Fr 1 St Malo to St Nazaire 200K

Lining up for the full distance Tour of Flanders in 2016
Lining up for the full distance Tour of Flanders in 2016

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/18270526

I have planned my first route of the trip to my Mums, off the Ferry at StMalo and head straight for St Nazaire on the Atlantic coast (the Atlantic will be a friend of mine for some 600K I hope she is friendly).

StMalo-StNazaireProfile cycle route gpx
StMalo-StNazaireProfile cycle route gpx

Its a bit of a saw tooth profile i am expecting a tough ride through Britany which is of course Hinault country.

StMalo stNazaire gpx
StMalo St Nazaire

The thought process is to get to the coast as soon as possible and to avoid Nantes at all costs.

the route will hopefully leave me at the foot of the amazing StNazaire bridge which is 5 in long and spans the Loire, there is much talk on the web about not riding this but hey that’s what adventurists do eh?

St Nazaire Bridge is 5km long and not recommended for cyclists

Once across the bridge I am on the Velodessey Cycle route – the plan is to do as much of this as time allows

The Dry Zone

 

Who is that in there ? Very “cosy” with my jelly babies supply

There is a rule that states you must have a “Dry Zone”, this can be a waterproof bag, a dry sack or even a barrel if you are kayaking the rule is the same.

This Dry Zone must not be opened until you are in a dry place, that could be your fully erected tent, a hostel or someones couch.

The reverse of this rule is also true, you must not remove the Dry Zone from the dry space until its wrapped up and fully waterproof and ready for the elements.

RavPower 22000m AH Power Bank

Gerry saved my life this day we rode Liege Bastogne Liege in sideways freezing rain, he let me wear his Rapha rain jacket over my Rapha Rain Jacket just after this we had the worlds best coffee and cake – thanks Royal

RavPower 22000 Mah Power Bank

Xmas has been kind to me this year, further fueling (see what i did there) my headlong plunge into the adventure cycling pool, I can only take it that people are going to be glad to see the back of me.

  • Rav Power 22000 Power Bank
    RavPower Power 22000 Power Bank (it weighs more than me) it has 3 separate smart charging points and boasts 6 full iPhone charges

Much of my research has indicated that to be without your gadgets is tantamount to being unable to breathe, what’s the point of becoming no on an adventure if you can’t show the world eh? Couples with needing to keep my lights and camera charge this was in the essential list

I suspect my willingness to  share will be in direct correlation it’s success 🙂

i have purchased the above power bank  and the first thing to note is that it weighs a ton, however the reviews are blinding, it has 3 smart charging points and blags a 6 full iPhone charge

All the bits that come with it quality bit of kit

Now I have already blogged about the iphones reluctance to charge from an intermittent charge so research  Tells me to charge the power bank of off my Dynamo and to run the iPhone from the power bank “Simples”

Nice little bag

So I will place the power bank in the Apidura Accessory pack and run the world from there.

Tucked into this nice little case (thanks TBT)

Alpkit Pipedream 400

Alpkit Pipedream 400

One of the most important purchasing decisions any budding adventurist can make is the sleeping bag.

After much research I have purchased the Alpkit Pipedream 400 3 season

Alpkit Pipedream 400
Alpkit Pipedream 400 packs up super small

The main reason for the purchase of this model is the -6 sleeping rating this is the temperature that most people will find sleeping comfortable. Big thanks to Mum & John, Wendys Mum & Dad and Wendy for getting me this for Xmas.

I suffer with the cold something terrible so I have gone for this product.

The side view

The main thrust of any debate on sleeping bags is whether you go for down or synthetic fillings, the weight and cold extremes, how many seasons with a smidge of waterproofing snuck in.

Alpkit Pipedream 400
A nice head hugging hood

The problem with Down over synthetic is that the down clumps when it gets wet and takes longer to dry, down offers more warmth than synthetic.

Pipedream 400 weighs in at a tiny 400g and compresses down super small which enables me to fit it in the Apidura Handlebar bag along with my pyjamas.

the Pipedream 400 also offers a little waterproofing which is handy.

