“But what if I can’t get any socks in South America?! I mean, I know I can get rubbish socks, but what about the socks that last a long time, and make your feet feel like they are encased in marshmallows? Can I get those kinds of socks in South America? What if they don’t even wear socks in South America?!”
Welcome the irrational pre-departure week in my mind. Sock-gate kept me awake at least one night this week. You’ll all be thrilled to know that I have in the end settled for three ordinary pairs, and one for the ‘evenings’ – which incidentally make my feet feel like they are surrounded by marshmallows. And I know they have socks in South America, I’m not that stupid. But my brain will do what it will do, and this week it can mostly be found AWOL.
Sock-gate was of course, just one of many pressing issues I have faced over the last month. There was tyre-gate (have I chosen the right width tyres?!), brake-gate (should I have chosen disc brakes after all?), short-gate (to lycra or not to lycra, that is a question), and let us not forget gear-gate (8speed, 9 speed, 10speed…more?!). Yes folks, I have more first world problems on my John Lewis china plate than you can shake a middle class grammar school educated stick at.
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM
This Andes madness marks my third big adventure (by ‘big I mean one that takes me away from home for more than 6 months). And this time around, for some reason, I thought everything would be easier. Now what in the world would give me that idea?! It has in fact been more difficult. Being loved up n’all, leaving Jamie – that adds a new dynamic to the departure.
‘Do I really want to do this anymore?’ I recently pondered while cycling up the hill at home Gloucester, having enjoyed an extremely ordinary Nando’s and a night at the cinema with Jamie. ‘Maybe I’m actually ready to stay in the UK, do some of that nesting stuff and pop out some sprogs?…’
But the closer this adventure gets, the more I remember why I do this. The more I remember that, at this point in my life, I still can’t not do this. That the very thought of a big adventure makes my toes tingle and my stomach turn in summersaults. I remember that out there, on a lone mountain pass, covered in dust from the road, arms slightly tanned and grinning through a dirt entrusted face – I feel more alive, more often that I ever will at home. I remember that I will learn more and I will see more.
THE PLAN (A RECAP)
The masterplan hasn’t changed. And in fact I’m feeling reet excited that I have done the least planning EVA for this trip. It’s quite a record. Let us recap on that minimal plan however – It’s incredibly complex. Hold on to your hats… are you ready?
- Crash land in La Paz, and hope like heck that my body likes being 4,000 metres above sea level
- Chill for a week, indulge in some Spanglish lessons
- Make it out of La Paz on bike without being squished by traffic
- Head for a pedal up to Lake Titicaca. Because, well, it’s there. And it has the word ‘tit’ in it.
- Pedal South through Bolivia, Chile and Argentina via as many Andes peaks and passes as possible (around 60)
- Revel in the glory of Patagonia as we pass
- Skid into Ushuaia after 6 months and relax.
- Drink a beer. Or two.
The bike is beyond beautiful, and his name is Bernard. Largely because Bernard is a fantastic name. I mean, Bernard sounds like a ‘get sh*t done’ kinda guy – don’t you think? But also because my late Grandad was called Bernard. And he was a massive cycling fan. I have no doubt he’d have loved to pedal up up and away through the Andes mountains, so I’ll be taking him with me on this trip, in spirit at least. Bernard has been lovingly crafted by local man, from a local bike company called Oxford Bike Works. Richard (the local man) who built Bernard the bike, actually has quite a backstory of his own to share. So I interviewed him about it. More on that soon.
What about beautiful Boudica I hear you cry?! Is she on the scrap heap? Absolutely not. The spritely pink steed that’s taken me through every state of the USA and across Europe is safely tucked up at home. She didn’t quite have the right set-up for what will be a mostly off-road tour to remote areas, and so will be watching from the sidelines (or the bike box in the loft) on this one.
HOW TO FOLLOW ALONG
Wifi and other various forms of connectivity might be tricky in parts, but I will be sharing the whole darn way as much as I can.
The live tracker provided by ZeroSixZero will be rolling as usual, via a ‘Where’s Anna’ tab on the main website. Or using this direct link: http://z6z.co/AndesAdventure
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be the main outlets – so like me on up (buttercup) on whichever of those mediums tickles your fancy pants. And then there’s this blog where I’ll do a round-up once a month or so of the best bits.
I’m scared and excited, and currently sat in cafe in La Paz gasping for Oxygen. A few days of Spanish lessons begin tomorrow… wish me (and my adventure-partner Faye) luck!
McNuff out xxx