The bike is having a rest for a week – my aim is not to use it at all until next weekend – so this morning I set off on foot to window shop in the bike / adventure shops of Reading. I only found two that were open: Cotswold Leisure and Berkshire Bikes. The former is heaven to the British middle classes who imagine there is more adventure in their lives than there actually is who buy their products en masse but rarely put it to the use it was intended for. The clothing equivalent of the Range Rover. The latter is a cheap and cheerful place – a bit spartan – whose website has an annoying audio message telling you that they cannot publish their prices on the Internet due to complaints from the competition. What utter tosh!
Anyway, both establishments excited me sufficiently to get thinking more about the equipment needed not just for summer 2010, but for my trip to Yorkshire in a couple of weeks time. My thinking has been that for the Yorkshire trip I should make do with what I currently have – my bike, panniers, clothing – and see how I get on. However, I am beginning to wonder whether this is a risky strategy that will lead to problems that will make me think twice about the whole project. I’m not suggesting I go out and spend thousands and believe me, you could quite easily do that, especially in Cotswold Leisure. I am however now thinking of a pragmatic “third way” where I make some judicious investments in equipment that are going to be very useful indeed. For example, the pannier situation. I have a pair of bags which I have used for the last couple of years for taking things to school and back. But they are very basic and, more importantly, not particularly weather proof. They have no side pockets, just a zip pocket in the cover which can be quite difficult to access if the bag is full.
Visiting Cotswold Leisure got me thinking about the Youth Hostel / camp question again. I do like camping and although you obviously have to carry more equipment with you if you go down this route, you do massively increase flexibility in terms of worrying where to spend the night. Very few campsites would turn away a cyclist with a small tent – it is usually a case of pitching up on an area of land set aside for small tents rather than having a whole “emplacement” to yourself. Cheaper as well. There are some very light, inexpensive tents around. Would be great to know what equipment Mark Beaumont uses… on the subject of which, his book about cycling around the World is in Waterstones. Looks like essential reading before I go anywhere. It might well be the best bit of “equipment” I buy this summer.
All in all, I need to set myself a budget for spending on equipment and clothing pre Yorkshire trip to stop me going mad. £300 should do it. More window shopping is needed this week. The equipment in the picture is not mine btw.