This week I have been making final preparations for the ride which has mainly involved eating and checking the weather forecasts. The former has been quite enjoyable whilst the latter has looked more promising as the week has gone on. At first it seemed that I would have a block headwind with the wind coming from East North East on Sunday and then from North North East on the Monday - pretty much the directions I'll be heading each day. This has now changed with the latest forecasts showing a South-Easterly wind on Sunday and a South-Westerly on Monday giving a cross- and a tailwind respectively.
Usually I wouldn't be too bothered about the wind as rides normally start and finish in the same place, so it tends to even itself out over the day - if you head out into a headwind then you get a tailwind on the way back. When you're riding point to point it's a different matter and you only need to look at my average speeds on my commute this week to see how much of an effect it has. In the mornings I have been riding into a headwind and averaging about 15mph whilst in the evenings I have had the wind behind me and have averaged about 20mph - although maybe I'm more motivated on the ride home...
I have also changed my cassette from a 11-25 to a 12-28 giving me slightly lower gearing. This means I now have the option of going a bit slower up the hills in order to not tire myself out too much. I have also fitted a nice shiny new chain to go with it and went out for a test ride yesterday evening up Ramsbottom Rake, the steepest hill in the area, the theory being if I can get up a 25% hill with full panniers then I should be able to get up anything. I seemed to manage ok considering how much I've struggled up it in the past although I'm not sure how much of that was down to the gearing and how much is down to my improved fitness. I haven't been up the hill for a while as it's been closed for what I thought was resurfacing but it turns out they were just replacing the handrail at the side of the road that pedestrians use to haul themselves up the steep gradient.
Tonight I will be baking flapjack, making sure I have all my gear together and getting things sorted for tomorrow's drive down to Penzance. I will be checking everything twice as I don't want to end up in Cornwall only to realise I've left my bike shoes in Manchester! I'll also have to check our ten year old car as it will be putting in a big shift over next couple of days as will my girlfriend Kerri who will be doing a substantial amount of driving. At least Kerri agreed to help out whereas the Fiesta won't know what's hit it.
Finally you may have noticed I've added a couple of things to the blog so you can follow my ride. The first is a map at the top of my blog which should plot my journey via the locations in my tweets, hopefully this will work and give you an idea of where I am in the country during my ride. Secondly I have added a list of my rides on the right via Strava which should show you how many miles I've done each day and how long it's taken me.