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Bucketeer

Cycling North After Winter

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I'll be setting off in a few weeks time on a bicycle ride to somewhere warmer for winter. South=warm so I've decided to go from (probably) Holland to (hopefully) Africa, through your Germanys and Belgiums and Frances and Spains an the like.

This trip is part necessity because I have found myself homeless, jobless and skint and the cheapest way I know how to live is traveling/camping/eating jam sandwiches.

Camping in the woods for months on end in the UK is homeless, camping in the woods for months on end in the rest of the world is traveling.

My last winter in Bulgaria ruined me for too much cold so I need to get a bit closer to the equator, and Africa is just a hop across from Spain. So why not head there. Plus warm.

 

I should have a few hundred quid cobbled together by then and I want to save as much of that as possible for a long as possible for noodles and jam and bread and stuff (and maybe the occasional cheap hostel to get warm/dry/internet/washing/drunk). Therefore I would very much appreciate it if [shit,shit, this is that begging bit with Davina McCall stroking some some children outside an Ethiopian hut or summat. Turn over, TURN OVER!] anybody has anything on my 'equipment needed' list that is collecting dust in the corner of a garage or whatever that could be sold cheap or even donated to me.

Prince William ov Chester has already (amongst other things) donated a bicycle, although I haven't seen it yet so it could be like this-

 

post-13750-0-32007200-1540057868_thumb.png

 

I already have my trusty tent and rucksack but my sleeping bag has thinned out considerably over the years so I need a decent heavy duty winterproof sleeping bag.

 

I'll need some sort of luggage rack and some panniers/saddle bags for the back of the bike. My trusty big rucksack can be full of light stuff on my back or somehow strapped to the top of a luggage rack, and heavier stuff in saddle bags.

 

I was thinking about dynamo lights. Are they still even a thing?

 

I'll defo need a waterproof jacket and trousers. Does anyone have owt for sale in size 6'5"?

 

A relatively light bike lock/chain thing would be good, I suppose it needs to be long enough to go round a fence post or a small tree.

 

Ideally I'd really like to be able to keep my phone charged for spotting and for posting updates and for using maps and stuff. What is the best way? Will a cheap solar charger be enough? Can you dynamo charge?

 

I guess I need to work out how many/what kind of inner tubes, tools, puncture repair kits, pump, bottles, etc to take.

 

There are probably other things that I need that I can't remember right now, and things I didn't know I needed. Any help is massively appreciated.

I'll be posting updates from my travels as regularly as possible, including gallons of grade A spots obvs. I could include polls/votes when I'm undecided which path to take or whatever along the way. I might do some videos.

Also recommendations (and requests) of places/regions to visit are always very welcome.

THX 4 HALP xxxx

Alex

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I've no knowledge or gear to contribute, but a will happily chip in to your fighting fund if you stick your PayPal up and keep us updated on your exploits :D

 

ETA: Tell a lie, I do know that your local poundland will sell puncture repair kits good for 4/5 punctures including tyre levers etc, all for £1.... I've used them before and they're plenty good enough.

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I always carry a spare tube in case of a puncture , its an easy swap , then fix the puncture at a more convenient time ,,,,,

 

and if you are lucky the tyres wont need a tyre lever ... which saves the weight

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I've no knowledge or gear to contribute, but a will happily chip in to your fighting fund if you stick your PayPal up and keep us updated on your exploits :D

 

ETA: Tell a lie, I do know that your local poundland will sell puncture repair kits good for 4/5 punctures including tyre levers etc, all for £1.... I've used them before and they're plenty good enough.

Poundland sell  good inner tubes as well.

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I don’t have anything on your list so far but I’ve got an unused microfibre camping towel you can have.

 

Like others, I’d happily chip in to a fund. It would be well worth it for the spottage / commentary / generally excellent update content you’ll be sending, which is better than telly and fuckloads cheaper than Sky.

 

Put something on GoFundMe or whatever and post us the link :-)

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When I was a youth and cycled a lot (Audax mainly) bottom bracket mounted dynamo lights were my thing, no idea about now though, but they were gr9. New fangled led are probably very efficient and much better. I still had a rear light as well as dynamo went off when stopping at lights/junctions.

Rucksack when cycling was basically a no, weight, sweat, position, not good.

I used to use cutlery for tyre levers, it saves weight and use the end of a spoon to lever the tyres. It has to be decent cutlery, cheap stuff bends easily ;)

 

I've got an old (fake) Gore-Tex bivvy bag somewhere if that might be of interest, I'll have a rummage for other stuff

 

Spares/tools I used to carry included, spokes taped to pump, spoke key, chain link splitter, allen keys for whatever sizes used on the bike, brake and gear cables (inners only) inner tube and puncture repair kit.

