After months and months of research, planning and daydreaming I had a very nasty shock this week when I realised it’s now just over 6 weeks until my trip starts.

To coincide with this the sun came out. So did the Bluebells and unfortunately for the public at large, so did my shorts.  The sun and my legs last saw each other about 9 months ago and it seems, for two of the three at least, the separation has not been kind.  What entered Winter as finely carved, bronzed legs that could have graced a Greek statue of Apollo, have emerged after months of hibernation as two short, fat, white hairy tree trunks.  The real tragedy is that in many ways, my legs are my best feature.

Still, both chins up, with a bit of exercise and some re-acquaintance with the large yellow celestial disc, my normal Apollonian physique will soon be restored.

To encourage others to follow in my wheel tracks, I’ve included a photo of me on a training run.  I should mention I am in the final run-up to my grand adventure and so have been in training for many weeks.  Anyone new to cycling should not attempt anything this strenuous too soon.  At my level of fitness I am able to prepare my own ham rolls and flask of coffee without a support crew but this has only come after careful instruction and supervision from Basecamp.

Side note:  Even though I am in the final stages of my training, Basecamp has decreed that I am still not quite ready for sharp objects so I am still only allowed to butter my roll with a polycarbonate Spork.  It is fair to say that she, Basecamp, does have some concerns about the likelihood of 100% of me returning from my trip.  This concern extends to a Major Worry that I will have a Very Nasty Moment with my cooking stove, Jetboil or anything else involving gas and a naked flame.  I have insisted that wearing a fire blanket and oven gloves at all times will add too much weight and indeed, might make me look silly to other campers.

My aim is to cycle about 50 miles per day which at around 10 miles an hour should mean that I will travelling around 6 hours a day including lunch and rest breaks.  So far, I’ve managed 2 or 3 test runs where I’ve covered just over 40 miles and have learned that it doesn’t matter which direction you are facing, there is always a headwind.

I have yet to load up my bike to full tour capacity, having started with the basic necessities of chair, lunch and coffee and although I have had one or two difficult cafetière moments, there has been no long term scarring. On one training run I also had quite a traumatic lunch involving a tuna and rice salad but again, the key to success as an adventure cyclist, is to shrug off every rice explosion and treat it as a learning experience.

One last lesson I have learned so far is the cost in time spent putting glasses on,  finding current location on the map, working out the next bit of route, playing map sailing in the wind, folding map to the size of a postage stamp to get into map holder and putting glasses away.  I have been experimenting with a clear A3 document wallet bungeed to the top of my handlebar bag in order to reveal more map while I’m cycling which is all well and good, but without my reading glasses on I can still only see sweet Fanny Adams.  Answers on a postcard please.

Well that’s all for the moment, but if you have enjoyed this post, please sIgnup to my blog so you can be among the first to read my trip updates.  Also, any donations to my nominated charity, The Wildlife Aid Foundation would be very gratefully received (www.justgiving.com/richard-dunford).