The plan was to update this blog on a regular basis throughout our trip, however as I’m the only person lugging a laptop/netbook all the way to Africa It has become apparent that time is something I’m short of on the road!
Cycling 100-130miles per day often means by the time we’ve checked in and had tea/food it’s almost time for bed and an early start to crack the miles out.
The best and easiest way to keep in touch with the news re Cycle to Rwanda is to visit our facebook page. Here you will find pictures and all the latest news/tweets etc
it might also be worth visiting my own personal blog which is updated occasionally.
On Saturday 7th April, the two Petes and I were lucky enough to be invited to the Cotswold store in Bury St Edmunds to promote our ride and get people signed up for our launch ride on the 28th April.
Phil, the manager at Cotswold has been very proactive and was keen to get us in his store, which provided the perfect opportunity for PR and to answer the many questions people had.
With under 3 weeks to go, the pressure is building, although I feel we’re all pretty relaxed and have now got to the point where we just want to get on our bikes! Roll on the 28th!
Pictured is Pete White beside our stand
It arrived a few days ago… I loved the idea, I mean how cool! to be able to charge virtually any USB type of device using the Dynamo on the bike.
I was a little concerned how I was going to charge my photographic batteries, and then comes along this little beauty!
Originally I wanted to use a solar charger, which I thought in Africa would be ideal, however Chalky was most insistent that this would be the better option, and I think he is right (don’t let him hear that!)
The tricky part (well not rocket science) was actually wiring the device up to the gearless hub dynamo. unfortunately, the instructions indicated something totally different to what I had in front of me…
However, a little bit of common sense, black electrical tape, screwdriver and cable ties and it appears to be working… I wasn’t sure that I had wired it up correctly, but it appears to be working..The lights are slightly dimmer (as you would expect) but having just cycled 50 miles in the pouring rain and with the Reecharge unit all plugged in I can confirm its managed to recharge the unit ok. I’m not sure how much power the little unit will output and charge devices, but at least it’s actually charging the unit!
If I’ve read the book of words correctly, I believe when I’m cycling, I can plug my devices (phone/mp3 etc) into the unit directly and it will charge them without either using the battery or at least charging the device first, therefore doing it quicker and more efficient… well that is what I hope will happen!
I’ve tried to charge my Blackberry from the unit when it’s off the bike (fully charged from dynamo though) but unfortunately it appears that the reecharge isn’t man enough for this job. So I am relying on it charging while I’m cycling, essentially bypassing the actual unit!
Overall, for the price (retails about £85 but we got ours for a bargain of just under £30) it appears to be quite a good bit of kit.. I may change this opinion if it doesn’t charge my phone!
I’ve partly changed my opinion. The piece of kit is reasonable for charging low power options. It just about managed to charge my MP3 player, but will not charge my Blackberry mobile at all! Unfortunatley the companies customer service isn’t helpful either, simply suggesting I read the instructions! really!? I was hoping for a little insight from them. but sadly not.
So, in summary, if you want to charge basic items it will do the job, but anything slightly more complex I’d suggest you look elsewhere. We will certainly be taking them on the trip to keep a few things charged along the way. I believe PeteW says it charges his Sony mobile, so that is something!
Finding that magic work/life/training balance is one of the hardest things I am finding during the final few weeks before we set off.
I’m naturally used to riding my bike and finding opportunities whenever I can, however, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find the magic few hours that is needed for the training.. and naturally, then follows the guilt, the feeling that I know I should be riding, but either haven’t had the chance or have only ridden for an hour or so!
Traditionally, while training throughout the winter for time trials or local crit races etc the training has often involved a lot of small 1-2 hour sessions, but for this type of ride, training is all about riding for hours and hours and hours..I’m certainly feeling fit and ready to go, but I know I should be riding more, but finding that time is proving so difficult at the moment.
Having said that, I’m probably the fittest I’ve been for this time of year..so I must be doing something right and I certainly notice how my training is affecting my efforts within a fast club run. I used to be one of the stronger riders in the club, able to, at the very least, hold onto a fast group while on club training rides, but lately, due to a different training program, as soon as the pace ramps up in the last 20-25 miles of a fast ride, I’m straight out the back and facing a lonely ride home having bonked! Still, it’s good for the mental attitude!
8 weeks to go…. roll on the 28th April!
Cycling Psychology (Part 1)
As my first proper blog entry, I thought I’d try to give a view on what the build-up to the challenge and any predictions I might have (or have heard) for what this will take mentally to get through. Before I launch into a tirade of mental observations, notes and general outpouring of feeling – I have to make the single statement that is screamingly obvious; the mental journey and our mind-set throughout the journey from today to the day in which we race for the Kigali sign, is ultimately what will decide our fate. It is widely noted that many an explorer and athlete have pushed through physical barriers and illness to achieve goals that, if they conducted themselves purely on feedback from their body, they would otherwise not have attained.
I have no qualifications or understanding of this other than my own life experience, so please take any comments as my own observations, not those of any worldly scholars or philosophers of note. Although I won’t mind the inevitable comparisons. The past few weeks have seen a transition in my own mental state from knowing that I am to be cycling a long way through hazardous places “at some point,” to a reality check like a slap in the face. With a wet, icy cold haddock. The kit lists, the inoculations, the visa’s, the management of money and time, achieving our sponsorship targets and obligations – not least the fitness required, have dawned on me like a high speed time-lapse of the sun rising. Now although this induces a behaviour of a more focused individual (something I am not lacking already – this added pressure has taken me to an “exciting” new level) and a marked improvement in ticking off the to-do list, it also creates space for some negatives. Sadly, as a human being, we all experience worry, panic and stress.
