London to the Black Sea - Kit Breakdown
A few people have asked what equipment I had with me on this trip and what lessons I learnt. Here's a reasonably comprehensive list of the kit I had with me. Excluding water and food the total weight of everything came to around 12kg.
BIKE - A Specialized Sirrus Elite. Bought 6 years ago from Brixton Cycles it was meant as an experiment to commute between home and office. It has since gone on to travel thousands of miles and is still going strong. Not the perfect touring bike but it's never let me down.
SADDLE - I started the journey with the standard Specialized saddle which had come with the bike. It had never caused me problems before so, although I was tempted to replace it at the behest of internet chatrooms I went with the mantra of if it ain't broke don't fix it. That was a mistake. Before i'd made it out of Germany my bottom was suffering. Thanks to some cycling friends I have who lived near my route I was able to source a Brooks Cambium C17 Carved All Weather. Everything I've ever read or heard about Brooks saddles is true. Once it was fitted I had no further problems
LUGGAGE/BAGS - On all previous cycling trips I have deployed the standard double rear panniers with tent strapped to the top between them together with a small handlebar mounted bag. For this adventure I invested in a custom made bike packing set up from the husband and wife team at Ural Tour. They've been making bike packing bags for over 8 years now and impressed me with the whole process from ordering though the final product.
To help keen things dry and compartmentalised I used Aquapac ultra-lightweight PackDivide waterproof drysacks. To carry my sleeping bag on my front fork I also used one of their 7Lt heavyweight waterproof drybags
TYRES - I use Schwalbe Marathon Plus. Yes, they are heavier than others but I have always found them extremely resilient and puncture proof. I faced many miles of less than perfect tarmac from dirt tracks to cobbled streets and particularly appreciate the reinforced side walls. I should have put new tyres on before leaving the UK but ended up swapping both front and rear whilst in Germany.
Tent - Nature Hike Cloud UP 2 Ultralight Two Man Tent (for 2 very small people or one full sized adult with bags)
Sleeping Mat - Alpkit Numo lightweight sleeping mat
Sleeping Bag - Vango Planet 100
Inflatable Pillow - Exped Air Pillow XL
Sleeping Bag Liner - Mountain Warehouse Silk Mummy Sleeping Bag Liner
COOKING & HYDRATION - I carried 4 litres of water with me with 2 x Karrimor Tritan Bottle 1L. In the frame bag I secreted a 2Ltr water bladder from where I fed a hose up to the handle bars to make staying hydrated whilst peddling super easy, With temperatures reaching up 38 degrees I was drinking a lot. I also had a 750ml Water to Go filter bottle with me incase I ever needed to fill up from a dubious water source but in the end this wasn't required.
Mug from Say Yes More's Yestival
CLOTHING & SHOES - Cycling in the height of a European summer meant I could keep my clothing requirements to a minimum with no need for any warm layers or trousers. Whilst cycling I wore padded shorts (brand unknown, I've had them for years and threw them away at the end as they had many holes in had become indecent to wear in public.) On my top I alternated between a €5 Decathlon cycling top and an H&M sports vest. To help not scare members of the public when venturing into shops I would don a pair of lightweight running shorts but found these too hot to cycle in.
I had just one set of footwear with me which was used for peddling and when off the bike. They were Keen Clearwater CNX Sandals.
When off the bike I had 1 x lightweight smart quick drying shorts, 1 x North Face shirt & 1 x boxer shorts. Cycling clothes would be washed or rinsed nightly where possible which often meant staring the next morning with mildly damp clothing. This was not a problem as the sun and breeze from peddling would soon dry them out.
The only additional items were a pair of fingerless cycling gloves (worn everyday) and a lightweight cycling rain jacket (not worn even once)
iPhone 8 (used for navigation when required, social media, campsite hunting)
2 x Anker Powercore 10,000 battery packs
iPad Air - for keeping on top of work, emails & Netflix
Power Traveller solar panel (never required)
CatEye Velo Wireless cycle computer
Spot Gen 3 GPS tracker
Front and rear lights
Bike multi tool
Puncture repair kit
2 x spare inner tubes
Massage ball for stretching out aching mussels (never used)
First Aid Kit
2 x guide books to the Danube cycle path
Liveventure HydroFibre Quick Dry Towel
Quechua Ultra Compact 20 Ltr Backpack - to save using plastic bags when food shopping.
Revolute fee free foreign use credit card.
THINGS TO CHANGE
Should I do it all again tomorrow (or more realisticly the next time I head off for a bike tour) I would make the following changes:
Smaller, lightweight summer sleeping bag.
Dynamo for keeping electrics charger.
Multi fuel stove
Front rack to provide extra space for carrying food.
Luxury item would be a pair of flipflops to wear when not on the bike.