It’s 8 p.m., Thursday the 22th March 2018.
My close friend Björn whom I always call Luiz because he reminds me of the Brazilian football player David Luiz came around to have a look at my preparations and drink a toast with me and my flatmate Flo to my Woodys and mine proximate Bike-Out adventure.
In case of the whole effort to prepare the bike and trailer for the journey I wasn’t really aware that this day comes so fast.
Until late at night I was busy with executing my Excel- to-do & take-away-Chart.
Now the time has come.
I was very sure that some things might increase load more than pleasure afterwards but my thoughts were impelled by “better safe than sorry” instead of sitting anywhen in anywhere between a here and there while pining after something. In patches, I still was very thrifty. My Australia travel reminded me that having too much gear would just increase the weight very needlessly. Even if I coulnd’t be sure that there would be enough warm weather to get my clothes dry, I was very sure that I would clean them now and then while I’m having a cat wash or shower.
Actually, that worked pretty well so that my choice of clothing proved itself good and wise. I had two long, a rain-, a yoga & a short trousers, three T-shirts, some (winter- & trekking-)socks, my favourite pullover, three unterpants, a thin sweatshirt, a green spring- and my 2-in-1 fleece- & rainjacket with me.
I also decided to wear my winter shoes since it still was very cold and there was no improvement in sight. At a pinch, anywhere I wanted to buy me some cheap summer shoes.
The decision of which hygiene products I would take with me had very little scope. Toothbrush & -paste, (travel-)towels for Woody and me, a washcloth, toilet paper & hankies, shower gel & deodorant was nothing I could give it a miss. Whoever wants to start the day in the morning without an opportunity to have a deo, washing hair or even brushing teeth? Not me!
The decision of which comfort features I would buy and take with me was much harder. I decided to appeal to some bike(-packing) Facebookgroups where I asked for a suitable tent and comfortable mattress. The reactions were very different so that I needed some days to have a more precisely look at the suggestions and reviews while also comparing several products. Finally, I decided to get the tent from Vango – Banshee 300 – and mattress from Therm-A-Rest – Neo Air X Lite. Good decision! After I had some practice, the tent was built very fast & I felt like sleeping in my own bed on the mattress.
Certainly, the latter got a puncture in the last night which still has to be fixed. If I can’t solve that I could have spent the nights in a Hostel instead of buying it… The pillow and sleeping bag I already own since my Australia trip before a couple of years so that I had no need to spend more money on that. Admittedly, I bought a new sleeping bag but I sent it back because I found it too big and heavy. Even if the nights were very very cold I was feeling fine with my bedroll, paired with the winter socks, the yoga trousers & my heavy sweater. But obviously, I always had cold feet.
The choice of my cooking utensils & cutlery was a lot easier. Before some time, I had seen a self-made gas cooker in a Youtube video. The regulation for the flame was made by just a few screws, nuts & a piece of wood which was pinned to the gas cartridge. This was an insane, impressive and very small hot plate. I really wanted to do that by myself, but sadly, it wasn’t possible to find some time for doing it since Í was very busy with work & exams.
So I checked on the internet a few days before my travel started to have a look on my opportunities. In Australia, I had a very unhandy and heavy hot plate which I wouldn’t buy again. I found a very light & convenient cutlery and gas cooker which was absolutely adequately for one person. Additionally, one very imporant important thing was a possibilty to cook some fresh and good coffee.
Likewise, the choice of electrical devices was made very quick. A suitable powerbank was found pretty fast – Anker PowerCore 26800mAh – and in December, I already got a Huawei MediaPad M3 lite LTE, a Logitech bluetooth keyboard-case and also a Huawei P10 lite to be able to write and at least do some acceptable Photos. I also bought a selfie-stick which can also be used as a shaky tripod for a phone linked to an wireless bluetooth adapter, so I could also make some pictures of Woody and me. Sadly, my camera wasn’t able to make good long- or night shots.
