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Friday, 03 February 2012

Indy's Top 10 Tips for cycle tour gear

Tent  Drysack

1. DRY SACKS: Heaven is a dry nights sleep after a long wet day

I have three dry bags that I pack into my ortlieb panniers. One for my sleeping bag, down jacket and mattress. The other for my MSR hubba hubba tent, fly and ground sheet. The third one is for my laptop and electrical equipment and chargers. The panniers keep things dry but the dry bags give you even more weather protection and allow you to stuff a lot into a small space.

INDY TIP: Get different coloured dry sacks so you don't have to open all of them to find something. Orange = Clothes   Yellow = Electronics   Green = Tent  etc.


Frenchcoast   Halo

2. CYCLE SHORTS: Mix and match for extra comfort

I recommend investing in two different styles of cycle shorts so the seams don't rub in the same place each day. I have a merino wool icebreaker Halo shorts, perfect in the rain because you don't get cold and in the heat they don't get too hot. I also have a quick-dry lycra pair.

INDY TIP: On the long days when your bum is definitely not smiling, put on both pairs of shorts at the same time - your tush will enjoy the cush!


Shoe      Crocs

3. SHOES: Keep your twinkle toes happy on and off the bike

I had a pair of MTB cycle shoes which lasted 6 months of heavy wear but they finally died on a 5 day jungle trek last week. (The sheep and tiki lace clips were a present from sister in NZ.)  Plus I have a pair of grey ballet Crocs - not the gaudy bright coloured abominations. Mine are like slip on ballet flats made of PCCR, a closed-cell material that virtually eliminates odour. They are lightweight and can be (dare I say it) worn with socks when it's cold. The first 5 weeks cycling in Ireland my cycle shoes were perpetually wet and I wish I'd bought a pair of crocs sooner.

INDY TIP: Wear your crocs in campground and hostel showers to avoid picking up a nasty infection.


Upgrade   Meg

4. THE BIKE: Meet my best friend Meg

I started off cycling around Ireland for the first 5 weeks on my Giant Hybrid bike. It was ok for a short-ish tour but because it was a few years old and wasn't built to carry a touring weight things started to go wrong. I sold 'Snowy' to a man in the park in Belfast and upgraded to 'Meg' my Ridgeback Voyage touring bike. With a steel frame, Shimano RM70 hubs, Continental Contact tyres and Shimano gears she's been a dream to ride, especially when I hit the hills. Plus, with a price tag of around €1000 you don't have to empty your bank account to start touring.



5. MATTRESS: Sleeping beauty recommends…

I started the trip with an inflatable Alpkit mattress which I loved. I was inspired to buy it after my friend wisely said:

"Would you rather spend 5 minutes blowing up a mattress each night and have 8 hours good sleep or spend all night trying to get comforable on a foam bed roll?"

The problem was it punctured after a month and my patch jobs couldn't stop the new leaks I kept finding. I swapped to a Prolite Thermarest self inflating mattress, a bit more pricey but it rolls down to nothing. Not quite as comfy but it comes with a lifetime guarantee.

INDY TIP: When you're rolling it up, squeeze out all the air and then seal it and roll it up again, you'll be surprised how much more air you can squeeze out of it.



6. JERSEY: Cycle geek vs cycle chic?

I have to be honest, before starting this trip I'd never worn a tight fitting cycle jersey but I decided thousands of tour de france riders can't be wrong. The folks at Spin 11 in Dublin hooked me up with my yellow and black design and they have been invaluable. Firstly for visibility on the road, combined with my yellow ortlieb panniers, I'm like a ray of cycling sunshine for approaching motorists. Plus having a distinctive shirt, people come up and talk to me later in the day when I come across them at the next town. I'm also quite a fan of the pockets on the back, great for stashing a snack or keeping a map.

INDY TIP: Beware keeping bananas in your back pocket. I forgot about one for 12 hours and kept wondering why I was getting whiffs of banana, when I finally worked out why it was a mushy mess.


7. PEDALS: To clip in or clip out?

I opted for double sided pedals so I can clip my MTB shoes in when I'm doing a big cycle but can still cycle in my crocs when I'm cruising around town. Being clipped in takes a bit of getting used to and I'll never forget the time I stopped at traffic lights, forgot I was clipped and in slow motion hit the pavement because I couldn't get my feet out in time. The good thing is, you only do this once and generally the only thing bruised is your pride.

INDY TIP: When you're starting out just clip in one pedal at a time, get used to it and then try the same with the other foot. That way you won't have a traffic light incident like me. Also, if you're finding it hard to unclip chances are your cleats are loose so tighten them up with an allen key.



8. NECESSARY ITEM: Every girl needs a LBD

As a touring cyclist there are odd occasions when I want to feel like a female again! I bought the Muji cube dress (it actually comes in a cube). it's a loose fitting knee length black dress that can be worn as a nightie to bed, a sundress to the beach, on a dinner date or for a night of dancing.

INDY TIP: I also carry a brightly coloured scarf which dresses it up and takes up no room, plus it doubles as a tea towel or a bandana.


IJ Small -macbook -air  Macbook

9. LAPTOP: I heart my Macbook air

I started my tour with a cheap netbook notebook which was ok until I wanted to start working with video. Plus it took a long time to load photos and upload things to my website. The lovely folks at Boxerchips loaned me their Macbook Air and it has been incredible. I was worried that something that can slide into an A4 envelope, weighing less than a magazine wouldn't be up for the rough and tumble of cycle touring. But I've been proved wrong and the battery life is good for 3-4 hours.

INDY TIP: Turn the brightness of your screen right down to save loads of battery power.


10. GIRL TALK: The monthly drama!

Guys avert your eyes for a second. Being a female cycle tourist has it's own unique challenges especially at that time of the month. Without going into too much detail, after being introduced to the Mooncup at Glastonbury festival last year I've never looked back.


If you have any cycle tour gear tips I'd love to hear about them, just write a comment below.


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Latest Poll Results
New York: What will Indiana June do in the big apple?
21% Track down and visit Oliver Jeffers:
Renowned Children's storybook writer & illustrator
11% Walk the High Line:
A linear park built on a 1.45-mile section of the elevated NY Central Railroad 
11% Be a NYC detective for a day: 
Part game, theatre and tour to discover some of NYC's most off-the-beaten path spots
13% Explore the City Hall Subway Station: 
Abandoned & hidden from the public for 60 years
12% Flying trapeze class:
Hone her circus skills learning how to fly on a trapeze 
30% NZ Flag + Statue of Liberty:
Bodypaint the NZ flag on her body and go up the Statue of Liberty
2% Go to Queens and find a 'Nanny' sound-alike:
Video someone with the nanny accent saying "noo Zealand, i love that place"
Voting closed | 204 VOTES
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