I am a wee bit ashamed to admit that the mechanical side of bike touring doesn’t really excite me that much. Don’t get me wrong, I love my 2013 Vivente World Randonneur bike and I am always humbled that a piece of steel can carry me and all the equipment I need to survive. Sure I can change a flat and de-grease and oil my chain, but anything more than that just doesn’t do it for me. But anyway, for those that are into bike specs, here are mine:
Now onto the Panniers (bags you strap to your bike):
I am convinced that our Ortlieb Classic panniers are the Apple equivalent of the pannier world. Those that have them, swear by them and scoff at any one else who doesn’t. During our Tasmania trip when we met “The Peloton” group on the road, I overheard 2 girls saying as I passed them “We should have gotten Ortlieb’s. EVERYONE has them!”. The only adjustment we’ve had to make is add an extra set of clips to the 2 clothing panniers as the bar was starting to bend out a bit and we didn’t want to pop the rivets out.
We both have two front and two back panniers, a handlebar bag, and a rack pack that sits across the back. Now here’s a funny thing, these panniers are like black holes! Anything you put inside seems to just disappear before your eyes. Sometimes I need to empty the whole thing out, just to find what I’m looking for. So the best way to keep some sort of organisation is to employ the help of little stuff sacks. I have found mesh ones to be the best, because you can see straight away what’s inside and any small bits like sand or crumbs will fall out and not congregate at the bottom. It is rather time consuming having to stuff and un-stuff everything twice a day, but it’s a small price to pay for the sheer pleasure of sticking your hand into a bag and pulling out exactly what you are after.
So how do you keep track where everything is? Well, each panniers has a theme; there’s the Cooking pannier (Inge), Utilities pannier (Inge), Pantry pannier (Andrew), Wet weather pannier (Inge), Clothing pannier x2 (Andrew), Lunch food pannier (Inge) and Crockery/thermos pannier (Andrew). We also have a handle bar bag each that carries valuables and day snacks for easy access. Inge’s rack pack has the sleeping stuff in it and Andrews rack pack has the tent, footprint, picnic rug, tent awning, stools and spare shoes in it.
When everything is packed up ready to go it is quite amazing that all our worldly possessions are contained in these 12 bags! It’s a bit like the Harry Potter book, where Hermione Granger’s beaded magical hand bag holds an enormous tent.