Whilst I’m on board the 0940 to Crewe, travelling first class (for some reason cheaper when booked far enough in advance, or Virgin trains must be feeling charitable), with a table and complimentary wifi, let me tell you about the ordeal which I have been faced with for the past 48 hours – packing.
Apart from the physical stamina, the major challenge I face is keeping me and my stuff in good working order. This is easy enough on a day ride with a well equipped workshop to come back to, but on an expedition ride everything I need has to fit in the pack. That pack also has to be light enough to carry up and down hills for 5 days straight, because I weigh enough as it is.
Cyclists get excited about these things, so here’s a run down of everything I’m taking:
Bike – obviously. A Whyte 901 to be precise, and recently serviced and ready to go.
Service kit – spare inner tubes x 2, puncture repair kit, tyre pump, suspension pump, brush, chain oil, multi tool, Gerber knife, chain tool.
Hopefully I won’t need any of it but I’d be stuck without it at the top of a hill and no way of repairing a puncture. Experience has taught me that lesson (one I’ve learned the hard way). 8 miles from home with a broken chain – my last experience of the TPT. I also know how to fix it, which helps.
Safety – front light, rear light, helmet, glasses, lock and key.
Safety first. That means no jumping red lights. Not ever. It’s suicide, and you wouldn’t do it in a car.
Clothing – padded shorts x2, baggy overshorts, base layer, t shirts, mitts, socks, cycling shoes, warm fleece, change of undies for the evening, waterproof jacket, waterproof gloves.
A bit of research went into the shorts. Apparently my arse isn’t naturally padded enough. I know this because it hurt for a few days after my first long distance practice ride. I was considering a new saddle, but actually that wouldn’t help – it is the sit-bone position on the saddle that is crucial, and that there is enough padding in between. A good pair of padded shorts is that solution.
Personal – wash kit, medication, first aid kit, Vaseline, chamois cream.
Chamois cream is the other weapon against saddle sore. It is a magic lotion, developed in partnership with Hogwarts university. You slap this gunk around your under-regions and once the pleasant tingling has subsided your bum is ready to go. Don’t ask how, but after this your private anatomy will be kept bruise and chafe free, and ready for another day of riding
Nutrition – water pouch, water bottle, electrolyte tablets, energy bars, mars bars, raisins, haribo, protein recovery bars, general morale.
Crucial. I’ll be burning around 2500 calories a day at least. That and a load of good Northern pub grub should see me through. I’m off Alcohol for the week though, just plenty of water for me.
Comms – iPad, phone, chargers, emergency phone, battery recharger, portable wifi device.
So I can keep in touch with all you lovely people, and hopefully not the ambulance.
Documents – maps, rail tickets, schedule, insurance docs, wallet
Useful for getting on trains and not getting lost. Most of the route is signed, but it helps to know where you should have been going when the signs have run out.
Bag – 55L hiking rucksack, waterproof bags.
A lot of people use panniers for this kind of thing. They also like to take a few luxuries. Any luxuries I was planning were stripped out this morning in the interest of keeping weight down – not ideal to be top heavy on a bike. I’ve also ridden with a trailer once. That was tedious and I couldn’t imagine it for 260 miles, so I’m roughing it. Admittedly on a 1st class carriage in a train and some tidy little budget hotels, but at least there’s some comfort to look forward to!
The bag is just about the right size, and with everything inside packed into sealed waterproof bags I’m ready to face the damp Northern climate. It’s a little heavier than I’m familiar with so I’ll be riding cautiously, like a finely tuned two wheeled tortoise rolling through the landscape.
I’ll be in touch to tell you how all this stuff fares.
Please sponsor me at http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/TPTsolo