Jon Goodwin, a friend from Indiana, mentioned something that got me thinking, which he often did when we were students together at Indiana University. He said there might be a way I could carry less gear.
Most of the cyclists I’ve passed have made a similar comment, but they seem to respect my answer. And, here’s the irony. I carry more gear because I’m trying to live a little simpler, and more economical. Most people who cycle this route, often called “end to end” (of Britain), carry about half as much gear as I do, often less. These cyclists tend to spend their nights in B&Bs or hotels. I have a lot of respect for these cyclists, but I like to stay in simpler accommodation. I’ve already described how much I like youth hostels, but unfortunately, many have closed. And, the ones that are open are usually full, another irony. Back to the first irony, I carry more so I can enjoy simpler accommodation. I can pitch my tent in many places, but that means I also need to carry a small stove, some extra fuel, and as every backpacker knows, the heaviest item is food. For example, rice is great for being small and versatile as a meal, but it’s also heavy.
A reasonable question is why go to all this bother just to live simply. My short answer is symbolic. It’s the Hummer and all things like it. A longer answer comes from Ken Kifer, the guy who gave me additional motivation and details on how to pull this off. He went on a few trips in the US that were thousands of miles each. A link to his website is at the upper right of this website. One of the ways I learned from Ken is what to bring with. From a camping perspective, I think I’m not too light and not too heavy. You can judge for yourself by looking at the list of things I take, which is in the 2nd or 3rd post in this website.
I gave a symbolic response in the last paragraph. A pragmatic response is money. A B&B or hotel charges £30-35 ($45-50) a night. The campground I’m waking up in now charged me £4.50. The most I’ve paid for a campground is £10. A youth hostel is £10-20 ($15-30)/ night. So, by carrying a little more, I’m paying %15-50 for my lodging. Meals are similar. By making my own, I probably save another £20 a day. I won’t bore you with a detailed analysis. With these savings, I can take more trips or keep more money in savings.
I probably will stay in a hotel or B&B sometime before this trip is through. This trip will also show me just how much I can live simpler, even when it means carrying more.