Cycle Touring: The ultimate checklist

An article on the equipment that I think you do and don’t need when venturing on a long distance cycle tour.

In the summer of 2012 me and 7 friends cycled from England to Croatia to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. We managed to raise £4166.50 between the eight of us. . Here is the blog we wrote during our travels: http://croatiacycle2012.blogspot.co.uk/. And our donations page: http://www.justgiving.com/teams/calaistisno.

The day we made it to the Croatian Border! 8 very happy chaps!

The day we made it to the Croatian Border! 8 very happy chaps!

The 1300 mile journey took us from Le Havre in France, where our ferry landed, to the small seaside town of Tisno. The Trip took us 22 days in total including one rest day in the understated town of Venice. None of us had done an expedition on this scale before so we focused a lot of energy on our trip checklist. See below our checklist that we made prior to our trip and comments on the items:

REAR PANNIER

Clothes 

  • 2xTshirts – Clean T shirts too wear when your not cycling are nice to help you feel clean and sane during ‘off the bike’ time.
  • 1xShorts – As above nice to feel like a normal human being at times.
  • 5xPants – Didn’t these during trip but it was nice to have them at our final destination and on our rest day.
  • 10xSocks – Hygiene is very important on these trips and keeping clean feet is important so I took as many socks as I could fit in my pannier so I could have some clean ones to put on every other morning ish.
  • Waterproof Coat – This is a must no matter what time of year your cycling because rain is a killer for getting you cold, especially whilst slogging up hills.
  • 2xCycling Shorts – These are must for cycling and it is nice to have a new pair halfway through the trip.
  • Flip Flops – Essential for ‘off bike time’.
  • Buff – This was really useful for when cycling through the alps because the descents can be up to 15 minutes long and it gets mighty chilly.

First Aid

  • First Aid Kit – All purpose travel first aid kit’s are available from most camping outlets and ours was empty by the time we arrived home.  It is also useful to pack these kits with extra’s like:
  • Antiseptic Cream – Good to rub on the gooche after your day of cycling whilst you sleep. This helps to keep everything clean and free of infection down there!
  • Antiseptic Talcum powder – I put this in my socks and shorts every morning. It helps keep everything cool and helps absorb the sweat. It helps to prevent your shoes from smelling aswell.
  • Sun cream – Essential to keep you from getting heat stroke. You MUST keep your neck well covered. There are many sun creams out there which stay on whilst your sweating but the truth is these are expensive and we found we had to use so much of it, especially in Croatia, that you need at least factor 40 and bucket loads of it. You will probably run out if your doing a lengthy cycle so rather than relying on an expensive cream you may as well start using the standard stuff because this is all you will find in European supermarkets.
  • Hay fever tabs and spray – Admittedly only useful if you suffer but an essential if you do.
  • Blister plasters – I had good comfortable shimano shoes so I never needed these, however my friends who skimped on there shoes had their feet covered in blister plasters by the end of our trip.
  • Ibroprufen and Paracetamol – You  will inevitably pick up aches and pains so it is good to have both pain killers so you can alternate when you need them.
  • Tweezers – Useless until I got a splinter which was nearly impossible to get out without tweezers
  • Nail clippers – Seemingly useless but you should keep your toe nails in check because they can start to cause you pain in your cycling shoes.

Living Stuff

  • Sleeping Bag – Need a good compromise between light and compactable and really warm. You can get some great value sleeping bags  and if you need extra warmth then liners are a great to keep that bit warmer, here is a great review from alex’s cycle blog: http://bit.ly/Z0hOx9. If your cycle will be taking you up to high altitudes I do recommend spending a little more on your sleeping bag.
  • Bivvy Bag – It depends whether you decide to camp with tents or bivvy bags. Both have advantages and disadvantages but I recommend you whole expedition commits to one form of sleeping arrangments, else you get into arguments of sharing tents and carrying weight and many things. If I did this again I would use a tent! It is so worth the extra weight and you can share it out between people. I was very jealous of my friends who brought a tent.
  • Travel Towel – Essentail! They are small and light and a towel comes in handy all the time, whether you need something to sit on it or dry yourself.
  • Toothbrush – Small but firm is good.
  • Toothpaste – Small is fine, youll be amazed at how little you use.
  • Deodorant – Nice to feel like a human being. Sure sticks actually keep you smelling fresh for most the day and it means your clothes don’t smell as much and people don’t find you as disgusting when your in supermarkets.
  • Toilet Paper – A Life saver when you can’t find a toilet and need a number two! Recommend yoinking ones you find in supermarkets because they have plenty!
  • Sudocrem – My form of lubrication for my gooche. Depends on peoples preferences but I went for sudocrem. People on our trip used either, nothing, talcon powder and sudocream to protect their gooche. I tried all three and recommend Talcom powder, bloomin loads of it! Check out my article on how to keep your cycle free of butt pain: http://wp.me/p2XF6p-1w.
  • Wet wipes – Essential for a cheeky clean in the evening or when you run out of toilet paper for those special number two’s!
  • Travel soap – I took this but it wasn’t that useful. Nice for when you come across showers but not essential.
  • Bacteria gel – Important for hygiene before eating!
  • Multi Vits – Important to keep the immune system up and running on all cylinders.
  • Small penknife – Good for utensils whilst eating.

