Quick update

Just one more week to go, it literally can’t come soon enough.

Then it’s off to SA for a bit, can’t wait!

In terms of the bike etc – it’s pretty much ready to go, just a couple of odd bits I need to sort out but I’ll do that once work is done! Cannot wait 🙂 I am trying to make time for a ride but it’s just not happening…it’s really frustrating as I just want to ride now.  At the moment I’m working on a Facebook banner page for an update on Facebook – using Gimp to edit the image but I’m not happy with the pic’s I have at the moment so really want to go for a ride to take some more shots…Sunday, fingers crossed.

Tomorrow evening will be TP9, the last one! Happy days, then Saturday for the last input session and the last day of CELTA! Can’t believe it’s almost over, it’s been a tough, tough 3 months balancing it with work, planning the trip and tying everything up in the UK.

Day out to Hertfordshire

Another shake down day for testing and so forth. Packed the bags with a bit of extra kit for some extra weight including a lot of water (6 liters). Headed north along the canal through Lee Valley, ride stats as follows:

So a long day in the saddle and shyt it was hot. Drank a ton of water, luckily I could fill up alongside the canal where they have taps for the boat folk.

Did some very decent bush bashing through some fields – rough alongside and muddy in the dips, perfect stuff, she handled it superbly. Couldn’t get into the forest though as it was all fenced off or so overgrown with nettles. Eventually found a spot and cooked a good bowl of lentils with sausage, quality.

Only thing I need to fix/change is the handlebar bag – it slips down all the time, even with very little weight. Not that impressed. Also thinking about other options for front pannier bags – 20l isn’t much but then again, I don’t want to over pack.

Didn’t find any major hills or anything – that’s next on the testing agenda.

Day of testing

Last weekend I finally got the chance to take the Thorn out for a little ride – with CELTA and work it’s almost impossible to make time for anything else so I was looking forward to Sunday morning like a dog craves his bone.

So after class on Saturday I packed the panniers with everything I needed to make a breakfast and a coffee along with some extra bits to add some weight to the bike and went to bed in eager anticipation.

Sunday morning I “slept in” till 0730 (this is my life atm) and it was cold and foggy outside…so much for a hot forecast. Oh well, on with the warm stuff and away we go.

First impressions down Coppermill lane…if my thousand mile wide smile was anything to go by, you know what I’m saying. The glare was so bright it attracted flying things to meet their maker.

This bike is something else. It makes the dream real. It makes all my troubles disappear. It makes my pants wet.

It’s so comfortable to ride. It’s hard to describe but it’s a beast this bike, right, but under pedal…it’s so smooth, it’s so comfortable…it’s a dream ride, and I’m so lucky to be able to have one.

Back to the ride – so I head down Coppermill Lane, left on the canal heading south towards the Hackney Marshes. There’s hardly a soul about, it’s glorious. Do the loop around the marshes and the half marathon is on, thousands of people converging and this bike turns heads!

The road ahead is blocked and I stop to ask the blokes in bright jackets if I can ride through and they’re proper friendly and helpful, what the hell?!? What is this thing between my legs? Does it omit an aura that seeps into it’s rider and folk who surround her and fill them with joy? Sure, they tell me, the road is yours, so on I forge through the crowds where it parts to let me through…

Around the back of the marsh and I find my spot, rest the bike up against the posts and get the Dragonfly on the go…and I struggle to get the thing going! I had just got a firesteel for lighting the stove up and I’m struggling to make some sparks, and each time I strike I knock the stove…so, stop, think, look at the firesteel a bit closer, check how it works, ok, nice, try again, woof, we have a flame, happy days. Get the pot on, boil some water, chuck in the oats, cinnamon and sugar, cook and eat…yeah, not bad for a first effort. Next, coffee. Setup the Bialetti and…damn…it don’t fit on the stove, it’s too small…hmmm, wiggle the stove legs a bit, and it juuuuuuuust fits on and it brews in no time. Sa-weeeeet.

So I chill in the park for a bit, watch the people do their jogging, their dog walking, their cycling, and it’s peaceful (if I ignored the booming half marathon tannoy urging the participants on), and finally, the sun comes out and it’s warm…which prompts me to pack and ride a bit more. So up the canal, heading north and this bike urges exploration, she takes me to little places I’ve not been before, through a muddy path I’d always avoided, into a park I’d only ever ridden past…me and my Thorn are going to get on I think.

But, as CELTA duty called, I needed to get back…but, as the sun was out and I had some boerewors I had to make a fire for lunch, and while waiting, why not test out the tarp.

Nice right??? 🙂

Can’t wait to get on me bike and ride! 🙂

Some more pics from that day:

Tough times, scary times

CELTA is tough, seriously tough. Had my worst day so far yesterday. My third lesson and we got our assignment 1 back. First, the lesson was a fail…second, the assignment was a total fail. I just couldn’t get my head around that lesson from the moment I got the TP points…it totally confused me and I just could not wrap my mind around it and by the time for the lesson arrived, I was not confident in my LP at all…and it showed. Some of the lesson was good, the problem was I didn’t finish it with the practice stage as I ran out of time.

