On Sunday I travelled down to Bridgwater in Somerset as I had an appointment with SJS Cycles on Monday. I stayed at the Admiral Guest House which had 2 other South Africans staying there too! Small world. It was more a hostel than hotel but they were friendly blokes.
On Monday morning I met with Steve who’s worked at SJS for 11 years he told me! I was pretty impressed with the time and effort he took with me – from 0930 through to 1330 – asking what I intended to use the bike for, taking my measurements, finding out what I’m looking for and then looking at the various setup’s available, sizes, options etc and finally, test rides! I test rode 2 different Nomads, the smaller black one shown below with flat bars and the bigger yellow framed one with comfort bars. We initially thought the black bike would be the right one as the yellow bike is big…but, after riding both, it became clear the yellow setup was what I was looking for – it felt comfortable that was the main thing. When riding the black back there was a lot of pressure on my wrists and hands and it was not comfortable – I want a more comfortable riding position and the yellow bike offered that. You can see how high the saddle is on the black bike…mad. The seat post on the yellow bike is a Thud Buster – it’s not included in a default build but comes as extra – I don’t think I’ll add it, even though it felt pretty good.
Both bikes had the Rohloff hub – an internal gearing system which I’ll be going for. Check out their website if you want to know more: https://www.rohloff.de/en/
The black bike had the Son Dynahub fitted on the front hub – I’ll also be going with that along with a Sinewave stem USB output. I’ll probably also be going with the light – it’s expensive though, £125, but for safety, it’s probably worth it.
I was toying with getting the Surly Nice front rack but it adds 1.5KG to the bike and £120…just for some extra flat loading space…maybe not worth it.
I would go for a black frame along with black components, unlike the red on the black bike below.
Brookes saddle in honey along with a black frame will look sweet I reckon – I’ve never used a Brookes before and I’ve heard mixed reviews. Apparently it’s like marmite…I’ll give it a go.
The black bike also has the s+s couplings which I will not be going for – another expensive add-on – £500! Those are the silver bits on the top tube and down tube which allow you to split the frame in two so you can transport the bike easily when travelling by air.
Today I submitted my application to attend a part time CELTA course starting in April. The submission consisted of a set of pre-interview tasks which I managed to complete (and which took me back to my school days!). The next step is an interview at the college. Eek 🙂
I went to the London Bike Show yesterday which was held at the Excel Center. It was a beautiful sunny day, but very cold. Getting there was very easy and the Excel center is huge and quite impressive. Before booking my tickets I did have a look at the list of exhibitors and there was only 1 that I wanted to see based on my specific search parameters, namely touring, and that was Alpkit. I already have some of their kit, a bivvy bag, a sleeping mat and a dry bag and they are excellent, quality products.
I quickly found Alpkit when I arrived and they were a big attraction, a lot of people were in the stand and around the stand looking at their exhibit – a mountain bike, front wheel removed, standing upside down on it’s seat. tied to the front forks and back wheel was a tarp which then stretched over a sleeping mat and sleeping bag secured to the front wheel on the other side, creating a little camp. they had a big log and some wood chips to complete the look and it looked cool, with another mountain bike on the log, kitted out for an adventure and so annoyingly, I couldn’t take pictures – my phone camera has stopped working!
Unfortunately, their stand was pretty small and they didn’t have much to look at – they had their mug and cooking sets which were nice to feel and they were really light. I wanted to ask if they could sponsor me a tarp but didn’t muster the cojones to ask.
As for the rest of the show – there was nothing to do with touring specifically. Kona were there, but the closest they had on show was their city version – which looked nice, but it’s not what I’m after. Here it seems it’s all road bike, mountain bike and cyclo-cross. One side of the exhibition was for electric bikes and there were some interesting bikes there. It would be interesting to compare a European bike show with this one – I think that touring would feature more in a continental show…?
There’s a target date: 24 July 2018. I’ll come to that later. Originally, I’d thought of a date much earlier, like March I think it was. At the time it felt too soon…but right now, 24/07 seems like ages away. I think I justified it in mind in that by setting it in July, I could afford the initial expense through a normal salary. Just wondering what the sacrifice of this method is now. Maybe it’s best to “just do it”. Whatever, it’s 24/07 for sure.
So yeah, the idea. It’s a simple one…to cycle, away. Down the west coast of Africa, into South Africa, then up the east coast of Africa, into Middle East and finally Asia. That’s nutshell of course.
I’ve not told anyone, apart from immediate family. Not quite ready yet. Besides, who doesn’t like surprises.
I’ve got the bike in mind – a Thorn Nomad. I’ve already seen and test ridden a Nomad MK I and perhaps, in hindsight, should have paid for it on the spot, but…I did think it was over priced. Anyway, I’ve got time. I’ve got my MTB on eBay and I need to get my car and Cube up for sale too, that’ll cover the cost of the new kit.
Otherwise, I am actually shitting myself. It’s a weird situation – the more I think about, the more it seems like a ridiculous idea…especially when I read other touring blogs…so I’ve stopped reading other people’s blogs, and if you’re reading this, wondering if you should cycle around the world…just do it, seriously. No amount of reading blogs, or whatever, will make the trip any easier…it’s about the journey, the experience…the unknown.