I made sure that my bicycle lights and Woodys illuminating collar are rechargeable by USB. Sadly, my camping light needs four batteries which makes it, even if it’s still very handy and functional, a bit heavier than I thought. Nevertheless, it still appeared to be a very good and sufficient light source for a tent like mine, so that I will keep on planing with this light on my future travels if I wouldn’t find something better fortuitously. Likewise, my backlights which I had put on the trailer are using extern batteries so that I probably will replace them by some USB-lights. All spare batteries I carried with me but also my ear buds were not used at any time which made it to be an unecessary extra weight.
For my bike but also the trailer, I thought about low-budget-solutions within the last month. I had found my seat-, tube- & handlebar bag very fast and also a cheap pannier rack which I have mounted a little bit offbeat with some extra screws and cable ties. I have also tied the blue and black small backpacks, which I already had before, to my trailer with some zipties so that I just had to care about finding a suitable biking-backpack.
I decided to get the Jack Wolfskin Moab Jam 30 which suits pretty good. The only thing which isn’t that good might be the raincover since you can’t trust it during a long and great shower of rain. However, the protection of the trailer was absolutely waterproof so that I covered my backpack and a lot of other luggage under it when it has started raining.
The choice concerning storage of provisions I was thinking of quick solutions like light & hermetic tupperware and crafting some sort of peg in the trailer to be able to hang up a small bag. In general, this trailer has proved to be a gadget-bringer: I used a lot of zipties for the backpacks on the sides for water bottles, tools and other miscellaneous odds and ends but also a lot of room under Woodys mattress for the tupperware, jackets, cooking stuff, Woodys & mine feeding bowls and lots of other luggage which I wanted to store anyhow & anywhere quickly. Also, the possibilty to connect clothes hanging out to try and the space between the rainprotection and the trailer itself was insane! There were a couple of times when I almost had all of my clothing & towels anyhow connected to the trailer while Woody & I kept on hoofing.
I decided to carry around seven days food for Woody and the opportunity of up to eight litres of water which I used for cooking, washing me and my clothes but also for drinking for Woody & myself (mixed with some sirup). I required around 3-4 litres a day which was dependent on if Woody could drink out of wet spots, or not.
My food was restricted to lots of cereal bars which I stored in my handlebar bag to be able to eat something while biking, bananas & apples, pasta & rice, Gouda & Nutella, as well as bread and canned ravioli. This hasn’t changed during the whole trip and turned out to be very solid and yummy. Altogether, I’m sure that I have eaten around 2 kilogram Gouda, 2 pots of Nutella and dozens of breads.
This was it, except for some incidentals like painkillers, paw care creme & treats for Woody, my notebook & ballpen, my (sun-)glasses & some cash, which I have carried with me. I think that I have reduced the most stuff to the essentials and can profess that there were just very little things I had missed during the journey. You can also see that because of the very small side-segments after this.
What was too much?
I could have been able to live without my ear buds, the (reserve-)batteries and one tupperware which I had just used on the very first day. Also the initially provisions I took with me could have been reduced but since I know my snack attacks I was glad to have something in petto. Apart from that, I can’t imagine more things I had not used consistently or would have been very importint in cases of emergency (repair kit / reserve tube).
What was insufficient?
Basically nothing, but a missing cycle rack. Plenty of times I was leaning my bike to a wall, rod or something like that, It was falling down in case of the load the trailer was giving to it. That will be one thing I will definitely change very soon by getting a bipod kickstand because I fear some problems on muddy survade when putting my bike on it.
So, the bags were packed, all possible gadgets tied anyhow to the bike or trailer with zipties or other uncommon methods and my thoughts finally started to focus on Woodys & mine first upcoming Bike-Out adventure. Woody the smart, sensitive and of course best dog of all time could sense the excitement. Every time there was some noise outside he jumped on the couch and looked outside as he would like to scream out:
“Ocean! We are coming!”
After arriving in the bed when it was far past midnight, I was still tensed so that I was awake for some more hours while brooding about everyhing “if I haven’t forgotten something very important…”. Anytime, Woody was already air-running and snoring at my feet, I have fallen asleep…
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