To date I have been preparing for the trip by looking at external requirements such as the bicycle and trailer, and the logistics of how it all might work. However, there is also the elephant in the room that I have so far avoided …. me. (I originally wrote me plus the Husband here but he objected to being referred to as an elephant – he’s possibly still a little sensitive since the ‘trailer’ post!).

I took a long, cold hard look at the the squidgy bit that will do the pedaling … me, and concluded that there is a little maintenance and adaptation required before the ‘off’. There are a few pre-trip mini adventures in store, me thinks …

I have come to the conclusion that I will have to go grey. I do of course have some grey hairs but up to now I have been in a state of denial, ably assisted by my hair dresser. However, it is not realistic to attend hair appointments with sufficient regularity to maintain the illusion of ‘blonde’ whilst traveling so I am officially coming out of the ‘closet’ and declaring my ‘true colours’, as it were. It is really quite surreal as I have no idea what lies beneath the hair dye – an adventure into the unknown.

I also brought in the professionals and went for a bit of a check up at the doctors for all those bits and pieces that usually sit on the bottom of ones ‘To do’ list. This resulted in having a couple of small areas of sun damage burnt off with liquid nitrogen – a weird cross between torture and being the main ingredient of a Heston Blumenthal recipe. I have to say that I feel better having looked under the proverbial bed for the monsters that may have been hiding there. The Husband has not joined me in this endeavor as he puts doctors in the same basket as tax people – to be avoided at all costs.

Another decision is to be more selective about my wine drinking habits. I thought that it might be fun to explore wine in a more conscious way so that I don’t sound like a complete idiot when we visit the vineyards and quality restaurants that will no doubt pepper the trip. My new wine drinking code includes: less, but better quality wine, and reading the label before drinking. The Husband is definitely on board for this particular adventure.

I have also spent vast sums of money renewing the old EU passports. I thought it might come in handy to travel on local documents rather than the NZ ones. Additionally, I have been meaning to get an EU passport for daughter No.2 for some time as she was born in NZ. I was surprised that her new passport lists her as a British Citizen, without any ‘through parentage’ clause. We ended up having to submit all the same documents for daughter No.1 as she was two years old in her original EU passport and the intervening 19 years has changed her appearance somewhat.

Another initiative is to ‘get in shape’ for the rigors of the trip. I have dismissed the intensive cycle training suggested in many of the cycle touring books as unrealistic and just plain unpleasant. I have never really taken to exercising on purpose. That does not mean that I don’t exercise, it’s just that I don’t exercise for the sake of exercising. I used to run quite a lot but that was because I had a large dog with very long legs (not me, the dog). I used to swim a lot but that was because I was a scuba diving instructor. Of course I cycle and walk quite a lot too but that is just the way I get about.

To get motivated, I need the exercise activity to have a purpose and be fun. I just don’t ‘get’ the indoor bike thing or swimming laps in a pool.  BUT I’ve come up with a solution …. dancing. Just around the corner is a dance studio that I didn’t even know existed until a couple of weeks ago. It has the most amazing range of dance styles on offer and I just couldn’t choose only one so I have decided to try them ALL out.

(this ISN”T me and the Husband, in case you were wondering)

This is most definitely another adventure as there are some styles that I have never even heard of that required translation by my teenage daughters – Locking, Popping, Bootyrobics anyone!? I have made a start on some of the easier styles and have so far ticked off Solo Latin, Zumba, and Belly Dancing. Belly Dancing was surprisingly fun and the best so far. Next week I may try Samba and eventually build up to some of the really scary styles like Break Dancing. I think it’s working as I have found a number of new muscles. The dancing is satisfying the entertainment requirement and is most definitely a bit of a giggle – especially when I come home and give a demonstration to the family! They live in anticipation of the kitchen demonstration of Femme Funk!

But realistically it doesn’t really matter what we do, the first week or two of the Trip will undoubtably be very hard work until we get into the swing of things. Sitting behind a desk and cycle touring in Europe use very few of the same muscle groups!

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