Four panniers that’s all. Everything I need to keep this journey running will need to fit into four panniers. This includes tent, sleeping bag, clothing, stove, cookware, tools etc. What about the computer I’m typing on and maps, Ugh! .
But it is doable. I’ve seen it done. I have had dozens of touring cyclists stay at my place as guests. I have learned that the beginner carries too much. Then in the first two weeks pares down to essentials. My friend Steve Purcell used to carry everything in a small handle bar bag. He would tour the Alps where extra weight comes at a real cost. He had carefully selected light weight sleeping bag, tent and clothing. He used to say, “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate gear”. He had a fearlessness I truly enjoyed.
I think Steve carried only what he needed to survive if he got stuck. His mode of travel was Inn to Inn. My mode is self contained. It requires more stuff. It also means the bike is slower climbing hills. It’s the choice I’ve made. It will enable me to go places where there aren’t many Inns.
I have some experience backpacking. There is much transferable learning. But also some differences. Resupply can occur daily on the bike. No need to carry a week’s worth of food for instance. Not having warm enough clothing can be remedied in the next town. Stop thinking ‘I’ll bring this just in case’. Ready for anything is way overloaded. When something comes up, one is best prepared to select just what is needed.
Mind & Body
More important than the equipment, there has been some effort to get the mind and body ready as well. Having just retired this month, I am like a school boy with summer vacation finally here. Everything is open, boundless. A sense of freedom and creativity joins me in my preparations.
The thing I need to consider is what would my perspective be after three days of rain, or other hardships. My days of racing has presented me with some difficult challenges. My spirit endured mostly because I had a crew or team mates that insisted. Touring solo has its drawbacks.
A role model for me is the CycloMigrateurs. A French couple from Brittany that have been on the road for years now. I follow their blogs. They get into fixes and then get out of them. It seems the idea of giving up and going home does not occur to them. Even when their adventures require an unexpected visit to the hospital, or when the Central American climate becomes oppressive. They deal with it and move on. I think the key transition is when one thinks of the bike as home. Life on the road is uncertain. It will serve up difficulties. Good training for resilience of spirit. I hope this finds me at some point.
I have a tentative plan to meet up with Joel and Irene of the CycloMigrateurs in France in August, during PBP. Maybe then I will be ready for the next lesson.
The body has been a project as well. At the beginning of 2019, I decided to lose weight and get back in shape. We all make New Year’s resolutions, right?. It started out as a unspecific direction which suddenly became distinct when Adrienne, my WW group leader asked why. Why do you want to lose weight and get in shape? It first occurred to me, the reason why didn’t need to be explained. Then after some thought, I realized the power of knowing why. Simple, I want to retire and travel the World by bicycle.
It was that and good tips from the members. Wayn explained the importance of tasting what you’re eating. Raina got me to give up refined sugar. Others pointed to the value of a positive mental attitude and that setbacks are an opportunity to learn about yourself. My brother, Eric got me to try intermittent fasting. This is not something that is taught at WW. My sister, Ruthe joined me in fasting. Yes, we break rules. Sometimes it works out well. All in all I’ve had a great year. The figure says it most clearly. I’ve lost 55 lbs in 6.5 months.
I’ve been dealing with chronic hip pain. Anthony, my ART specialist has been seeing me on and off for about a year. He says my problem comes from sitting too much, an endemic problem in our culture. The thing is, I can ride 100 miles in a day without pain. I can only walk for about 2 miles before I have to stop from the pain in my left hip. Anthony has more recently suggested there may be an issue with my labrum (cartilage between the hip and femur). So, today I was in an MRI getting a good image of my hip. Though 10 minutes in a narrow tube cost me $1000, I hope the report says ‘nothing found’. This will confirm Anthony’s original analysis, too much sitting. Nothing like a convincing root cause analysis to inspire determination. The report will be available in a day or two.