Dear Andrew: Warts And All!

Last Monday I wrote a post entitled “September 1st 2015: Old Habits…” about my vague plans for my new working life here in Yorkshire. After reading what I wrote, Nigel McGillian made the following comment:

“Andrew, well done on your decision to do what most of us would love to do! The safety net of your supply teaching gives some reassurance. On to the interesting stuff – whilst you say above readers may not be interested in “warts and all”, for some of us who haven’t yet started on cycling tours, but would like to, and intend to, where do I get basics i.e. bike security, essentials for trip, tent, technology or paper maps, emergency kit, tools, etc.? Apologies if you’ve covered somewhere in print/eprint.”

Nigel makes a good point! However, I think that over the years I have discussed many of things that he mentions. I’ll go through his list one by one and pick out some posts that he (and perhaps others) will hopefully find interesting and useful.

Bike security

This gets a mention in book 1 (Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie) where I say the following:

“Bike security while travelling is a much discussed issue on Internet cycling forums. The traditional accepted method of keeping a bike as secure as you can is to use a D-Lock through the frame and front wheel with a second cable-type lock to secure the back wheel and saddle (if they have quick-release levers). The problem with touring is the weight of the D-Lock. Mine weighed exactly 1kg which made it almost as heavy as the tent. Was it worth it? In the May before my trip I had been to see my long-distance cycling guru, Mark Beaumont, give a lecture in glamorous Camberley and I was very surprised to hear him say that he never locked his bike when he was cycling. I suppose for much of his time cycling however, he was in very unpopulated places as he made his way around the World. Mary Bryant, author of the book Four Cheeks To The Wind which recounts the story of her decision, quite late in life to head off from her home in Berkshire to Australia by bike, told me when I met her that she always insisted upon the bike staying with her in her hotel rooms. On the occasions when I myself stayed in hotels, I tried (not always successfully) to do the same but as far as Mark Beaumont’s advice went (sorry Mark), I ignored it. I was after all travelling through relatively heavily populated Western Europe and I’m sure that Reggie would have made a nice Christmas present for the off-spring of any passing thief. When camping I would, in addition to the D-lock, wrap the cable lock around the pole of the tent so if anyone did decide to try and move the bike, I would be alerted via a shaking of the canvas although what I would have done if that had happened I’m not quite sure. Shoo?”

That was written in 2011 but it’s still true.

Essentials for a trip

Essentials? Well, here’s the post about all of the items I packed at the start of my most recent trip, complete with photograph!original



On the first trip across Europe in 2010 I used a Vango Helium 100 tent. Read these posts on the website about why I chose that tent originally. It was too small! So in 2013 and in 2015 I used an Robens Osprey II tent. A two-person tent and much better, albeit slightly heavier. Read all the posts about the Osprey tent here.

Technology v. Paper maps

An easy one; both! I am (and hopefully always will be) an advocate of paper maps as they give the bigger picture in a way which is impossible with electronic maps. That said, I use Google Maps just as much as the next cyclist. Very useful, especially for direction finding into and out of an urban area. Offline electronic maps are also good (have a look at Komoot) but they are data heavy and I have had issues with them crashing my iPhone 6. Open Street Map is worth looking at as it has a cycle layer. It is, I think, possible to use them offline. I’ve discussed ‘maps’ at length over the years and you may want to browse through these posts.

Emergency Kit

Are you talking about a medical kit? My current kit is one of these: Lifesystems ‘camping’ first aid kit and I’m glad to say that it has yet to be used!


This is probably addressed in the ‘essentials’ section above.


Use the ‘search’ tool over there on the left of this post (just below the advert for Bikmo cycle insurance). You’ll find most of your questions about ‘etc…’ answered over there!

Categories: Cycling

5 replies »

  1. Andrew, many thanks for taking time to extract and reply. I only “discovered” you (so to speak) during my recent holidays when I read Along The Med…Looking forward to reading more, which I probably should have done before posing my question!

  2. I am amazed that you feel the need to carry so much kit……. apart from my End-to-End of Japan this year (where the climactic change from south to north was extreme), and I allowed myself the ‘luxury’ of two panniers, on all my 6-8 week extended treks, I carry just one saddlebag, barbag and tent pack……total weight 10 kilos. It makes the logistics of almost everything so much easier…..

  3. Here in Worcester you can lock your bike up all you like but it may well be the UK bike theft capital. Much of the scant cycle parking found in various places around town is not covered by CCTV, not that bike thieves can be easily identified from a low-pixel shot of the top of a baseball cap. It has been known for thieves to go along with bolt-cutters in broad daylight and take a bike of their choice. The best defence in Worcester is to make sure that your bike is locked up next to new and expensive-looking bikes.

  4. Ignore Mark Beaumont. Lock your bike. Even when just popping into the shop. D-lock and cable. I have met so many cycle tourists who have had to end their trip early because some tea leaf has nicked their bike. At least if your bike is locked the insurance company might even payout of the bike is stolen (although insurance companies tend to try anything to avoid doing so)

What do you think?