This week, one of our lady pedallers will be setting off to cycle down the country to Bath in time to help a sister out and represent Lady Pedal at Protestival 4.0 (bath’s answer to envirolution). Here’s some words from Hannah on how she’s preparing for the 200 mile trip.
In the madness leading up to the festival, I’d been completely neglecting my own bike, and so I had a fair few things to sort out in preparation for a multi-day trip! While it’s not the first time I’ve done a tour, it is the most intense I’ll have done in terms of distance/time and the first ill do in the UK. I’m really ex
cited to be linking two cities under my own steam! Life has been a bit hectic, so of course everything was left last minute, but here’s a brief rundown of the things
I’ve managed to sort out. If you’re not too sure what parts I’m talking about, there’s some guidance here.
Maintenance and repairs
Over summer my bike has taken a bit of a beating, resulting in a very worn chain and cassette. Worse than this, some carelessness on my part means that the hanger attaching the rear derailleur to the frame was severely bent, rendering the first 3 cogs unuseable! My plan was to head over to Platt Fields on Thursday evening, but unfortunately I working late made this impossible! Luckily, the lovely folk at Revolve are really really great and were able to sort me out later on! Thanks so much!
I’d always assumed that a bent derailleur/hanger was a lost cause – apparently not! There is a special tool go bend the hanger back into shape, although there is a high risk that it might snap. I got lucky again! So with my gear changing issues resolved, it was just a case of installing a new cassette and chain, they look mighty shiny compared to my old parts! Yes, I got a small lecture on cleaning my bike… Sorry Dave! With the major fixes sorted, we moved onto the easier, but equally as important (if not more so) task of replacing brake pads. This is one I’m confident with myself, and was able to give Dave a break (brake?). With everything aligned and some shiny new parts, I felt much more confident in setting off down the country.
The next morning I fixed a slow puncture I’d been too tired to do the night before and changed my rear tyre to one that I was given with slightly more tread – normally I would run my tyres until the rubber runs through but having already had two punctures I didn’t want to take my chances on a long ride. I also patched up another to make sure I had a spare in case of inconvenient punctures en route.
I’ve been tweaking a few minor things over the weekend – squeaky brakes for example aren’t really a big deal but can get annoying. This time it was simply a case of better aligning the pads to be flush with the rim. I’ve also put on a front mudguard – maybe unnecessary but I’ve had it lying around for months and I may as well do it while I’m in bike mode.
I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about seat height. It can make more of a difference than you’d imagine! I lent my bike to a fellow pedaller last week and had to lower the seat for her – clearly I didn’t raise it quite enough when I took it back as I was beginning to feel the pull on my knees and cycling just didn’t feel as smooth. I raised it last night and cycling into town this morning felt like a dream! Don’t be afraid to play around with seat height until it feels right, but as a rough guide, your leg should be at full extension at the lowest stroke of the pedal.
*NOTE*: this might mean that you can’t comfortably reach the floor whilst on the seat, but coming forward off the seat to a standing position when you stop should be fine.
Now that I’m happy with the mechanical side, I need to consider the rest of the trip. I already had one pannier bag and was given another by a fellow Lady Pedaller (I love my Lady Pedalling community!) and after some minor repairs I now have a matching set! It’s good to be handy with a needle and thread. Contrary to what you might think, you really don’t need much on a cycling trip. By way of clothes one set for cycling and one nice set for evenings should be enough. It’s more important to keep space for a few bike related tools, snacks and food for the ride and a good supply of water. We’ve been fortunate enough to find a couple of places to couchsurf along the way which means we really can travel light, without having to factor in camping equipment or excessive food supplies.
Other than clothes, I’ll be taking down some stuff to encourage cycling at Protestival including a couple of puncture repair kits and high vis jackets. And no festival is complete without facepaint so of course that has to come too!
What to bring:
- Spare inner tube
- Tyre levers
- Puncture repair kit
- Adjustable spanner
- Allan keys
- Working lights
- High vis
- Rechargeable lamp/phone charger
- Minimal wash bag with first aid basics
- Microfibre towel
- Drybag & plastic bags in case of rain
Clothes (be prepared for 3 states: cycling, sleeping, and neither of those things)
- Waterproof jacket and trousers
- Something comfy/quick-drying to cycle in (top and bottom)
- Extra layer for top
- Cosy clothes for the evening/sleeping
- Something to party in
- 1 pair of shoes
And one crazy adventure companion (especially useful when complete with maps and directions!):
Doubtless there will be a few things added last minute, and many more forgotten! The adventure is soon to begin…