3 months to go

I think it’s fair to say that we now have enough equipment to stock a small shop – in fact we recently opened the door of our Chapel for me to sell some of my jewellery (yes I know it sounds posh, but it came free with the house & has proved to be very useful!) and more than one customer asked if we hired bikes out too!

There’s no getting away from it – we love cycling, which I suppose, is an important factor when you consider the cycle ride we’re going to be doing. It also means that we have rather a large collection of bikes including road-bikes, tourers and mountain-bikes, but it’s fair to say that they are all well-used and they certainly don’t have a chance to just sit and gather dust.

Delights of Mountain-biking after the rain near Okehampton

There’s still just over 3 months until the boys set off on their adventure, but we have already started to increase the amount of riding that they do, just to make sure their legs are getting stronger & almost more importantly that they get used to their saddles (in the hope of reducing the need for packing gallons of chamois cream).

Having the Dartmoor Way running straight past the front door means that we have an easy route straight onto the Granite Way and a steady 25 mile round journey to the far end of Lydford Gorge. The only problem with living in a village high on the northern flank of the Moor means that it’s an uphill route back, whichever one you take – although the worst, by far is the road back from the Granite Way, up the steep (11%) hill that runs from Fatherford back to Belstone – certainly not the easiest way to end a cycle ride!

As the weeks start to collapse towards the start of the ride – this will become a regular after-school training route, riding to Lydford and back at least twice before heading home.

Perfect place for coffee at the far end of Lydford gorge on the Granite Trail in Devon

We’ve also now got nearly all the equipment that will be needed, from the bikes and sleeping equipment that I mentioned last time, but also now all the other things that will be of use en route.

  1. Shoes and pedals:
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    The usual Birkenstocks for French cycling won’t really be the ideal footwear for this trip!

    It goes without saying that flip-flops (or my hubby’s favourite Birkenstocks) wouldn’t be the right footwear for a ride like this, but what is? After a lot of discussion they’ve decided on SPDs, which aren’t as rigid as the more traditional fixed road cleats and certainly the boys find them more comfortable over a long period of time. The other draw back with the road cleats is that they are made of plastic so wear down quickly (certainly not suitable for walking anywhere) My hubby & youngest will be wearing Shimano Touring shoes, which have thicker soles and recessed SPD cleats, so they’ll be able to walk about happily on them if need be, without wearing the cleats away to nothing! Also my hubby has found a pair of Keen SPD sandals (which are certainly less industrial than some of the other makes on the market), whilst my eldest has plumped for an SPD road-shoe, which is lighter and well ventilated – but he will have to carry flip-flops to make walking easier (but apparently his shoes are much cooler than the others & you get to the point when you realise your 18 yr old knows best!)

    The Shimano Touring Shoes favoured by hubby & youngest
  2. Panniers: Again we’ve done a lot of research into what will be best for them. In an ideal world we’d be able to plan for sun and wonderful weather from the moment they leave the house, but we’ve spent many summers along the West Coast of France & know that it can (and does) rain very heavily and so have to plan to get wet!
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    Whether we like it or not we have to plan for some days to be like this!

    As such we’ve decided to buy the Ortlieb 42 litre classic rollup waterproof panniers for the boys, whilst my hubby will be using 65 litre ones from Altura. They will also take handlebar carriers and additional waterproof bags to hold their roll mats & sleeping bags. Hopefully the weather will be great & they won’t need all this water-proofing but ‘better to be safe than sorry…….’

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    Hopefully by planning for rain- they’ll be looking for fountains to cool off in
  3. Clothing: It’s fair to say that we now have quite an extensive collection of cycle tops & shorts so have concentrated on making sure everyone has decent waterproof and windproof jackets, as there is nothing worse than getting cold. They had considered getting matching tops, but this was far too ‘Howard and Hilda’ for the boys so perhaps we’ll have to leave that until another time!
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    They make quite a colourful bunch!

    They will also carry light-weight boardshorts & T-Shirts for the evenings so they will at least have a chance to wash their cycle-kit.

  4. Chargers: It wasn’t that long ago that this wouldn’t even have been a consideration, but now how to keep phones etc. charged is high up on the list for everyone, particularly those travelling anywhere with teenagers! They really don’t want to leave phones etc charging in open, public places and we already have what I would call normal chargers, but with the Garmin, 3 phones and a few kindles as well then these just wont be beefy enough to do the job!
    They just can’t risk this going flat – even though they’ll have the maps too!

    As such and after visiting various forums & reading other blogs we’ve now invested in 2 Anker heavy-duty chargers – if only to allay the boys’ fear that their phones may run out of juice. They aren’t exactly what you would call light-weight, but we should be able to fully charge everything we have from one, whilst the other is charging elsewhere.

Most of our equipment has come from our local, excellent bike shop The Bike Shed, which has stores near us in Exeter & Crediton – the staff have always been incredibly helpful & have helped by price-matching where possible – also we’d prefer to shop locally whenever possible http://www.bikesheduk.com
We’ve had a first-try at packing up the bikes and certainly the added weight will rather reduce the number of miles the boys had been expecting to do each day, but it did all seem to go on (just about!!)
Whether we’ve got things right, we don’t really know and we won’t know until the cycle is underway. Until then we’ll keep the pedals turning & keep hardening those bottoms!
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If only all the training could be like this………..

Shared via this month’s All About France

Lou Messugo



One thought on “3 months to go

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