It feels like our three days away in north Wales was a long time coming and a large number of factors coming to fruition. We ended up in Llandudno for a dear friend’s wedding and continued with our bikes down to Snowdonia and back round to Bangor and across the north of Wales and up to Southport, to visit my uncle and aunt.
So the bikes were built (as you’ve seen if you’ve been following), all touring equipment bought and the dynamo finished off. This was the first real test of all of our equipment as it will be next April.
The first thing we noticed was how you had to put in twice the effort to go half the speed on the touring bikes when they’re fully laden. Saying this, they are extremely comfortable and stable; so much so that when going 30mph down a hill it felt like 20mph because you lost all the wobble and nervousness you get from being buffeted around at that speed on a lightweight road bike. It feels fantastic. It feels like you're flying. Both of us had expected to have to put more effort in, obviously, because we’re going from using 10KG bikes to 35+ KG bikes. I think it just came as a surprise to both of us how difficult it was to maintain a decent speed we were used to, if we could reach that speed at all. The only lesson we can take from this is to massively increase our leg strength. None of this is a complaint; it’s just a calibration of our expectations vs reality. Thankfully we aren’t finding this out in April next year at the start of the journey. It would be a huge moral breaker.
The actual equipment we’d chosen worked extremely well. The tent was perfect and when we were trying to find it in the dark woods we camped in on the final night, it wasn’t reflective at all. Luckily that’s what we wanted. We need to be able to camp unnoticed. We ate very well with dinners of rice and beans and cheese cooked wonderfully by Mike on with our new MSR pots and pans. Few things give me more pleasure than eating a good rice dinner with a glass of affordable white wine watching a warm sunset sitting by our tent with Mike.
The novelty of the dynamo has not worn off yet. Charging your phone whilst cycling along (so long as you’re above about 10mph which quite often we weren’t) is brilliant and gives a real sense of self-sufficiency. The Sinewave Reactor we bought to replace the top cap on the stem provided a minimalist and extremely functional USB port so the cable did not have to be long for the device to sit in the front bar bag while charging.
We go on about how exercise is crucial to our own mental wellbeing and how we’re raising funds for Mind, the mental health charity. This trip to north Wales was a real test of our own negative thoughts (which I have discussed before) and made us both sit up and take note on how this round the world trip is so much harder than we had initially thought. We had gone off of our experiences of LEJOG or Vancouver to San Francisco but now we have heavier bikes and more equipment, and of course we aren’t as fit just now as we were back then. Things will get easier and so once we do set off, it won’t be as hard as it was in Wales but we really do have to be careful of our own mental health whilst raising money for Mind. Thankfully, we both have each other and we understand each other very well. It is OK to take the lows with the highs and we must be prepared for them.
In the meantime, please enjoy a few clips from our three days away:
Posts by either Mike or Helen. Individual authors will be named.