Mummy – you can buy left or right zips if you wanna join them together and get a bit fruity

As soon as you unwrap the bag you can see that it’s super quality and really well made,it should be for a stonking £200

Who is that there …. very cosy with my jelly babies supply

Continue reading “Alpkit Pipedream 400”

MSR Hubba Hubba NX2 Tent

Well i finally purchased the tent which kind of makes it all a bit real!

Here is the Amazon link to the tent i have chosen.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00R501DW2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Here is how it looks out of the box so to speak:

MSR Hubba Hubba NX2
Packed up
MSR Hubba Hubba NX2
Un-packed

 

MSR Hubba Hubba NX2
Layout the Tent on its groundsheet
MSR Hubba Hubba NX2
The Poles all connected together really neat
MSR Hubba Hubba NX2
The cross pole is held in position
MSR Hubba Hubba NX2
Place the poles in the corner anchors and the side poles into the anchors, Swing the Tent Waterproof  top over the poles – the anchors are colour coordinated so you know which way round the tent should be
MSR Hubba Hubba NX2
Peg out the side Vestibules, there is a massive door at each side  – Look its cavernous it is, i cannot believe how much room there is for 1.3kg of weight – The final image should look like this, but obviously not on its side, the whole time taken to erect this was 4 minutes and that included learning time!
MSR Hubba Hubba NX2
Must learn how to turn these images around in wordpress, well pleased with my purchase in hindsight i think the 1 man tent would have of been adequate.

Look back later for a review on how it performs in the field (literally the field).

Its all starting to get a bit real

bike-box-hire-easy-ventoux
Its all starting to get a bit real

I have ordered the tent an MSR Hubba Hubba NX2 (more about this later)  at some point without thinking about it i had set in my mind that this is the point at which there is no turning back.

Once i have the tent, bike & bags i know i have the hardware to do the ride, everything else i buy (and there is a lot) is just making it more comfortable and not to do the ride would be just weakness on my part.
hubba-bubba
So all in all i have done the easy bit the most fatigue being on my fingertips as a keyboard warrior. So when does the hard work begin? the training and the preparation for my old body.

So when does the hard work begin?

I have zero idea of a training plan and actually its only 3 months away.  Partly the reason for the lack of preparation is that i do not want to turn this into a competitive event as everything else i seem to do does and partly its because i was never very good at taking my medicine.

I would really like to enjoy the trip not shackling myself to preset mileages and feed stops etc, i would like to stop and take a look around, perhaps also get into the Zen state of mind just enjoying the ride.

However i am not so naive as to believe i can just rock up and expect my arse and my body to know what to do.

So how do you prepare for an trip like this?

I have limited time to train as its through the nasty winter months for cycling and the first trip itself being the last week in March 2017.

What do i need to improve on?

I need to improve on my all day pace i have the tendency to race about Hampshire and West Sussex like a mad man this would be a mistake on a trip like this.

I need to improve on my solo ride disciplines.

I need to improve on my back to back milages.

To this end i propose the following

Dec

At least 1 solo plus 200K ride

January

1 Solo 200K +
1 back to back solo 200k + rides

February / March

2 back to back solo 200k + rides

March

2 back to back solo 200k + rides

Now its in writing lets see how much i stick to the plan.

My house to Mums house in Alicante

Hairpin turn hanging out in space
My first big trip is in the planning phase, the purpose of this trip is to test out my ability to plan and execute a long ride with as much “wild camping” as possible.

My Father lived near Nantes for years and i always regretted not riding down to see him before he died so here i am not wanting to regret riding to my Mums in Alicante.

I plan to take the last week of this years Holiday allowance and the first week of next years allowance which leaves me undertaking this folly in March with all that that means, rain, wind, snow (in Pyrenees) .

“Leaves me undertaking this folly in March with all that that means, rain, wind, snow”

As you can see the route planned itself with an almost straight line from StMalo to Alicante. I will be riding big chunks of the “Velodysee Atlantic” Cycle path which in itself should prove challenging into the Atlantic winds. https://www.velodyssey.com/

I then take the chickens route over the Pyrenees to skirt Pamplona. It is definitely going to be a ride of two halves with long flat windy Atlantic and Hilly Espagna.

