Stuff To Do

It feels like I’ve got my project manager’s hat on. All of a sudden, those contingent months that lay ahead, meaning I could park the important stuff ahead of the Ride 2 Cure, they’ve gone, and in the blink of an eye, I’m heading for the sharp end: things to do, stuff to sort out, important decisions to be made, and not a lot of time left to do it all in…

90 days and counting.

First up: the kit. Neil and I, who knocked up the design, have signed off on the final version of the shirt, and even at the 11th hour, we were interfacing back and forth to Australia to get confirmation on technical stuff like the specific shades of pink and yellow. We’ve messed about with the yellow slightly to tie in with Childhood Cancer Awareness month, so our version of yellow has more than a wee hint of gold in it. Think hot yellow to go with the hot pink trim and you won’t be far off.

Before I leave the jersey story, I had an enquiry this week from an LCFN follower in Norway, asking whether the jerseys will be for sale. The ones that Paul and I will be wearing are paid for by moi (it is, after all, a fundraiser for laboratory research into new treatments so Paul, my roadie, and I are pretty much funding everything between us). Anyway I bounced the question over to Neuroblastoma Australia and they jumped at the opportunity of selling special, limited edition Ride 2 Cure shirts as a fundraiser. So yes, you will be able to buy a shirt (or five), safe in the knowledge that your hard earned cash is going to help save lives in years to come. And in any case, the R2C jersey is the must have cycling top of 2018 (said a man who’s living the dream).

Next up: the website. This has been a real team effort, although I would be the first to congratulate the web designers in Sydney for a fantastically clean layout that’s choc full of goodies. Just as with the jerseys, ideas and content have been flying back and forth over the airwaves and we’re probably only a couple of weeks away from the official launch just now. The Ride 2 Cure has been a bit like a slow goods train chugging along on the inside track while it’s well established brother, the Run 2 Cure fast express has been rumbling down the fast lane. But the Run 2 Cure gig happens next weekend so once that’s cleared the section (trainspotter speak for no longer an issue), then the Ride 2 Cure site will get the green light and some final TLC before the launch.

If you like gadgets, then you’re gonna love the R2C website because it’s full of toys.

The broad layout of the site will give you a feel like you’re scrolling down a never ending billboard of engaging content. First up, right in your face, are the donation buttons: it is, after all, why we’re doing this and investing so much time and effort. When you look at it on your phone, the big slider bar just hits you right in the face: our goal is to raise $111,000 (derived from the total distance of 2222km) but because my default factory setting is optimist, I’m hoping we can smash that: we have after all got the combined forces of both the UK and Australia driving this Megabike forward.

Scroll down and then you’ve got the route, end to end, that we knocked up in Mapometer. That allows you to zoom right in just like on Google Maps. But the best bit of the route finder lives on the dropdown menu. In there, you’ll find a zoomable bitesize version of each stage, along with a wee elevation icon that expands on screen to give the lowdown of the terrain, end to end, of each stage: but that’s not the best bit… if you slide your finger along the elevation profile, then a wee dot appears on the route so you can see exactly where the hills are, both up and down. Like I said, you’ll be all gadgeted out by the time we’re done.

The wee zoomable maps and the elevation toys came courtesy of the Hammerhead Karoo that we’re putting our trust in to do the navigation on the road. I’m the first to admit that the Karoo has been a bit of a gamble. It’s a brand new piece of kit that only started shipping a couple of months ago, and I managed to get my grubby mitts on one of the very first ones in the UK. But as with a lot of new products, it has gremlins, and some of them have threatened to scupper our investment. The issues have all been to do with offline maps. I don’t want to have to rely on an internet connection when I’m in the outback, so the feature that attracted me most to the Karoo was having the ability to plot a route (it’s dead simple by the way, and only takes a few seconds), then download it to the device so that all you need out on the road is GPS. Then your task becomes one of ensuring that your red arrow (that’s you) stays on the red line (which is the route). The Karoo screen, which is totally zoomable in and out, shows your actual route as a blue line, so if you do manage to get lost, all you have to do is zoom out, find the red line then head off in a direction such that your blue line reconnects with it: and all the time the red arrow shows you where you’re heading right now. It’s super simple and super slick…

But the offline facility wasn’t working, as in the download would get to say, 56% then freeze and restart. Not good, especially when you’ve got 20 stages to download. Anyway, I went on the Hammerhead website forum and had a wee rant, in the guise of asking a question regarding when this rather basic bit of functionality would be available: well guess what… they released a software update at the beginning of this week, and the problem’s been fixed. So now I actually have all twenty stages of the Ride 2 Cure downloaded onto the device and I no longer need an internet connection or a 3G SIM card to get me from Brisbane to Adelaide. Of course if I inadvertently reach Melbourne, then you’ll know we’ve hit a problem en route to Houston.

But the most frustrating aspect of the build up, and I would go so far as to say infuriating, has been the issues that we’ve been having with the Tannus tyres. I don’t have a problem with the fat Tannus tyres that sit on the gold bike. They’re puncture proof, which was the whole point of going solid, but at an equivalent of 75psi, they are costing me between 1 to 1.5mph on the road. Over the course of R2C end to end, that’s the equivalent of an extra day’s riding, or putting it another way, a load more effort on knackered legs, every single day. So Neil (my mechanic) and I went down the Tannus 105psi route on the Aussie bike (not the gold one). These are the equivalent of slick road tyres with minimal rolling resistance. But could we get them on the rims that the Tannus technical literature claimed were 100% in spec? Hell no! We even went down the road of buying the machine that the Tannus pro’s use to fit their tyres. But these beasts are not for going on. So we’re at a crossroads over the whole solid tyre thing and ultimately I think we’ll just have to bite the bullet and go back to bombproof tubed tyres: shame because the 105psi’s are bright yellow and would have looked the real deal on black wheels. C’est la vie.

However while all of this project management malarkey has been occupying my mind, the miles just keep rolling along: that’s now 23 double tons in a row and tomorrow will rack up the fifth thousand mile month in a row: #ForeverFive, Puddles that one was for you. I’ve been out on the road a couple of times this week with a nice lady who’s signed up to do Land’s End to John O’Groats while I’m doing Brisbane to Adelaide. And like me she was about forty years without being on a bike before being rebitten by the bug, so showing off some of my obscure resurfaced single track country roads has been good fun for both of us. But the mainstay of my training has been on the turbo, in the sunshine, in the back garden. After the really shit winter that we had, I really don’t mind a bit of ‘baking in the sun’ acclimatisation, especially when I can take regular breaks whilst crashing an insane workload. It kills two birds with one stone: the miles get done in an hour less time every day (an extra hour that I then get paid for) and I can monitor knee pain versus effort in a controlled manner. As I said last week, LCFN is no longer about LCFN, it’s about delivering a pensioner to the start line outside the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital on 24th August.

The clock is ticking down and there’s so much stuff still to do…

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