Well,today is the big day!In the past 2 weeks since my last blog post things have ramped up big time. I have been to the Clinic for Tropical Diseases three times to make sure i have a full course of rabies jabs and also took advantage of the 'just in' hepatitis A jab.When I say 'took advantage of' I cant help but feel like I'm the one whose lost out here,to the tune of over £350 worth of imnunisations in fact.But hearing how excited they were to have the much sought after hep A jab,I couldnt resist.Weird I know. Added to that the last minute filling I had at the dentist to avoid any pain at altitude,and I now have the song 'Titanium' in my head..."I'm bullet proof,nothing to lose.." (well except the cash!) Of course some things you cant get immunised against I realise after a bizarre guessing game at the clinic. Nurse: "Can you guess what the biggest killer of people abroad is?" Me: "Is it other people?" Nurse: "You're close...its cars!" Thanks for that,probably not the best thing to have in your head before a road trip.
Then there are the update emails of things we should add to our ever heaving panniers...dried food for when we're in remote areas and might not find anything. Large water carrying bag,again for the above scenario,when in the desert.
Whilst I try and play down the challenge of the trip,a friend asks me "Is anyone taking a gun with them?" Seriously,no,this is the Lavadome Ride,not the Ganglands Ride!
I am reminded that it will be challenging pitching our tents on the windy puna and start to wonder if I should've had a practice run at pitching it in Gladstone Park.
But in terms of physical training prep I feel I have done pretty well.I've now done a training ride with front and back panniers,loaded up to 24kg. Was it hard?Yes.Did my legs hurt?Definitely. But will this make me a better cyclist when I come back?It better had!
Suddenly all of those random items that have covered my spare bed for weeks are bagged up and put into panniers,and those fitted ito one massive bag.
And in amongst all this I have delivered two large,and very different events. The Tesco National Charity Partnership survival challenge and the Jacqueline du Pre Tribute Concert. The Survival Challenge was a one day event in the Peak District raising money for the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK. Partner in Andes adventures, Joe and I devised this bespoke event over the past few months and so it was a great opportunity to have some last minute discussions about the trip too. Possibly also my first attempt at 'packing light'.We were blessed with the weather that weekend and so although they found the challenge suitably tough,everyone completed it and had a sense of satisfaction at overcoming new challenges like abseiling. Two weeks later and I was delivering a world class concert event at Southbank Centre. This was in aid of the MS Society and was the culmination of months of planning with the team at the charity.One of my specific areas had been managing the design and print of the various items. I was delighted with the resulting design by award winning agency La Boca who supported the charity. Daniel Barenboim delivered a stunning programne with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra which attracted audience members including the PM and Emilie Sande. Most importantly though,it raised over 1 million pounds for the charity!
Next on the agenda was to get my bike packed up. Nothing as easy as a bike bag here of course with this being a point to point ride and so a cardboard box was in order. Enter my good friends at the Giant shop in Camden where manager Nick offered to help me. When I say 'help' he actually did it all...but I bought the yummy lunch at Mildreds as payback! I didnt need any encouragement to 'get some extra carbs in'! Dragging this massive box up the steep to my flat afterwards was a taste of what was to come!
Final packing was done with my four panniers and tent nicely compacted into an oversized holdall which could then be folded down at the other end. My lovely friends Cath and Nickie came round with brunch and good luck wishes to see me off on my big adventure.
And so here I am at Heathrow waiting for my flight and for the adventure to really begin. One of the things which had caused me most anxiety was the logistics around getting this 40+ kilos of kit and bulk to the point of check in. Hurrah for Air Canada though who helped ensure I didn't take anyone out as I navigated my unweildy trolley around the airport. I waved my bike off and can only imagine what experiences await us both on our furthest trip together ever. In fact it seems only right to give my travelling companion a name,which I have decided is 'Sierra', which in Spanish means 'of the mountain'. My lovely Liv road bike is called 'Estrella',which seemed fitting as I love all things Spanish and she is a star. My trusty hybrid is now a member of our Spanish family as we travel around South America. Perhaps she can help me with the language too? Hasta luego amigos,here's to the making of some wonderful stories!
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.