The assignment though – total fail and so, so depressing as the amount of time I spent on that was ridiculous…I expected a resubmit but not such an extensive one. It’s this that’s making think that I’m not able to do this course…tough times. My next lesson is next week and we’ve been given assignment 2 which is even more of a monster…

Scary times…next week Monday, I resign…I know it’s the right thing to do, just thinking of doing it feels ridiculously amazing, then thinking about it too much feels totally unbelievably scary…thinking of all the comforts that I’ll be sacrificing, the salary, all the stuff I’ve accumulated, gone…

And tomorrow I’m in Bridgwater at the Thorn shop to collect my bicycle that’s going to take me to these amazing places. Thoughts like, what if I can’t do it? what if I hate it? what do I do then? What do I do after? often float in my conscience…and it’s so, so, so hard to focus on what makes it feel so, so right – the real life experiences, the possibility that ANYTHING can happen, anything. The people I’m going to meet, the sights I am going to see – does that not transcend comforts, money, stuff? Fuck yes I have to remind myself…fuck yes.

 

What’s happening?

Can’t believe it’s been 2 weeks since my last update…the CELTA course has turned my life a bit upside down. The experience so far has been wildly alternating from “I got this” to “how to f*ck am I gonna do this?”. the sheer volume of information that has poured forth is seriously intimidating, especially as I lack confidence in my ability to handle any sort of technical grammar query or even to teach a class! Well, tomorrow night is when I find out how I cope with the latter one – it’s my first class! It may not sound like much here but the preparation work that goes into it is a small mountain in its own right – this is what’s known as the lesson plan. In the LP you have to detail every step you are going to take down to the questions you’re going to ask and even attempting to predict what the students will struggle with and how to deal with it. On top of that there is a specific structure that needs to be followed and on top of that the tutors are pouring tons and tons of information on how to create LP’s and sometimes, how not to…it’s a monster!

But, what’s making it enjoyable are the tutors and mostly, my peers – they’re a really good bunch and an interesting mix. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better experience with a group of people in such an environment, so feeling privileged in that regard.

Otherwise – on the bike side of things, it’s quietened down a bit but I have secured a few bits of kit in the last few weeks like a footprint for my tent, a very good sleeping matt, an Alpkit Rig3.5 tarp and guy line (which I need to experiment with), a new sleeping bag, a replacement handlebar bag (I went from 6l to 8.5l), replacement rear panniers – I sold the back roller classics and got the back roller classic plus model which has a stronger fabric, and complimented it with a 21l rack pack, which completes a set with the back rollers (they all clip together when on the bike), and lastly, I got a 50mm lens for my SLR. I’ve sold a ton of my own stuff too – 2 sets of rear panniers, the bar bag and my old sleeping mat. I still need to sell my Tamron 70-300mm lens and maybe my 28mm lens too, still undecided.

Last weekend we had a bit of sun so I took my tent out into the garden to set it up for the first time and it was really, really easy to do. Also, the difference in temperature in the tent with and without the flysheet is noticeable so I reckon there’ll be moments where I won’t use it. As mentioned above I have a tarp too but I wasn’t able to get it setup as I didn’t have the guys lines yet – but there’ll be times where it’s just the tarp and a bivvy bag. Check the tent out:

 

CELTA and bike update

I passed the CELTA interview (is that a surprise though?), so I’m going to pay the deposit and then it’s 3 months hard work.

I’ve finalised the build with the Thorn workshop…all I need to do is pay the deposit…this is it…kinda bricking it tbh! 🙂

Other updates: I’ve found a set of Ortlieb Back Roller plus pannier bags on ebay for a steal, plus a 24l Ortlieb rack pack, which completes a packing system with the two back panniers where they the panniers mount on the sides, and the rack pack over the top with an intergrated clip in system with the back rollers – very clever, so I’m chuffed to get that all for under £100. I’m going to sell off the back roller classic’s I got for a slight mark up to make up a bit of cash. Ebay is fun.

Testing the MSR Dragonfly stove

Finally got around to getting some fuel for the Dragonfly stove. Went to fill the car up and put 700ml of unleaded fuel into the MSR fuel bottle.

The whole process was pretty straightforward after practising a couple of dry runs. Hook the bottle up, give it a few pumps, open bottle valve, slowly open stove valve, release some fuel, close bottle valve, set fuel alight, let it burn a couple of minutes then slowly open the valve…and it takes off! Well, it sounds like a jet taking off, it’s so loud!

Take a look and ‘ave a listen:

Gear starting to arrive!

I’ve been busy on Ebay the last few weeks and I’ve managed to pick up some really good deals! I’ve got myself:

  1. 3 sets of Ortlieb Back Roller Classic pannier bags in red – 1 for me, 1 for Ingrid in SA and the last one still be be decided – maybe another buyer in SA 🙂
  2. A pair of Ortlieb Front Roller Classic pannier bags in yellow
  3. An Ortlieb Ultimate 6 Handlebar bag in red – it’s the 7l bag and I may just try source a bigger one as it’s quite small.
  4. MSR Hubba Hubba NX tent with green flysheet but no footprint – I have to get that separately.
  5. MSR Quick Solo cookset – a bargain from Millets, it’s a 1L pot and a mug. I will get a frying pan to add to this, the OEX Frysta probably.
  6. An Ortlieb 59l dry bag which I’ll use to put my sleeping gear into when travelling
  7. MSR Dragonfly stove with 325ml fuel bottle – I’m watching a couple of 900ml fuel bottles on eBay so I’ll add to the set. Will test with fuel this weekend 🙂
Ortlieb Back Roller Classic’s 20l each
Ortlieb Front roller classic in yellow
Ortlieb handlebar bag – mounting bracket in the bag
MSR Hubba Hubba in it’s stuff sack – so small and light! Can’t wait to setup
MSR Hubba Hubba unrolled
Cookset
Massive 59l drybag
MSR Dragonfly with foil base, foil windshield, stove itself, fuel bottle and pump.