It would be nice to think that I know what I’m doing with bikepacking by now. But every day’s a school day so there are various changing I’m making from my Grenzsteintrophy kit to my EWE kit. Things worked pretty well for me there, but there was definitely room for a little improvement:
- Gore Waterproof shorts – I used to have a pretty large saddle bag and it acted as a sort of mudguard. With more refined packing and a full frame bag, my rear bag is smaller. The day of continuous rain on the GST proved that the choices were limited to getting a hotel, or having a wet + gritty rear for the next day. These shorts will also double as hiding the lycra in shops/restaurants/wherever else.
- Drybag for backpack – I had loaded my water-resistant backpack with stuff that wasn’t going to be killed by the rain, but it was annoying to have to dry it the next day. Simply having an extra drybag will solve that.
- Replacement drybags – I’ve been using my existing ones since the Divide in 2010, so they’ve done a lot miles and leak a bit now.
- Replacement pedals – £20 Shimano M520s have probably done > 20,000 miles since 2010 and they don’t quite hold on as firmly as they used to. Plus I needed new cleats (RRP, £18).
- Replacement disc rotors – Singular Sam pointed out at the Black Mountain 3 Day that my old rotors were so worn that they were pretty close to killing me. Good call, replaced.
Other than that, I’ll be changing a few things on my bike for the nature of EWE:
- Dynamo front wheel + USE light – Bright light that never needs charging? Yes, please! I do expect to be riding into the dark most nights, so this will be really important.
- Suspension fork – would have been nice, but didn’t get around to it.
Unfortunately, physical preparation has been pretty non-existent. No time to ride after Black Mountain 3 Day and not a great deal of motivation. To change things up, I got some knobbly tyres (Maxxis Raze) onto the Singular Kite CX bike that has, so far, only ever been on the road. The plan was to ride out from home to Tunnel Hill, do a few trails there then a mostly off-road transfer to Swinley Forest, more trails there, and back home on the road.
Getting to Tunnel Hill was fine, with the tryes feeling surprisingly fast. Not as fast as slicks, but much better than riding a MTB on road. I didn’t feel that great in myself, but it was good to hit dirt. I never really got into riding those trails well, though. I was out-of sorts, on a bike that doesn’t really suit tight rooty singletrack, desperately trying to avoid pinch flats, and a little bit lost. By the time I got to Swinley, I had hit the wall hard. Over 25 miles to go, and eating wasn’t helping. I just went straight through the forest on the dirt roads. No interest in the singletrack, just a vision in my head of lying on the sofa sipping a cool drink.
I gave a bit of a sprint on the road towards Adam’s house in case there were some Strava bragging rights to nab from him, and then just disappeared inside myself for the remainder.
By the time I got home, I was shivering and delerious. I had a shower and ended up in my sleeping bag incapable of getting up for over an hour. I thought I had just pushed too hard on the bike, but the next day brought headaches. It got worse with little blackouts when I stood up or moved fast. My temperature was all over the place and my joints ached like mad.
I got myself checked out by a doctor, they ruled out Lyme disease (lots of bites in the Black Mountains, didn’t see tick bites but did see deer) and Meningitis (spent time at a school a few days before) so there was nothing to do but wait.
I managed to progress up to 40 minutes on the turbo without collapse (30 the day before nearly did cause collapse).
So, I’m certainly not over-trained. And I can’t wait to ride. Not a bad starting position.