As the dedicated follower will note, the updates are generally fairly sparse. What will come as a particular surprise is the fact that my bike is still in the shop. Something that I am exceedingly grumpy about but I suspect is a combination of bad luck rather than a deliberate campaign by the shop (who will remain nameless unless it doesn’t emerge next week, then they will feel the wrath of my comments on the 5th page of their google results).

Long story short, Shimano appears to fallen over and supply chains are stretched and I’m led to believe that a strange sequence of events has occurred that has meant that the front mech is somehow incompatible with something else. At this stage I’m taking it pretty much on faith.

Anyway, it’s there and I am here. Fortunately I am spending much time on the Sufferfest, and avoiding being distracted by the great outdoors is a very good way of keeping on the straight and narrow with the training plan which I like to think that I’ve been very good with, although will admit to skipping some cadence drills because they are so, so very boring.

The absence of the bike has given me a very good opportunity to consider kit. One issue that I have had is that my dynamo light choice, a B&M Luxos U, while being a very good light with integrated charger, is a pig to mount. Because it is German and is naturally designed to be legal on the road, you can’t simply turn it upside down. On the TCR, it was bar mounted, which limits the use of the aero bars for ancillary stuff lest you block the beam and makes the bags tricky so my ambition was to get the thing forward on the bars.

It turned out that I’m not the only person with this problem and, unlike me, the other person with this problem has got some technical nous and access to a 3D printer which means he has come up with this:

3D printed bracket

This is a 3D bracket designed to mount the light underslung from a go-pro mount, a mount which I have come to establish is now the ubiquitous method of mounting anything on a bike. So I sent it off for 3D printing and it has returned and, if I ever see the bike again, I look forward to seeing how well it works. The files are freely available on Thingiverse so give it a whirl.

This then leads us to the next question, what to mount it to? I disappeared down a bit of a rabbit hole and have ended up settling on 76 Projects’ TT Mount v2.0 because it is a little bit modular and I am convinced that if I were to order a fixed size you will guarantee that the next day I would need to change the bar distances. I was very tempted by the Alden Carbon mount, but this is quite expensive once shipping is considered and will be unaffordable once Brexit hits, even if he was prepared to deal with the VAT nonsense that HMRC have introduced.

Had I the technical nous I would seriously consider licensing the design as although it’s TT orientated, the mount and the hydration tray also solve a number of ultra cycling issues (where to dump Stuff for organisation while on the move) and it’s not actually that expensive compared with a lot of bits and pieces.

In the meantime, I found Jasmijn Muller’s blog about the RATN which, in combination with the preview on dotwatcher.cc, has provided some very useful intel for the planning phase. Apart from ending up with a sleepless night worrying about it, it looks like nutrition is going to be the big issue – we’re so spoilt with our 24hr garages even in the middle of nowhere that we take it for granted that we’ll always be able to get something to eat in the UK at any time of day or night.

I have committed through the booking of some re-rosterable rest days to this year completing the Rapha Festive 500. I could just do 5 100km days, which may be sensible in these times of Covid, because this is 4-5hr jaunt for which I can be completely self reliant, but I am wondering if I can get enough high energy food to do a long ride to St Peter’s Chapel, which is one of the oldest Christian buildings in the country, situated on the bleak Essex coast up near Bradwell-on-sea, a place that I’m particularly fond of. It’s a 275km round trip (which I will absolutely round up) and likely to involve a headwind so would be both festive and specific training for RATN so I will certainly consider it.

And finally, they’ve postponed LEL to 2021. So now I’ve got a chunk of leave in August and nothing to use it on. Tempted to go to La France with the Planet X and do some Col bashing, but watch this space…