Over the next few months, I will drone on endlessly on this website, on Twitter & on Facebook about this piece of cycling equipment or that. I will debate the merits of widget A over that of widget B to the extent that when I do finally make a decision, widget 2.0 will be on the market. I do, of course, speak from the experience of having done similar things in the run up to cycling the Eurovelo 5 from the UK to southern Italy. My cycling along the Eurovelo 8 scheduled for summer 2013 will see an identical process put in motion. It will come as no surprise that weight is a big factor when choosing cycling equipment as everything you take with you, you have to carry on the bike. I remember very well trying to decide the merits of tents and sleeping bags based upon how much they weighed; forget everything else, weight is the key issue. Or is it?
When I arrived at Abbey Wood camp-site in the east of London on the first evening of my Eurovelo 5 trip, I fell into conversation with a middle-aged chap from South Africa. he was sceptical as to whether I would eventually make it all the way to Brindisi in southern Italy and his parting comment was that ‘…at least you’ll come back a different shape’. As I later wrote in the book, he was of course eluding to the fact that I hadn’t quite managed to change myself into a lean, mean cycling machine prior to departure. Not that I was some obese bloke who wobbled on the bike like a jelly in an earthquake but I was a little ‘stocky’. I think I still am. I know I still am.
I could probably do with losing 20 kilograms. Sorry, I need to lose 20 kilograms. My tent on the trip to Italy – a Vango Helium 100 – weighed 1.19 kilograms and I had spent hours anguishing over that. I would have been far better off taking a more roomy, comfortable tent and making up the difference by losing a few pounds. The same comment could be applied to the camping mat, the sleeping bag, the maps, the clothing… the everything! I could have taken double the amount of equipment had I been 20 kilograms lighter and I would have still been lugging the same amount of weight over the Alps. Not that I would have done so of course; the aim would have been to lose the weight and simply reduce effort required to cycle.
Which brings us back to the Eurovelo 8 and my preparation. Do I minimise the weight of my equipment, minimise my own weight… or try to do both. My preference is for the latter. So, tomorrow marks 9 months before my planned departure on the 1st July (more news on that particular point next weekend by the way). My target date for the loss of my 20 kilos is the 1st April (ha! Fools’ Day!) which will then allow me another 3 months to fine tune my body into the lean, mean cycling machine that I perhaps dream of being. I can but try.
I weighed myself this morning – the first time in probably over a year – and was not horrified by what I saw below me on the dial (which I am proud to say I could see clearly; there was even a clear gap of air between stomach and dial I’ll have you know!). This was a good start. Now down to shedding the 20 kilograms.
Buoyed by the report from the scales, I tweeted that I had done something this morning that I hadn’t done for over a year and could anyone guess? After a few responses I did need to clarify that it was cycling-related. The incentive for the first correct answer was a copy of Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie but there weren’t any. The following are the (at times comical, at times bizarre) wrong ones. Some of the suggestions are worth considering (both cycling-related and not…);
– Turned on the central heating
– Not get up in the night for a wee
– Been for a run
– Cleaned the oven
– Backed up my phone
– Cleaned out the kitchen cupboards
– Watched golf
– Pumped up your bike tyres
– Been to the gym
– Spoken Greek
– Put up your tent
– Cleaned your bike
– Looked on the map and thought bugger that I’m off to Disneyland
– Shaved your legs
– Put mudguards on
– Had a wax
– Had a bath
– Looked at your route
– Fitted lights to your bike and gone for an early morning cycle using them
– Lie in
– Greased your Brooks
– Got on the turbo
– Mountain riding
– Got up early on a Sunday
– Changed your brake pads
– Walk to the shops nursing a hangover for a copy of The Observer and an almond Magnum
– Bought new maps & travel guides for the ‘lit review’
– Fell off
– No, wait! wheelie!
– Fixed a puncture
– Overtook a donkey down a hill
And my favourite…
– Going a full 12 hours without retweeting a brilliant review for Good Vibrations
Many of those say much more about what the tweeter does on a Sunday morning rather than me…