With my [un] extensive training schedule complete, I’ve turned my attention to the bike itself this week.

In addition to adjusting the brakes, lubricating the chain, fitting the mudguards and readjusting the panniers, I’m hoping a few well targeted improvements will make for a smoother journey.

First item on the list was a new back wheel.

I really struggled with broken spokes cycling the rhine last year, so if I only made one improvement this had to be it. I’ve also replaced the pedals and chain (which were showing signs of wear), added a top bar bag and an additional cage and water bottle.

I still won’t be carrying a conventional map, however I will be taking an iPhone 5 on a stem mount that will enable me to use its mapping capabilities whilst on the move.

The iPhone also provides a blogging solution, for which I’ll be using WordPress for iOS.

what happens when you buy a spare inner tube

I finished fixing things to the bike on Tuesday evening, so it only remained for me to call into my local bike shop to pick up an extra inner tube.

I ended up bringing home a new saddle, a bike computer and some very soothing sounding menthol chamois cream.


With the final amendments to the bike made, I will be setting off for the Scottish Highlands in exactly 9 hours.

If you would like to sponsor me please visit my donation page.



If there was one item I missed more than anything else when I was Riding the Rhine last year it was a bar bag.

Knowing that I had to stop, unclip and unfurl the top of my panniers every time I needed something was a pain in the backside. I had a real pain in my backside most of the time anyway, so I didn’t need another thank you very much.

A quick browse on the internet and I soon realised that I don’t much like bar bags.

Most are about the size of a car roof box, and all I really need is somewhere to keep my money, camera and Haribo. I don’t eat that much Haribo, and unless they bring out one with an integrated freezer for storing ice-creams I’m simply not interested in attaching anything that big to the front of my bike.

Cue some deeper research, and a trawl of internet forums revealed this.

Top Peak Top Bar Bag

Topeak Top Bar Bag

I was a bit concerned about whether it would be big enough so I nipped into Evans when I had a few minutes to kill in Leeds this weekend and checked it out.

Its perfect.

I put it to immediate use on my Sunday morning training ride, using it to carry my keys and wallet.