Catching up with all the sempai

Vedangi in Canada

Updates from this crew are few and far between, so it’s a rare day in … September … when I hear from all of them within 24 hours!

Jenny Graham, attempting the women’s unsupported around-the-world record, checks in from bear-infested Alberta with more than her share of mechanicals — but a good 60% done towards her goal!

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Current location: Valleyview, Canada Miles covered so far: 12,810 Estimated miles to go: 5,190 This week has brought a raft of mechanicals for @jennygrahamis_ … what with holey shoes, broken cleats, snapped gear cables and worst of all a smashed up bottom bracket!!! But shes managed to get it all bodged together with ducktape and grease and hot-footing it to Edmonton for a bigger bike shop!!! Bears are still possible here but the chances of a really close encounter are shrinking with every pedal stroke… thank goodness! A big thank you to sponsors @leighdaycycling @unitasglobal @shandcycles @enduraofficial @komoot @huntbikewheels @ritcheylogic @johnhampshirecoaching @wearecyclinguk @insta360 You can follow Jen's adventure here and use the hashtag #eastboundRTW … ?‍♀️??? #cyclinglife #cycletheplanet #cyclenation #biketravel #wanderlust #goexplore #worldadventure

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Vedangi, on a similar round-the-world quest, has reached the halfway mark while suffering a broken toe and some sort of abdominal injury requiring stitches (details have not been forthcoming) — all a different sort of “mechanical.” She still faces visa challenges for the second half.

Next, not chasing records of any sort, but still making the most of life, Dave has completed lejog in 8.5 days at the ripe young age of 60. He’ll be an inspiration to me and Joe Lejog as we make our own assault next year!

Last but in no wise least, Ian To — coming off an astounding third (?) victory in Hard Cro — is hinting at a fresh challenge on the lejog record (set just weeks ago by Michael Broadwith at 43 hours 25 minutes 13 seconds).

It’s all inspiration to me as I prepare for the Tour de Tohoko this week. And the same goes for these fantastic manga characters commemorating the tour!

Some disassembly required

The bicycle is in the bag but it doesn't fit

Nana informed me several weeks ago that Seino Kangaroo service was available to have my bike delivered for the Tour de Tohoku. It sounded a lot better than humping the bike up and back on the shinkansen (which I’ve done before — to Kyoto).

Unfortunately, I was really busy with other things at the time she brought it to my attention, and then I put it off a bit too long before getting back to it. Nana and I finally had a look at the site on Sunday. It seemed pretty straightforward, and we could even rent a box for the delivery. When we tried to place the order, though, we hit a snag. It looked like we were being told we couldn’t have the bike delivered until after the Tour de Tohoku was finished. After some poking around with the various options, though, we finally figured it out: I was too late to get a rental box. As soon as we selected the option of packing the bike ourselves, the rest of the order fell in line.

The delivery charge turned out to be nearly three times what I had first thought. And the kicker: They’re going to pick it up on Sept. 5 for a Sept. 15 event! I assume the early pick-up is necessary because it’s a very big event and Seino is at its capacity limit. But the important thing is that only left me two days to get everything ready!

Ostrich OS-500 bike bag
Ostrich OS-500

The immediate issue was my current bike bag: it’s a very light bag that can be rolled up into a small package, but it’s not padded at all. Seino requires a padded bag to protect the cycle. So I got on Amazon and found a bag that could be delivered in one day.

I got started on the packing this morning. I brought the bike up from the parking garage nice and early, when the elevator’s not in high demand, and I soon had the wheels off and made a stab at getting the bike into the bag. But it was immediately apparent it wasn’t going to fit as is.

The bicycle is in the bag but it doesn't fit
For starters, I should have taken the pedals off first

Taking the pedals off was a no-brainer, and I should have thought to do it before taking the wheels off the bike. With the help of a long-handled pedal wrench, though, I was able to get them off without reassembling the bike first. Then the question was how much else I’d have to disassemble before the bike would fit in the bag. I wanted to avoid taking everything off because I only have to put it all back on again for the tour, and then have it all off once the tour’s over and I need to put the bike back in the bag.

The first thing was to lower the saddle. It’s a rather narrow saddle and so I don’t have to remove it completely, but I did have to remove the dry bag from under the saddle first. Another trial fit in the bag and still … not quite. And so in the end it was the step I’d been trying to avoid: removing the handlebars. Fortunately it all came apart quite easily with the multitool, and I didn’t even lose any parts!

Me in my den, struggling to get the bike in the bag
Yes the handlebars really do have to come off

The good news is I feel I’ve had my exercise for the day, without having to put on my helmet and cleats!

Bike in a Bag