Useful items and ideas

There are some small things which can make a big difference, or are just very handy. These include:

Compass / thermometer

This weighs nothing, shows the way to go and is essential for credible "you would not believe how cold it was..." bullshit. I just hope that the temperature never goes off either end of the scale!

Altimeter watch

This is a very handy altimeter and barometer. The altimeter tells you how far it is to the top of the pass, and the barometer tells you when a thunderstorm is coming!

It also gives the temperature but while it is strapped to your wrist all that does is reassure you that you haven't died.

The stopwatch is useful for timing eggs too...

Minature tripod

Weighs nothing, costs about 3 euros (mine was free with my camera). Makes self timer photos much easier. Most of the photos of us both were taken using this.

Handy pocket

You can't have too many pockets, gloves, hats, chocolate bars, etc. A large frame has a useful area just behind the steering tube where a bag can be fitted. I made this out of cordura from Pennine Outdoor (01484 689100 in the UK). The other side has an open pocket to keep a "dog stone" in!

Waterbag carrier

By sewing a couple of traps to the bottom of a pannier you can carry a waterbag there. This is quite a good place for a waterbag because it is low down so it doesn't effect the bike's handling. Of course all the weight is on the pannier hooks so it is best if the pannier is not too heavy.

The picture shows a 4 litre MSR waterbag.

Strapped to the back of the pannier is my sleeping mat.

Panniers onto trains

Getting two bikes, eight panniers, three stuffsacs and two handlebar bags onto and off trains can be a nightmare, particularly if you are worried that something might be stolen.

Use two padlocks to fasten the handles of four panniers together into a manageable lump that can be loaded onto the train in one go and is too heavy for someone to run off with.

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