What’s in the bag? A mental and physical inventory

I am taking a couple of days off in the town I grew up in, Ottawa, and since no one is really interested in reading about some dude sitting around in his parents’ basement trying to rest and save money I decided to share about the cycling portion of my trip. I have had a few questions and one specific request to detail what kind of things I brought with me and what my competence levels were like before departing. So if you like lists, weights, and maybe a little vagabond mentality read on.

The whole kit and ka-bootle in one pic.

The whole kit and ka-bootle in one pic.

Maybe we will explore my mental bag before delving into the actual bags. I think that there are as many strategies of undertaking a long bike ride as there are riders willing to attempt them. By explaining my way of doing things I don’t dare say it is the best one out there or a model that should be followed by everyone. It is a method that works for me.

I should start by admitting that I am not the greatest cyclist in the World, I dare say in a region with more than 50 000 people I wouldn’t crack the top 500 for cycling. I got passed in Montreal by dress wearing girls riding Bixis. If you were to ask some of my more mechanically inclined friends they would probably tell you that despite my engineering degree I am one of the most aggravating people to watch work on a mechanical problem. Not because I don’t get it done, more so because I move at a different rhythm and lack the eagerness to tear into a problem. While in this strain I might as well say that I am not even that great of an ultimate player. Sure I could be a role player on a strong team and a decent player on a weak team, but I am not making any all star rosters. What really drives this whole adventure comes a little more from my mind set.

I am not trying to win any races. I don’t plan on perishing out of a sheer stubbornness. I have tools (I will list them below) and some basic knowledge. If I run into a problem or a tough day; I stop, think about it, maybe set up my tent and sleep on it, and then deal with it. If I am incapable of dealing with my issue alone I will try and use the 3 Bs (bargain, borrow, beg) with connections or rely on society’s unused potential and do some good old fashioned hitch hiking. It is also important to remember that we live in Canada and any town with a population greater than 30 000 is probably going to have everything you need. To date the only time I have not had cell phone reception was on the train on the way out to Halifax, that will change in Northern Ontario.

I think what works well for me is a willingness to accept that the knowledge I have is almost zero and that is ok because Canada is a big place. If you look at some of the days thus far I have relied on my willingness to set up my tent on the side of a highway. Someone with more money or more endurance could avoid these situations by planning out a hotel or doing crushing distances of 200Km or more to ensure that they never find themselves in a side of the road situation. I think however you set out is entirely dependent on you and your own capabilities just make sure you can live up to them.

In short: Can I change a tire? Sure. Can I determine there is a problem with my bike and work it around in my head to try and fix it? Yes. Can I camp on the side of a road and survive? Most definitely. Can I accept that Canada is a big place and most days are going to come with their ups and downs and all I can do is try to pedal them out? Well, that’s what makes my wheels go round.

All right let’s get quantitative.

Exactly what was on my bike when I pulled into Ottawa, 1700Km later. Weigh in: 72 lbs

Exactly what was on my bike when I pulled into Ottawa, 1700Km later. Weigh in: 72 lbs

Here are my weights upon arrival in Ottawa:

  • Total weight of myself and bike with gear: 258 lbs
  • Total bike weight: 38 lbs
  • Total weight of my top rack (tent, cleats): 11 lbs
  • Total weight of my left panier: 12 lbs
  • Total weight of my right panier: 16 lbs

In general I try to travel light. I have two panier bags and put my tent along with a few other items along the top of my rack. I wrap everything I have, including my tent,  in garbage bags before putting them in their respective bags. Both of my panier bags have covers and have some degree of water resistance. My mentality towards clothing is that I have 2 sets of cool weather cycling gear, 1 set of non-cycling clothes, and warm clothing.

For the rest of this post I am just going to highlight what it is that I brought with me. I almost feel asleep writing it so I encourage you to press on only if you are really interested.

The Bike: 38 lbs

The bike

The bike

  • Nakamura frame
  • Shimano gears on the down tube
  • 700×28 Tires
  • Water bottle
  • Tool pouch (under seat)
    • spare inner tube
    • patch kit
    • multi-tool
    • hand pump
    • latex gloves
    • chain link
    • compass
    • swiss army knife
    • lighter
    • toilet paper
    • light
    • spare brake and gear cables

Top Rack: 11 lbs

Things that I carried on my top rack. Weigh in: 11 lbs

Things that I carried on my top rack. Weigh in: 11 lbs

  • Sierra Design Tent (intimate 2)
  • Sweater (fleece)
  • Cleats
  • Backpack
  • Duct tape
  • Emergency blanket

Left Panier: 12 lbs

The contents of my left panier. Weigh in: 12 lbs

The contents of my left panier. Weigh in: 12 lbs

  • Down sleeping bag
  • Wool sweater (yeah the purple one)
  • 8 pairs of socks
  • A disc
  • Tennis ball for rolling my muscles
  • Yarn for crocheting
  • Pelican case (1060 mini-series):
    • phone and charger
    • wallet
    • important papers
    • lighter
    • water purification tablets
  • On the outside Food storage generally bagels, tuna, apples

Right Panier: 16 lbs

The contents of my right panier bag. Weigh in: 16 lbs

The contents of my right panier bag. Weigh in: 16 lbs

  • 1 non biking outfit
  • 2 long sleeve non-cotton shirts
  • a dark and a light non-cotton T-shirts
  • 1 compression shorts
  • 1 shorts
  • 1 long underwear
  • 5 boxers
  • a buff, bandana, and toque
  • pair of gloves
  • travel towel
  • spare fold-able tire (I traded in my African suit for that)
  • Sunscreen, tooth brush, soap, deoderant
  • head lamp
  • gear cable housing
  • spare multi-tool
  • On the outside 2 water bottles

What I was wearing: 7 lbs

  • Trail running shoes
  • Wool socks
  • Spandex leggings
  • Shorts
  • 1 long sleeve non-cotton shirt
  • 1 red non-cotton shirt
  • 1 full-zip long sleeve shirt
  • 1 red jacket
  • 1 buff
  • 1 sunglasses
  • 1 gross helmet
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