It’s been a while since my last entry and the major news is…I have my hands on the bike. I took delivery of it some 4 weeks ago. I’m absolutely delighted with it and I’ve been busy putting it through its paces. I’m still waiting on a couple of other parts but for the most part this is what I will be riding back on. Mum and Dad were also kind enough to forward on my new Brooks saddle so the bike really does look the part.
I’d been told that breaking in a Brooks saddle takes time. Consequently I was anticipating a rather painful backside after my first ride but that wasn’t the case. Subsequent rides have also left me feeling no discomfort. I’m not sure what this says a) about the quality of Brooks saddles or b) about my backside, I’m pretty used to putting in some long rides these days so I think it must have become numb to the pain.
I’m really happy with the bike; it was way back in June when I first enquired about the LPY frame. I know eventually I would have gotten my hands on a frame but I might have had to go through the hassle of importing one from outside of China. However once I’d set my eyes on the LPY I was pretty certain that this was going to be the bike for me.
Like I said it’s taken a little while getting it all sorted but I was fortunate enough to take it our for a test ride in Shanghai which confirmed my belief that this was the bike for me. When you are planning on cycling this kind of distance getting the right bike and equipment is vitally important. The bike itself has been turning heads amongst the local Chinese biking community here and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been showing it off somewhat. In particular I love the butterfly bars set up. I’d never previously ridden with bars such as this and when you first look at them they do look a little on the peculiar side. However to ride they are an absolute dream, as opposed to my regular mountain bike bars I know have 4 different hand positions. This might go down to three once I mount a handlebar bag on the front but those positions are extremely comfortable. It’s left me thinking how on earth did I ever manage without these bars before?
A huge thank you must also go to my Chinese friend Robert from Top Bike (拓步单车) who helped me put the bike together. Robert has been a massive help with all things bike related since I moved to Xiamen. Any problems that I’ve had with any of my bikes here he’s always been the go to guy. In fact he’s been such a help that I’ve rather neglected learning bicycle maintenance myself. I’m not entirely sure I’ll have enough room for him on the back of the bike! In addition I should also once again thank Jon at LPY Cycles for, number one, the bike but also continually answering my numerous questions.
Needless to say I’m hoping that nothing serious mechanically will go wrong along the way. That you may say is wishful thinking but I feel I’m well enough equipped to deal with most basic bike repairs. I still have time to learn. Speaking of time it is now 92 days before I set off. I’m aiming to probably leave on the 6th of March.
With regards to the route I’ve been looking at other options. My initial plan was to take a rather longer but more scenic route, which would take me from the Czech Republic into Austria and Switzerland. I’m now beginning to sway towards the idea of simply heading West and straight into Germany thus eliminating some serious mountains further south.
Planning is going steadily and I’m trying to do a little each day. I’ve read lots of accounts of people who have really enjoyed this aspect of the trip. I have to be honest and say it’s not something I’ve grown to love at this moment in time. For the China leg of the trip I’ve basically been using google maps. I’ve been informed by my Chinese friends that any planning in China is futile as roads have a habit of simply disappearing or being replaced by new one! Surely this can’t be the case? But then again I've lived here long enough to know that anything is possible. I got my hands on a China 2010 Road Atlas but as one might naturally expect it’s all in Chinese, no Pinyin, just characters. So it’s google or nothing at the moment. Most of the routes I’m taking though are fairly straightforward and it’s quite often simply the case of getting on one road and it leading you to the next destination. What can go wrong I ask myself? Famous last words?
That’s all for now.