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Unused and collecting rust: An old farming machine found around Devon’s multitude of lanes.

I haven’t blogged for two whole weeks. There hasn’t been anything sinister going on. I just accidentally left my laptop up in Barnstaple last time I was there. I have been amazed just how much more time I seem to have when I don’t have the choice to ‘play’ on the laptop. Far more time has been devoted to playing piano and I’ve even read a book in the last week. All of this on top of my usual chores and some timely changes to Kermit in readiness for Scotland in a couple of weeks.

My main preoccupation has been a series of hospital appointments, which I’m glad to say have shown nothing major going on, either with my heart, blood pressure or that most annoying of things, the prostate gland. I say annoying because to some extent many chaps of a certain age will have some symptoms allied to their own prostate. The outcome of all the investigation may be a procedure later in the summer, but that is then, and I have a cycle tour to enjoy first.

The result of these tests, along with an Easter full of the joy of small children and a general malaise that seems to come with this time of year, is that I haven’t ridden Kermit for two weeks either. Kermit is looking quite different though. I now have a headrest and a new style seat frame, which is a great improvement on the original, with replaceable lugs where it fits to the trike’s frame. I have changed the tyres to a simple Marathon 1.5” rather than the super heavy Marathon Plus 1.75” that I was heaving around previously.

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Kermit’s new, adjustable headrest.

I decided that I would put a computer back on the trike, with just the basic, mileage, distance, speed information.  I’m not sure what prompted this, but I’ve placed it where it isn’t too visible when going along, so I don’t get too distracted by it. I have also replaced a wheel bearing and two track-rod ends. They are simple, sealed type bearings, and it is not a difficult or time-consuming job to do. Regarding the track-rod ends, I did what everybody does and followed a video tutorial on You Tube. Easy.

Not so easy has been readying myself. My mind has been all over the place and tiredness has ruled the roost. I have listened to this and stayed well away from any strenuous exercise, including using my trike. I can always get fit as I go, provided I allow for that when I arrive in Scotland. Given that up until March I was feeling good during my rides, I know that I have a reasonable level of fitness.

I have a double bed in my spare room that is currently covered in stuff that I might take. I certainly won’t make the mistake of not taking enough cold weather kit. I’ve been in snow in Scotland in May before, and that memory’s enough to remind me of what it might be like. I go by the adage: there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Hopefully that will see me right whilst allowing me to still ride up the copious number of hills on my intended route. Time will tell.

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Replaceable seat lugs on new seat frame. (it’s upside down but the best view I could get 🙂 )

One of the problems of ageing is that you require more equipment to be comfortable. At the same time, your ability to propel a heavier vehicle is slowly diminishing. Many find a point when they quit camping and start using hostels and the like. I’m not ready to go there yet and so I have tried to constantly adjust my equipment to my needs while staying within certain weight boundaries.

The latest addition is another tent. No more Hilleberg Akto or Wild country Zephros 2. I’ve sold them both and have purchased a Luxe Mini-peak 2, a single pole tepee with a nest-inner to sleep in and plenty of space to cook under the tent’s large flysheet in inclement weather. At 142 cm height in the centre there is plenty of headroom and pitching on most days requires just four or six pegs, depending what guys you use. I can also use the nest-inner in my other tepee, the big four-person one. At 1.8kg it seems an ideal compromise of size and space. Because I can pitch the outer in seconds, I can always use it as shelter in places where I wouldn’t normally consider pitching. Lunch time is an example of this. I can create a shelter from the storm to eat and drink while staying warm, should the need arise. I’ll write it up when I’ve used it, rather than boring you with technical details that mean nothing now.

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Invisible disabilities lanyard.

Of course, equipment is secondary to how I am feeling, but having the right things with me helps me to be calm and not panicky. Regarding the flight, I am getting used to the idea. I have recently found out that there is a lanyard available to those who have hidden disabilities. Its purpose is to aid their movement through airports. Most airports and airlines now recognise the issues some people face in their environments and have specially trained staff to help people along. If you need specific help you need to call ahead, but just carrying the lanyard means that people will allow for any anxieties, slowness and such like when you are checking in. Last time I was in an airport I was a gibbering idiot due to anxiety and near panic. I found somebody who was extremely helpful and that was reassuring. I’m sure this provision will make a difference for the many whose disabilities are not obvious. I will let you know my experience later. Look up ‘special assistance’ at the airport you’re travelling from if you need some support. You might be surprised at what’s available now.

A word of warning. I wrote an email to Inverness Tourist office asking them to send me a map showing all you need to know about the North Coast 500 ride, as it’s now known.  Just wanted to check a few things that might have changed in the years since I last visited. Their reply was that they couldn’t do that. They only give maps to those calling in. I wrote again and explained that I would love to call in, but I live in Devon. They suggested I view it online or buy a guidebook. I knew I could view it online, but I like to have a hard copy to hand. Following a second email they wrote and said that if I sent them a stamped addressed envelope they would send me a map, if they still had one when they received it. What’s that all about then? I know times have not been easy, but what is the role of a tourist office if it isn’t helping people plan adventures of all kinds? I deferred to eBay in the end. Job done.

Until next time………………….