Our Bags Are Packed (and Repacked) - Grampies Cross Europe Germany to Spain Fall 2023 - CycleBlaze

August 22, 2023

Our Bags Are Packed (and Repacked)

In the earlier days of cycle touring, it was common for bloggers to go into great detail about exactly what clothing and gear they were bringing and how they packed it. We seldom if ever see this in blogs anymore. It's remarkable, because the burning questions, like two pairs of socks or three, have surely not become less important. Perhaps it's just that with so many cycle tours now successfully completed, it appears that whether with two pairs of socks or three, you will get there.

This does not mean that any of us can just sally forth without a thought to what gear and clothing is coming. The type and weight of your bike, the quality of your rain gear, the provision you've made for carrying water and food, the maps, GPS, communication, all have to be considered and decided on. All these things underlie the adventure story of the blog, it's just that they are no longer such a large part of the tale.

This page goes against the trend a little bit, by describing some of the main clothing and equipment choices we are making. It won't have any boring lists, just the main points. Unfortunately we can't enliven it with fetching photographs, because it's all packed for the air  flight, and if we pull it out for a photo op it probably will not fit back to our carry-on bags!

Shoulder Season - we have taken to mainly cycling not in Summer. That's mainly to tend our gardens at home, but also to avoid Summer heat and crowds. But shoulder season cycling means carrying both warm and cool weather clothing, with special attention both to avoiding sun burn and keeping fingers and toes from freezing. It all means we are carrying:

  • Arm covering sun protective shrugs
  • Sun hats
  • The most waterproof rain coats/ponchos we can find, plus rain pants and closed toe shoes.
  • Lightweight down parkas
  • Both short finger and warm/waterproof gloves

Navigation, story time, communications - we depend a lot on GPS tracks to find our way. Our main device is a waterproof cell phone in a handlebar holder. But our tracks are also in a second phone, and in a tablet. The blog is written on a Windows 10 tablet, and there is also a backup phone containing bedtime stories. That's five "devices" in total. Together with bike lights, and wireless ear buds, it all makes for a lot of chargers and charging cables as well. Two of the devices have SIMS, one German Vodaphone and one UK Lycamobile. That gives them both some internet access, and in principle they can phone each other.

Bikes - Bike Fridays are great for fitting into elevators, hotel rooms and onto trains and we love them. But we must admit that the small wheels do not do well on rough routes, and our brilliant e-assist retrofit, with batteries that can fly, ran into repeated glitches showing that the quality of the available parts is not quite up to the challenge of long distance touring. Consequently, for this tour we are going back to full size German bikes, with Bosch assist. The only concession is that Dodie's bike has slightly smaller, 26" wheels. 

E-assist is no longer an issue for us. At our ages, we would no longer be touring without it. However we do point with wonder to Ken Graham, who at 86 bought another  push bike for touring this summer! Our two sticking points on e-assist remain that we will not tolerate a bike with a throttle, and we will not use any but the weakest of motors. That's our line in the sand. If we find that we need to go beyond it, we will quit.

We bought our latest German bikes in Netherlands. Here the bike shop owners are marveling at all the junk we have strapped on to them.
Heart 3 Comment 1
Sandra LawnSo true about lack of gear packing photos….we all know what and how to do it now

But we do love thinking about it, trying to find a better way, part of the bike tour preparation fun
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1 month ago
Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 3
Patrick O'HaraWhatever bikes you're on, keep on truckin' as long as you can keep on truckin'!
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1 month ago
Tricia GrahamHave a fantastic time. I agree entirely with your e-bike comments but now add my own never have the battery in the back carrier. We are now waiting on Reims Station waiting for a train to Paris unencumbered by bikes
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1 month ago
Robyn RichardsIt's very warm in Paris, Tricia. I even cancelled a walking tour booked for this afternoon.
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1 month ago