Unexpected items that have proved valuable on tour. - CycleBlaze

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Unexpected items that have proved valuable on tour.

Kelly Iniguez

When we first started touring, we brought everything but the kitchen sink. We camped. We had the big four person tent with lots of goodies. Even camp chairs!

Touring has evolved for us. Now we credit card tour, staying in motels and mostly eating in restaurants. Our pannier contents have slimmed down as a result. 

An item that I took along a couple of years ago as an afterthought was a pair of Fiskar scissors. I mail ordered them, and received a child size pair as opposed to the adult size. They were just right to slip in my emergency kit. I've used them enough times that they continue to make the list.

What items do you bring along that might not be a first thought?

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4 months ago
Bob KoreisTo Kelly Iniguez

I tend to draw from backpacking in bike touring prep. Scissors are a definite in my 1st Aid kit. I don't worry so much about stuff that you would use a band-aid on, but I do take along some tape, gauze, some tube stretch bandage, an Israeli bandage, and generic Benadryl. I typically have plenty of space to work with and they weigh little. When far from help my two concerns are blood loss and anaphylactic shock. 

Fortunately, I've not had to deal with either one when on the trail  or on the bike. but I have had occasions to use an Ace bandage. Had to buy a couple during a trip to Italy and they cost nearly half what a trip to emergency there cost.

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4 months ago
Wayne EstesTo Kelly Iniguez

What items do you bring along that might not be a first thought?

Velcro strap that I use as a parking brake.
Larger velcro strap used as a "trouser band", typically used after dinner at a restaurant.
Spare rearview mirror because I ride a recumbent and can't look back. It's that important to me!

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4 months ago
Brent IrvineTo Kelly Iniguez

My touring sounds very similar so I have really streamlined what I bring along, too.

I have a few 'must bring' items.

Umbrella - yes, a bulky item, but especially after a day riding in rain, once I have dried off in my accommodations and am ready to explore the area, the last thing I want is to get soaked again, so a mini umbrella is important.

Jack-knife - of course there are piles of uses, but when I return from Europe, I have to pack the bike in a new-to-me cardboard box. That often means chopping up whatever I can get to fit the bike, cutting packing tape, or plastic wrap.

Courier bags (those silvery Purolator ones) - they seem to be made of a magical aerospace material that could deflect meteors. Whether I am covering my Brooks saddle in the rain, bagging my pointy tools in a pannier, or if I had to boot a tire - a few of these light bags always make it into my gear for a tour.

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4 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo Kelly Iniguez

Music.  Alcohol.

I don't go to bars and restaurants very often while on tour so, along with my own food, I always carry a bit of whiskey and/or some beer.

I love music.  In my backpacking days and my first few years of bike touring, I always carried an old-school transistor radio.  Now I've upped my game to a small, but surprisingly powerful bluetooth speaker.  Sure, I love the sounds of nature--the cheeps & chirps & caws & screeches & hoots of birds, the wind blowing through the trees, the crickets & cicadas, or the complete silence --but after a while I find that nothing livens up a campsite like cranking up the tunes with a couple of beers.

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4 months ago
Kelly IniguezTo Brent Irvine

Brent,

We took an umbrella on our Michigan/Wisconsin tour this past summer. We were assured that we would get wet. In the end, we used it only once, while walking to dinner. That was fine with me.

I did buy, but did not use, a silver umbrella to reflect the heat while riding. I read of a trike rider who rigged an umbrella to shade him while riding the Western Express in the heat of the summer. I don't do heat well, and thought a reflective umbrella would be good for me. In the end, I was concerned about wind gusts or vehicle gusts would be dangerous. I didn't take it.

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4 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Kelly Iniguez

My PackTowl personal.  I like to carry a washcloth when I travel and this one is the latest version.  It's so useful!

I use it for the normal washcloth uses but discovered that it makes a great sweat-wiper on big climbs while on my Pyrenees trip and that it can actually absorb enough water to dry my entire body and hair if I forget to take my travel towel to the campground shower building.  Unlike my travel towel, it isn't big enough to cover me as I scoot back to my tent if I forget to take clean clothes to put on after.  Each of those incidents has only happened once...so far (and not at the same time).

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4 months ago
Karen CookTo Kelly Iniguez

A roll of black hockey tape always comes in handy for all kinds of reasons.

I keep a supply of rubber bands around my water bottles.

But my favorite is a little battery operated (AA batteries) air mattress inflate-er that weighs a few ounces.  It has a mini fan that blows into the valve.   I had low expectations but it is a must have now.  It takes 4-5 minutes to get the mattress almost full, then a few puffs and its done.   Inflating my air mattress was my least favorite camp job.  But now I set up my tent, unroll my mattress and start the inflate-er.  By the time I finish setting up the rest of my camp, the mattress is all but done and ready to sleep on.

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4 months ago
Kelly IniguezTo Gregory Garceau
At the Amado Territory Inn, AZ

Every so often we stay at a fancy enough place that they give us free wine in the evening. Those are my favorite places! A beverage after a hard day's ride is a fine thing. 

Could you tell me specifically what speaker you use? I'm fond of music while I ride, but don't use headphones.

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4 months ago
Brent IrvineTo Kelly Iniguez

I noticed your question about a speaker... so I will pop in a comment. :)

A few years ago I picked up a Zealot S1 from amazon. It is a handlebar-mountable unit with a loud speaker, is bluetooth compatible, has a micro SD slot,  has a light so can be used as a flashlight or bike light, and is a battery pack that can charge usb devices. It almost sounds too good to be true- I love it. The only negative is the mounting clamp for the handlebar which is cheap, so I ordered a better one... from amazon. The S1 was about CAD$25.

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4 months ago