Thursday, August 2, 2012

The packing list, revisited

A few weeks ago I described the packing list for my cycling tour in France. So, how'd that work out?

Pretty well, on the whole. I had everything I needed, and with only one or two exceptions made use of everything I carried.

I think the biggest problem was that I only had one set of non-cycling clothes, a pair of trousers and a shirt. Thus whenever I washed those clothes, particularly the shirt, I literally couldn't leave the hotel room except in cycling gear. Meanwhile, to cut down on the number of times I needed to wash them, I would remove them whenever I was in my room, which was just weird.

So I think I would have been better off with, at minimum, two shirts. I could have made room by leaving behind my swim trunks, which never got any use. Also, instead of long pants, I should have just brought shorts. I wanted to be presentable enough to eat pretty much anywhere, but everywhere I went there were guys in shorts. That makes space for an extra shirt, which would have made me much more comfortable.

The bag, as a whole, was very heavy. I didn't weigh it, but I definitely felt it on the steeper and/or longer climbs. The heaviest optional items were the laptop and its associated stuff. It's certainly true that I didn't need it, but it was very nice to have. I wrote some blog entries, watched some movies, and handled a few transactions that would have been awkward on the iPhone. Would I bring it again? I think if the trip were only a few days, then no. On a trip as long as this one (ie 10 days) or longer, then yes.

The Topeak MTX bag and its rack were perfect. The bag is flexible, perhaps a little heavier than necessary, but worked great throughout.

I didn't run into any rain during the day, although it rained at night a few times. My composable cycling gear (short and long sleeve jerseys, one undershirt, one adjustable light jacket) were plenty to get me through the varied weather, and I needed each item.

On this trip I had one flat tire, and zero other mechanical problems. That's partly luck, but also due to the fact that my bike is pretty mundane. It has lots of spokes, plain brakes, and a basic aluminum frame. It has a 9-gear cassette, which is more than is strictly necessary, but less finicky than a 10 or 11 gear configuration.

I think I did OK, considering that this was my first cycling tour. Maybe I'll get a chance to run the experiment again.

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