The people I come across are amazed by how little baggage I carry around, for a one month trip. As it’s a resting day, I’ll detail the choices.
I had several options to carry stuff around. That would decide how much I can carry. I still have my trailer, and I thought maybe I could take it, and carry with me everything I would need before moving to Sweden completely. But that meant a lot of things useless for the trip itself – and also reducing the volume to one big box (versus seven sent in parallel to my trip). I thought I could go with back panniers, but how do you carry them around, anytime you park your bike somewhere ? Then I thought I would take a backpack, but having something weighing on my back for one month was a bit worrying. Plus what I wanted to put in the backpack was actually lighter than the bag itself, and was mostly rain shoes.
Having a large front pannier, I tried stuffing it all inside, and taking the rain shoes, and not the baskets. By losing the equipment that was not totally necessary, it would fit. There’s even a lot of stuff that is here but hopefully will never be used.
Clothes : one set of all-weather shoes (like heavy sandals), a cycling short, two shirts, three briefs, and a set of non-cycling shirt and short. A cap and the helmet, glasses. The socks are actually “butt-cushion”
Tools : pliers, a tube sealing set, Swiss Army knife, and a spare screw for the seat post (it broke twice earlier this year – it’s only 7mm thick steel after all – and a screw type that is close to impossible to find btw, I had to go online the last time, with the only shop in paris now closed), plus a spare tube sticked to the bike (and a small pump)
Hygiene : a hotel shampoo bottle, a perfume bar, toothbrush and paste, and skin cream (once again for the butt)
Protection : two pepper spray cans, a fancy kway that is not waterproof, a first aid kit on the bike, plus a whistle tied around my neck, along with the bike lock key
Official : passport, driving license, ID card, credit card, a few coins, pens. I keep all of this with the phone in the belt holder, so that it’s on me the whole time
Electronics : iPhone, iPod, kindle, plus their charging cables (all different…)
I also carry around a few chocolate bars and bananas whenever possible, plus two water bottles.
That’s about it, and I could probably cut that in half again. I decided to get rid of the video camera (so no movie this time), the iPad (could have replaced the kindle), more clothing, a lot of tools…
This could qualify as ultra light cycling, but the people doing that are completely self-supported, meaning they have some camping equipment (a rain cloth usually, to sleep under). Still, I have like only two kilos on top of the bike weight.
In the end, I’m not really sure that the weight difference is sensible. When the road is flat or goes down, it would be barely noticeable. Is there a degree or two more that I can climb now, that I wouldn’t with a 40-pounds trailer ? Probably, but I’m not convinced. What is sure though, is that now, I can stop, lock my bike, take the front pannier with me, and I can go anywhere on foot in two minutes, and not have to worry much about what’s left one the bike and could be stolen.
Another sure thing, is that you get used very, very fast to live with a lot less. As long as there is a connection :]