The start of my year saw my focus shifted from dreams of 2 wheeled adventures to those on 2 skis with a fresh and exciting challenge on cross country skis planned. When the final goal of all the training and preperation evaporated through an event cancellation disappointment was soon overcome by a refocus on the next upcoming challenge.
I had always planned that 2014 was going to be a year I didn't pack a bike and travel to ride, after all the UK has so much to offer a rider of any kind of bike. With little notice an event that I guess had always been at the back of my mind became very much 'going to happen' and before I knew it flights were booked and within a day of deciding I was going to race across Israel !!
Israel even for those challenged by geography is not in the UK so travel was going to happen, but then it always does .. best laid plans and all that.
In 2014 the first Holyland Bikepacking Challenge (http://holylandmtbchallenge.com) takes place. Starting in the very north of Israel and finishing in the south ... the route traverses a variety of terrain from the green north to the desert in the south all the while immersed in an exciting mix of modern and historical settings.
Unknown to myself at the time Israel has an ever increasing population of bikepackers. The entry list is brimming with Israeli riders some with some impressive previous event finishes as well as a handful of Internationals .. a great mix which should provide some entertaining riding companions.
As a first point of preparation I joined the Bikepacking Israel Facebook group and began to go through previous posts and photos ...
So preparation has started and as usual the set up used for my last bikepacking trip is not good enough so plenty of refinement has started.
The starting point is the 2014 Salsa El Mariachi Ti XTR .. I don't think I could get a better bike ... the perfect balance of comfort and speed. Add to this already great start some made in the UK Alpkit (Alpkit.com) bike packing luggage the package is starting to look pretty good. I am opting for 'less is best' with this set up so smaller bags and less gear.
Bike shown without a few bags .. I am taking more than my toothbrush ;)
A pair of Alpkit stem cells will house my stove and some food up front for ease of access.
For inspiration a Bunyan Velo (Bunyanvelo.com) decal is in clear site at all times :)
At the moment I still have another 4 weeks so the plan is to ride a big mountain bike loop to check bike position is good then the following week fully loaded riding test to make sure everything is where it is best placed and there are no annoying rattles :)
Next blog will hopefully be the fully loaded bike and kit details :)
Israel images courtesy of Yoav Lavi and the Bikepacking Israel Facebook Group