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It looks like, as predicted by the optimists (and even realists) among you, I will get everything I need to depart on time. There are a number of components to this, few of which I can take credit for. I've been humbled many times already during my preparation, but the last couple of weeks have shown me the kindness of others on an entirely new level.
Let me paint you a picture - at home in Ireland I live in a small village, barely more like a hamlet. To get to the house you must turn off the main road passing through, and take your chances on a winding, steep, narrow laneway. Once you have mastered the art of these conditions, you must then factor in the unpaved surface - regular rainfall erodes the gravelly surface to create a sloping effect on both sides, and potholes big enough to lose a wheel into. Negotiating this for well over half a mile will take you past the most inclined section, where you must avoid the temptation to turn onto a more attractive looking offshoot. Eventually you will arrive through the farm gate to the McCarron homestead, where you will inevitably be greeted by a wild bounding brown blur of what is most likely an over-excitable dog. Dog it is, and a most beautiful and friendly one at that once you get to know it. But imagine for a second you are a postman - to me this does not seem like an ideal scenario; in fact I believe if this was on my route as a postie, I'd probably dump the letters at the bottom of the lane and take my chances.
Luckily for my family and me, our postman Noel does not feel like this. As well as successfully and cheerfully delivering our mail he has become a close friend. After hearing of my exploits on two wheels, took it upon himself to succeed where I had failed - in raising funds to get me on course for departure. Together with my mum, and some help from Noel's wife, they canvassed the local area creating a raffle, securing some great prizes through their charm and contacts. The top prize was a real belter - Billy Nutt, the local travel agent, donated a ferry ticket from Belfast to Scotland to watch the TT.
All the money that they raise will go towards helping me gather my gear and get on the road. My thankfulness goes beyond words. Meanwhile, staying in the North Coast of Northern Ireland for a moment, let's talk about Roger. Roger is the proprietor of my local coffee shop in Castlerock, a great wee establishment called Crusoes where I have had many a fine coffee either pre- or post- beach related frivolities. So you can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to hear that Roger would like to sponsor me for a coffee a day during my ride. Coffee is my fuel, only second to sleep. I will work on a way of showing my gratitude for these kindnesses during my travels.
The other big piece of Cycling Reporter news that have broken recently regards some key sponsors. I finally have my Ortlieb pannier bags on their way to me, and I am delighted to say that the deal went through The BikeBagShop.com. As well as cutting me a superb deal on all my Ortlieb equipment, including a dry bag and a water sack, they are supplying me with a fully sponsored Wandertec BONGO trailer. So not only do I have the best bags for the job, (Ortlieb are now the largest selling suppliers of bicycle pannier bags) I also have a trailer to carry all my film gear. This'll avoid any nasty 'jenga' type scenarios of trying to pile cameras ands tripods on top of camping equipment on the back of an already overladen bike. Once I'm on the road I'll give some updates on how I'm using the kit and how it's all working out for me.
This brings me to my most recent sponsor - and not my least by a very, very long shot. Still in need of a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and camping stove, I spent months researching the best place to get these things preferably all together, and from a retailer who not only 'got' my trip, but could offer me advice, experience and a wealth of outdoors knowledge to boot. Step up, MountainMan Outdoors. Located in Old Forge, they sit pretty at the foot of the Adirondack mountain range about 300 miles upstate from New York City. Not having time to make the trip up there before I left wasn't a problem with the help of Nanette who via phone helped me chose my kit, cut me the deal, and everything was shipped the next day. However, feeling that time restraints had cheated me out of visiting the store, meeting the staff in person and getting the lowdown on what it's like to live in that particularly stunning part of the world, I've decided to factor them into my route. After Syracuse now I will ride east for a day and half to stop off at Old Forge. This'll also give me the chance to pick up any other equipment I might have overlooked in my rush to depart. As with my other sponsors, I'll give regular updates along on the way on how I'm finding using everything, and whatI'd recommend to others.
So that's where I'm at - things are coming together. My reliance on the US Postal Service has reached a zen state. More news soon...