Now that I’ve got my rider number (563 by the way, in case you were wondering why the picture isn’t a countdown-ish 3-2-1!), and the full route map, it’s all starting to feel a bit real now. Day one’s 107 miles and 8,500ft of climbing looks like sorting the men from the boys early on, but I’m hopeful of hanging on to the back of one of the quicker groups and seeing how I feel at the start of Day two. Having skimmed through the full route (really looking forward to riding through Preston town centre in rush hour – not), I’m gutted we’re turning left at my brother’s old office in Cumbria and heading for a brief encounter with Carnforth and not turning right up the Lune Valley to one of my favourite pubs in the UK for a cheeky pie and a pint, but I suppose its a bike ride not a pub crawl!

All my competitive racing for the season is done, barring a cyclocross crit this Thursday (which I can’t really count as competitive seeing as I’m the only one who has entered the CX category all season!), so I’ve swapped my wheels over for my winter hoops, bought a new set of brakes, and booked the bike a TLC session with my local bike shop before I pack it up into a box to be unwrapped at Land’s End. I’m planning to get one more big ride in before I leave so, apart from a few commutes, the training is now pretty much complete. So far this year I’ve been up more hills than I care to remember (252,399ft at the last count), repaired well over a dozen flat tyres, and even learned how to shave again (and we’re not talking face either!) but there’s one remaining thing I haven’t practiced yet – camping.

So, faced with the prospect of 9 nights in various remote fields dotted around the UK, and with my last post still very much in my mind, I’ve enlisted the rest of the family as my training partners and booked us a long weekend at the campsite up in Alderney. I’m not a huge fan of camping to be honest. The last time I spent a night under canvas was in a yurt 6 years ago in Outer Mongolia where it was so cold that we had to light a fire under the engine block of our minibus engine in the morning to defrost it. I’m hoping Scotland in September will be a touch warmer seeing as I’ve only got a two season sleeping bag, but I’ll take a few extra pairs of woolly socks just in case.

I’ve been reliably informed that a set of ear plugs is essential to block out the sound of snoring from neighbouring tents, tucking your sleeping bag inside a black bin sack will keep it dry inside a leaky tent, and a mosquito net is a good idea for Scotland too, so maybe 3 nights camping next to a golden beach in Alderney may not fully prepare me for the challenge ahead, but I’m actually looking forward to a weekend off recharging the batteries now it’s too late to do anything about my physical state. If I still don’t like camping come Monday morning, guess it’s too late to do anything about that either!