It’s all very well training for the cycling, but I reckon I need to train to cope with the emails. I’ve always been pretty crap at typing but ‘m getting plenty of practise now! This is my highest risk area for an injury, RSI from constantly sitting at the laptop. If Mum was right I’ll get ‘piles’ too!!!

Snow stopped play. Been there, done that. Lovely memories of riding a mountain bike up Snowdon in the snow with fat Knobblies on it. Just me and my mate Adrian, first thing in the morning. We reckoned we were safe cos the ‘Bear Trap’ pedals would act like an ice-axe brake if we fell off!! It was great and we rode most of it (a regular occurence when I lived up there) . It was the descent that was the real fun. Every so often, the front wheel would sink and we’d fly over the handlebars!! The look on the faces of the climbers, all roped up with axes as we appeared in their horizon riding down, was priceless. Good memories those, we were even down in time for breakfast at Pete’s Eats in Llanberis, the centre of the known universe.

Anyway the snow came and went (enventually) and I was back out again. A week or so after that the rear wheel made lots of funny noises and it turned out that I had two broken spokes and a crack in the rim. So, another was ordered and another break enjoyed by doing too much typing and stuff.

I joined the Cycist Touring Club-Inclusive Cycling Forum. What a great bunch of people. All manner of Disabilities and all cycling. I felt a bit of a fraud amongst this company, but convinced myself that Mental Health, although invisible, is a worthy reason to be in the group. They’re really keen and supportive too. If you have any physical ot mantal health problems, take a look.

Shortly after that, the powers that be (Department of Work and Pensions) threw me a curved ball. Firstly my DLA will stop in May, and then, because I get a higher level of Income Support, this will follow suit. This means that I am looking at a weekly loss of £100.00!!!! I’ve complained about this as there was no letter to my Doctor or Therapist to ascertain how I’m doing. It had a great effect on me, causing a complete panick attack, and an ’emergency’ visit to the Doc where gibbering and confused, Itried to explain what was going on. All the usual questions: “do you want to harm yourself”, and “Are you Safe” followed. Answer is “No, but I’d really like a pop at those bastards” LOL

Anyway, this has slowed me down a bit as I have to rest up and ‘equalise’ a bit. Aside from those things, the training is going well. I feel stronger than ever and excited about Touring Corwall and Devon in April. My Teepee will be here from the ‘States’ in March, and the whole project is gathering momentum. I will be armed with flyers and sponsor sheets, so be warned if you are heading to Cornwall at Easter.

A local paper has cottoned on to the story (The North Devon Journal) and they are printing an article next week. The photographer came over to take piccies of ‘moi’, bike and trailer. All good stuff. I hope it kick-starts the fundraising.

I also bought some maps for the trip. Oh Dear, I can no longer read 1-250,000 maps without glasses and struggle on the detail with them on!! I spent some very therapeutic time tracing my route onto these, only to decide the Sustrans maps are better!! I shall try using one of them in April, so if I don’t reappear on the blog, you know I got lost and I’m somewhere in Corwall riding around aimlessly!

The only other disaster bestowed upon me this month was a relatively minor one. I went food shopping in Okehapton and bought rather too much. Piling it all into the trailer bag, I stupidly lifted the bag by the strap. The strap is not designed for this load, as it is a ‘City’ trailer. All the stitching on one side let go. Feeling very embarrassed, I limped home with it and had to get the needle and thread out and make a couple of mod’s to it. It’s well again now and I’ve learned a lessson! There’s no chance of this happening on the trip, because I couldn’t cycle every day with that much weight.

Like all distance cyclist and walkers, I’ve a keen eye on weight. I even weighed all the gear so far to see where I’m at! How sad is that? You see, it’s not just about weight anymore. At fifty, my body has had a really hard time from the climbing and the Paragliding crash. Lots of broken, but mended, things which make camping a challege, especially for four + months. I could take a really light tent, but I need space to live, recover and work on the bike. I could take a really light sleeping bag, but It’d be like sleeping in a full body condom! So, that horrible word ‘compromise’ has reared it’s ugly head. I’ve set a weight limit of 15-20kgs all up. 15 kgs for the gear + food etc.

I find I keep looking at big comfy sleeping bags and reckon that It’d be worth the extra, until the first hill that is!!! I’m sure this will work itself out. I’ve two tours until it really matters anyhow. Other items are trimmed right down. A ‘spork’ instead of cutlery. A virtually maintenance free cycle, Lightweight pans and a stove weighing 78 grms, yes just 78grms! Travel towels cut in half and light, light clothing. It’s all compromises. Well, apart from the mini ‘Bodum’. I just can’t survive without decent coffee in the morning. LOL.

Lightwieght summer sleeping bag and silk liner (donated kindly by Ok Leisure in Okehampton) should be enough. Cycling tops, thermals and one pair of trousers. Crocs (not yet purchased) for around the campsite and a folding seat of the ‘closed cell foam’ kind rather than a Thermarest chair kit. The sleeping mat is a Gelert 3/4 length ultralight job and seems dead comfy, even my insulated mug has gone for a stainless one I can use on the stove with a bit of insulating tape around the top so’s I don’t leave my lip stuck to it at the first sip. Ah yes, experience is a wonderful and painful memory, mostly of not doing this many years ago!!

So, there we are. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together, as George Peppard frequently said in the ‘A-Team’. I do, I’m excited and already nervous. I can’t wait to start touring again after so many years away. Bugs in your teeth, wind blasting you to a standstill, and the joys of packing up wet gear on a daily basis. Reality and fantasy are always quite a way apart, and I prefer to remember reality cos then , when it happens, and it will, I’m ready for it.
See you all soon
Graeme 🙂