I woke up a couple of hours ago and decided to continue piecing together the pile of cycling/camping kit that I started to assemble earlier in the week. The start was modest to say the least but it only took me half an hour or so to bring it to the point you see here in the picture.
I’ve been through this process several times before prior to the previous trips of course but then I was doing it in my flat in Reading. I knew exactly where everything was; which room, cupboard, shelf, box, bed to look in, on or under. Trying to repeat this process when all that I own has been packed away into large boxes stacked up in a locked garage and a spare bedroom is proving frustrating. Very frustrating. And once I had located the obvious bits and pieces – the items shown in the picture – I gave up, put my coat on and wandered down to my newly adopted café in the centre of Elland.
My compulsion for order and completeness (not quite obsessive, yet) had kicked in big time. I must turn my mind back to the simplicity aspect of going on a long cycling journey. I could probably circumnavigate the globe with the items that I currently have on the floor. Do I need everything? Would it really matter if I forgot something? I’m travelling through Western Europe for goodness sake, hardly known for its dearth of outdoor equipment shops!
The advent of the 21st century, the century of technological miniaturisation, hasn’t helped the pre-cycling trip packing process of course. All those attachments for the GoPro camera is a classic example! The charging leads for the phone, iPad, SLR camera, lights… The Power Monkey with its solar panels! How did the cycle tourers of the 20th or indeed the 19th century ever manage? Ditching all of those would probably shed at least 20% from the total pack weight. But I would never do that of course as I love the idea of using them.
Once everything I need has found its place on the floor of the 2nd floor spare bedroom in my brother’s house (it will happen, at some point in the next few days despite how I currently feel) the long process of checking everything, cleaning what needs to be cleaned and then packing everything into small bags will start. If you are looking for advice incidentally about how to pack for a cycling tour that would be my number 1: put everything into small bags. It makes the endless emptying and then refilling of the panniers en route much less time-consuming.
I feel slightly less stressed now that I have vented my frustrations. I shall return to my temporary home, climb the two flights of stairs to the attic rooms… and then realise that whatever I’m looking for is actually in a sealed box at the back of the locked garage back down those very same two flights of stairs. I can see this café getting some good business out of me in the next few days… (It’s a bit busier now by the way.)