Packing for a holiday is one of my most dreaded of life tasks. I used to swear I needed the kitchen sink to my partner’s dismay as he hauled my bags down the stairs.
After he gave up impressing me with his muscles and made me carry my own suitcase, I seem to have got decidedly better at packing lightly. So much so I am now at the point when I can leave for a four-night cycle touring holiday with just two small bags strapped to my bike.
As I write this, he is ferrying bits and bobs to his bike, filling his four rather large panniers with all manner of emergency kit. I on the other hand am glancing rather smugly at my tiny rack and handlebar bags safe in the knowledge nothing is slowing me down on the big climbs ahead of me. And I am not in the least bit worried about any missing kit, that’s the trick with cycle touring – knowing what to pack but, more importantly, what not to pack.
We are only cycling into the Cotswolds but the good old Oxfordshire weather always has a chance of rain. My Mac in a Sac trousers and jackets are just the ticket, they fold smaller than a pair of my socks. Small folding clothes and non-sweaty material like merino wool are the secret to my success. I know it sounds quite disgusting but rather than changing every day the merino wool will soak up your sweat but not start to smell.
Don’t get me wrong, I will miss a few luxuries when I’m gone, but I am quite sure I will thank myself for my frugality on those hills. Travelling without camping gear really makes a difference to the journey, we are credit card touring as they call it. After a hard day in the saddle, instead of pitching a tent and cooking small mushy unpalatable meals we will be dining in style and sleeping in four-star inns. Well, it is March still – camping in a mushy field, waking to the smell of their partner burning the eggs and preparing freeze dried coffee are somebody else’s nightmare this week.
If you’re nosy enough to care what I am taking here is my list: day cycling clothes including waterproofs, night clothes (nice enough to disguise my day activities and blend in with the other diners) although I will be wearing the same footwear. Phone, charger, lights, maps, GPS, multi tool, pump, inner tubes, spare spoke. Toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, deodorant. Most importantly credit card and for this occasion I will be wearing a helmet and hi-vis, they drive faster in the country, don’t you know.
I read somewhere a mascot should always adorn your bike when touring but I am loath to add any more weight. We are taking the dog with us in her own little trailer. She can be my mascot and, even better, I am not the one trailing her this time, my poor old partner is.
Sadly for him I think she is unquestionably heavier than the kitchen sink.