Since Lucy and I last wrote a blog (last year) we have swapped Canada for the U.S of A and 2014 for 2015, experienced some of the chilliest temperatures of the trip so far, broken a few bike bits, fixed a few others, been adopted by a wonderful Canadian family for the holidays (and consumed modest amounts of gin with them), been welcomed in and escorted both ways in and out of cities by various other folks and had to start coming to terms with the idea that Lucy’s time out here is drawing to a close this month. Sad faces indeed… (Hercules is besides himself at the idea and I am trying to be silently stoic and failing miserably)
As if wanting to send her out with a fanfare, the weather has done it’s wintry best to put on a show lately, providing beautiful sun dogs and halos around the sinking sun, painted wide skies bright with warm sunsets and full moons, shown us a north American blizzard in all its fury and reminded us of how quickly frostbite can…well, bite. Worry not – we still have all limbs, digits and extremities intact but Luce seems to be more sensitive to the cold after going out of the tent without her gloves on the other morning. Must have had snow on the brain or something…
Anyhooo… the big news of late is that I am starting up my own band, with the recent gift (by Lucy – mad woman) to me of a harmonica. Expect no concerts any time soon as she won’t actually let me practice on it very much, and instead insists that I ‘save it for the ocean’. Perhaps I can pipe myself into shore as I reach the UK? So far, I am working on Frere Jacques. Watch this space… That big patch of blue is getting ever closer with every pedal stroke, though as we approach mid winter it feels like we are experiencing more ‘weather’ days with blizzards and cold temperatures, so there is still enough thousands of miles to keep me keenly aware that anything can happen.
I still find it amusing when speaking to journalists in towns ahead of my position, when they want to know of arrival times, pointing out that I am currently static due to a blizzard etc and cannot determine when anything will happen let alone an arrival to somewhere miles and miles ahead.There are no givens and nothing can be taken for granted. Meanwhile my nutritionist Rinn Cobb is devising some pretty detailed plans of what I shall be fuelled with out there and kit orders for this and that are arriving at L2L HQ ready for shipment to the coast next month.
I am just waiting with baited breath to see if Hercules’ hub rim weld will hold until I (finally) meet up with the replacement hub which seems to have gone AWOL since leaving Europe a few weeks ago. For now, he is going strong and nothing has pinged or cracked and the lovely folks at Santos are working on tracing it. Right, update out of the way, now to a brief kit list after someone requested a few weeks back. First up, I would say that something that may or may not work for me, may not do the same for A. N Other. I am continually amused by the number of (I am guessing) testosterone fuelled males who email my website declaring that I should or should not be doing this or that, going here or there and wearing this or that or not – offering their own unsolicited advice without necessarily knowing anything about my setup or plans etc.
All things kit
So…. Top tips from our experience would be to layer clothing, guarding against biting winds, keeping extra protection for extremities to hand and ensuring ‘cold fat bits’ (thighs/bum) are protected. I know some people go for bivvy bags/snow holes instead of tents in cold weather to do away with frosty issues – but for us that is not an option, given the wind and lack of deep snow.
- MEC Lightfield tent (generally using panniers for guys instead of pegs)
- MSR Z-Lite thermarest
- Airmats (Lucy uses Alpkit and I am using Exped Downmat 9)
- 4/5 season down sleeping bags – Sarah couples hers with a Lifeventure fleece liner * Recommend waterproof bags e.g. Crux or Exped 2 x candle lanterns for warmth/moisture reduction hung from tent
- MEC down booties (super warm for tent wear)
- Merino wool socks by Icebreaker and Skhoop (2-3 pairs depending on temps)
- Sealskinz waterproof socks
- Thinner down jacket (Skhoop for Lucy, Berghaus Ignite Hoody for Sarah)
- Thicker down jacket (Berghaus)
- Merino wool vest/gilet and long sleeve zip tops – Icebreaker
- Merino tank top base layer – Icebreaker
- Secondary layers – Lucy wearing Icebreaker, Sarah wearing MEC hooded top
- Windproof rain jackets by Berghaus
- Boots – 45 Nrth Wolvhammer boots (have cleats) We wear them comfortably all the time down to -45 C coldest temps. Just walk a short way if toes get cool.
