As a full time, unprofessional, adventurer I have learnt many things in the past three weeks. Some have been trivial: you shouldn't add 50% spirits to protein shakes; you should look out for lumps of concrete rather than read shop signs; you shouldn't ride off with your camera still balanced on your pannier rack; and you must be careful when locking the bathroom door in two star business hotels.
I have though, learnt some useful things too and feel it's my duty to pass on this information to you, the armchair unprofessional adventurer. First up my three most important pieces of kit.
1. Chamois Crème
I know that this sounds like the filling to a delicious pastry but it isn't, this is the anti-bacterial, clotted-cream textured, tingly fun I've been smearing all over my Graham and his close associates. It cannot be overstated the importance of having a well cared for, smooth, and happy Graham (exhibit A - courtesy of www.51allout.co.uk) , over a raw and angry Graham, which is mistreating your balls (exhibit B - courtesy of the Guardian). So take my advice and apply exhibit C daily.
2. Howies Lightweight Jacket
I purchased this jacket from the always brilliant Howies for a mind boggling £20 in their Christmas sale. In a rare moment for Christmas sales everywhere something useful was available in a size other than small or XXL. For the first week, over the mountains of Hebei and Inner Mongolia, it probably stopped me accidentally giving myself pneumonia. Despite claiming not to be waterproof, so far it has proven to be just that. Best of all though it's doubling up as a groundsheet for my feet allowing me to double over my actual groundsheet.
One further piece of advice: if you're going to ride through China, white probably isn't the colour to go for.
3. ALOCS Gas Camping Stove
For £15, this little belter has kept the pot noodles and coffee coming. It boils enough water for both in just over 2 minutes and only lacks a sign that reads "this way up" to prevent idiots (Tom) from setting fire to a tiny patch of grass rather than cooking dinner.
As I will be spending around 12 hours a day cycling. I will not be writing thousands of words documenting, in intrinsic detail, about what is happening each day.
There will be lots of stats on distance, pollution, temperatures, speed, and near death experiences. Some of which will be true. You can also expect many references to Led Zeppelin, early 00s rock music, the experimental hip hop playlist on Spotify and the well being of my knees.
To make up for a lack of words there will be photos and, god forbid, selfie stick facilitated videos. At this early stage, the part of my brain that likes straight lines also envisages taking a photo once an hour for a unique slide slow each day. The part of my brain that can't be arsed with that sort of thing remains unconvinced.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Because I want to. I like riding bicycles and have the opportunity to ride the most popular bicycle ever for a really long time across an enormous country.
Why aren't you doing it for charity?
Because I hate children who have leukaemia.
It's something I want to do and there are not many things more irritating than someone asking for sponsorship for doing something they are clearly enjoying, whilst in no way furthering understanding of a particular problem or illness.
If for some incomprehensible reason me riding a bicycle has made your charitable gland throb then I'd be delighted for you to make a donation to a charity. Why not give some money to children with leukaemia?
Just don't give it to a charitable trust that supports a lobby group or private school. That would upset me; and remember by the end of this I'll be in possession of more rust than any tetanus injection can protect against.
Can I use your mediocre photographs?
Yes, if you ask politely and give some money to one of those aforementioned charity things.
Didn't I tell you not to do this?
Yes Nan you did, but at least I didn't lie to you.
Does anything you say represent the views of your past, present or future employers?
Great question, thanks for asking it. No they do not. They are my own, often poorly informed, opinions. Sarcasm will appear in italics.
This is where I update on my progress. Expect lots of fabricated statistics and dated music references.