Bike Spares

  • Pedals – Don’t bother yours will be fine.
  • Tyres – Advise bringing atleast one  spare tyre per person cause your stuck without it!
  • 2xInner Tubes – Good to through straight in when you puncture. You can fix the others at breaks throughout the day.
  • Chain split Link – Useful if a chain breaks for a quick fix which lasts!
  • Brake cable – Didn’t use.
  • Gear Cable – didn’t use.
  • Hanger – didn’t use.
  • Pads –  You be amazed how quickly you get through these because of the extra weight and the nature of cycling behind someone else. If you cycle through the alps you will definitely need these because going down hills will eat your pads up.
  • Cleats – Didn’t use these but they do wear form walking around on them.
  • Bike lock – A long cable to lock all the bikes in one and a single lock for visiting shops.
  • Puncture Repair Kit – Essential for obvious reasons.
  • Bike Lights – Didn’t actually use these because of the long days during the summer. Depends on when your doing your trip.

HANDLE BAR BAG

  • Stuff – Leave room for stuff you may need to hand during your trip. E.g. Snacks, Camera, Rubbish and All sorts.
  • Digital Camera – Nice to see your accomplishments.
  • Camera charger/batteries
  • Sun Glasses – Cycle specifics glasses are really important if your cycling in early morning or evening when the sun is low. We did this a lot because it was cooler.
  • Duck tape – Useful for EVERYTHING! We fixed tyres, panniers and all sorts with this magical stuff.
  • Para cord –  ‘ I’ve also found that para cord is an absolute life saver ‘ ( http://alexscycle.wordpress.com/ ).
  • Torch – No need if you have bike lights
  • Cable Ties – As useful as duck tape. Fixes zips which break on rubbish panniers.
  • Phone and charger – Good to keep the family up too date.
  • European plug adaptor – Chargers are useless without this.
  • Electrolytes – Nice for a boost towards the end of a hard day.

Bike Tool

Needed all of these:

  • Allen Keys
  • Multi Tool
  • Chain Tool
  • Spoke Key
  • Lube
  • Tyre Levers
  • Pump
  • Adjustable Spanner
  • Cassette remover – You’ll need the right tools to take off your cassette for changing spokes on your back wheel as they will inevitably break due to the weight of panniers.

OSPREY BACK PACK

Important Stuff – Good to keep your important stuff in your backpack so it is with you at all times.

  • Passport
  • Take 2 photocopies of passport
  • EU insurance Card – Debit Card
  • Euro s
  • Holiday insurance
  • Stuff

STUFF I WORE

  • Helmet
  • Cycling Shorts
  • Hi-vis Cycling Top
  • Cycling shoes

If you have any comments on some of the items on this list or additional items that you think shoud be on this list then please comment below. Thanks.

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3 responses to “Cycle Touring: The ultimate checklist

  1. How did you find spending the whole time in a bivvy bag? That is what we were planning on doing but opted for a lightwweight tent instead. Agree with the duct tape, I’ve also found that para cord an absulute live saver. On the sleeping bag front I think you can can find some great lightweight sleeping bags for well under £100 (http://bit.ly/Z0hOx9) and if it’s too cold just get a liner, which works as a good lightweight substitute.

    • Well you made the best decision! Sleeping in a bivvy bag wasn’t very nice, If it was raining I would sleep with my head in the bivvy bad but I often woke up wet due to the condensation anyway. I think if there are a few of you its worth getting a tent because it makes ‘off the bike’ time more enjoyable in bad weather. Its also nice to have somewhere to get changed in bad weather. However in the morning it was nice not too have a tent to put away. Yer the duck tape was a life saver, managed to use it to temporarily mend a split tyre sidewall once! Oh good idea, ill add paracord to the list. It was very cold whilst camping in the alps. Keeping warm whilst sleeping warm was important and the guys with thinner sleeping bags and liners did find it chilly. Although your right a £100 is a bit steep for even a good sleeping bag. I’ll lower it on the list and put in a note about liners. I’ll make sure to link your blog in amendments I make on the list following your comment.

      Thank you very much for following my blog.

      • I am going to try my bivvy for some shorter tours I think. Combined with a tarp and mosquito net is is still light and pretty much at effective as a tent. Mosquitos are a big problem in some places and looking back taking a tent was a great idea because it gave us somewhere to shelter. Thanks, great post!

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