#7Countries7Passes - Planning Stage 2

"The best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry". Planning provides you with reassurance though; purpose, and some element of comfort, when a challenge lies ahead.

My plans for the #7Countries7Passes Tour are progressing well, so I though I would fill you in on the route, the schedule and the finer details.

The Route The route has remained largely unchanged since my first plans were laid in this blog post: 'Introducing the 7Countries7Passes Tour'.

The only development is that I have added another day going down through Germany, to make the mileage a bit more manageable, and to take in a more scenic route through the Black Forest.

Start location - Copenhagen, Denmark
I love travel. I don't really like planes, trains and automobiles. With that in mind, I always try to combine my trips abroad, to make the most of the airport/travel time.

This August, I'm racing the Hansen's Cykellob with the GripGrab team, so starting my tour from the beautiful Danish cit…

Review - Thule Subterra Macbook Sleeve

Taking your laptop with you on your adventures is increasingly becoming a necessity, especially when you are a social media and content marketer by trade.

Luckily, laptops are significantly lighter and more compact than when I had my first IBM ThinkPad (it weighed a tonne). However, with the slim-lining of technology, there has also been an inevitable increase in its vulnerability to knocks and drops. That is where a good laptop case comes in…

I previously reviewed the Thule Vectros MacBook Case on Life In The Saddle. That bumper case continues to do a great job of protecting my personal laptop from everyday use and abuse; however my new slim-line work MacBook required some protection too. I decided the Thule Subterra Sleeve was the perfect solution.

Like all other Thule products that I have tested for the blog, the Thule Subterra Macbook Sleeve has been carefully and thoughtfully designed; then produced using the best quality materials available.

Your MacBook is housed in a padded …

Review - Chia Charge Energy Bars

Chia seeds warrant their status as a super-food. These tiny little seeds pack a serious punch: delivering magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, anti-oxidants and protein, in each serving. The range of products from Chia Charge makes the most of these tasty little nutritional winners.

Chia Charge Flapjacks These are proper flapjacks; made with butter and oats (and of course chia seeds). They have a lovely cake-like texture, and they are a real pleasure to eat. Available in plain (slightly salted), banana and cranberry flavours, I have had them as morning coffee-time snacks and as on-the-bike fuel.

Packing a good energy punch of 370kcals each, they should keep you pedalling for a good while.

Chia Charge Karma Raw Fruit and Nut Bars Cold pressed fruit and nut bars are very much on-trend at the moment, with brands like Nak'd and Rude Health also having some tasty offerings. These Chia Charge ones are some of the nicest I have tried. 
The Cocoa Karma and Koffee Karma are my two favouri…

Review - Hiplok Z-Lok Zip-Tie Bike Lock

Ever left a bike on a bike rack for five minutes, and wondered if it is safe from opportunist theft? Ever left your bag in the luggage area on the train, and wondered if it will still be there when you come to collect it? Hiplok have come up with a great little solution, for peace of mind in these situations. Meet the Hiplok Z-Lok.

Taking inspiration from the classic zip-tie, which has long been a favourite with cyclists, the Hiplok Z-Lok is a reusable heavy-duty zip-tie, with a neat little key to unlock it.

It is pretty self-explanatory how it functions, but the applications are endless.

I have made use of the two little ties in situations like both those outlined above; as well as in roles like securing your helmet to your bike at events; or locking your empty pannier bag to your rack, as you run into the shops.

It is a simple design, but very effective; and made to the usual high Hiplok quality standard.

View the Hiplok Z-Lok at (Link)View the Hiplok range at Wiggle (Lin…

Review - Vaude Yara TR Cycling Shoes

The Vaude Yara TR Bike Shoes are the most non-bike shoe looking cycling shoes that I have owned to date, and that is why they are great.

For a long time, I've worn a pair of mountain bike SPD shoes to ride into town, but then had to take some plimsoles or flipflops to walk around in off the bike. Mountain bike shoes shoes look (and sound) a bit clunky as you walk down supermarket aisles...

The Vaude Yara TR Bike Shoes are a dedicated pair of cycling shoes, and they perform well on the bike. Yet, they look and feel more like a pair of walking trainers, which also makes them perfect for off the bike wear. I have been testing them out on my weekly shopping trips and commutes...

On the bike The Yara TR shoes don't have to be used with clip-in pedals. Out of the box they have a rubber cover glued over the two-bolt SPD plate, so you could just use them like normal trainers. However, it is super easy to remove this cover, and to then bolt on some SPD cleats; these sit neatly recesse…

Review - Panaracer Gravel King SK TLC Tyres

I have always been a bit of a tyre geek. Tread pattern, width, pressure and grip; they are all things that make a massive difference to the performance of a set of wheels, and ultimately to the performance of your bike.

At the Dirty Reiver 200km Gravel Race, the chat about tyres was abnormally strong: the challenging mix of terrain meant that there was a diverse mix of rubber on display. I admit that the chat (and some pre-race course riding) got to me, and I made a last minute switch: from a set of Schwalbe G-One tyres, to these Panaracer Gravel King SK Tubeless Tyres. Damn, it was a good decision.

Mounting The Panaracer Gravel King SK TLC tyres are available in both a 35c and a 40c width; both are tubeless ready (the TLC in the name highlights this). I tested the 40c version, mounted up on a set of the new Campagnolo Zonda C17 Disc Wheels.

The tyres mounted up easily using a Lezyne Digital Pressure Overdrive Pump (it has a charger chamber, so acts like a compressor). I used Orange…

Bike Profile - Kona Rove Ti

I'll admit that I wasn't quite sure how the Kona Rove Ti would turn out, when I first started building it. Would it be a 'Gravel Bike', a touring bike, or just another cyclocross bike? 
The answer has been a satisfying yes, to all of the above. This bike is incredibly versatile, and incredibly capable. From the Dirty Reiver, to bikepacking expeditions; it is a bike is built for adventure.
I haven't quite got the set-up dialled to how I want it yet, so there is quite a mix of components in the below specifications. I'll post an updated profile once the set-up is nailed. 
Bike Specifications:Frame:Kona Rove Ti 56cm (Large)Fork:Lauf Grit CarbonHeadset: Chris King InsetStem:fi'zi:k Cyrano R1 Road StemHandlebar:USE Summit Carbon 44cmFront brake: SRAM Force HydroR 160mm rotorRear brake: SRAM Force HydroR 160mm rotorRear derailleur:SRAM Rival Clutch Mech 11spdShift levers:SRAM Force 1X HydroRCassette: SRAM PG1130 11-42 11spdChain:SRAM 11spdCrankset:SRAM Force X-S…