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I have an old Union dynamo set that I bought years ago and never used, and am unlikely to. I'm happy to bring it to Eddyfest and hand it over to somebody, it pre-dates the lights arms race so might seem a bit shit now.

 

44729753404_f16946288a_b.jpg

 

Untested and I see it's missing the wee grub screw that earths it to the frame, but should do the job. I'll throw in a pair of battery lights that I bought and never used and a wee rechargable light just in case. The rechargable one is excellent, very light and compact and you can easily unclip it to use as a torch.

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Many thanks but maybe hold fire on the money for now. It might be better served waiting to see if I need busting out of a Moroccan jail or somesuch emergency further down the line.

All the cycling stuff is interesting. I used to cycle a lot as a kid but not much at all since. First time long distance. I thought about walking this time but the extra distance capabilities of the bicycle are too much to resist.

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If you can, get the inner tubes with the magical munky spunk that self-seals punctures, but make sure that you still carry a spare tube - when they do go down, they don't easily go back up! I had one two years ago with a minimum of 6 things sticking through the tyre, including an electrical connection ferrule 1.5mm wide and hollow, but that was in it for 6 months before something else - probably a huge staple - caused the deflation.

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Can donate 2 monkey spunk inner tubes 700c x 32mm to 38mm what ever that means.Plus a rear rack. 

You are doing something I have always dreamed of doing (still do)so best of luck.

 

I have been following this guy for years, he is cycling to China on next to zero cash. Check it out.

 

https://www.bikeramble.com/

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I suspect you will cope whereas I suspect many others would struggle and give up.

 

Pop in if you are going through Portugal or, if my plan is shite, then plan B pop in if you are going through Greece.

 

There are a load of (useless) maps waiting you to collect.

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My mate went to cycle round the world. Unfortunately, he had an injury in France and had to come home.

 

What he did instead was get a c90 and go round the world on that. He joined forums and often met up with people along the way doing the same thing. They all helped each other with parts and problems if someone got into bother and from what I remember, he had a good time.

 

Cant remember how far he went but there's a blog somewhere, I'll try to find it. Volksy put it on here..

 

What I'm trying to say is, a scooter might be a better idea than a bike as a knacked distributer is easier to sort out in the middle of Africa than a fecked knee. If I had to rely on either one of them I'd not take a chance on my body, its more shite than a Vauxhall

 

*edit*

 

Blog doesn't work anymore (although that might be as I'm abroad or something). Sure he made it back though, I saw him in the canal not too long ago.

 

http://www.liamandc90aroundtheworld.com

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I also have a bike rack you would be welcome to for postage.

 

I’d say aim to put all the weight on your panniers without any on your back. Riding that distance with a pack has got to be grim.

 

Also, take a spare folding tyre as well as the tools listed above. I’ve had a couple of mishaps in the middle of nowhere with slashed or worn out tyres

 

Led lights tend to charge by usb these days so maybe you could charge them with a solar panel too? The battery ones for being seen last for ages and ages though. I’m not sure I’d bother with Dynamos.

 

The first camping/riding trip I did was lands end to John o groats and it was dogged by bad breakdowns every couple of days, some of which needed new parts and a full tool kit. To a degree it was part of the fun and we met some great characters but it was frustrating and expensive too. I hadn’t given the bike a proper shakedown and certainly not with all the extra weight I was putting on it. Give it all a proper test, loaded up when you have the luxury of knowing where you are and there are people who can pick you up.

 

Try as hard as you can to keep weight to a minimum as you will be faster and more reliable.

 

Definitely put a kit list up on here and I’m sure there are a few people who have experience of cycle touring. Your trip sounds quite hardcore though! I’m looking forward to seeing your steed.

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I have a helmet you can have, too! And some “part worn” 700c tyres if you’re desperate. Also some new gear and brake cables depending on what bike you have.

 

Thinking more about lights, maybe get a good headtorch instead of a bike front light as this will be extremely useful all round when you’re camping/broken down in the dark /lost...

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I think I've still got some bicycle panniers cluttering up the loft but my 14 year old is threatening to cycle to the coast so it would be simpler just to send you a tenner to buy some equally crap ones on eBay and make him use the comically 90's turquoise set.

 

I've also got a hand cranked torch somewhere that could possibly be adapted by someone clever into dynamo lights.

