As usual cycling has been my biggest interest of late as the Summer weather begins to come into play. This year I've decided (after writing it off at first) to try and cycle 1,000 miles from Lands End to John O'Groats (LEJOG) on my Boardman Pro Carbon road racing bike.
I was initially put off, as my bike, being a carbon fibre competition bike, doesn't have any pannier mount points and typically isn't really built for long distance in terms of riding position etc... The lure of such a ride was too much though, and I pushed ahead with figuring out how I could achieve it.
- Topeak Dynapack DX (10L) - £60
- Topeak Barpack Handlebar Bag (1.8L) - £30
- North Face Hammerhead (12L) - £40
This gives me 10 + 1.8 = 11.8 litres of storage space approximately. Plus I'll probably fill my Hammerhead with around 3L of stuff, but want to keep that as light as possible to avoid back pains.
Given I can't use panniers (no mounts on my bike), I managed to find a seat post mounted bag, the Topeak DynaPack DX. A clever, light design, and relatively attractive, it offers 10 litres of space. This will be used to carry the bulk of my stuff. To compliment it, I have a 1.8 litre Topeak Barpack Handlebar Bag on the handle bars (with padding removed) and will soon have a frame pouch (once I've settled on one). Unfortunately with the DynaPack DX you can't also have a saddle bag, unless you seat post is at least 15cm out of the frame. Anything less and the saddle bag just won't be able to fit.
I have included the North Face Hammerhead bag. I did want to keep my back clear of carrying any weight, but the beg is necessary for carrying odd bits I can't fit into the 10 litre rear bag. It has a small reservoir too, so should I really need to, I can carry additional water (I'll try to avoid doing so though).
What to fill them with...
Travelling light, the plan is to re-wash a lot of the stuff I take with me so that I'm able to take less. The below list is quite long, but most things are small, and it all packs down easily.
Wearing on a typical day:
- Cycle top - short sleeve, full zip top
- Cycle shorts - Endura padded shorts, for comfort
- Socks - typical ankle cycling socks
- Clip-in shoes - Adidas El Moro
- Gloves - fingerless Gore gloves
- Glasses - Endura Stingray, with clear and dark lens
- Helmet - my MET helmet
On the bike:
- GPS unit - Garmin Edge 705 for getting us to John O'Groats
- Pump - small, portable with a bendable tube attachment
- 2x bottles - standard size
- Front and rear light - in case we're out late
Topeak DynaPack DX:
- 1x light zippable (into shorts) pair of trousers - for evening use
- 2x long sleeve merino top - for evening use, and colder days on the bike. One spare so I have a dry one.
- 1x cycle leggings - for wet or very windy/cold conditions
- 1x short sleeve merino top - for evening use
- 2x pairs of pants - for evening/sleeping use
- 2x pairs of socks - one of them is a pair of "waterproof" sealskinz
- Jacket - event jacket, thin, light, only a shell so packs down small. For when it rains, or gets cold/windy, both on the bike and in the evening
- Travel towel
- Para-cord - generally handy for binding stuff etc... Will be mainly used for hanging everyone's washing at the end of a day
- Toiletries - deodorant stick (the small roll-stick kind), toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, some flat packed bog roll (just in case), nail clippers, shaving razor, vial of shaving oil (I can get away with shaving once a week)
- Anti-bacterial soap + holder - a bar of soap for washing body, and also clothes
- Sunblock - small tube of factor 30. Didn't go for anything too big, as this can easily be bought later on in the trip when running low. Mainly for the neck, arms and face.
- Skin cream - to replenish the body/facial skin after being out all day in the elements. As with the sun block, a small tube as it can be bought during the trip
- Vial of washing up liquid - for cleaning out bottles etc... in case there isn't any at the hostels. Needed as we'll be using powders with our water
- Vial of Muckoff fluid - for cleaning down the bike should it get in a bit of a state
- Old rags - a couple of old rags, just in case I need to get down and dirty with the bike
- Hand sanitiser - small bottle for cleaning your hands on the move
- Bike lube
- Nokia phone charger
- GPS charger
- Leatherman - handy tool for general use
- Insect repellent - for the migies in Scotland (as we're going post June). Looking into one of the Avon products that apparently works well
- First aid kit - smallish adventure first aid kit
- Spare bike cable - in case I snap a brake or shifter cable
- Spare chain links
- Spare inner tube
- Chain tool
- Spoke key tool
- Multi tool
- Tyre levers
- Puncture repair kit
North Face Hammerhead:
- Flip flops - casual footwear, a light pair of foam flip flops (Havaianas)
- Notepad and pen - for keeping notes, journal entries etc...
- Rain covers - for front/rear bags and the bag on my back
- Lock - Abus cable, with hardened steal casing, light but still very secure
- Deck of cards - the miniture ones for the train to/from
- Tiger balm - for after the ride, the red one!
- Protein and energy powders - we'll probably carry 200g each, of each type
- Bum cream - some sort of smooth cream stuff
- Lip seal - in case it's windy
I'm still undecided but may also take a set of overshoes. Purely as, from experience, I don't like when my feet get wet and cold. Especially if it's for a whole day. The only downside is that for what they are, they're relatively bulky. I've got a set of Gore Road Overshoes.
Also we've tried to keep "group" stuff to a minimum. I'd rather we were individually self sufficient, just in case someone drops out part way round etc...
Ride & Feel
With all the gear on, the bike surprisingly feels very good. The balance isn't too bad, the extra weight that can't be really noticed. The only time I've noticed the balance is a little bit off, is when turning at slow speed, or "leaning" to turn at high speed. There's a bit more "lean-in" due to the additional weight coming under the force of gravity. Even when climbing out of the saddle the bike didn't feel hugely different when working it from side to side, although I did struggle a little more not being used to the additional weight.
I've ridden through London (peak hours) and felt absolutely fine. It had originally been a little concerned as my carbon fibre bike is built for a specific balance, and me adding a bag hanging off the rear, and one on the handle bars wasn't going to help that. It however wasn't much of an issue.
Once I've got most of the kit I'll start packing it and getting some photos.