Thursday, October 23, 2014

With a little experience one finds out things that work and things that don't. Often it is just about trial and error but we also learn and get inspired by what other people do. Hopefully you will find some tips useful and take some of them with you on your next tour!

  1. Merino Wool: It took me 40 years to figure out but I hope it will come faster for you! Basically this is the best gift you can give yourself if you are serious about touring. These are expensive but with some care they last long and their benefits make the purchase very worthy indeed. Merino wool garments keep your body temperature cool when hot and warm when the weather gets cold but mostly can be worn for weeks on end without the need to be washed and they dry extremely quickly too. Odours are also neutralised by the fabric allowing for them to be worn much longer than any other sport dedicated material. I use two long-sleeved shirts that i change every week or so. They are on my skin during the cycling day, are removed while I take a shower and then are back on on my skin for a night sleep! 
  2. Merino Continued: As you are there get yourself some Merino wool socks too...
  3. Use normal light trousers: The temptation to go for cycling gear is natural but I found in my experience that this is not a good idea. Cycling trousers have the benefit of a chamoix padding to make your ride more comfortable but they have many shortcomings too. They smell really bad after just a day riding ( yes I do take showers every day... ). This means that pretty much every day or two you will have to wash them and the padding makes the drying process a long one. Usually you would wash them in the evening at the campsite when temperatures are cool and end up drying them by putting them soaked wet, tied somewhere outside your bags during your next day ride. A better solution I found is using normal light knee trousers possibly with zipped extensions that can be attached in the evening or if you want to be smarter at the restaurant. Under those I wear light and quick drying underpants. When I end my day I take the spare ones with me to the shower, wash myself and the used pants under the shower and put on the clean ones for the night and the next day ride. Usually the pants are thin and will be pretty much completely dried in the morning if not they won't take long to dry once the first sun comes out!
  4. Use normal shirts: Again as above! Usual wisdom says that it should be good to wear lycra shirts with cycling pockets behind and so on... Don't! I just wear a short sleeved shirt over my Merino base layer. It looks amazing and was often complimented on my cycling style on the road too! If you wear Merino wool on your skin the shirt will be just an extra layer on top that won't make you too hot and will be so much more useful and will not make you look like a weirdo when it is time to go to a restaurant or cafe to recharge body and soul! I bring two shirts with me, one I wear and the other one is a spare to get changed after a week or when needed.
  5. Everything in twos: I just realised that it seems that everything comes in twos but the bike... Two base layers, two underpants, two socks, two shirts and even two tyres as you are not likely to find Brompton Spares outside main cities.
  6. Compression Bags: These can also be waterproof if needed but they mostly function very well to keep your gear tidy and in place. Cables, chargers for your gadgets, and clothes can all be organised in small packets and easily found when needed. Remember that your spare clothes compression bag can make for the most comfortable pillow at night too!
  7. Gadgets: That is where it gets hard and we all tend to bring too many of those... I still take a very heavy DSLR camera for my photos but more and more light gadgets that do it all come on the market and make it easy for us to carry less around. Smartphones are today capable of taking decent pictures, amazing HD videos, help you keep connected to friends, check maps on the internet and much much more. There is no reason why a smartphone is all you probably need. If you are like me you can't resist taking your iPad with you too and a small radio for weather, news and entertainment at the campsite!
  8. Cooking Gear: Come on, why did you tour on a Brompton anyway! This is a no brainer...just don't bring anything of this sort! You don't have the space for it, if you are touring with a Brompton chances are that you are not crossing the desert or Siberia and you will be just fine eating out here and there and getting stuff from groceries. Trying out local food is a great part of the enjoyment so make the most of it and stay light!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

There are more and more options on the market to help us film our tours. GoPro and Sony Action Cam are only some of the most popular dedicated action cameras on the current market.
It has now become easier to be able to document a cycling trip with a short movie, share it online and show it to family and friends but mostly together with the pictures, providing a wonderful record and memory of your trip.
Traveling light can be a limiting factor on the things; gadgets nowadays have become so addictive and can add a considerable weight with their bundle of cables, batteries and chargers. As much as possible the rule is to bring things that have more than one purpose.
My iPhone is something that definitely falls into this category and more. I use it to take pictures, videos, check email and maps, read books and the list goes on but most relevant here, I found it to be  a surprisingly excellent tool to take videos while on the bike.
A lanyard around my neck is attached to the mobile phone that rests in a shirt pocket and is ready at all times to be handheld without the fear of dropping it! Whether I am still or riding the bike I can easily access it and quickly be ready to shoot an interesting scene. As the picture above shows the best position I found for filming with the iPhone is on a Brompton Bag, simply sitting on top with the strap tight above to keep it in place. This position allows for great shots of the road ahead, tends to absorb some of the shakiness of the bicycle and you can start and stop recording from your riding position by quickly touching the screen.
I don't want to risk breaking a phone and mostly losing all those videos I have taken and the best precaution I found is a lanyard (you can see the red string above) that provides extra security should the phone slip or fall while I ride. If the phone is handheld the lanyard goes around my neck or around my wrist, while the phone is on the bike I would wrap it around the bike handlebar.
Another useful tool I found especially if you are traveling solo and want some of the shots to include your very self, is a Joby Gorilla pod that together with a clip can function as a great tripod to put on the road while filming or hang on a pole or a fence to provide new exciting clips.
I find the extra advantage of using a mobile phone for filming is also the fact that I can preview and edit my clips in the evening, keep what is good and delete what is not interesting. This way at the end of the trip I won't have to sift through all the videos again to figure out what is good and what is not usable on my movie.
I really enjoy filming my trips and therefore I have also purchased a GoPro action camera in order to provide some extra clips and different views. These cameras are dedicated to action filming and thanks to a multitude of attachments and tools can be used to get some views that would otherwise be more complicated with a phone. The most useful attachements I carry are the chest strap and a selfie stick that can be used with a bit of extra caution while riding as well as to film oneself commentaries etc.


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