A big part of our preparation has been figuring out what to bring, aside from ourselves and our bikes.
After having seen just how little gear some of the Transcontinental Race competitors have gotten by on, I have decided to remove my front rack and limit my goods to what can be crammed in my 45L Arkel Orca panniers.
-Helmet, because I’m only of Dutch descent. (If I were truly Dutch, I wouldn’t need one because my skull would be naturally padded by Gouda fat.)
-Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent. This is the largest and heaviest single piece of gear I’ll be carrying (just over 3 pounds).
-MEC Talon -3º sleeping bag in a compression sack.
-Therm-a-rest Prolite Plus sleeping pad. Newly repaired after having been punctured by one of the cats.
-2 water bottles.
-2 bib shorts.
-1 tank top.
-1 merino long sleeve top.
-Lightweight fleece hooded mid layer.
-SPD cycling shoes.
-Lightweight street shoes, so that I don’t have to clomp around in my cycling shoes for 2 weeks.
-2 pairs of underwear and two pairs of bras. All black so that they could pass as a swimsuit if needed. (Underwear is not worn with cycling bib shorts anyway.)
-3 pairs of socks, including one pair of warm merino wool socks.
-Neoprene toe covers. If I didn’t have Raynaud’s syndrome, I wouldn’t bother bringing this.
-Fingerless bike gloves and full-finger leather gloves.
-Lightweight cotton pants. Black, so that they’re acceptable to be worn around town even though they’re really my pyjamas.
-Plastic spork, because I’m too cultured to eat with my hands, but not cultured enough for real cutlery.
-Swiss Army knife, so that I can slice all the French cheese I’ll be eating.
-Retro melamine plate. This was a part of my regular dinnerware for years and only recently got demoted to camping dinnerware. At least it now gets the opportunity to go to France!
-Therm-a-rest Z Seat. This is a luxury that I could probably do without, but it’s just under 60 grams.
-Prescription sunglasses and eyeglasses. I did not buy a $900 flight ticket to explore a foreign country in low definition.
-Phone, which doubles as my camera… which is why it’s not in the photo.
-Front and rear bike lights.
-Notebook and pen. “Why do you need a $14 notebook?” asked Yann. “This one has special paper that doesn’t get all shitty when damp.”
Grooming gear in a Ziploc bag which includes:
-Spray sunscreen, which will mostly be emptied on my body and not Yann’s, since he doesn’t seem to mind going pink.
-Sunscreen again… but for the face!
-Dr. Bronner’s castile soap (eucalyptus edition which I like to think smells like koala pee) masquerading as Philosophy’s Purity Cleaner.
-Customized toothbrush. I cut an inch off the handle so that it can fit into the Ziploc bag.
-Unscented baby wipes, for all the French babies I’ll have to wipe along the way. In actuality, these are excellent for “pirate baths”.
-Quick-drying travel facecloth for when a pirate bath won’t do.
-Full-sized (but not full) tube of toothpaste. I don’t find that travel sized tubes give me enough paste, so I just put aside a partially emptied tube when I have a trip coming up.
-Toner shampoo. This is exactly what gives my bleached locks its purplish tinge.
-Butt balm aka chamois cream. The container says “High Definition Powder” but that’s not what’s in there. The French will just have to deal with seeing the low definition version of me.
-Lip balm. No need to be known as the cyclist from Canada with the chapped lips.
This seems like an awfully lot of gear, doesn’t it? With my panniers, the total weight comes to 21 pounds, nearly 5 pounds heavier than the cat photographed below:
What about bike tools and such? As I am carrying our sleeping quarters, Yann will be hauling the following:
First Aid Kit.
-Hand warmers. If I get a Raynaud’s attack, I will need an active heat source to warm up my digits. Just slipping on gloves is like putting a sleeve over a thermos filled with ice and expecting the ice inside to melt.
-Non-adhesive pad, which I better not have to use.
-Loris wipes. For all the Loris I’ll have to wipe along the way. (They’re alcohol pads.)
-Mini Swiss Army knife. (Of course, I lost the plastic toothpick, but that’s why I’m bringing floss.)
-Tylenol tube… but filled with generic acetaminophen.
Bike tools and electronics.
-PowerTraveller Extreme Solar Powered charger. The battery pack can also be recharged by a wall plug and will hold more than enough power to charge both our smartphones and the GPS.
-Garmin Edge 1030 GPS.
-Type C plug adapter.
-Crappy bike lock.
-2 spare tubes (1 for my bike, 1 for Yann’s)
-WolfTooth Master Link Combo Pliers with extra quick links.
-Crank Brothers M19 multi-tool.
-NiteIze CamJam XT cord tightener. (A high-tech guyline for drying wet clothing or building a bear cache.)
Here’s a photo of his full gear:
If you’ve got touring experience, particularly in the Pyrénées, please do comment with any tips you might have.
Otherwise, in two weeks I’ll let you all know how we screwed up.