28 February 2012

Dipping our toes into cycle touring

We may have fantasies about grand cycle tours, but the truth is we don't have much experience with touring! All that is set to change this year though, with a series of different trips that should ease us into cycle touring.

Our first ever mini-tour: Isle of Wight April 2010
First of all, the equipment. Alberto asked for a lightweight tent for Christmas, which was the main expensive item that we were lacking in getting started. We've also just ordered new sleeping bags that should be warm enough for three seasons in the UK. And we're slowly collecting all the other little things we'll need as well. But it's not enough just to have the gear -- we need the experience!

We'll be testing the tent out for the first time in mid-March when we will head up to the Peak District for a weekend of camping. We'll ride a 100km audax on Saturday and our own shorter route on Sunday, staying in the same campsite for both Friday and Saturday night. This should allow us to get a feel for the tent and the sleeping bags without too much stress. Last time we camped in the Peak District (late October--without the bikes) we were very cold, but we're hoping the new gear will help with that!

Frosty tent in the Peaks in October
Then over the long weekend of  Easter in early April we will take the tent with us on a four day cycle tour of Northern France and Belgium. This will be the first time we have done a proper cycle tour (by which I mean we will be camping in a different place every night), but it's still quite short and we'll be staying in towns so we will always have the bailout option of finding a room!

We'll spend around two weeks cycling the Camino de Santiago in May and June. We won't bring the tent as there are pilgrim's hostels all along the route, but we will be carrying all our other gear including sleeping bags, and it will be the first time we've done more than a few days consecutively of proper riding. It will really be a test to see if we truly enjoy extended bike trips (I think we will!).

The Camino trip will use up a big chunk of our annual leave allowance this year so it looks like we'll still have to wait for our chance to go on a longer tour... but it will be good to get our feet wet!

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