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Lanterne Rouge - The Final Countdown

When I started planning my trip to the Alps back in January it felt like a lifetime away, but now I'm sat here at the end of May, counting down the day until I head overseas, it sudden feels like time simply skipped the spring and dropped me off right at the end of May. There are now only 22 days until I start my adventure and ride my bike overseas for the first time. 

During that time I've had the opportunity to sit down and carefully look at the route I had in mind, plotting and re-plotting to make sure I go through as many places as possible in the two weeks I have. I even sent my route out to a chap called Will in the Alps to get his opinion; it's lucky that I did given I'd planned a 3,000ft hike a bike by accident. 

 No need for warm weather training camps with the current weather.

No need for warm weather training camps with the current weather.

I've managed to break the route down into ten days of riding with time for a bike of a break in some pretty looking villages along the way. The unfortunate consequence of doing this is I get to see just how hard every day is going to be. Here in the U.K the longest climb I've done was Cragg Vale, a measly 5 miles and 18 minutes of effort. Nearly every climb leaderboard I've looked at in the Alps suggests I'll be going upwards for in excess of two hours at a time. I've never done anything like that so can I now? 

I've also managed to buy all my equipment and luggage along the way. Whilst I didn't opt for super-light options owing to the sheer ridiculous expense, I did try to strike a sensible balance of cost and weight. I'll cover a bit more about that in another blog but I'm pleased to say I can thankfully fit everything onto the bike and whilst it feels like it weighs the earth to pick up, it rides surprisingly well. The key it seems is to keep an eye on my power meter and just be sensible up all the climbs; riding on the flat feels little different to normal. 

 My first attempt at a kit list. This has been tweaked and changed since. 

My first attempt at a kit list. This has been tweaked and changed since. 

The part of the trip I hadn't previously mentioned is that for some strange reason I've decided to ride London to Paris before all of the above, setting off late Saturday afternoon and arriving in Paris on Sunday in time for a coffee and a croissant. A little warm up perhaps? 

It's not been easy to plan all of the travel logistics and I am pretty anxious still that things are going to go wrong. Until I'm in Geneva I think I'm going to be pretty apprehensive of the journey ahead. 

At the same time, it's going to be my first real 'adventure'. I've never really wild camped, or travelled alone, let alone tour by bike. It's something that is far beyond my comfort zone of smashing out a hard ride around Yorkshire. It will be interesting to see how I cope with two weeks on my own that's for sure. 

 Practicing my Italian cafe stops?

Practicing my Italian cafe stops?

Over the next two weeks I'll be constantly packing and re-packing, list writing and panicking endlessly until I'm happy everything is good to go. I'll also be writing up some more specifics on my route and gear choices to share with everyone, almost as a final checklist; someone else will always spot what I have forgotten. 

I'm more than welcome to any last minute tips and tricks too!