Considering the dream had been to pick up a new Bianchi at the factory and ride it home, I have already dropped two parts of that story. I have already accepted a new start point and now my head has overruled my heart on the bike.
I had an extended test ride on the Bianchi Infinito. I loved it. Except I need to change to a 32 tooth rear gear to cope with the Alps. Which means I need to also change the rear derailleur and the chain. I also want flat top handlebars to give me a more comfortable riding position. And I need to change to my normal saddle shape - the Fizik Arione. And new lighter and stronger wheels would help. All of this takes a £3,500 bike to £4,500 and out of my price range.
The next model down, the Intenso, has the same geometry, but without the Counter Vail technology. Tim from Lutterworth Cycle Centre insists that at my size frame there is unlikely to be much flex or vibration.
Of course all those changes will make this more of a bespoke bike and it will need fitting. There's no way I'd trust that to an email conversation with a dealer in Italy, so it has to be done here at my nearest dealer. Yes that kills the romance of riding it home new. So now the Adventure is a very different from the one I set to make happen. The new bike will get two test rides, one short just to check the set up. Then a second with the luggage on to check it all works.
On reflection there's no way I could ride this journey without knowing the bike fits me well. So pragmatism has won. You might ask what's the point if you have already abandoned 2/3rds of the dream? You'd have a point. But the third part, the actual ride home across six countries and over 1800km is still a pretty sizable goal. Something that will challenge me mentally and physically like nothing else ever before.
It will still be the Adventure of a lifetime.