Tuesday, 9 June 2015

My End to End ride; post script on equipment and the like

So it's done, the biggest physical challenge I've ever undertaken and, ten days or so since I finished, it feels like an appropriate time for a few comments on how it went, focusing here on equipment. You'll find a complete list of what I took in an earlier, pre-ride post, so I'm not gonna duplicate that; instead, some random thoughts on particular successes (or not).

I still consider myself a cycling novice. Really, I'm a hillwalker and outdoor lover on a bike. The benefit of this background though is my familiarity with lightweight backpacking. Transferring these skills to cycle touring has proved relatively straightforward and, as a result, I'm pleased to report no significant issues with the gear I took on my long ride.

My Terra Nova Superlite Voyager shrugged off both gale force winds and heavy rain with no issues whatsoever. Not the lightest of tents and a good two person size, I was glad of its strength, weather resistance, stability and space. Taking it down wet and re-erecting later in the day needed only a quick wipe of the interior floor with a microfibre cloth. Even though it erects inner first, the inner tent soon dried off with good airflow between inner and outer meaning I was snug and dry inside in the foulest of weather.

I took a titanium pan and aluminium frypan along with my MSR Pocket Rocket stove to enable proper cooking rather than relying on dried, backpacking meals which are expensive and hard to find en route. And I love my old, faithful MSR mug sized coffee filter, giving me proper coffee whilst travelling; always a piority for a coffee lover like me. I also had a tiny cheese grater, allowing me to add cheese to pasta or omelettes.

My Thermarest Neoair XTherm Max and Rab Ascent 700 bag, with an Exped pillow gave a cosy, comfy sleep on even the coldest night.

Ortlieb panniers kept gear dry in heavy rain and needed only a quick wipe with a microfibre cloth before being brought in and lined up down one side of the tent allowing weatherproof access to all my kit.

Meeting Chrissie halfway(ish) I junked only one piece of kit; my large microfibre towel. I found my hand towel version was all I needed when showering. The smaller one was easier to dry, bungeed on top of my luggage on the rear rack during the occasional dry spell. Oh, and I swapped my bulky, heavy Giro Feature mtb hemet for my lighter Giro Savant road helmet, which made only a little difference to riding comfort.

My mtb shoes and neoprene overshoes failed miserably in the forst couple of days leaving me with permanently wet feet. Replacing these with Northwave Celsius Gore-tex mtb boots, from Evans Cycles in Bristol, solved this at a stroke; I had dry feet for the rest of the journey.

Thank goodness for my Berghaus Paclite lightweight Gore-tex jacket and trousers. These are old-school technology. I've used them for backpacking for many years with success so I bough a new set for the trip, preferring their small pack size to "proper" cycling stuff. They were brilliant, especially given the awful wet weather and cold I experienced. Many days saw me wearing the jacket as a warm, windproof layer over my merino shirt(s). Even in heavy rain they never let me down and I would recommend them without hesitation.

My Leatherman Crunch came to the rescue just once, when I needed the metal file to take off a sharp burr I noticed on the end of a section of tent pole BEFORE it damaged the tent.

Meeting Chrissie at Clitheroe for a day off I systematically checked all fastenings on the bike but nothing had come loose and nor did anything for the rest of the trip.

Muc-off C3 ceramic chain lube was amazing. I applied this stuff to the degreased and cleaned chain before the ride and there was not a hint of rust visible after two weeks of wet riding with no attention in between. I only bought this stuff cos of the small bottle size but I'm now a convert.

As for my Thorn Sherpa. I never once regretted riding this relatively heavy bike. It was always comfortable, suitably low geared for slow, steep ascents and the 2" wide Schwalbe Marathon Mondials proved sure footed on a wide range of surfaces. I had one slow puncture which I never fixed until the ride was over; I simply pumped it up each morning for the last 6 days or so and it retained more than enough pressure for the next 24 hours.

If you want any more details or thoughts on other gear I used, just ask.

Next up; my post trip thoughts and feelings.


  1. Was going to ask you how many punctures you had but the question is answered. Can you buy the C3 lube stuff in Anne Summers? Asking for a friend.

    1. Yes, of course. Don't ask how I know.

      Have I mentioned Thorn to you yet?


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