“It is definitely going to be a ride of two halves with long flat windy Atlantic and Hilly Spain”
The long one 1600 KM

thelongone

Picking up the Condor Heritage ……. and riding it home

bike-box-hire-easy-ventoux

“Today is the day to pick up my new Bike”

So today was the day to pick up my new Condor Heritage and the plan is to ride it home to Portsmouth.

I caught the train at sparrows fart and walked from Waterloo to Condor, the bike was sat there ready for me in all its glory all we had to do now was to stick a saddle on, pedals and my Apidura bags and i was off.

This was of course after i was tempted to buy a new multi tool, Multi tool case, tyre levers, bottle cage and 2 metal Flandrian riders.

“I nearly dropped a bollock, the bike was so heavy”

image4
I had to lift the bike out of the shop and down the stairs to the pavement outside, i was expecting the bike to be heavy but this was taking the mick its so heavy that it creates its own gravitational force, this bike will survive a nuclear attack but will i survive riding home? This is a big depart from my Cervelo S5 which has only just been put away for the winter!

My plan was to test out the Dynamo charging the phone and use “Ride with GPS” turn by turn routes,  so bike loaded, cycling kit on off i went, 1 mile later i realised i was going the wrong way so not off to a good start.  My iphone kept going to sleep and RWGPS  was not at all helpful in pointing me in the correct direction…….. eventually i found the “Cycle Super highway” and i was on my way. Getting used to RWGPS getting better all the time.

The plan was to ride through Richmond Park and back through Surrey to home, almost immediately it started to shower but i was coping with this quite well as the weight of the Condor (now nicknamed Arti) was making me work so hard.

https://www.strava.com/activities/738449055

As i rode down the Cycle Superhighway i picked up a Rapha Clad rider in full race rig on a very nice Cervelo who was fascinated by Arti, we had a nice chat and he was encouraging me to “do” some of the posers as we went through Richmond Park ….. well it would be rude not to.

route

The weather had stayed kind to me with just the odd shower, but as i moved my way to the Surrey hills i could see clearly what was in store for me and it did not look dry!

image1

By the time i hit the climb up to Newlands Corner View point it was raining sideways, its at this point that i realised that RWGPS had let me select an off road route, after a quick flick through the Iphone i managed to suss out a route to get me back on course, this involved me hurtling down a hill (dual carriageway) on the Artic  at break neck speeds in the pouring rain….. not what i planned however i was strangely enjoying this and i was thanking my lucky stars i had disc brakes.

“i was strangely enjoying this”

Making my way to Haslemere  (where i had earmarked a stop for food) my route took a left turn into a minor country road, this road went up vertical and for a long time, it the closest i had come to getting off the bike and walking for a very long time, note to self Surrey is V Hilly.

“Lesson 1, I should of ordered a triple”
After eating Haslemere Costa and having a coffee i pressed on homewards now in a battle with the light also.

Several concerned friends were texting offering lifts and cups of coffee but i must make it back otherwise i could be setting a new trend for packing.

I was now on V familiar roads, just as i made it onto Ditcham Park climb in the Southdowns when my Iphone ran out of juice DOH and my strava route ended.

I continued my journey home in what was definitely unsafe light conditions as my front light went out as well.

An enjoyable ride with unexpected difficulties riding a semi laden touring bike is quite different prospect from anything i had done before.

What worked well

1) Full Mudguards my bike was still immaculate
2) Very stable even at high speeds
3) Disc Brakes were fantastic on this fully laden Bike
4) Iphone fantastic resource for re routing much better than a garmin
5) The charger worked at really low speeds very impressive, the iphone less impressive as it was very fussy

Lessons learned

1) Just because RWGPS lets you route down a road does not mean its rideable on a touring bike, time spent on routing is paid back in full
2) Get great lights and make sure they are charged
3) Time spent on the route pays back in spades
4) On this bike dont be in a hurry ride “Tranquilo”
5) Learn how to use RWGPS
6) The iphone does not take kindly to on and off charging the perceived wisdom is to charge a power bank with the Dynamo

“On this bike dont be in a hurry ride Tranquilo”

Should of ordered a triple