- Lucy wears a set of gaiters
- Cycling tights by Assos (Sarah winter full length/Lucy 3/4 fleece lined)
- 2-3 pairs of thermal tights (mix of merino wool by Icebreaker and synthetic by Berghaus and MEC) Sarah cycles in 1/2 sets and Lucy wears a pair of Jack Wolkskin fleece lined pants
- Down skirt by Skhoop *FAVOURITE PIECE OF CLOTHING – Sarah wears hers on the bike
- Fleece pant/trousers for tent/town (Sarah sometimes layers on bike if cold)
- Merino wool briefs (Icebreaker)
- Gloves by Sealskinz (mix of Lobster claw, 5 finger and fingerless Assos gloves)
- Mittens by MEC and Berghaus
- Pogies/bar mits (Lucy has MEC and I have neoprene Bar Mitts – latter warm enough to cycle at -45 with fingerless gloves)
- Helmet – Rudy Project
- Helmet cover (hi vis)
- Skull caps – merino wool (Icebreaker)
- Balaclavas – synthetic by OCR and Lucy wears silk
- Neoprene face mask
- Fleece hats by Berghaus (over-the-ears)
- Fleece lined waterproof hat with ear flaps (Beghaus)
- Buffs (fleecey/windproof)
- Fleecey headband earwarmer
- Sunglasses (Rudy Project) Goggles (Rudy Project) – Reflective/tinted is useful for bright sun but makes everything quite dark at night!
- High vis/reflective vest
- MSR Whisperlite international stove
- Home made alochol beer can stove
- Fuel bottles
- Fire steel – Light my Fire
- Tinder stick – Light my fire
- Waterproof matches
- Bike repair kit/spares
- Titanium fork/spoon (Lifeventure)
- Small cooking knife
- Vacuum sealed flasks (Lifeventure)
- MSR cooking pans
- Leatherman knife
- Snowshovel (MSR)
- Tarp by Alpkit
- First aid kit/medication – kept in Ortlieb dry bags/Lifeventure zip lock sacks
- Mooncup (for ladies)
- Natracare baby wipes (dehydrated or they freeze)
- Zinc stick for face
- Lesson: Check which meds need to be kept warm e.g. keep epipens on body to prevent freezing
- Sarah – Santos Travel Master 2.8 Alu with Rohloff hub and Gates centre-train belt drive
- Brooks leather saddle
- Lucy – Pinnacle
- Studded tyres by Schwalbe (Winter marathon)
- Modifications: Cable tie/tape foam pipe cladding around the cross bar for cold weather; reflective tape all over
- McMurdo PLB Fastfind beacon
- Panniers & Rack Pack bags (Ortlieb)
- Drybags – Ortlieb/Aquapac
- Sarah has cross bar bag by Alpkit
- Lights: Sarah has Schmidt SON dynamo hub to power front light; Variety of LEDlights by CatEye (USB/battery)
- LED headtorch: Petzl MYO XP
- Sarah has flag pole and flags (Lucy lost hers on day 2)
- Camera gear/electronics: Canon Legria video camera and mic; Go Pro Hero 3/4 ;Pentax Q7; Power Gorilla battery and charging leads ; Small adaptors – In Ortlieb AquaCam case
- Comms: Iridium Extrem satellite phone, plus Axcess wifi point.
- Tablet etc: Samsung Galaxy tablet and phone/Lucy Ipad/iphone.
- Food: Sent by sponsors – Trek and Nakd bars by Natural Balance Foods, and chocolate by Mars.
- Recent thanks go to: Family Evans, Family Gillespie, WoodCock Cycles, MEC Winnipeg, Janet Taylor, Human Rights Museum of Canada, Darlene and George Lecuyer, Willie and Coleen Johnson, Kitty Stromberg, Dave Dahlstrom, Dave Sears, Ray Butler and Debbie Johnson, and Dakota Harvest Bakery.
- All best Sarah x