Once my plans were set for cycling across Canada, it was time to plan the gear. As I eluded to in my previous post, I ended up carrying so much unnecessary weight. Truth be told, at one stage, my bicycle was leaning against a rock while I took a quick dip in Lake Superior, it fell over and I could not pick it up! I had to unload all the bags, lift and reload! To think I cycled over the Rockies with that – crazy.
Must of the fundamental gear had been tested while riding in Gold and Wine Country, it was the extras that were to make my trip more enjoyable that were the problem. Really, did I need party shoes and a cute dress when cycling solo? All those books and a handful of CDs (and diskman!!) only weighed down my bike, and took valuable space in my panniers. I was a little slow on the technology front – having not yet embraced the MP3 player or iPad. If I were doing it again now – the iPad would be a life saver. Personally, I don’t believe in listening to music while riding on the road, so the iPod would be a discretionary extra – all the same songs are loaded on the iPad.
What do I consider essential?
Bike and off-bike clothing
3 cycling shorts, jerseys, cycling gloves and sports bras – I don’t tolerate the wet clothes if they don’t dry – I prefer to wash and wear each day, with a spare dry. If the newly cleaned clothes don’t dry, bungee cord to the back will help them to air dry!
shoes – SPD shoes, sandals for off the bike. In Northern Ontario, I stopped at a bike shop and bought SPD sandals for my bike – best purchase on the trip!
Helmet (brain bucket – don’t leave home without it!)
k-way,wind vest and arm warmers – great to have when the weather turns chilly.
2 t-shirts, 1 short, 1 pants and a skirt
bathing suit and sarong (I preferred the bikini – could do double duty as needed) and the sarong – so multi-functional.
3 cycling socks, 1 regular bra and 3 underwear
Obviously, the bike and panniers! I had 2 front and 2 rear panniers with a custom mount to my hybrid. Bungee cords tied my tent and backpack on top.
bungee cords (I had 4, of 2 differing lengths)
tool kit and spare tubes, pump
map – I carried a map book by MapArt Publishing, for all of Canada.
Tent, sleeping bag and silk bag liner.
ThermaRest – comfort is everything.
Trangia stove and fuel, matches and lighter
plastic plate, bowl, cutlery set and travel mug.
swiss army knife – so handy with multiple tools
flash light – I preferred the headlamp – keeps your hands free
small sample size of dish soap and cloth
ziplock baggie of washing powder – many campsites have washing machines, although as a solo traveller, I rarely had enough clothes to justify use.
potato scrub brush – perfect for hand washing clothes
toiletries – smallest possible – after all, it was only me to carry it!
basic first aid
backpack – handy to contain extras and tie to bike, and for off-bike exploring
journal, pen and highlighter
spare ziplock baggies – brilliant for storing and waterproofing most anything small
duct take – it’s like a get out of jail free card of emergency items!
sun screen and non-cycling hat
I carried predominantly dried pasta (Knorr worked well – had a few different flavours to keep it intersting).
oatmeal – great fuel to start the day
hot chocolate and milk powder, tea – the hot chocolate was by far my favourite morning starter
I tried carrying a variety of food items – bread never worked. I did find that wraps were great – they never got squished in the panniers and kept me out of trouble. Bagels were a welcomed diversion – especially with the peanut butter and jam that I carted across Canada.
British Colombia was brilliant for fresh fruit stands along the highway – many of the vendors would let me buy have sizes rather than trying to find a squish proof way to fit on my bike.
What about you – what do you consider to be essential gear on a multi-day/week or month long cycling trip?