It’s been a fun week of excessive attention to detail – something I know I should be doing, but don’t want to be doing and other people need me to be doing – not (dis)cluding my future and trusting self somewhere out there in the desert with half a dozen fellow bikers, a lot of miles and all the rest of it to contend with.

It’s been a fun week figuring out intensity of power requirements – what is a power caddy, or portable USB power, how many times can I charge a GPS or a cellphone or a headlamp or any other of the devices I am taking from a 20,000 mAh unit? How big is it, how waterproof/shock proof; how reliable is it for this project. I did a bunch of research and ended up buying an Anker PowerCore 20100 from Amazon.ca which incidentally has proved really great for inexpensive items for this trip so far.

It’s been a fun week trying to become the person I need to be – a warm comfortable person under the stars if we need to camp. So far the plan is not to, but its early days, and I’m not planning on ordering or buying any last minute items on this trip. It’s so easy to let it slide till the last minute, but as we all know that usually results in some kind of shit present.

It’s been a fun week checking all the super expensive camping gear on geeky (power positive word use) comparison sites – $400 for a killer sleeping bag with cool colors and great construction – super warm and available overnight. The problem is that I don’t want to be spending too much money – so how do I do that without compromising the quality I need?

Easy, back I go to Amazon.ca for cheaper options – now – what’s out there that’ll pack into a 12 inch x 8 inch x 8 inch pack and weight less than 3 lbs and doesn’t break the bank? You would be surprised. I score a 3-season bag from Docooler®, catchingly known as an Envelope Outdoor Sleeping Bag Camping Travel Hiking Multi-function Ultra-light  for under $50 cad including shipping. I know that even if it’s not super warm, it’ll do the job if I have two base layers, a beanie and my jacket on underneath it worst case scenario.

It’s been a fun week working on navigation options (note it’s not even a GPS choice, it’s a Garmin choice). After hating the Oregon 550 in Portugal, I swore never to use it again, and accidently/on purpose left it in Sagres. After calculating the weight of at least 18 AA batteries which will be needed to power this type of Garmin over 400 miles I think the better option is a replacement Lithium Ion battery and enough juice in a power caddy to fuel it on the go. I.e. – the power caddy has to able to charge the Garmin as I’m riding. So that means cable stability and integrity on the trail, which is a whole other story. Still feeling in some nagging way that I need not one, but two power caddies. Will give myself until Valentine’s Day to decide. Tick tock.

As a side-note, I spent a pleasurable hour researching Schmidt’s Original Nabendynamo, which is a wonderfully German engineered solution to portable power. Where else in the world would there be a standard for emitted light levels from a bicycle? Despite the genius of it (like with another German invention – the internal hub shifting mechanism – which is yet another story) I am reluctant to retrofit what is essentially a race bike with touring capabilities. I’ll stick with the Millennium Falcon solution of cobbling together the best pieces possible at the best price possible and hope my creation isn’t my own undoing sooner or later.

It’s been a fun week researching the main purchase to make next, which is buying the frame, seat and handle bar bags (aka the triple humped cow of storage salvation). I’m not sure we’ll need a bivvy and sleeping mat, but I am going to research and buy them just in case. Another great thing this race is bringing me is the selection process for the gear I need to be self-sufficient on the next long distance trip and the next one and so on and so on. I’ll be set for years of exploring off the main routes, which is really what I want to do for the next thirty years or so, until my blog morphs to old man on a bike – please donate through my site to keep me riding and writing until I’m 100.

It’s been a fun week of training hard – ramping up to 2.5 hour sessions in the gym – on treadmill, stationary bike, weights, stretching, yoga moves are all leading to a 5lb loss since Christmas, and a gain in energy and confidence. It’s hard to get out the door in the winter still, but as in other years, I find once I’m out its really ok. Not great, but really better than lurking indoors too much. Oh wait, I have been lurking indoors too much. Will be looking forward to hitting the trails, but realistically won’t have much chance to shake out the equipment before leaving for Palm Springs in any meaningful way unless I can muster the enthusiasm for a late winter ride.

It’s been a fun week of tool time – analyzing all the repairs required. I took my bike to my local bike store for a tune-up (this will feel great – thank the makers). Still riding my now faithful and battle proven Rocky Mountain Vertex hardtail 29er carbon frame, which is dialed in super tight for me now. The good news is that not much work is needed on the mechanical side, since it was tuned up fully before South Africa in December, but none the less I don’t want to take any chances out on the race. Yes dual carbon is my dream bike next, but this hardtail covers 99% of the mountain riding I’m doing now. Going to run tubeless again – the rim tape seems to really help prevent the flats of the past – even with tubeless. It proved to be a flawless setup in South Africa where there were plenty of sharp rocks and thorns to test the system. More to come soon!

And if you made it this far I also had a fun time this week developing a crush on Jessica Jones 🙂