On the way

It will be hard for some to believe that I actually plan on occasion. In part it appears that I don’t ever because even when I do it doesn’t always work out. I think part if not all of my ability to deal with crisis comes from repeated exposure to my own folly. I’m fairly sure that’s why I prefer to figure out what needs to be done, and then wing it without a long detailed plan – because the plan never survives.

I’ve been reviewing gear and packing for the trip on and off for about four weeks, and it’s a part of the trip I enjoy. Over the years I’ve developed a detailed packing list, revised a bit every trip, providing a checklist to be sure I have everything. As I’ve worked through things, I’ve made a number of purchases in that period, getting the most of my free 1 month Amazon Prime trial. But it seems like no matter how much preparatory packing I do, in the end it comes down to the wire.

Only a few days ago I realized the seams on my Countdown rain jacket (the driest garment I’ve ever owned) were delaminating. I paid a lot for that jacket, but I’ve had it through multiple tours (5?). That jacket is my go-to jacket for just about everything, and I’ve gotten my money’s worth, but that doesn’t resolve the more immediate problem. The jacket is old enough that it’s out of production, and whatever I buy is going to have to come from Amazon (Prime, so I can be fairly certain it will arrive on time). I of course realized this at 1 am on Sunday morning (with my flight Wed. morning). By 3 am I’ve found and ordered a mostly-identical jacket (the Gore Bikewear ALP-X 2.0) that looks like the same jacket two generations later. Not quite the color I want, but given the circumstance, good enough! It arrived on Monday, two days before the flight. No time or field trials, so we’ll just have to see. Some features look improved, others regressed. Time will tell.

That’s an example well within the norm. Bailing plan to try to repair the old jacket, but not necessary, so great!

I started the final packing run through at about 8 pm the night before the flight. I’m using my incredibly detailed packing list, and everything has been previously identified, reviewed, and is just sitting in the middle of the dining room floor.

Andrew dropped by for an hour or so to pick up a spare set of panniers, a handlebar bag, and briefly discuss required gear. Andrew is trekking in the Swiss Alps in early August. He’s always talked about trying cycle touring, so we’re going to connect in Geneva and cycle for a few days before he returns home.  He’s got my detailed list, so not much left to cover there.

So back to packing, using the list. There’s all sorts of little bundles of things on the floor that I’ve packed in the prior weeks. I know the first aid kit has 4 cue-tips, the kitchen kit has a spare 6 matches in addition to the lighter, the bath kit has 4 razors with the handle cut in half. It’s now just a matter of packing everything into the (correct) panniers.

The last thing to pack is normally the tool kit. I use the tool kit to disassemble the bike, which should assure I will have all the necessary tools at the other end. With the front wheel off, my special “protect the front forks” device is in place (to help avoid the front forks being crushed):


With the handle bars turned sideways, I have only to remove the pedals. Now I’m a little leery of removing pedals. First, because I always remember one of the pedals has the threads reversed, and secondly, because before one trip to England the wrench slipped and I sliced my hand open on the chainring, with only time for me to tape it up, but not enough time to have an actual medical professional look at it, making the first few days a combination of touring and medical care.

Marnie helps out by confirming on-line which way the threads of the pedals go, and the left pedal won’t come off. She rechecks on-line just in case. Yes, the direction is correct, and the pedal STILL WON’T COME OFF. I finally abandon the cause after about a half-hour and move on to the right pedal. I’m getting a bit frustrated, and Marnie saves me by reminding me that I’m about to try the right pedal the wrong way. The right pedal won’t come off either! Now I’ve got a problem, as i can’t ship the bike with the pedals on, and the allen wrench has that look they get just before they strip. What I need it a 15 mm wrench. 14 I have. 16 I have. No 15mm. By this point it’s 11:30 pm, so it’s off to Wal-mart, with Marnie along for support.

By this point I’m rambling through options. I need to be at the airport at 8 am, when most stores open. We check the bike store nearby, which doesn’t open until 10 am. Can I fly out, and have Marnie ship the bike the next day? Can I rebuild the box extra wide, and hope the airline will be accommodating? (Hah! BTW). Will I have to change my flight date?

We get to Wal-mart to find that the local one is not 24 hours anymore, and it closes at midnight. And it’s midnight. Marnie finds another Wal-mart in Morrisville, so that’s next. She also determines that Home Depot opens at 6 am. We arrive at the Morrisville Wal-mart, and I find allen keys and a set of wrenches including 15mm. While I’m doing that, Marnie is checking the bike section, and finds an actual pedal wrench (long enough to provide good leverage). We bring everything home.

15 minutes later, with Marnie holding the bike steady, the pedal wrench handily removed the pedals, and Marnie heads to bed. I manage to get everything crammed into the available space (2000 + 1600+400 cu3), and most everything packed in with the bike in the box, all tied back to the bike in case the box comes open. By 3:30 am I’m finally abed.

Now I’m at the airport, waiting for my flight. Have I done the final route planning I was gong to yesterday? The hostel reservation?  Let’s hope that all works out. But that’s now a matter for another day.

Well, I’m at the Toronto airport, I have a hostel reservation, and I’m moving forward.


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