By Zac Clayton, 22-Mar-2012 22:23:00
Things have come on leaps and bounds since the last blog, and for the first time the challenge has started to feel really close. I took 5 days off work at the beginning of January to work through a chunk of my to-do list, and happily achieved most of what I wanted to. Firstly, I managed to buy all but one of my flights (the Miami-Portugal flight, which is still over 1 year away). This turned out to be more stressful than I had anticipated, due to the wildly varying attitudes airlines have towards flying with bikes! Several times I found a great looking flight online, only to be told by the airline that the cost of the bike was astronomical (MalyasiaAir sticks in the mind, for wanting to charge me £350!) which meant back to the drawing board. However, I have eventually found solutions - Qantas in particular have been great, and with their generous baggage allowances I shouldn’t have to pay anything extra for the bike at all. Hopefully this effort should pay off and make my experience at the airports relatively smooth.
I have also ordered the bulk of the equipment that I’ll be taking with me - the collection of boxes in my living room is starting to build up nicely. Two of the more exciting things I have received include a Spot GPS tracker (which should put a few minds at ease at home, as well as provide an interesting addition to the site) and a SolarGorilla/PowerGorilla solar charger. I’ve cycled with solar chargers before and had mixed experiences but these seem pretty robust and reliable, and should hopefully at least provide me a dribble of electricity to keep my iPod charged in the wilderness!
Particularly excitingly, I put the order in for my bike - a top-end Koga Signature complete with Rohloff hub (internal gearing system) and Gates belt drive (instead of a chain). Fingers crossed, I should be going down to London in early February to pick it up. The chaps at the shop getting it for me have also kindly agreed to give me a mini-mechanics course covering some of the more unusual aspects of the bike, so hopefully I should feel confident should anything break while stuck in the middle of a desert.
After some conversations with family I have also decided to go on a survival skills course - while of course I hope not to get into a situation where I’ll need them it is probably better to be safe than sorry. So, in early March I’ll be going on a 5 day course with Trueways Survival (a big thankyou to my Auntie Phiona!) to learn a range of advanced bushcraft and survival techniques (and pretend I’m Bear Grylls).
February will probably not be as fun as January has been (apart from picking up the bike) - I’ll be working some long hours and my main aim will be to get some visa applications sent off. While boring, it is pretty essential! I’m also praying the winter stays as mild as it has been the last few months - the near-absence of snow and ice has made cycling to work a lot easier. There are also some very exciting ideas flying around from some of my sponsors but as nothing is finalized it is perhaps premature to talk about them yet! Watch this space...
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