Friday, 18 June 2010

Two Weeks Tomorrow!

As I write it is only two weeks until I will be packing my panniers (and no doubt unpacking various bits again) and checking the bike over in readiness for the next morning and a shortish train journey to Derby and from there the start of the Pennine Cycleway.

The preparation has been going well and I have been able to easily complete at least one 35-50 mile ride per week with full panniers + my normal commuting miles. I know the minimum daily distance I plan (50 miles) is eminently achievable and the kit is more than up to it. The only thing I won't know is how I will feel after 3 or 4 days consecutive riding? Only experience will answer that one I suppose.

The kit list is (almost) finalised. 2 Ortlieb Front Roller and 2 Back Roller Panniers will carry most of it and a an Ortlieb bar bag will carry some small/valuable/frequent use items. Here's the breakdown.

Left Front Pannier
A washing/utility line, Ortieb 3L water/shower bag (empty), Trangia stove, matches, wash cloth, fuel bottle, cutlery, bowl, cup, Swiss Army Knife and rain/wind jacket.

Right Front Pannier
Food for the next day. This will likely be weetabix for brekkie, bananas/flap jacks for snacking and noodles/risotto/pasta for tea. Tea bags and dried milk also included for morning and evening cuppas (lunch will be bought along the way). A cable lock, maps, paperback and electrical stuff completes this bag.

This balances the weight nicely and keeps the fuel and potentially wet coat away from the food, electrical kit and sleeping sac. 

Left Rear Pannier
A Vango Micro II tent (an old friend no longer in production) which although a little bigger/heavier than I would have bought just for cycling it is still more than adequate for the job. This pannier will also will house my head torch, sleeping bag and...ahem...a compressible pillow! I make no apology for this item as gone are the days when I will just roll up my sweaty clothes and make do - I am a middle age cyclist after all.

Right Rear Pannier
Various clothes (split into daytime cycling and evening camping/pubbing attire), a pair of lightweight trekking sandals, wash bag, wet wipes, small towel, toilet roll, small first aid kit, chamois cream, various plastic bags (multiple uses) and bike repair stuff including: a small foot pump and gauge, puncture repair kit, spare inner tube, cycling multi tool, electrical tape, cable ties, rubber gloves and chain lube.

Bar Bag
Notepad and pen, Nikon Coolpix 8400 camera with 4 Gb card, "Gorilla" pod, GPS, iPod/Sennheiser PMX680 sport headphones, Oakleys (if not wearing them), small sun cream, mobile, wallet and keys. On the top of the bag (in a waterproof sleeve) will be the current map. I may also have the Contour HD bullet cam in the bag but am not sure if I will take it yet. I am reluctant to wear a helmet all the time and would need to put this on to film 'on the go', the battery would need daily charging and the card would be full after 2-3 hrs recording with no option to download the data. Is it worth it? I can video with the Coolpix after all. I may just take the bullet cam, use it sparingly for sections I cannot do with the camera and when it is full it is full. Decisions, decisions!

I have decided to take mains chargers whereas I was hoping to be reliant on a solar charger. Tests on the solar charger were not good as even on a sunny day it took 8 hrs to charge the battery and this would only then just about fully charge the mobile/iPod or instead could only make very small inroads into the GPS battery. So I have decided to take 3 chargers for the phone, iPod and camera and will use these at cafes, pubs and the like en route. I had no problem doing similar with a laptop when I travelled before and none of these items require daily charging or a huge amount of 'mains' time.

The GPS (a SatMap Active 10) is a different beast entirely. The rechargeable battery I have for this is normally good enough for a several hrs moderate to heavy use when hill walking. I found though even in low power mode when cycling (minimal map viewing, low backlight, screen off after 30 secs, position update every 4 seconds instead of 1) I could not reliably expect it to last more than 2 days and so would need to charge it each evening. As I plan to camp/wildcamp this is not really doable and so have gone with the 3 alkalines per day option instead. Even when these will no longer power the GPS they are never completely drained even so I will then further use them for a small radio.

Cycling clothing
I will be wearing something along the lines of an orange or yellow breathable short sleeve top and, if cold, a long sleeve Merino wool top under it, a pair of padded lycra under shorts and a pair baggies over them, some breathable/waterproof socks, multi activity shoes, pair of fingerless cycling gloves, a microfibre buff on wrist to wipe the sweat which can double as a headband (God forbid) if I am really leaking.

A Cateye trip computer, 3 bottles/cages and a great little "dinger" with built in compass that came with the bike and is surprisingly useful. I will also have front and rear LEDs I don't plan to use. I will bungee the helmet on the rack and use it for any technical or high traffic sections.

Now I just need to decide on some new music to take. Any suggestions for good cycling tunes?

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