There are a million and one lists of gear that the internet implores you to take on an epic bike ride. I’m not here to add to those mighty fine lists. I’m hear to tell you what to leave behind.
|#1 Don’t take your 4×4.|
1. A fancy bike. You don’t need it. I’ve cycled over 6,000 miles on my ‘entry-level’ hybrid city bike, everywhere from the Highlands of Scotland to the Sahara.
2. Fancy panniers. You don’t need them. What was good for the school run is probably good for starters.
3. A fancy cycle computer. Sure it’s nice to see the miles click over – but it’s also a massive pain in the ass. Keep your head up, looking at the scenery/traffic – not hunched over your speedo, trying to hit 20mph.
4. Fancy Lycra cycling shorts. You look like enough of a prat. Take a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, for Christ’s sake.
5. Shoes. Chances are where you’re going is gonna get wet at some point. Then you’ll thank me. Note: don’t go barefoot; you’ll bleed everywhere and that won’t be pretty. Wear sandals.
6. A tent, fancy or otherwise. Tents are heavy, man. Even fairly fancy ones. Take a bivvy bag. They roll up to the size of a jacket and they’ll keep you dry at night.
7. A gazillion spares and tools for repairing your bike. Chances are your frame won’t snap in half without any warning and any car mechanic can help you out with tools.
8. A library of maps. It doesn’t take a genius to work out where you’re going. Ask someone. Sure, take a compass if you have to.
9. A pile of money. Cycling is cheap. Sleeping in a bivvy bag is cheap. Beg, steal, borrow. Do whatever you have to do to get started. Once you’ve started, there’s no going back, sucker!
10. Any knowledge whatsoever. I took a one day course in bike mechanics before I left. The only thing I learnt from the session was that my bike was a death-trap and that I wouldn’t survive. To be fair to the instructors, they were correct about the first part – but thank god I didn’t listen to them!
|That’s all there is to it.|
Feel free to ignore all of these suggestions, especially if you love fancy kit. If you’re skint and just want to get started, then I hope I’ve reassured you: fancy kit is for show-offs.