Mainly induced by a cocktail of pressure, lack of the unknown and having to rely on other people – our reactions vary. If you let yourself follow the natural course, you can easily wind-up snapping, as the cycle (please excuse the pun) of a lack of time, energy and sleep takes you in a downward spiral into a world of frustration, momentary questioning of motive and sometimes unexplainable procrastination. Most of this is measured by those around us, as an external viewpoint is much more likely to see changes before we see them ourselves no matter how in-tune we are. This is probably why we take out so much on the people we know and love as they are in easy striking distance and we are not likely to see until too late. It has to be noted at this point that I find myself surrounded by an exceptional group of family, friends and a partner who has exception resilience – not to mention the best team a cyclist could hope for.
As far as four table legs go, we’re all successfully propping up our corner marvellously. Clearly the additional weight of the coming months will test the best of us, but early indications are that there is some solid English Oak in us all. So, how does one manage this situation better? One of the very best methods has to be the creation of that which we can touch and feel. Setting realistic goals is something you hear repeated time and time again, but actually achieving something towards them is the key – the real, true measure. Again, doing things in bite-size chunks (not building Rome too quickly or eating an elephant in one go etc.) is crucial to avoid overload. On the other side, actually listening to your body and doing the things that truly matter, despite their relative feel (sleeping, eating properly and resting – all boring in my book!), is fundamental and the real glue that holds you together and prevents the cracks from appearing. One of the quotes I once heard and try my very hardest to live by – “it is better to think yourself into a better way of feeling, than feel yourself into a better way of thinking” – is applicable to almost every waking moment. The reality of any given situation is rarely what the mind perceives, and even if it is, changing one’s mind has a dramatic effect in overcoming almost anything. This also leads to a much better feeling of enjoyment when on the journey.
Striving for a goal is one thing, but the arrival can be an anti-climax if the journey is not celebrated along the way. Did we all do this with a motive to make a difference to those who have very little in a country far away? Yes. We wanted to reach out and touch them with a desire to do good, to make a difference. But, rarely can such a thing be achieved without a little self-focused motivation. I am confident that we are driven by a sense of achievement, the people and challenges we may meet and the inevitable, untouchable closeness that will be created between us. But most of all, we want to have fun. If you were able to read some internal e-mails flying around at the moment, you’d probably realise that we started down that path long ago. On the 10th puncture of the day in a very hot African sun, having done only 20 miles, this will be tested. The conclusion then, I guess, is simple (as most things in life are!) – avoid extremes, check reality frequently to improve your mind-set and don’t forget to have fun. Time will tell whether this works….
Training progressing well in Colorado, thighs expanding and arms firming with every trip into the mountains. My rides are not that long but they are pretty hard and the winter weather here in The Rockies adds its own challenge.
Basically I ride uphill for two hours, eat quiche and dry my sweaty clothes beside a woodburner in the only cafe en route, sip sugary warm drinks and then head into the wind that gusts down from the snow caps to get up to about 9,000 feet, then begin the descent back to my shower. The ride takes about 4 hours, including the quiche and takes me through several old gold mining communities along the canyon floor. It’s about half dirt and I’m often on the route of the old rail road that used to supply the communities when they thrived. These days a lot less people live up there, and they have their own ways of getting around now. The mountain people are recovering from a devastating forest fire about 15 months ago that saw 169 homes destroyed. The hillsides are still littered with burned out pick up trucks and concrete foundations where houses once stood. Nature tried to take it all back but many people are putting up a good fight and rebuilding. We’ll see a lot more of that hope against the odds that keeps the human spirit alive, but no matter where you are, if you are up against the power of Nature, nothing lasts for long.
With the snow still hanging around, ice on the roads and a whistling easterly and bitterly cold wind, it seemed the perfect opportunity to get out on the bike and get some photographs taken! (yes I felt mad when I got on the saddle)
With me normally behind the camera, I enrolled the help of a young photographer (I remember when I used to get called young!!) called Gareth.. he met up with me whilst I riding home and got some superb pictures.. without the snow on the ground, you would think it’s a bright summers day!
As you can see, the Buff gear that our sponsors have supplied is super… I don’t think I’ve ever been so smart and coordinated on a bike before!
We have some super sponsors on board and many more coming…so watch this space for updates and reviews.
On Tuesday 31st Jan Pete G and Myself attended the Core Bike Show, being the invited guests of one of our sponsors, Buff.
It was the perfect opportunity to speak to suppliers and work on some further manufactures for sponsorship of our cycle trek.
The Buff stand was stocked full of some lovely gear.. the new Sue me clothing range looked awesome. It’s basically a range of eco friendly relaxed clothing, very much suited to the relaxed rider or surfer dude. very cool! Of course, the main show, were the Buffs themselves. I’ve really got into wearing them lately and I’m loving the Polar Buff! Feeling cold on the ride? then wear one of these!! https://www.kitshack.com/catalogue/index.php/cPath/59 they really are super. breathable and super warm and toastie.
We also met with some rather cool mountain bikers! Team Buff Endurance Racing, who were a great bunch of guys. check them out here these are the type of crazy riders that spend hours racing around the British countryside in all weathers, competing in 12/24 hour racing. All power to them.. crazy guys!
The rest of the show was a great success. We hope to have some news of a few more brands coming on board..So watch this space…
Time to get on the Turbo in the shed now! Wish me Luck! Jules