Now for a very exciting post: how I’m packing panniers for the Mizen to Malin cycle next week!
Gripping stuff for the non-cyclists, I know, but since we’ll be on the bike for a week it makes sense to put a bit of effort into getting it right. Now, I haven’t done a multi-day tour before, but even from one-day tours I know it makes a big difference in knowing exactly where everything is (it’s just started pouring rain, and you can’t remember where you’re rain jacket is: having to pull out all of you once dry clothes into the rain because you stuck your jacket at the bottom of the bag doesn’t make sense, now does it?)
Because we’ll be doing a light tour (A.K.A. credit card touring, because you can buy anything you need), in that we are staying in hotels and B&Bs, rather than camping, 2 x 20L panniers should be enough. So in this post I’ll go into what goes into the left pannier, and a follow post will cover the right.
Why the fuss about left vs right pannier?
Right, let’s get down to brass tacks: why is there any difference between left and right bags? Well, like I said having a system is important. So the way I’m packing the panniers is that in my right bag I’m putting clothes and toiletries (i.e. things I’m only going to need access to when I’m off the bike, at night-time), and in the left pannier I’m putting things that I’ll be using during the day, such as rain gear, phone, food etc.
Why am I putting the most used stuff in the left bag? Well, because I mount and dismount on the left (sounds pedantic, but if you use clipless pedals (Ie pedals with clips!), you have a routine to clip in and out, so it’s second nature. If you try to do it the other way you’ll fall over and buckle yourself!). And because I dismount on the left, I nearly always end up leaning the right side of the bike against something. So the left is always facing me.
In the pannier I’m carrying:
- Bad Weather Gear. Unfortunately the weather for next week is going to be pretty changeable, a lot of showers, wind etc, but not over cold. So I’ll be bringing the following:
- Light, hi-vis jacket
- Arm warmers
- Leg warmers
- Waterproof Overshoes
- Food. Since we’re cycling around Ireland and not in a desert somewhere there’s not really a need to bring a lot, we should be able to just get by with stopping in shops, cafes etc along the route.
- I’m bringing some bikefood satchets, one per day. These are about as good as you can get in energy drinks, but the main reason I’m bringing them is that I don’t tend to eat that much before/during rides, so normally after about 50 miles I can run out of steam. With a bottle full of this I can at least get some carbs on board earlier in the cycle. The one draw back is that if the powder gets on the outside of the bottle it gets really sticky. So I tend to mix this at home by putting the powder into an empty bidon, then hal filling and mixing. Once mixed I top it up and rinse the outside of the bottle.
- To help with hydration I’ll use some nuun tabs. Basically these should help restore elctrolytes, and other things I haven’t a clue about. But they’re cheap, easy to use and taste alright, so not exactly a burden.
- And to help with emergency bonkage/running out of steam going up Cat 3 climbs etc, I have a powerbar and energy gel in reserve. But these are really a last resort!
- 2 water bottles, 1 x 750ml, 1 x500ml (these will be on the bottle cages). The reason for the different sizes is just that it’s awkward taking a 750ml bottle out of the rear cage. So I tend to just put plain water in the larger bottle, and then either of the powders,/tabs etc in the smaller.
- First Aid. To be honest, it’s not much of a first aid kit, but just a few things to help with non-emergencies. One of the other guys has a bigger kit.
- Immodium (in case of energy gel “side-effects”!)
- Small sewing kit
- Safety pins
- Small Bag. This is just a light, free bag I got, that can double as a backpack.
- Asthma inhalers,
- Sunblock (you never know!)
- Wet wipes (serve a multitude of purposes)
- small wallet. It’s actually called a pokitt, not the cheapest, but a good alternative to my wallet (see picture). I keep a spare debit card in it and some cash, so I use it on nights out, training spins etc. Basically when I don’t need much, and if it gets lost it’s not the end of the world.
- Notebook and pen, with lists of B&Bs etc
- Misc. Odds and end in this pannier
- A few cable ties
- Roll of electrical
- Sandals (just to balance the weight in the bag)