Packing - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

March 7, 2019


In the old days, we and our fellow novice touring cyclists used to include totally detailed lists in our blogs of everything we were packing. It did seem kind of important to detail whether you needed two pairs of underwear, or three - and of what weight, etc. And probably it still is important. Certainly, whether discussed and tallied or not, every cyclist has to make decisions about what to bring. Maybe we are just tired of writing about it, or maybe we think it does not add much to the plot line of the journey.

None of which can take away from the hours spent picking up this object and then that, and asking "Do we need it?" and "Where would we put it?" And later, for most cyclists, there is the dramatic "mail back" episode, when all the bad decisions get "the boot".

To show the possible drama of this mundane topic, how about this photo:

Although we are stopped at a post office here to mail back excess gear, Dodie can also not find the darn critical rain gloves.
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That was then (2011).By now we kind of know the answers to the main questions. But we still seem to scratch our heads over issues in each of the main packing categories:


With a Spring tour, you could be freezing, or frying. So, take that down sweater? (no), sunhat? (no), thick socks? (yes), extra merino layers? (yes), sandals? (no), rain pants? (yes), warm gloves? (yes), short finger gloves? (yes), tights for under cycling shorts? (yes). Are these answers right or wrong? Who knows! They seems to be a little biased toward more warmer stuff. Could be a big mailback coming...


We have a good justification of each of two tablets and three smartphones, plus one ipod. Really! OK, we're ditching one phone. That leaves five devices. (Flash update: the sixth one is back in. It's going to be devoted to tracking daily progress so each day's post can begin with a map!) They will need chargers, spare batteries, some SIMs. Oy.

Cameras - I usually break one on each tour. So take the replacement right now, rather than have that costly visit to Media Markt or Saturn in Germany? (yes)

First Aid

We used to be prepared for all manner of diseases and injuries. Now we have cut back to a bare minimum of pills and bandaids. Smart move? We do still have enough for abrasions, infections, colds, coughs, itches, and indigestion!

Bike Repair

Some cyclists do not even carry a pump. But we can fix multiple flats per day, adjust all nuts and bolts, cables and brakes, change chains, remove pedals. But we are not prepared to fool with the hydraulic brake fluid.

Non Debatable Category

Since we are stopping in Montreal, we need gifts for all the grandchildren. This could push us into having a checked bag. Worth it? (Not debatable!)

The bags are full, so what about the gift stuff left on the table?
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Ok, it all boiled down to just this. The duffle is going to be a checked bag. It has wheels - good for dragging around Paris.
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Sue PriceI forgot to ask you about that bag. Do you bring it along on your bikes or are you leaving it with a friend?
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3 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Sue PriceWe will leave it, and some "travelling clothes", with our friend in Austria and use it to carry the bulk of our stuff on the way back. We also have a very compact duffel that weighs little and which we could carry on the bike, but it has no wheels.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonMaybe if you didn’t take your photos while you were biking you wouldn’t average a broken camera per tour. Just a thought.
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3 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesYou are sort of right. Two or three Nikon Coolpix's have died by the jamming of the automatic lens cover vanes. That is possibly the result of being carried in an open pocket of my safety vest - exposed to dust, rain, and snow (or yesterday, hail). Dodie is careful to remind me to put the camera in the handlebar bag when conditions get rough, but then what do I do? Toss it in there.

One camera has a scratch on the lens - showing that the lens covers even though working could not defend against the insouciant operator. One Sony had its battery/SD compartment cover fall irreparably off. One "waterproof" Fuji XP was rejected for not being able to take clear enough pictures through the waterproofing. Several Canon Powershots were scrapped because their 4x zoom was deemed insufficient by an operator too lame to draw physically closer to the subjects.

When all lined up, it certainly is a despicable tale. If I were a kid, my parents would buy me no further cameras. A deeper enquiry would likely extend to sunglasses and keyboards. However my TV and other lawyers would insist it would be a witch hunt and that the Chinese manufacturers are to blame.

On being read this confession, Dodie generously has accepted blame, saying that she is too slow to permit a Scott Anderson stop and carefully make photos model. In your case, Rachel seems to carry on and you eventually meet up with her. But I freak when Dodie is out of sight, since without her I will end up lost. Such an imperfect world (but great for camera sales)!
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3 months ago