totally shredded. I thought I had every situation covered, new inner tube (my tyres are tubeless) little plugs in case the hole was too big for the sealant to seal, I even had some new sealant but stupidly didn’t have a new tyre or anything to patch up the large hole until we could get ourselves to a bike shop. Luckily Becky’s husband came and picked us up (they live very close) and drove us to a bike shop in Truro.
With the bike fixed we set off the next day with renewed vigour and me praying that I wouldn’t get another rip in my tyre. The only other mishap we had on the trip was a bolts falling off my pannier rack, but that was easily fixed as we made a little detour at the start of the day to a bike shop who did the necessary. Note to self, take a spare tyre and a few extra bolts – oh and cable ties they are always useful.
You know what it’s like when your heading off for a race or adventure – suddenly the kit takes over the house and you keep on thinking of things you need (or might not but get just in case) so lots of parcels start arriving! Over the past few months I have been collecting bits and bobs (cycling is a very expensive hobby!) and putting them on the spare room bed (when friends come to stay everything is then transferred to a large box in our bedroom). I’ve been chatting to people who have done various cycling trips and the best piece of advice they have given me is to take as little as possible – PACK LIGHT; something I managed to do with running but haven’t quite got the hang of it with cycling!
The last two weeks I have been checking and double checking everything, maps, sleeping bag, mat, clothes etc. I’ve reduced my kit by quite a lot so feeling rather pleased with myself but I’m sure when I return home I will know that next time I can reduce further – one step at a time!
I’m taking three luxury items. A small magnifying mirror and tweezers as I struggle to see any unwanted hairs on my eyebrows or my face and I don’t want to return home looking like the wicked witch of the west! The third item is my Painpod a fab bit of kit that I will use at the end of each day to help my muscles recover as well as help with pain relief so a win win situation; hairless and painless!!!
Pebbles is now packed away in her cardboard box (thanks to RM Cycles in Tenterden) I’m nearly packed and am hoping that everything including the bike will be within my 23kg limit as I really don’t want to pay £65 extra.
Since all these adventures have begun I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the marvellous support of my gorgeous husband HWMBO. He has been there without question to encourage, motivate, give me a talking to when needed, pick up the pieces when things don’t turn out the way I’d wanted, but most importantly his love has given me the strength to believe in myself and enable me to do what I love. He is my rock.
Cat and I fly out to Vancouver on Sunday. We will spend the next day putting our bikes back together, going for a little cycle ride around the City and the ride itself begins on the 3rd September at around 6am. I have put a schedule together but as we all know plans need to be adaptable, but whatever happens we have to complete the 1,848 miles (not including getting lost or getting ourselves to our stops for the night) in 25 days meaning we have to average 74 miles per day! We’re camping in biker/hiker campsites most evenings but may treat ourselves to a couple of nights in motels. This is not a race it’s purely two mad ladies having fun!