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.
I totally get it. How much mileage do you need per day to hit your goal? And you mentioned a few times about hills being an issue… are you having knee troubles?
I suspected you may see where I’m coming from. It’s fun to discuss issues like this with you again, even helps me get up more hills late in the day. I hope I haven’t mentioned the hills too much, but part of this “simple living” is dealing with some lost conveniences, like having an engine move me along in the tough parts.
I haven’t had any knee troubles, thankfully. So far, I haven’t had any injuries, really. One injury I wondered about was a sore behind, since I’m using cycle shorts that cost £9 ($17). Experienced cyclists told me it was important to by the lycra shorts that cost £100. So far, I’m happy with my cheap shorts.
Glad to hear it about the injuries. You’ve mentioned walking up hills a few times… Without knowing the grade or duration – my first impulse is to think you should be able to ride most medium intensity hills even with the extra weight. It could be a gearing issue that you can look into when all this is over, or even something a tire width change could help with. I’m betting the designers of the bike may not have had your situation in mind as their primary audience.
At the speed and distance you’re covering, the shorts should be fine if they’re working for you now. Probably more important would be saddle sore prevention, but I’m sure through your research you’re dealing with that..,.
I’d love to hear a report on that bike after you’re done. Especially compared to a non-folding standard bike or a recumbent. Keep on truckin, and I love how it seems you’re enjoying the day to day of your trip. I would struggle with balancing that versus focusing on your goal.