It's cloudy and rainy today. I'm writing this on my netbook while sitting in a cafe at the center of Atsugi. I haven't used my netbook much since I bought it in the beginning of January. Starting April, this will be my only means of communciation, so I'd better start getting used to it. The things on my mind right now are not related to the trip at all. It still seems unreal. Right now I'm thinking that the screen is so small, and how sleepy I'm getting from the cafe's air-conditioning. I'm not in a traveling mood at all.
Thanks to a national holiday it's a rare four-day weekend this week. Two days have passed, all rain. The forecast says there'll be more rain on Saturday and Sunday. I'm thinking how much I enjoy my time in my warm room at these days, and then I realize that soon I will no longer have that luxury. So I went shopping today. I bought a lens pouch that's slightly more waterproof, and a (rain)waterproof laptop case. Rain will perhaps be my worst enemy. Rain, and weight.
Besides my own heavy body I've also committed to carrying some decidely un-lightweight things with me on my trip, like a DSLR and a couple of lenses and a netbook. I'm also bringing relatively lightweight stuff like my iPod classic and a Canon S90 compact camera, but it does all add up, especially if you consider the myriad of wires and adapters that I'll have to bring for this stuff. Even though I already made up my mind to bring all of these things, I even considered bringing my half-broken Ixy/Ixus and underwater case so I could take pictures in the rain. I've instead decided to get a cheap rain cover for my S90 instead. At least that'll be foldable so it'll take in less space on the way.
Since we're on the tech topic now anyway, remember that I bought a Solio Classic a while back? I bought it with the intention of charging my netbook with it, but that seems to have been a bit too optimistic. I did find a 12V DC - 19V DC adapter on ebay, which can charge my netbook from a car's cigarette lighter plug, but the Solio doesn't seem to be strong enough to power the adapter. Alas, that's too bad, but it was never meant to work this way anyway, so I'm not too sad about it. I can still use it to charge my iPod and my mobile phone. Not on days like these though: on gray days the Solio stays dead.
That's about it for my tech prep. In terms of camping I'm not very well prepared at all. I have a tent, but I haven't used it for almost two years. It might be rotting and mouldy by now. Sleeping bag is fine, but I'm not sure yet about my sleeping mat. It's very, very thin. I didn't consider this to be a problem on previous trips cause they only lasted 1-2 weeks. I don't know how long I'll be sleeping on the mat this time, so maybe I"ll bring a slightly thicker one, or an inflatable one.
My bicycle is in good shape. I recently had the gears fixed, cause it's always been nearly impossible to get the front gear to change up again after changing down. Right now the gears are in even better condition than they came in when I bought the bicycle, three years ago. There are still some minor things that need fixing though: the front suspension's never worked with the luggage rack mounted, and nor I nor any bike shop has been able to fix this. I may have to apply some brute force to get this to work. Another issue are spare parts: I need a spare inner tire and spare brake blocks. In fact, I'll see if I can arrange that today.
I'm trying to be prepared for anything, this time more than ever. During the trip I won't be able to say "Ok, I'll just go back to Atsugi, stay in my room for a couple of weeks, then go cycling again". There's no going back. Anything I don't bring with me, I don't own. That's why I don't want to compromise on taking a netbook or my DSLR. They're part of my life, and I can't do without them.
I'm fairly serious about my material preparation. On the other hand, I'm trying to leave the route and the schedule as vague as possible. I have a clear idea of where I want to end up, and which points I want to visit on the way, but as for which road that will take me there, or how fast I could do this, I don't really care about. I've got a rough outline of where I want to go, and it's mostly places I'd like to avoid. I don't want to be in big cities like Nagoya or Osaka. That would probably force me to find a hostel, and increase my expenses. I also want to avoid routes that are too mountainous, but that seems impossible in some cases. I want to go to the Fuji five lakes, so I'll have to climb at least 1 kilometer. Much later in the trip I want to visit both the north coast of Japan (west of Kyoto) and Hiroshima. I'll have to cycle through the mountains to connect those two points.
It still seems unreal. I feel like I'm playing a game with myself, first claiming I can do all of these impossible things, then seeing if there's an inner voice inside of me that says "I can't do that!". Bluffing, then calling my own bluff. I don't really know if I can do all of these things. I'm just saying I can, and then we'll find out later how it goes. The game hasn't started yet though. I have until April to place my bets :)