I guess now is a good time to review all the gear and equipment I took with me. It might be useful for someone else doing the ride in the future, as well as a reminder to me as to what worked and what didn't.
I took 2 pairs of CapeStorm Matrix riding shorts. They were great, never had any problems with them, except the last few days when I had lost so much weight that they were quite baggy. I would suggest getting the smallest size possible. It was great having 2 pairs, this way you could always ensure you had a dry pair to put on in the mornings.
One pair of fleece arm warmers and leg warmers were enough. I found the provided enough warmth and wind protection, without being too warm. They are also easy to remove when you get warm. I had a similar problem on the last 3 days, trying to keep them up with my weight loss.
I had one short sleeve riding shirt with me as well as a new one every 5 days. These didn't really work well. I hardly ever used them due to the temperature and I found the backpack chafed my back there the cycling pocket on the back of the shirt. The long sleeve light weight CapeStorm top was all I needed. I would have preferred 2 of these and left the short sleeve shirts at home.
I had 2 CapeStrom Puffadders as well. They were only for the extreme cold and for the evenings. Towards the end I put a Puffadder on when the sun went down and my core temperature would drop and I couldn't get warm again. I think this was due to the lack of any body fat. I used a pair of Polar Fleece gloves which were fantastic, but too warm in the day. I went gloveless most of the time. I should have taken my fingerless riding gloves. To keep my ears warm I used a fleece headband and occasionally a buff when it was really cold, they worked well.
My wet gear was the CapeStorm Monsoon jacket and pants, they were great, except you need to extend the Velcro on the pants to avoid getting them caught in the chain. An elastic band around the bottom also works. Knee length SealSkinz socks were the answer for keeping your feet dry. In very heavy continuous rain they get slightly damp but very acceptable. (remember to put them on the right way Fiona, they only work with the fluffy side in the inside). Now onto my pet hate – SealSkinz gloves – they have a big marking down the length of them saying ‘Waterproof’. Well they are anything but waterproof. Your hands are soaking inside and then when you try and take your hands out the lining comes out with it. They are the most frustrating, useless things I have ever had the misfortune of using.
Evening gear could double as additional cold weather if required. I had a pair of CapeStorm HotRods, a base layer long sleeve shirt, fleece beanie, Puffadder (as listed above), socks and a pair of R50 fake Crocks (these were fantastic to have dry shoes an night).
Shoes!!! Well you probably know the story of my first pair of shoes (Deodora) that just didn't last. Aileen got me a pair of Mavic Cruize shoes on recommendation form the LBS, they were fantastic.
I bought the Deuter Trans Alpine 30 from Chain Reaction Cycles about a week before I left. This is the perfect backpack for this type of ride. I had no issues, the only change I would like to see on it is slightly larger hip pouches. It was comfortable throughout and was stable on my back.
I have a previous posting on my bike, describing all the equipment. Everything worked well. The few mechanical problems I had would not be any different any any other bike. My favourite addition to the equipment was the grip shifters, they worked flawlessly throughout, even through the rain, mud and snow. The lights were fantastic although a little heavy, but allowed me to ride some relatively technical single-track in the dark.
I have been using a Bell Delirium helmet for years and love it. Shortly before the race I damaged it so thought I would get a new one and up-spec the the Bell Variant. This was a very uncomfortable helmet, which may have been because it was new. It also came apart at some stage so I had to duct tape it together. My preference is still the Bell Delirium.
If you have any questions on gear and equipment, let me know and Ill give you my opinion.