A morning of last minute modifications and re-figuring how best to load up our bikes. The wheelchair carrying system actually operated according to plan, which meant that I was able to load and strap down the frame of my everyday chair to the rear of my handcycle while Kelly loaded her bike and trailer. The new system should save immeasurable headache and hassle as it's now quick and easy to load my wheelchair. Before, on our Ireland trip, we were basically welding the wheelchair frame to the handcycle with bungee cords. The system provoked a fair bit of fury as Kelly reefed on the bungee cords to get the connection tight enough that the frames wouldn't rattle apart. In a bid to eliminate as many bungees as possible, an attachment point for my wheelchair was actually welded to the handcycle, and wheel receivers to the frame of Kelly's trailer.
It was a miserable ride, but more valuable than an easy one could have been. Lesson #1: Our gear worked fantastic. the chair and wheel carrying systems operated exactly as they were designed. These alone should save us 15 minutes of hassle every morning, and allow me to get out of my bike when we take breaks. Kelly's bike, new pedals, and shoes were all brilliant, and she was able to spin up the hills in a way that'll keep her legs far fresher than they'd been in Ireland.
Lesson #2: Blood sugars and blood pressure are more important than any pieces of gear. Of course I already knew this, but there's nothing like a not-so-subtle reminder 6 weeks before departure to prod me into refining how I go about keeping these where they need to be.
Lesson #3: I need a cooling system. Periodically dumping water on my head isn't going to cut it when the heat gets really bad. Continually pushing my body into fever territory would wear on my health quickly. I need a system so I can spray my upper body regularly, and while on the move. Luckily, thanks to the help of my rather clever friend Kevin at 20/20 Tropicals (thus the Facebook pic of my bike in a fish warehouse), a prototype system has already been developed and is performing brilliantly. A refined design should be debuting sometime next week, more on this when it's finished...
Lesson #4: There's a reason a trip like this hasn't been done before. When you're dealing with quadriplegia and Type 1 Diabetes, nothing's as straightforward as it should be. Not that's these things make a 10,000 mile bike ride impossible, everything is just more complicated and more difficult. Just ask Kelly, who's going to be towing about 50lbs more than the average touring cyclist.
All in all it was a stupid test weekend. But sometimes that's just what you need to get things figured out.