As well as our Bikes and Bike Bits, we’re carrying a lot of other things on this ride, most of which add to our comfort or provide convenient solutions to situations we experience along the way. (Click here to see what many of them are.) Here are our TOP TEN things we wouldn’t do without on our trip cycling across Australia.
1. Natures Botanicals – Rosemary and Cedarwood Cream – I honestly thought the flies would send me completely insane at times on this trip. Even a buff pulled up over my mouth and nose didn’t stop them from crawling up under my sunglasses and trying to suck the moisture from my eyeballs. Any touring cyclists will know that swatting flies and trying to manage a fully loaded bike on busy roads with any kind of wind at all is fraught with danger. That’s why this stuff gets my number one vote. A small amount around the face keeps the flies at bay and it smells great. Sure you’ll have to reapply at regular intervals, especially if you’re sweating BUT it totally works. A small jar will set you back around $12 but is enough to last months. We bought it in a Saddlers and we\’ve seen it in some camping stores. Otherwise you can buy it direct from their website.
2. Samsung Galaxy Note – Can’t love this thing enough for all sorts of reasons, some of which include.
- Keeping in touch with Facebook, Skype and emails,
- Enabling a Wi-Fi hotspot for my other computer,
- Using the camera for instantly uploaded pics.
- GPS for working out routes,
- Road profiles to plan flatter routes,
- Searching out campsites and parking bays on sites like WikiCamps.
We get good reception on this little baby when both our handsets get none. We have a Pre-Paid data pack at $30 for 3 GB and it’s more than enough unless we are doing some serious downloading. My only complaint is it’s so gorgeous I tend to get distracted from the real world at times.
3. Chamois Cream – On long ride days and days when you’re battling into the wind, slapping on some Chamois cream will really save your bottom bits from wear and tear. It feels a bit icky when you first slap it on but believe me; it’s worth 5 seconds of squelchiness for less pain and grief later in the day.
4. Tarpaulins – We carry two tarps. A very small, blue one (1.1 x 1.7m) and a larger one (1.8 x 2.4m) that’s khaki one side and silver on the other. Both together are only a couple of hundred grams. We use them to:
- Extend the living area of the tent.
- Protect and/or camouflage the bikes
- String them up for shelter from rain or sun if need be and
- Could collect water from rain where the need arose.
5. Packing Sacs – Different sizes and materials can be used to parcel up different groups of stuff keeping things dust and jumble free. We have 7, including one for:
- The bathroom kit,
- Kitchen utensils
- A change of clothes (1 each)
- Bike tools
- Adaptors and chargers
For a few extra grams it removes the inconvenience of having to rifle through panniers to find one thing amongst a jumble, saving time, effort and frustration.
6.Daypack – The super lightweight Sea to Summit daypacks scrunch up to a tiny little package but are big and strong enough to carry a whole raft of gear when you want to get out and about town without the bikes. I’ve carried the Samsung, my computer, all the associated cords, a camera, a jumper each, two umbrellas plus other miscellaneous items with room to spare.
7. Thermarest NeoAir XLITE Ultralight Hiking Mattresses – These are extremely comfortable blow up mattresses and weigh less than 250g each. They fold up to a very small package and yet are full size when inflated. There only drawback is the noise they make but you get used to it very quickly.
8. Snowgum Self Inflating Pillows – I find these much more comfortable that the small down ones we’ve had in the past. They inflate rapidly and can be adjusted in height for personal choice.
9. Vango Sabre 200 2 Person Tent – this is a great little tent that weighs just a lttle over 3kg. The enclosures at each end are large enough to hold all eight panniers when carefully arranged. The rest of the bags fit at our heads while still allowing us to stretch out full length. Tim is 180cm. It’s really easy to set up and has performed really well in rain and wind. The colour makes it perfect for bush camping when you don\’r want to attract attention. For a reasonably cheap tent it’s been great.
10. One Steel Peg – Aluminium pegs are very light and are just fine when the ground is reasonably soft. That hasn’t been the case all that much on this trip so we’ve found having one steel peg invaluable. We simply knock it in, remove it and then put the Aluminium one in the hole we’ve made.
Well that’s the 10 things we love. In the next episode we’ll be detailing the 10 most useless things we’ve bought along.
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