What to take when you only have limited space and over a thousand miles to go?
Here’s what I recommend:
- 3 cycle tops (two short-sleeved, one long-sleeved)
Make sure they are lose fitting unless you are on a road bike and on a mission. I took tight tops and that was a bit of a mistake when it was really hot during the first week of our trip.
- 2 pairs cycle shorts / bibs
I took three pairs along (x1 loose fitting padded shorts, x1 Lycra cycle shorts, x1 Lycra cycle bib). Having three pairs of shorts was a luxury but definitely helped with the washing routine, especially when you are knackered or your kit has not dried after washing it.
- 1 thermal top (base / mid layer)
I used this mainly in the evenings after the cycle ride and shower.
- 1 waterproof / windproof jacket
Very useful in Scotland. Get a decent jacket with under arm ventilation if possible.
- 1 pair of cycle shoes
I use cleats and my cycle shoes were perfect for cycling or walking (limited distances)
- 1 pair of sandals
Very important to air your feet after a long day’s cycle.
- 3 pairs cotton socks
Two pairs for cycling and one for the evening.
- 1 pair of trousers (quick dry for non-cycling moments)
You can use the trousers that zip off to make shorts if the weather warrants it.
- 1 cotton T-shirt
I took a T-shirt with a collar in case I went out to a restaurant. It was also very useful for protection when I sun burnt my neck.
- 1 fleece (ideally windproof)
I took a fleece jumper instead of a jacket. I did regret not having a warmer layer like a jacket at times in Scotland.
Never leave home without it! Saved my life in a nasty crash in Spain a couple of years ago.
- 1 pair of cycling gloves (padded)
Essential piece of kit as you place a lot of weight and pressure on your hands during the long days in the saddle. Pete and Mary bought gloves on Day 3 and never looked back. Only problem were the funky tan marks!
- 1 sunglasses
If you have sunglasses that you can replace the lenses and carry additional clear plastic lenses, these are great on windy or wet days.
NB underwear at user’s discretion! (If you are wearing Lycra all day, get some loose fitting clothes for the evening, including underwear)
- Travel towel
Quick dry ones that fold up small are the best
- Wash kit
Shower gel / shampoo, tooth brush & paste, talc, sun cream, paracetamol (lots!)
- First aid kit
Especially for dodgy knees and saddle soars
- Map and GPS
Map is essential but GPS is an option extra
- Spare tyre
We had folded spare tyres to save space
- Several additional inner tubes
I took x2 spare inner tubes
- Tools and equipment
WD40, oil, spanners, Allen keys, etc.
- Cycle pump
- iPod and charger (preferably solar powered)
- Camera and batteries
Being a photographer, I took a decent digital SLR, a couple of batteries and a few 4GB memory cards. I estimated that I would take about 1500 shots and scaled accordingly to reduce of weight. I also took a very small HD camera to make a film of the trip and a small clamp for my handlebars. This might be considered as overkill for most but I just happen to be a multimedia specialist!
- Mobile phone
Essential to stay in touch, especially if you suffer a breakdown. I had a Blackberry with internet connection on mine, which proved to be really useful, especially booking the trip back.
- Heavy duty locks
We had a decent lock each (long cable, D-locks and chain for the seats). Locking the bikes together is a suitable idea for security.
I recommend a tent with a small foyer area, so you can stash your kit (panniers) in there rather than inside the area where you sleep. It will protect your kit from the elements and opportunist thieves as well as make sleeping a lot more comfortable.
- Sleeping bag
3 season sleeping bag is a must if you intent to cycle in Scotland as the weather is so changeable. Take a lightweight down bag is possible to reduce bulk and weight. I secured mine inside a dry bag, to ensure that it never got wet when it rained.
- Sleeping matt
An inflatable mattress like a Thermarest is definitely worth taking along. It makes a huge difference to comfort levels and packs up really small
- Head torch
Essential, especially if camping. Also doubles up as a headlight for the bike, thereby reducing weight
- 2 water bottles (large)
I took x2 1litre water bottles. I could have done with another bottle for the really hot days.
- Arm and leg warmers
Perhaps a luxury item but I used my arm warmers in Scotland quite a lot, in preference to wearing a waterproof jacket. I never used my leg warmers but had the weather been any colder (less than 10 degrees) they would have been very useful for the longer cycling days.
This is the kit I took. The only items I took but did not use were the leg warmers. My only regret was that I took tight fitting cycle tops instead of looser ones.
What do other people think?