Approximate gear list: This is what happens when you go cheap in a foreign city - No More Taxi Drivers - CycleBlaze

Approximate gear list: This is what happens when you go cheap in a foreign city

Istanbul has that great East meets West atmosphere; it's a city of mixing, of transition. I fit in perfectly: I arrived from Asia by bus and carrying a large backpack, and ten days later I left on a bicycle, heading for Europe.

While reconfiguring for the bike trip, I mailed some of my things home, left other stuff at the hostel, and added a huge amount of camping and biking gear. Aside from the bike, I went as cheap as possible, so naturally I carried far too much weight and half the gear I bought didn't work properly. I also carried winter clothing for most of the trip. I didn't have the opportunity to weigh my gear until Poland, and I was shocked and embarrassed to find my fully loaded bike (with food and water) was close to 120 lbs! And I hadn't done any training before the tour! That was the day I discovered a new respect for myself.

Would I do it like this again, no planning, low budget? Without hesitation, if travelling in a warm climate or on flat terrain or insanely fit or not camping. Otherwise, probably not. But I have no regrets! My next tour is going seem so easy in comparison.

I highly recommend you use this list as a cautionary tale, rather than something to help you pack.

My messy mountain of gear and garbage:

Bicycle: VSF Fahrradmanufaktur T-50. Heavy, slow, reliable, and bombproof.
Modifications: Trekking handlebars (hated these, but better than flat bars), 22-tooth granny ring, platform-clipless combo pedals (fantastic), the Brooks, front rack, waterbottle cage, cheap computer, mirror, better tires. In Skopje, I changed the cassette to something with a 34-tooth large cog, which was perfect.

Things I already had:
- Duct tape, cable ties, sewing kit, etc
- Base layer - wool shirt with many holes and synthetic pants without holes
- Socks, underwear
- Pants, long-sleeved shirt
- Fleece jacket
- Down jacket (this was well-used as supplemental insulation in my sleeping bag and for keeping me alive on chilly descents; purchased secondhand in Bishkek; thank you, anonymous German tourist, for the 20 Euros I eventually found in a pocket)
- Ski pants (purchased secondhand in Bishkek; ditched when winter ended)
- Hiking boots that used to be waterproof
- Flip flops
- Light gloves, light balaclava, ski gloves (my gloves had different weaknesses, so I needed them all)
- Collapsible waterbottle
- Smartphone, cheap camera, batteries, charger, adapter
- The usual assortment of toiletries
- Basic first aid kit, water purification tablets
- Travel towel
- Washing powder, dry sack for laundry, laundry line
- Pen and marker, small notebook
- Passport, money, etc.
- Sunglasses, small umbrella (don't laugh, it was useful), light purse
- Small flashlight, compass, lighter

Things I bought in Istanbul:
- Panniers of undetermined lineage, lined with heavy-duty plastic bags. Replaced the flimsy cords/hooks with bungee cords. This all worked surprisingly well.
- Handlebar bag
- Cable lock
- Multi-tool, pliers I found on the ground, tube, patch kit, oil, bungee cords, rope
- Pump (ditched after a couple days)
- T-shirts (wore these over my long-sleeved base layer)
- More socks
- Warm leggings
- Shorts made of sweatpants to wear over my base layer (couldn't find loose enough shorts anywhere in Istanbul; ditched these when I found thin shorts)
- Bike shoes
- Rain jacket and rain pants that weren't waterproof
- Waterproof insulated cycling gloves that weren't waterproof, also light cycling gloves
- Buff, just because everyone in the bike shops wore one
- Helmet, yellow safety vest
- Husky Bizam 2 tent (I loathed that thing)
- Groundsheet (cheap plastic tablecloth)
- Thermarest winter mattress (very nice)
- Husky sleeping bag, rated to -5 Celsius extreme (not warm enough)
- Bowl, utensils, etc.
- Piece of tarp (ditched when winter ended)

Things I bought along the way:
- Several pumps (so hard to find a non-flimsy one in Turkey)
- Maps for a few places
- Mini-keyboard for my phone
- Nice jacket, dress, nice shoes for my stops in cities (I know, I know, but I was tired of looking homeless)
- Bike shorts (until I found these in Poland I was riding around with a chamois cloth I bought at a gas station; Istanbul bike shorts were insanely expensive)
- Loose athletic shorts (better than the cut-off sweatpants)
- Another tube or two
- Many sets of brake pads

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