Saturday, 9 June 2018

Channel to Med ride, final prep and packing

In just five days I'll be driving down to Portsmouth, with my bike in the back of a rental car, to board the overnight ferry to St Malo. Today, I have been mostly packing...and flapping.

I sorted everything on my packing list and laid it out on the spare bed.

Then I packed it into my panniers and bar bag.

The labels on my bags are so I don't get confused when loading them on the bike. They also help finding stuff in camp, not to mention repacking. There are two front panniers. LW means left, waterproofs. RC is right, clothes. Two larger rear panniers. LK is left, kitchen and RB, right bedroom. From experience I've learnt to have waterproof and kitchen on the left. I always dismount on the left and lean the bike on the right side. It means I have easier access to waterproofs in rain and my kitchen, back after shopping.

Then I weighed it.! Three kilogrammes more than my LEJOG load! 

Lots of rethinking, and lots of input from Chrissie, saw me swapping the Southern Cross 2 for our Hilleberg Enan, swapping my spare shorts for lycra ones, leaving out my book of the route after Chrissie found a Kindle version (for my phone) and leaving out the water filter (I barely used it on LEJOG and if I do wild camp anywhere I have treatment tablets and can boil water anyway). All of this reduced the load by around three kilograms, to the same as I carried on LEJOG. Phew!

So I'm all ready bar the shouting...just need to add a few food items to fall back on: coffee, muesli, snacks etc, but I'll hardly be short of tasty grub in France, not to mention drink!

My efforts at raising cash for Cancer Research UK have so far yielded 154% of my original target, at £770. I wonder if I'll make £1000. I hope so. It's a good cause that has touched most, if not all of us. My sincere thanks to all the lovely folk who've donated. If you'd like to contribute go to my Justgiving page here.

If you wish you can follow my route on Social Hiking here thanks to our Spot Messenger and the lovely Phil Sorrell at Social Hiking. I hope to be posting on Twitter as well as here too along the way. Hope it won't be too boring.

For the gear nerds out there, here's a list of wot I'm taking. A note for non-cyclists: it's easier carrying heavier loads on a bike than on your back. Hence my taking a few luxuries like my Helinox Ground chair and a frying pan (giving lots of options for cooking).

FRANCE BIKECAMP LIST                                             
Tick or cross

Tick or cross
OR long sleeve shirt

Food and drinks

3 OR T shirts

Frying pan

Long underwear leggings

Wooden spoons & spatula

2 pairs cycling shorts

Pan scrub

Swimming trunks

Multi-use detergent

Rohan Escapers trousers

Drying cloth

3 Rohan knickers


3 Rohan socks


4 Hankies

Coffee filter

Bentu jacket & fleece

Minimo & Alpkit stoves

Paclite trousers

Gas x 2 and gas adapter

Mtb shoes

Lighters + matches

Goretex shell mitts

Air pump for Xtherm

Fleece gloves

Emergency chlorine

Fingerless cycling gloves

3 litre water carrier

Baseball cap & cycling cap

Food bags


MSR pot cleaner



Light down vest


Waterproof overshoes

Loo kit


Fabric washing leaves

Garmin satnav

Spare glasses

Cateye bike computer


Bike repair kit

Tent & airbed repair kit

First aid kit

Pee bottle


Microfibre cloth

3 x bike bottles

Hilleberg Enan tent

SD card reader

TN tarp

Compact digital camera

Neoair XTherm

Camera gorilla pod



Sleeping bag


Hayfever meds


Ibuprofen etc

Notebook & pens

Care Plus bite cream

E-Werk charging device

Helinox Ground chair

Mains phone/USB charger

6 clothes pegs & line

Shaver socket mains plug

Swiss Army knife

Charger (Anker/Powergen)

Spot messenger

USB to micro lead

Rear lamp batt 2xAA

USB to mini lead

Computer CR2032

Given this lot's shared between four panniers, a bar bag and a rack, I always have a list of what's where so I not only know where stuff is but also how to repack it. After a few days this'll commit to memory but I keep a small laminated copy in my bar bag. You'll see total weights. Again, for anyone who's never cycle camped, this is not an unusual load. The weight of food is estimated.

Front right pannier: Clothes, belt for strapping, baseball cap, warm hat, duvet vest, trainers/sandals 
In pocket: spare glasses, headtorches, drying cords, 6x clothes pegs, fabric washing leaves
Weight: 3kg
Front left pannier: Waterproof jacket & trousers, overshoes, wash kit, towel, toilet kit
In pocket: Buff, warm gloves, overmitts
Weight: 3.8kg
Rear right pannier: Sleeping bag, sleeping mat, pillow, pee bottle, pump, bike repair kit, cleaning cloth, Helinox chair           
In pocket: Spare spokes, long tie wraps, earplugs, camping repair kit, ibuprofen
Weight: 5.4kg
Rear left pannier: Cooking kit, 3 litre water carrier, food, gas, plastic bags, hayfever meds
In pocket: Emergency food, spoons, grater, 3xbag clips, spatula, frypan handle, lighter, fire steel, purifying tabs, MSR pan cleaner, gas adapter
Weight: 6kg
Bar bag: Snacks, notebook & pens, lock key, first-aid kit, camera, tripod, card reader, sunscreen, Mosiguard, charger & leads, phone/usb charger, E-WERK  & leads, wallet, Swiss Army knife, French/English dictionary
Weight: 3.4kg
Rear luggage rack: Tent & tarp
Weight: 1.6kg
Total weight of luggage: 23.5kg plus 3 x 750ml of water (1.5l) equals 25kg
In clothes pockets: phone
NB Bike, with racks, lock, pump & computer weighs 15.6kg
Total load, bike & luggage = 40.6kg

I'm a teensy bit nervous. I found being alone difficult towards the end of my LEJOG ride, but some of that was due to the lousy weather. Hopefully I won't suffer from that in July, in the south of France.

Wish me luck and thanks for visiting.


  1. Good luck Geoff, have a cracking trip 👍

  2. Go Geoff, go.

    What an adventure. Hope you have a brilliant time.

  3. Have a fantastic trip Geoff, all the best.

  4. That is very organised!! I suppose the real problem is the potentially vast change in climate and weather heading over such a distance. Hope everything works out and its fabulous trip. I'll be reading the posts with great interest as we holiday in France quite regularly (indeed its where we are heading for our family holiday this summer)

    1. Cheers Andy. It'll certainly be an adventure.


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