Emergency Bladder Replacement

That’s not a phrase you’ll want to utter as you finally finish the packing task started a number of days ago. But all my careful planning, spreadsheeted lists and epic dithering were brought low by a leaking end to my much loved hose.

Thankfully it was just the Camelbak suffering a last minute dose of incontinence. I dunno tho, it’s suspicious timing and I cannot help thinking that maybe the entire pack is currently shitting itself. Certainly the humper is caught between being really quite excited and not entirely unterrified.

The bike bag weighs 20ks and the Camelbak 8. This is almost a complete turnaround from where we came in, but now I’m fingernail bitingly concerned I may have stripped back the pack a bit too far. At one point I clearly remember wondering “is one arm warmer nearly as useful as two?”

Too late now, everything is in the car ready for a 3:30am start tomorrow. Except me who shall be spending between now and then wide awake worrying that the dog may have eaten my passport/the bloke on plane maintenance has left his thermos is a vital engine bay and the nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten something really important isn’t just pre-game nerves – I really bloody have. Honestly sorting my kit out has burned more hours that I’ll every spend riding with it.

Today – for example – I nearly bought a nice new camera for the trip – agonising for 30 minutes while Carol didn’t buy a fridge before weepingly handing it back under the eye of the fiscal oracle. Quite right too, because that time could have been better spent not forgetting to pack a head torch. There’s even some space left in the bag which had me muttering darkly until I realised it was, if course, reserved for 70 degree proof race fuel.

I’ve rambled enough. Some* would say too much. Unless I find that 4am and navigating to Brum airport is beyond my tired and elderly little brain, I shall be back with stories of heroism, and photographic lies to back those stories up middle of next week. Until then I shall be entirely unplugged from the world which sounds rather brilliant, except can someone please text me the cricket score every few hours 😉

* okay all

What’s in the bag?

Everything really, and then again not much. Plan A was to have all this packed up and finished by lunchtime so I could spend pre-abandonment time with my family. Plan B was quickly enacted once Plan A had gone the way of losing the entire morning to work. And yes, I was booked on holiday although the only person this seemed to make a difference to was me.

Plan C stumbled closely behind Plan B once some ludicrously simple maintenance somehow ended with an attempt to un-cast the fork lockout. A quick trip the Nic @ the bike shop proved once again I am a spannering numpy, and the fix wasn’t in fact to place it carefully in the vice to make it easier to beat vigorously with a sledgehammer.

Ruthless selection of a biking only holiday wardrobe has kept the pack weight below 9kg and that’s including h20 at half of that. Okay I’ll smell a bit (more) and my evening pulling wardrobe of lycra and leg warmers is possibly a target for parody, but at least I shall not ‘go turtle’ each time an attempt is made to heft the pack skywards.

Somehow a trip to the camping shop for a£2 item ended in the purchase of a superbly technical garment that can – according to the marketing blurb here – act as a base layer, or a mid layer, or a “showerproof”* outer – in fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see it dispensing wine and fish once we reach the top of the mountain. Downside it wasn’t cheap. Still you can never have too much shit can you? Certainly seems to work for the kids.

The bike is now in the bag. Every time I face this much hated task I pretend that THIS TIME I will take my time, pursue a logical approach, create a safe cocoon for expensive parts by cunning use of pipe lagging and a small sample of sticky tape. And, in line with previous attempts, the bag looks like a botched kidnapping or an explosion in a masking tape factory. It’s all pointless anyway as the baggage handlers seem to take great pleasure in skimming the bag across the tarmac having launched it from their little truck.

I have not the strength to start on the Camelbak. There’ll be lots of time for that tomorrow because with a 3:30am start come Friday, not a huge amount of point going to bed.

* Beware that word. Someone stole the “for about 2 seconds” from the end of it.

Not just me then..

Fresh in on the wibbly bush telegraph from our guide and host Si:

I just did a test run with the pack at about 14kg to Tor de Baterre, that’s our first stop for lunch about a 800m climb did it in 2hrs 18mins including stopping for 2 punctures and quite a few breathers!

The descent was fucking interesting, having a heavy pack really affected balance and braking ability, I completely lunched it twice, but no permanent damage, apart from my rear cage now puts the chain over into the spokes – nice!

Well that’s really selling it Si!

This, ladies and gentlemen, is less than half of the climbing for the first day. It’ll be a bloody miracle if there are any survivors by Day 3, and their chances of making it back alive will be severely reduced by having various body parts of their riding pals strapped to an already overweight pack.

Radical re-packing plan to be implemented. I’m going to sneak all my heavy stuff into someone else’s larger rucksack, leaving me to carry only my hip flash and mobile triage unit.

Probably be alright. Possibly. Maybe I’ll not start any long books eh?