Less than a week to go before we head off on our cycling adventure, and we’re both very excited about the trip. Since we met some of our fellow cyclists in London in November, time has felt like its accelerated and soon our journey will begin.
We’ve managed to fit in a few more cycling miles, although not as many as I’d have liked. When the wind has been at a tolerable level, rather than threatening to blow us sideways, we’ve been out cycling at the weekends.
Cycling in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland in January involves a lot of dressing up. First you have to wiggle into your thermal bib tights; then add a base layer or two. I have a lovely cosy cycling jersey, so that goes on next, followed by a jacket.
And then full finger gloves, designed to keep off the worst of the wind and rain, but still leave hands free to work the brakes. The warmest socks I own, often topped with a second layer before I shuffle into my bike shoes, which are then sealed in by neoprene overshoes, in a bid to keep out the worst of the water.
I already appreciated the value of a buff, either wrapped around my neck, or shrugged up around my ears on cold days out running. But the thermal version has been very handy on the bike too, covering both neck and ears beneath my cycle helmet.
Last weekend, we headed out to Northumberland. Thrunton Woods is a popular walking and mountain biking spot and the trails there proved an uphill and technical challenge, rewarded by a stunning view at the top.
The gravel paths, covered in parts with ice, and a steep downhill stretch tested my nerves to the limit. Gary fared better with his superior bike-handling confidence. I was pleased to get to the bottom with no slips or falls.
Next week, we’ll be swapping thermals for lightweight T-shirts and shorts for cycling in Vietnam, where temperatures will be nearer 30C rather than -3. And we’ll no doubt be looking forward to ice cold drinks, rather than post-ride hot chocolate.
Whatever our adventure brings, I’m really looking forward to seeing a new part of the world, testing myself against the challenge of cycling 460km and enjoy all the new experience this trip promises.