Well, my knee injury turned out to be more serious than assumed. After 2 rides, 40 and 50 km, 10 days ago, I had pain even when walking. My physiotherapist prescribed rest for at least a week, ice on the knee every evening and daily stretching of the thigh muscle. Today I had my first ride and so far I have no pain. I also have a flu, my legs feeling heavy and with no power, so the pace was quite slow.
The ten days of no riding gave me time to purchase and install a gear upgrade that I have been thinking of since my first training ride in Sweden. I needed some seriously lower and wider spread in my gearing for hill climbing with luggage on the bike. I had the 1x10 setup, 32 in front and 11-36 at the rear cassette, which is perfect for riding in Denmark, but not for a challenge like this. I chose to upgrade to 1x11, with a 30 teeth ring up front and the 11-46 cassette from SunRace. I added a Shimano XT rear derailleur and XTR shifter. The gearing seem to be perfect for hill climbing. Now I can climb some ridiculous steep hills without even getting out of the saddle. The only downside is some additional weight, and the chain dropping off the biggest cog when back pedalling. A problem that should decrease as the chain and cogs settle in, and not a problem that bothers me at the moment since I never back pedal. The shifting is crisp and quiet, even better than my old setup.
I have been listening to a podcast interview with this years AZT 750 winner Neil Beltchenko, about his record-breaking ride. Being one of the most experienced hike a bike riders in the world makes his report even more scary. He refers to the race as an adventure race, not a bike race, and refers to some of the sections as ridiculously hard and brutal! Hmmmm .... it has made me wondering if this project is too crazy and risky, but I still want to do it, reminding myself that I am not attempting to break any record. I want to do it at my own pace, enjoy the nature and just ride my bike. The self support aspect appeals to me, looking forward to sleeping in my small tent in complete quietness and riding during the night when the weather is cooler.