What’s in the bag part 2 – Cycle Touring

My apologies for the lack of chronology lately.

There is a certain relationship between price and weight for items related to survival. The more, that is to say, the heavier things are, the higher the cost. More food means more money. More layers or thicker blankets mean higher cost. This relationship is logical.

Its reversed however, when you look at technical outdoor gear. The lighter you go, the more expensive you get. The same amount of function carries a hefty premium for a lighter weight, because with this comes increased comfort and convenience. This difference references my idea of different levels of life, adding joy and intracacy when changing from surviving to thriving.

There are two main ways to bike tour, and they play with this difference. There is the cheap and heavy way, and the expensive yet lighter and more comfortable fashion. Fortunate to have been raised at least comfortably wealthy, the lion’s share of my bike touring has been of the latter style.

The former is bike touring with camping as the main means of accommodation. Therefore, you must carry a sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad, towel, and usually a camping stove and food. Added together these items are quite heavy and take up a lot of space. They also neccesitate a sturdier bike that can support the weight.

The other vein of bike touring is that of minimalism, because all survival requirements, which are carried in the first method, are replaced by a credit card. You sleep in hotels, eat in restaurants and carry as little as possible. Oftentimes, it increases the joy of riding because the minimal weight means you can ride with a non touring specific bicycle. Because we chose the credit card in Corsica, I got to use my race bike. It meant that instead of hauling a major load, I enjoyed my time on the bike much more. In a sense, I was paying for the increased thrill of a race bike, instead of a loaded down heavy bike with worse handling.

All my baggage for two weeks

All my baggage for two weeks

Without further ado, here’s the contents of my minimalist packing. I’ll preface my list with two notes; I packed some gratuitous luxury items, and second is that it must be remembered that this is all I took for two weeks:

1 set of on the bike clothes: jersey, socks, bibshorts, bike shoes (worn, not carried)
1 set of off the bike clothes: t-shirt, shorts, belt, underwear, socks, boat shoes
1 set of of cycling layers: arm warmers, leg warmers, thin softshell (worn off the bike as well) NOTE, I forgot gloves, so had no gloves in any weather, warm or cold
1 set of simplified toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, eyedrops, inhaler
2 week supply of contacts
1 paperback
1 kindle fire hd
1 7 in moleskin notebook
1 dSLR camera
2 containers of NUUN hydration tablets
2 bicycle tubes
1 multitool, 1 set of tire irons
1 credit card

So there you have it. You can live on very little for two weeks, and if you can for two weeks, why not a year? The most shocking item is the clothing, it gets repetative wearing the same thing every day (no regets!)

The correlation between price and simplicity is startling however. I believe that many people who believe simply also believe in a life with a lower budget, or are burdened by a lower budget. Yet it truly was money that enabled us to have so little. Obviously, cycling is a luxury sport, yet even still, money can take care of conveniences in the place of multiple material goods.

I look forward to touring on my own and embracing the cheaper and more independent style of cycle touring, sleeping in nature and being more responsible for my survival and comfort. Until then I continue without the bike, Corsica was three or four weeks ago, and I haven’t been on a bike since then. Everyday it becomes clearer and clear. Its a passion, its a lifestyle, its an obsession. That’s what matters most. No matter how I bike tour in the future, at the end of the day, what counts most is that I’ll have spent it on a bike.

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