Solo woman cycle tour begins!

Vivente touring bike loaded with Ortlieb panniers full of gearI have been packing for my first ever solo cycle tour (which starts tomorrow!) and it doesn’t quite seem fair that cycle touring solo seems to require about the same amount of gear as when cycle touring with a partner! There may be a few less clothes, one less set of sleeping gear, less water requirements, but you still need to carry the same tent, the same cooking gear, the same first aid kit…

Cycle touring on our tandem bicycle - there is a limit to how much you can carry...I'm not sure we have found it yet!

Our tandem bike loaded up for one of our cycle touring trips.

I know there is a popular movement towards ultra lightweight ‘bike-packing’, but this trip is definitely not following that trend. We always tell people that anyone can cycle tour and you don’t need particularly special gear (it usually makes life more comfortable though) and we have met many cycle tourists who do amazing trips without any special equipment, like Lee from Taiwan. He was trying to work out how to strap his head torch onto the front of the very cheap department store bike he had recently purchased when he arrived in Australia. Lee was planning on cycling to Cairns on this bike along with his sandals and small backpack. We fully expect he did just that.

So, in that vein, I am sticking with what we already have and know I can rely on. For example, our comfy two-man Macpac Apollo tent may be a kilogram heavier than a one man version, but it will do. I’m also taking my trusty old aptly named ‘pub bike’ with it’s mishmash of parts and years of reliable riding behind it. I’m not planning on travelling fast, and I don’t want to be massively out of pocket for non- essential items before I even start (although that Vivente Anatolia I used when Bec and I went to Tasmania in January will hopefully become a permanent part of my collection one day…sigh…)

New green Ortlieb panniers…now they were an essential item…

Green Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus panniers.

Green Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus panniers on the ‘pub bike’.

In the photos below you can see what I am taking. Some of these things may well be crossed off the list on any future solo cycle touring trips, but until I test them out for myself, I won’t know! The Airspresso coffee maker is one such luxury that is to be given almost two weeks of gruelling testing. Mick can’t be bothered with it. For the extra weight and effort required to use the thing, he would just as soon drink tea, or make cowboy coffee. I am determined to persist and see if I can’t make good on this fantastic gizmo that is very well made and not cheap to buy. I will let you know…

Now onto the the actual photos. The two rear green Ortlieb Back-Roller Plus panniers are at the back. The blue clothing bags (they squish up smaller than they look, promise!), Thermarest pillow and Thermarest self-inflating sleeping mat are in one rear pannier along with the the first aid kit, silk sleeping bag liner and towel (once it gets used it will be hanging on the outside to dry).

Rear pannier with clothes and sleeping gear.

Rear pannier with clothes and sleeping gear.

The other rear pannier contains the cooking gear and food. I am testing out a new organisational method where there are three food bags separated into coffee/tea/powdered milk, oil/liquid soap/salt/sauces etc, dry goods such as pasta, rice, spices. The Trangia is kept in an old helmet bag and the utensils go in an appropriately-sized stuff sack. We use a storage bottle for our metho to keep it safe and leak free.

Other rear pannier with cooking gear, food

Other rear pannier with cooking gear, food

The Ortlieb trunk bag will go on top of the rear rack to carry the tent, water filter and 4L Orlieb bladder. A cable lock will go in or on top of the trunk bag.IMG_0077

I have only have a small front rack on my bike, onto which my sleeping bag and wonderful Helinox chair will be strapped (yes, luxury item but soooo good!).

Handlebar bag and top of front rack

Handlebar bag and top of front rack

The Ortlieb handlebar bag will carry the phone/iPad charger, solar panel (if it is not strapped on the back catching rays),  snacks, zinc cream, money etc.

Weigh-in day won’t be until Saturday when I get to The Bicycle Pedlar from where I am leaving, all packed up and ready to go. At that point it will be too late to change my mind about my gear…hmmm…

The old pub bike. 16kg as is complete with XL tool bag containing all the tools I am taking.

Ye ole pub bike weighs 16kg as is, complete with XL tool bag containing all the tools I am taking.

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