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I've found these Gelert packaway waterproof jackets & trousers are excellent. Keep you dry, surprisingly warm over the top of other layers during cold days, thin enough to be not too hot in warmer wet days and they can be packed away nice & neat. I always keep them in my bag for wet days on building sites.

I've also found a balaclava a good addition in wet weather cycling. Dealing with rain is much nicer if you can keep your head and face mostly dry.

I don't have any right now but I'll need some for winter myself - tell me your size and I'm sure I could slip an extra one into my order. Edit: I go slightly oversize so they can go over the top of a hoodie or jacket.

 

https://www.sportsdirect.com/gelert-packaway-jacket-mens-442147?colcode=44214703

 

Edit: I didn't mind a rucksack when cycling but it had to be a proper one with across-your-chest straps so it stayed put and those ridges so it wasn't flat against my back.

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If you're going to be fully off grid for day after day with no access to mains electricity then it's either solar or dynamo for recharging the phone. Starting off with an efficient phone will repay you way and above clever choices of leccy-gathering.

 

If it's likely you're going to be lazing about around camp more often than pedalling eight hours a day then fold out solar panels make more sense than a dynamo. Costs are similar. Whichever way, I'd recommend half a dozen decent quality 18650s (cheapest from failed laptop cell packs, typically two will be down, two ok and two still really good) which can be recharged in a £7 bit of kit which will put out 5v-usb or 3/6/9/12v from a jack. They're many times better than those "100,000mAh" charger packs for £12-15 which include the battery.

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I've got various bits of inner tube and tyre and such, but need more details on your steed to see what will fit. 

 

Willswitchengage does this sort of thing for his hols so will know about dynamo phone charging and stuff.

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Remember a lot of Europe is colder than the UK in winter. If you are crossing France you wd be best going down the W. Coast which is warmer...via Le Mans wd be fine. Its cold over the Pyrenees I'd keep west there too. Once into Spain - again cold in many places - particularly at night so I would follow the Med coast or come down through Portugal. 

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There's nothing wrong with an ancient Sturmey if you're going to use a dynamo, in fact some modern designs create more rolling resistance to motion when off/no load than when providing power.

 

Although I prefer PV power I'd probably source a wheel with a Dynohub in it (or build up a wheel) as a backup in case of loss or damage of the panels and to help maintain energy over the inevitable few consecutive days of thick cloud. The cost of decent electronics to convert the energy to 5v DC is a bit high, but there have been cheap boxes around - can't find any reports though. Should be ok if charging a battery bank, maybe risky powering a phone directly.

 

With a few lengths of scavenged wood, some rope, cable ties and empty cans it's not difficult to jury rig a water wheel to spin the dynamo throughout the night, given a suitable nearby stream. I've seen pieces of plastic attached to every fifth or sixth spoke to create a wind turbine, with the wheel attached to a fence post. I love how portable computing and LED technology has turned what was once uselessly small amounts of electricity into enough power to music, video, editing and publishing suites, fast Internet use and all the other wonders of smartphone and tablets.

 

But just as cars into the 1950s maintained a dashboard crank handle in case the wiper motor electricity failed, I still carry an old transistor radio which runs continuously for a month on just two recharged AAs, a clockwork watch and ancient phone. Old habits die hard. But it's amazing to be able to find a Nexus 7 for a tenner on Gumtree, as cheap as a second hand radio.

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Here's a link to that 18650 supply/charger I mentioned, it's bloody brilliant - https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3-6-5-6-9-12V-Mobile-Power-Bank-USB-DC-6x18650-Battery-Charger-Car-Jump-Starter/252624937953

 

Also, long hours in the saddle = sore arse and hands unless you've done a bit of preparation. Spending some time organising the right bar setup is well worth the effort, it's vital you've more than one position for your hands. If you're using drops then problem sorted, if not then either butterfly bars or a pair of cowhorns attached along flat bars (not right at the end, leave an inch or two) offers a variety of ways of holding on.

 

Nothing beats cotton tape over long distances, PM me somewhere to send you a ~10m roll if you think you'll use it. Old inner tubes wrapped around underneath the tape makes for great cushioning, for holding everything in place electrical tape wound inside out works perfectly. Wind the tubes and cotton tape so it tightens as your hand slides to the end of the bars.

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A decent hub dynamo with a USB adapter and a USB battery will keep your phone charged nicely. Modern led dynamo lights are great and have a capacitor that keeps them going when you stop.

 

I used to do a bit of cycle travel before I had kids and got lazy, I've probably got some saddle bags and things knocking about if you can cover postage and I can live vicariously through your travels.

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