Saturday, 5 March 2011

Selecting a minimal kit list

Bought myself a touring helmet - a hi-vis Nolan N43 Air. This has good reviews and appears to be well suited to touring in warmer climates.It can be reconfigured from full-face to open-face, so I'm hoping it will give me the flexibility to cope with riding the cool air of the Alps on the one hand and the hot plains of Sardinia on the other. However, the pale yellow of the helmet does clash with the deeper one of the bike! I'm hoping this will make me even more visible.

The backpack
I'm loathe to add a top-box to the bike since it can affect the handling. For this reason I explored the potential of a motorcycle backpack. But I wanted one that could carry my helmet; I certainly didn't want to be strolling around with a helmet in my hand all the time. It turned out to be easy to locate a rucksack to hold a helmet - but these helmets left almost no space for other luggage. I wanted one that would allow me to attach a helmet to the exterior of the luggage. Finally, I tracked down the Knox-6-Pack. This 25 litre pack enables a helmet to be attached by means of stretchy strings. Sorted!

Attaching straps
I've bought a cargo net to hold down the backpack to the rear saddle and rack. But it may take a couple of bungee cords also to hold the luggage sufficiently stable for the journey. This arrangement will need to be tested. I'll take run down to Bristol in April and fill the rucksack with tour stuff just to see how it performs.

To make the baggage even more secure I've also invested in a couple of cheap tie-down straps from Wilkinsons. These can be attached to the bike to provide a stronger grip than the cargo net. In fact, I fancy these will be the mainstay means of securing my backpack.

Map holder
Tank bags have a built-in transparent plastic map holders but I shall need to look for a 'stand-alone' holder since I'm travelling with a rucksack. I've invested in a slim-sized Cargo Basics tank bag

This poses an interesting problem for the tour - how to carry as little as possible and yet still remain comfortable. Northern Europe, i.e. England, Belgium & northern France/Italy, can be quite cool and wet in June. Riding distances in a T-shirt is unlikely to be very sensible. Based on experience from previous walking holidays this is my (draft) list:
- Tops - two cycle tops (one long-sleeved);
- Trousers - one lightweight (long) & one pair of shorts;
- Lightweight one-piece m/cycle rain suit;
- Socks - three pairs;
- Handkerchiefs - three;
- Underpants - three
- Hat,  bandanna & a pair of trainers;
- Sleeping bag liner.
    These include:
    - Passport, E-medical card & hostelling card;
    - Bike log book, insurance cert. & breakdown recovery cert;

    - Michelin regional maps (Italy) & various large scale maps - Google Maps printouts
    - Italy - guide book
    - Book of Psalms
    - Journal (& pen)

    - Set of spare bulbs / head torch / first aid kit
    - Mobile phone / digital camera / MP3 player
    - Swiss army knife (mini), water bottle
    - Eating stuff: glass / knife / fork / olive oil /salt /
    - Hygiene: toothbrush/paste, razor/cream, comb, camping towel
    - Medical: pills & puffers

    To be continued . . .

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