One of the first items I have been researching, and a pretty important one considering how much it can effect your physical and mental happiness, is the saddle!
Most cycle touring / trekking blogs and websites recommend the tried and tested Brooks saddle which would normally be my first choice - low tech, solid, and best of all "Made in England"!! But and it is a big but(t).... As one website mentioned: the evidence, no matter how controversial, relating to men's "health problems" is not worth ignoring especially when you are going to be in the "hot-seat" day in day out for months possibly years.
So after a quick bit of research I stumbled up-on the Moonsaddle (click on the name for more details). They definitely look different, not one for sticking to normality (I like old stuff but new tech has its place) I read on...and on...then e-mailed Mark, Moonsaddle's Australian (plus NZ/Japan) connection for more details. After a few e-mails back and forth they kindly send me a saddle over to try out.
So for the last month I have been racing around the quake hit streets and hills of Christchurch, NZ, on what I believe is the only Moonsaddle in NZ. Getting a fair few strange looks and positive comments along the way.
A bit strange to start off with the new perch soon lets you feel the benefit of an adjusted posture. I normally suffer lower back pain after medium length cycles, but I was relieved to have a pretty much ache free back to my surprise after my 20k ride out to college. Happy days!
This was then backed up by my Chiropractor - Paul, who after telling me "you're mad!" for planning such a trip, was very impressed by the saddle and explained to me with the use of a spinal model how it would help and how ridiculous standard saddles are for the back. His biking colleague agreed with quite a bit of excitement.
Mark at Moonsaddle.com.au and Moonsaddle.com are happy to support me using their saddle, so in return they have offered to donate money to the charities of my choice (Amnesty International and local environmental charities along the way) for every saddle purchased mentioning my trip or name. Cheers guys!
NOTE: I would like to mention however that I am only using this saddle because it is the best option for my trip and would never consider using something just because it had been donated. I am happy to use the moonsaddle because s0 far it has shown its benefits, and am therefore more than happy to support a company that has come up with an innovative design rather than follow the crowd or re-invent standard designs. Men's health problems also often take a humours bag seat to other issues so it is nice to see that some people are doing something about them.