The single most important thing to bear in mind when packing for a self-supported cycling trip is that whatever you pack, you must pedal!
I have never been a great packer. I spread out things I think I will take, on the bed in a spare bedroom and for the better part of the week, add and then subtract, things. More truthfully, I would say that there’s more adding than subtracting. I would spend hours and days fretting over my choices. At the last possible moment, I put it all in a suitcase and then, just to be sure, I would top up the suitcase to whatever it would hold.
My panniers hold 45 litres. They are hardly bigger than a backpack one might take to university. I knew I had to find a better approach.
The cycling gear was a no-brainer. I have brought along two pairs of cycling shorts, two jerseys, one pair of gloves, and long-sleeved cycling jacket for cooler weather. Hoping that it won’t rain, I’ve nonetheless brought a Gore-Tex cycling jacket and pants.
Clothing to wear off the bike gets a little more complicated. France is the land of fashion. I can’t see myself wearing nylon pants with zip-off legs so I can have shorts for warmer days. There are only so many sacrifices I am willing to make.
I am having a hard time writing this post because even though I leave in days, I still haven’t entirely resolved the “non-bike” wear. So far, I’ve managed to commit to two short-sleeved lightweight T-shirts, one long-sleeved T-shirt, one pair of shorts, and one pair of pants.
My evening outfit? Yes, there is an evening outfit. It is a pair of black Capri pants with a long black top. I’ve also brought a Lululemon Vinyasa scarf, which their website promises me, I can wear ten different ways. I’ll let you know how that works out.
Shoes? Another great source of anguish. I’ve settled on my bike shoes, one pair of runners, one pair of leather flats to wear with the “evening outfit” and one pair of flip-flops.
Finally, I have found the courage to put everything in my panniers. I am afraid they won’t fit. I can’t imagine what I can eliminate. Surely, not the “evening outfit.”
OMG, I forgot socks, underwear and bras!