There is a time and a place for heavily-laden, long distance cycle touring.
There’s a time and a place for zooming off for a day out on your bike.
And “credit card touring” (road bike + toothbrush + credit card + hotel) surely makes a whole lot of sense.
But it also nice to combine the best bits of all of these things. To get all the excitement of riding fast on an unburdened bike, to appreciate the decadent luxury of eating at cafes and pubs along the way, but to also savour the freedom and satisfaction of carrying all your sleeping gear and camping wild.
I recently cycled round the north of England for 4 days. I travelled as light as I could. I bought food along the way, I used my phone for photographs and navigation, I reached speeds of 86kph, and I slept wild on hilltops. They were good days!
This is my ideal set-up for an overnight microadventure without, I hope, teetering into that weird world of people who buy light kit, weigh their kit, cut bits off their kit and spend so long doing all this that they never get outside and do anything!
- Road bike.
- I carried my kit on a seat post rack. You could also use a saddlebag or a small rucksac.
- I kept my gear in a 10l dry bag, secured with a bungee. A couple of bin bags would work just as well.
- Multitool, pump, spare tube, puncture repair kit. Because you know what will happen if you gamble and don’t take it…
- Clothes: take only enough clothes so that, if you are soaking wet and wearing all of your clothes and cycling fast, you remain just about warm enough. If it gets any colder, head for a cafe or train station! For me, in August, this meant only the cycling clothes I was wearing. I took no spare clothes at all. At night I slept butt naked in order to use all my clothes as a pillow.
- Tiny cycling rain jacket.
- Bin bag: £ for lb this is the most effective, cheap waterproof ‘gilet’ available and a great supplement to the tiny cycling rain jacket. Can also double as a make-do tarpaulin above you at night if it rains.
- Phone for camera and navigation. I used the phone on Airplane mode to save battery. This app is superb for navigation, even when you have no signal.
- Phone charger. A nice excuse to linger in a cafe for an hour to charge the phone.
- Sleeping bag. The smallest one you own that will keep you more or less warm enough.
- Bivvy bag.
- Thermarest. Various experiments in not bothering with a roll mat have always led to me regretting leaving it behind. I use a NeoAir 3/4 length.
- Credit card.
- Toothbrush. Get a kiddy size one. For an overnight trip pre-apply toothpaste and wrap in cling film. Or be gross like me and supplement chewing gum for the toothbrush!
Do you have any other suggestions on this topic? Let us know in the comments below.