The winners and the losers - Tea for Tim - CycleBlaze

October 24, 2012

The winners and the losers

Winner or loser?
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I gave a lot of thought to the gear I was to take with me before the trip started. Some of it worked really well, some of it not quite so well. This page is to separate the winners from the losers.

Thermarest Z-lite sleeping mat. This was definitely a loser as it didn't provide enough support for a tired body on a hard floor. It was replaced with a Thermarest Trail Lite, which worked well.

Wild Country Duolite Tourer tent. In bad weather, the extra large vestibule (porch), and the fact that you put the outer up before the inner make this tent a winner, as does its stability in strong winds. However, you cannot put up the inner only, which becomes an issue in very hot weather. Also, the groundsheet has become pourus and the side door zip has failed, and the tent is only a year old, albeit a hard year.

The bike, a Surly Long Haul Trucker frame with a custom build. The frame has been excellent, even when heavily laden over poor roads. The one component failure was the freewheel on a Shimano Deore hub, which happened early in the tour and I suspect was defective from the day it was made. The saddle, a Brooks B17, has also been excellent - I have not worn any padded shorts for the whole trip, and not needed them. It has almost stretched to the point of needing replacing, after approx 15,000 miles, but I suppose that is a fair life for a saddle. The tyres, Schwalbe Marathon Plus' have worn well, they are the pair I set off with, and I have had no punctures (flats). Due to wear I had to change 4 sets of brake pads (Koolstop), 1 roll of handlebar tape, 1 chain, 1 cassette and 1 middle chainring.

The stove, an MSR Whisperlite has performed without fault. It runs better on white gas, but was often filled with regular petrol (gasoline), and just got sooty. Winner.

The Ortlieb panniers were worth every penny. They did not leak, fall apart or become damaged. The inserts in the clips are still the originals, having not been lost or broken. A raccoon chewed a hole in one of them, but those buggers can chew through anything, so i'll not hold that against Ortlieb. The map case for the handlebar bag has developed a couple of small holes, but as it is a few years old and has had a hard life I can forgive it. Definite winners.

The sealskinz waterproof socks started out brilliantly, but soon started to leak. I am not sure if it was because I had to dry them in a tumble dryer which I have never done before, but being on the road so long it was unavoidable. Great socks, but no longer waterproof, so go and stand in the losers corner.

Shimano cycling sandals. Although these didn't make it all the way back as they fell apart, they had had a long and tough life. With these shoes it was possible and comfortable to use just the one pair of shoes, and even when soaked they dried in minutes. I will definitely tour with these again. Unquestionably winners.

The netbook, a Toshiba NB305 worked well and carried out every task required from it. It is heavy (relatively) at 1.8kg with power cable and case, and there are modern devices which are a lot smaller, but, when you have big clumsy fingers like I do, a decent sized keyboard is worth it's weight. Also, when on the road for a long time, the decent sized memory and the ability to edit pictures becomes more important. Winner.

For me, the ability to be in non-cycling clothes was an important consideration. My choices worked well. The Icebreaker merino wool clothing is very good quality, but is not very long lasting. Both t-shirts became badly faded from the sunlight and developed holes where they had worn through. I'd still choose to use them again though, so go and join the netbook and sandals.

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