Ride Prep

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Today I have no pictures to show those of you who are still watching, so I thought I would put some fun faces on the blog.   My niece and nephew just returned from Disney and I was provided a few photos.   This should bring a smile to those who remember the wonders of childhood.   The kids look pretty stoked here and even better with all of the Disney characters.

This is not an appropriate place to journal all of the details of a person’s day, however my cousin thought it was interesting to hear about my ride prep.   Okay, here it goes.   This will be another boring and somewhat technical post.

First, the photo below is my bike, hanging in the boat.   There is a grab rail that runs the length of the salon, which is great in rough seas, but I use it mostly for stretching and hanging my bike.   When the boat is in motion, the bike will move around a LOT if it is on the floor and it could scratch all of that nice woodwork.   The easiest solution was to hang it on that rail.  It keeps it away from the salt water (indoors) and keeps it off of the walls and woodwork.   Cool solution.


Prepping for a long ride is usually pretty easy, but in this case I have a ‘new’ bike, a ‘new’ bag and much of my setup on my old ‘long ride’ bike has to be replicated.   Yesterday I had some servicing done on the bike as readers may recall, and I also put reflective tape around the frame in many places.   Being seen at night (and I expect to be riding about 6-7 hours in the dark) requires good lighting and reflectors.  Not for me, but for all the drivers out there who are not expecting a cyclist on the road.  The bike must also conform to the highway traffic act (in the US and Canada at least, here I am not sure anyone cares).  That means that I must have reflectors, front and rear lights, a horn and brakes.   I don’t carry a horn, but I can be pretty loud when threatened.

So you can see reflective tape on the front and rear forks, the sides of the steering tube, on my crank arms and a few other places as well.  I even have some tiny strips on the wheels but I don’t think they will stay on for long.  I have two red lights.  One on the bag and another on the seat post, only one can be seen, but I keep two in case one breaks or ‘pops off’.   As well I have a red light on my helmet.

That bag (Carradice, Camper longflap, 24L) is a pretty popular bag in Europe among long distance cyclists.  It can carry a really big load (about half of a carry-on suitcase).   It will be almost completely empty tomorrow, but it will contain some key bits.  Here is an idea of what is in the bag:

Main section:

  1. Spare tire
  2. Spare tube x2
  3. Tube repair kit
  4. Chain tool
  5. Tire levers
  6. Chain lube
  7. Wind Jacket
  8. Wind vest
  9. Other spare clothes (which I won’t carry tomorrow.  For a multi-day ride I take shoes and street clothes too!)

Tomorrow I will also put a bunch of food in there (discussed below).  But there are also two pockets on the side of that big bag.  Since there is an effort to reduce time off of the bike, I am pretty consistent with where I put things.   Many of the things I need access to quickly go into the right side pocket.  So the pocket on the right, facing forward has:

  1. Allen Keys
  2. Spare tube (#3)
  3. Tire levers
  4. Reflective vest (for night riding)
  5. Headlights
  6. Electronic bits (see below)
  7. Spare Gloves

On the other side the pocket is empty.  When I buy that big 2L bottle of water or coke and I don’t drink it all at once, it will go in that pocket.  As well I can put stuff (like gloves) in this pocket quickly while I am on the bike.  Remember time on the bike is one of the most important aspects of distance riding against the clock.   Better to be riding forward at 15kph than stopped for five minutes trying to fix some issue that isn’t related to a broken bike or a broken body.

So that’s the bike.  You can’t really see some of the other important features.  I have an iPhone mount on the handlebars that keep my phone in front of me at all times (I have a special case by QuadLock, which is the most secure way to put a phone on a bike I have ever seen).  As well there is a place for two water bottles and my mini pump is there on the frame to get me home if I need to inflate a tire.

So what else is there?  Here is some of the stuff that hasn’t gone into the bag or my back pockets yet:


I have a cool headset attached to my helmet.  It provides Bluetooth connectivity to my iPhone and each of those (little black) units gives me 4-6 hours of use.   I will be carrying 3 lights and they should provide me with about 6-9 hours of light, I hope to need no more than four or five hours.  I will take two battery chargers (one shown here) with me so I can recharge my phone, Bluetooth receivers or lights if necessary.   The big problem with built in batteries (iPhone, lights, etc.) is that they have a very limited run-time vs. my needs.

The bike that I had stolen in Toronto had an amazing lighting/charging setup.  It used a Schmidt Dynamo which would charge my phone constantly during the day and provide excellent power to a light (The B&M Luxos U provided either an amazing amount of light or a USB slot to charge something while flying down the road.)   This system was expensive (about $1000 in total) but so worth it for anyone who rides for more than a few hours at a time) and I miss it, but I didn’t have time to replace everything before leaving Toronto.

I have sunglasses with me, and they have removable lenses so I can swap out to clear lenses at night.   Unfortunately I didn’t bring clear lenses with me, and so I will be riding in the dark without glasses on.   Normally I would never do that, particularly at night, it is super dangerous for your eyes, but I did spend the first 35 years of my life without ever using eye-wear.    I am going to trust that my luck will hold out tomorrow.

Next up is nutrition.   You can see the gel bottles in the picture.   I normally use these as a last resort, but tomorrow they will be a key component of my feeding on the bike and they will get used mostly after dark, when stopping means getting cold fast.   This along with some bananas will comprise most of my fuel while I am on the bike.   I will also make a few sandwiches tonight and have them in my bag so I can avoid making long stops for a meal somewhere.   I need to travel with about 3-4,000 calories and could probably use more.   To get those calories I also use special drinks from Hammer Nutrition that offer good calorie replacement while on the bike.   And when that runs out, Coca-Cola is the answer.  It has caffeine, sugar and sodium, not to mention it tastes good.   After 5 or 6 hours of riding, those become positive features of a drink.

Also in that picture you see my drugs.  Those are actually electrolyte pills.   After two hours or so your body typically needs electrolytes to be replenished.   Otherwise the messaging between your legs and your brain degrade quickly.   Cramps occur, fatigue sets in, attention deficit affects judgement, and typically, all of that can be solved by one of those little pills every hour.

A plastic baggie contains enough money for a meal, a credit card to solve any unforeseen problems and my name and an emergency contact if I am found on the side of the road or in a hospital.

I also need to do some route planning.   I think I have a route selected, but I will adjust on the road because I don’t know anything about the area North of Megara or North of Sounio (so about 60% of the ride!).  Here is my intended route.

Long Ride

Finally, I have my music playlists downloaded and ready to go in Spotify and a couple of issues of the Economist (Audio Edition) ready to keep me company.  If my headsets hold out, I should be well entertained for at least half the time!

So that’s it.  Tonight I will eat pasta, try to sleep by 10:30 or so.  I will check the weather one more time to make sure I am making appropriate clothing selections for tomorrow.  Setting an alarm, I should be up at 5:00 am to get on the bike by 5:30 and get out of the city before the traffic kicks up.

I will post late Thursday or early Friday to let you know how it all works out.

3 thoughts on “Ride Prep

  1. Hey Don good luck with your ride tomorrow.


  2. Don. Interesting as ever. I’m getting used to my daily ‘fix’ from Athens! Good luck tomorrow. Regards

  3. That sounds awesome, have a safe ride!

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