Second sabbatical tour planning

So with less than a week to go before my next Sabbatical Tour I have been working on more detailed plans.

Some of the plans are currently in flux. Due to changing family circumstances what happens after I have been to Iona is currently uncertain. It looks likely that I’ll be joined by Jane and Stephen with the caravan and we will travel across Scotland together. Hopefully that will include some things, like climbing Ben Nevis, that are still on the bucket list that I had not expected to be doing this time.

So I’m currently expected to cycle 2 out of 3 legs (1: Leicester to Iona and 3: Lindisfarne to Leicester) with some day rides between.

I’ve now planned the route in full detail to get to Iona. Irritatingly Strava kept thinking the A6 was a good route which meant a fair bit of manual work to correct. I’ve found campsites as well, including checking I’ll be allowed to stay on a site that says “No single sex bookings” (presumably not many single people will qualify).

Next I need to sort out my Bike for Life (I think it does deserve a wash but mainly need to swap tyres to my Marathon Plus road tyres – the rear WTB Nano is almost completely worn out) and work out what/how I’ll carry stuff. I have 3 challenges with that.

  • I’m planning to use a larger tent (sadly we have nothing between a tiny 1 man tent and a small 3 man tent). I want to be a bit more comfortable and warmer if the weather is bad. The Trekkertent Stealth 1 is amazingly light and small to carry, but it is draughty which makes it cold, and if it is raining when you want to get dressed or eat it is not a comfortable choice.
  • My comfy and tiny Exped Synmat sleeping mat is off to be repaired/replaced. If I don’t get it back in time then the alternative that I have is much bulkier.
  • Just been reading the info from Iona and I really need to take my walking boots. Gulp. They are bulky and while as boots go they are light for cycle touring they are still pretty heavy.

So I am going to be much stricter on not carrying much in the way of spare food and I think I might even leave my coffee kit at home (yes I know, shock horror. But with the extra weight of tent, potentially sleeping mat and boots I need to cut down).

As I’m taking my walking boots I’ve been wondering whether to cut out either my trainers or my crocs. The crocs are light but bulky and are really useful on campsites. However, with a tent I can sit up in it is easier to use trainers than with the stealth. I think the trainers will be much more useful for a week on Iona than the crocs.

I’m hoping there will be a washing machine at Iona Abbey. If so I’ll only take “normal” clothes for a couple of days worth and just wash them. That will be a big saving over my last trip.

As this does not include any off road adventures like The Welsh Ride Thing. I’m going to cut down on the Bikepacking bags that I use. So no frame bag and no fuel pod. Possibly 1 stem cell. On the front I’ll use my full set from Wildcat Gear (Mountain Lion for the Tent, Lioness for electronic gadgets and wallet, Tomcat for tools and spares) along with my Carradry front panniers. Depending on what happens with the sleeping mat I might not use the Wildcat Gear Tiger for my sleeping bag and instead just put it on top of the rear rack.

One key lesson is to rethink how I use the rear pockets on my rear Carradry panniers. The zips leak but the pockets don’t so you get a puddle at the bottom of the pocket everytime it rains. I will still use one for my lock (but remember to put it in with the U at the bottom and the lock at the top). Not sure about the other but anything it it will have to be in an Exped drybag.

Anyway the routes on Strava are:

  • Leicester to Ardrossan. Camping stops
    • just south of Macclesfield (72 miles)
    • between Preston and Lancaster (73 miles)
    • just south of Penrith (70 miles)
    • West of Dumfries (66 miles)
    • North side of Prestwick (59 miles)
  • Arran Camping stop
    • Lochranza campsite (32 miles and 1 ferry)
  • Arran to Oban camping stop
    • Just south of Oban (1 ferry and 61 miles)
  • Crossing Mull with camping stop on Iona
    • Iona campsite (after 2 ferries and about 37 miles)

As before I’ll be using my Satellite tracker once I start riding if you want to know where I’m at. I’ll have my phone and tablet for facebook, twitter and blogging. To try to alleviate battery life as a concern I’m carrying two Anker Astro batteries (an E4 13,000mAh and an E6 20800mAh) and my Anker mains charger that can charge upto 5 devices at a time. But I do have a lot of usb devices to keep charged:

  • Phone
  • Garmin 1,000
  • Nexus 7 tablet
  • Front and rear exposure flare lights (I like to have them flashing when on busy roads)
  • Bluetooth keyboard
  • Kindle

One thing I will be more careful about is putting my tablet and phone in airplane mode more often.

No doubt like last time some of this will change when I discover it won’t all fit 🙂

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