In the final throes of preparations for a two month cycle trip (I will also be cycling from Sydney to Melbourne as a kind of ‘dessert’ after the ‘main course’ in New Zealand), my focus has been almost entirely on the kit I take with me. After every trip, I analyse the stuff I have been carrying for several weeks, and I ruthlessly deal with the superfluous. Without camping equipment, I can cycle for months with just 5 kilos of kit (including spares and tools). You just have to get very proficient at doing laundry, or live in squalor! However, on this trip, I will be taking camping equipment as well………a different ball-game altogether.
Kitchen and bathroom scales serve much more than the purpose stated by the manufacturers. In our house, they have been used to weigh absolutely everything. I can tell you the weight in kilos and grams of just about everything I will be carrying. My bike is a given: it weighs in at a sturdy 15kg. I have ridden this bike on long journeys for nearly 20 years. It’s made of steel, it has 40mm tyres, and it’s built for rough terrain. It’s like a tank! I could opt for a much lighter alloy bike with narrower profile tyres, but I would be sacrificing comfort and stability. These two latter assets are the most vital when you are spending 8-10 hours per day awheel.
With the rest of my kit, I have a twofold focus:
1. How to beat the airlines at their game: ie. have the bike go as my check-in luggage and avoid excess charges. With Qantas, my check-in luggage is limited to 23kgs, and hand luggage is limited to 7kgs. Mmnn, a tall order you might think.
2. How not only to keep the luggage on the bike to a minimum for riding, but to fit it all into a saddlebag and barbag, with tent strapped on the back. For some reason (which I can’t rationally explain) I have an issue with taking panniers.
To achieve both purposes, I use just two principles: a) decide what I can minimally and safely survive on, and b) find the smallest and lightest versions of everything, without compromise. Both these principles are goals that can never be finally achieved, but then that forms part of the excitement of discovery. Somebody, somewhere will have found a better solution than you to a certain issue, and it’s up to you to seek them out and find out what they know.
In the next post, I will show you how I will travel for two months (but bearing in mind that it will be summer in the Antipodes) on 8.5kgs of luggage (including 3kgs of camping equipment). Stay tuned……
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Though still in its infancy, the Peterborough tandem group is beginning to form a solid core, and for those who venture out on a monthly ride, there is no shortage of enthusiasm. From Tallington (West Deeping) the pace out to Oakham was brisk (right into a strong cool westerly wind), but the body’s extremities soon warmed up when we hit the first of the many hills in the tiny county of Rutland. Our attention was frequently distracted by overhead buzzards and red kites. Then after the first 20 miles, who wouldn’t enjoy an all-day breakfast at the local greasy spoon?
The Irish prayer “May the wind be ever at your back” was invoked after lunch and, sure enough, it was at our backs on the homeward run, and the sun hailed the flowering snowdrops and crocuses that sprinkled the roadside verges. A great day to be sharing the company of fellow tandemists on this 42 mile route. And at the end, Jenny (who herself cannot ride two wheels) felt justifiably proud at having covered the distance.