The Charity Shop Tour
Knowing what to take on a cycling tour can be the trickiest part – you don’t want to take too much, as it ends up being dead weight, but you don’t want to take too little because you’re bound to need that one thing you omitted to bring.
Looking back at my kit list for the round-Britain trip makes me laugh. I certainly packed a lot, mainly clothes, and much of it contingency packing (why on earth would I need four pairs of gloves?!), but lots of it for comfort and because, being my first long tour, I didn’t really know what to take. I read others’ kit lists and took their advice, but mainly I just took what I thought I’d need. I wasn’t too far off – a few things made their way back home in the post, but I did use most of it.
This tour is entirely different. I’ve packed far fewer clothes and far less bulk. Let’s compare kit lists:
underwear (6 pairs), socks (6 pairs), padded shorts, normal shorts, leggings x3, cycling tops x2, hoodie, cycling shoes, cycling gloves, buff, baseball cap, waterproof jacket and overtrousers, sunglasses
Thin jumper, top x2, flip-flops, swimming costume
allen key, chain lube, puncture kit, spare tube, pump
tent, sleeping bag, roll mat, blow up mattress, wash bag, small first aid kit, towel, LEJOG guidebook, laptop & charger, iPhone & charger (no need for a separate camera), posters for my presentations, books (I sent boxes of books ahead to each venue then carried the spares or sent them on). And 30 vegan flapjacks and cakes from Riverbank Bakery.
It probably weighs around the same, but feels far more simple – everything has a definite purpose, I know where everything is and I’m not scrabbling around in the depths of my panniers trying to find stuff.
However, the purpose of the tour is twofold: not only am I cycling from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, I am also giving talks to the public. Wearing sweaty cycling clothes to give my talks is perhaps not the best idea. Neither do I want to wear the same thing every day, dahling!
So, in each place I reach, I have been buying a dress in a charity shop, which I then donate to the next place. It’s been a great way of having a different outfit each night, something clean to wear (!) and doing my bit for charity.
So, I present, The Charity Shop Tour.