Saturday, February 9, 2008

Heavy Hills. Too Much Stuff. Lighten Up?

As I hit the first hill this morning, it became abundantly clear that I am dragging too much weight. I seem to be accreting stuff as I travel along. Although I complained mightily on my 2002 South Island tour, there was only one hill that I had to walk up. I was able to cycle today's "moderate" climbs, but did have to stop on one of them. The "hard" climbs are yet to come.

What's the problem and what to do?

I obviously carried less last trip. Since I was staying in hostels, homestays and farmstays, I didn't carry a tent, ground sheet, sleeping bag, mattress, or cooking gear. I also had a smaller camera and computer.

I also seemed to carry less food. Hostels usually had a supply of condiments like salt and oil and I seemed to be able to buy a day's food most times that I stopped, so I only carried enough for lunch and a small emergency supply. Most of the time, I was in a town where there was at least a dairy and usually a restaurant or takeaway.

Campgrounds are much different. Since most camping is by car or campervan, the expectation is that the camper will bring all the kitchen utensils and food necessary. They often don't have there own camp store and are often not in a town (so far).

So, what do I have?

The tent and ground sheet. These are probably a heavy item. Without buying new, I had the choice of a small single person tent, not large enough to hold me and the trailer's dry bag, or a three person tent, which is more than large enough, but a whole lot heavier. The ground sheet keeps the bottom dry and is just a light weight blur poly tarp. I don't think I can do without them and still camp.

Sleeping bag, Thermarest mattress, sheet. I use these every day. Can't really do without and still camp. One might make a case for sleeping on the ground, but I'm sleeping bad enough as it is.

Cook Kit--two small aluminum pans, plastic bowl and cup, knife, fork, spoon, micro espresso maker, foamer, lightweight butane stove, stove gas, mountain soap. Except for the stove and its gas canister, I use all of it every day. Again, can't be done without if I'm camping.

Bicycle tool kit. This is pretty heavy, even though I left about half the tools back on Waiheke. But it contains those items that I'd need if I had a breakdown or had to partially disassemble for shipping. I suppose that I could have found a more modern multi-tool for the bike, but I used what I had. It is emergency gear, so I'd consider it necessary. It mighty be overkill.

First Aid kit. Bandages, steroid ointment, aspirin, tums, alcohol wipes, ranititdine, decongestant, antihistamine. I've used the ointment, tums and band-aids so far, But it is fairly light and emergency gear. Probably not overkill, but might be more compact.

Bike locks. Cable and U-bolt locks. I suppose that I could delete the U-bolt lock. I've only used the cable so far. Paranoid? maybe.

Toilet kit. Toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, deodorant, scissors, brush, foot & body powders, vitamins, Bath Towel, two Pack Towels. and some spares of toothpaste, powder and deodorant. Could probably do away with the spares. Maybe the bath towel, but I do use it every day and it is more convenient than the smaller pack towels, although I use one of them as a hand and dish towel.

Clothes. I could probably cut a bit here. 2 convertible pants, 2 short sleeve cycling jerseys, 1 long sleeve cycling jersey, wool T-shirt, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, 3 pairs socks, 2 pairs underwear,1 pair cycling underwear, 1 pair cycling shorts (used as underwear)light weight fleece. hi-vis vest, hi-vis wind jacket, rain jacket, rain pants, cycling/hiking shoes, crocs. arm and leg warmers, head warmer, gloves, helmet.

Based on what I've used so far, I could cut a pair of pants (using the cycling shorts as the alternative), the wool t-shirt, the long sleeve cycling shirt, the short sleeve shirt, a pair of underwear and a pair of socks. I might be able to delete the Crocs, but after a day of riding it is good to get out of my cycling shoes and socks.

Electronics. If I wasn't a geek (or if I were a wealthier geek), I'd probably save a lot here. I have a MacBook, Large digital Camera with add-on polarizing filter and accessory wide-angle lens., spare batteries, backup disk, battery charger, connecting cables for camera and GPS, ethernet and modem cables, mouse, GPS, Heart rate monitor/cycle computer. Without these, I couldn't do a journal or take pictures. I could probably delete some of the spare batteries, the wide angle lens and maybe some cables. (last time I had a smaller computer and a smaller camera-that's what I'd do next time)

Some miscellaneous items. Compact binoculars, spare eyeglasses, headlight/torch, iPod shuffle and earphones , Leatherman, Cell phone. Use them all.

Food- This seems to be the biggie. It just seems to continually get bigger. I currently am carrying coffee, sugar, rice, pasta, olive oil, salt, salad dressing, one cup UHT milk box, PB & J, 3 small cans tuna, 1 can pasta sauce, 1 can salmon, cured sausage, piece of cheddar, apple, orange, envelope of curry mix, most of a loaf of bread, some tea bags, a large bag of Weet-bix (I couldn't museli), three containers of yogurt ( a buying msitake) .

Earlier today I was carrying, OJ, 1/2 liter of milk, another orange and apple, 2 tomatoes, a pepper, and avocado, some celery, but I've used them up.

The cans are, by far, the heavy items. I cannot do without the coffee and sugar. Once I eat what I have, I think I'll try a new regimen. In addition to coffee and sugar and one milk, I'll carry only one day's worth of lightweight rations, such as a dried past meal kit, muesli bar, and a small tuna lunch kit. I'll pick up the evening's dinner and next day's breakfast before or when I stop and the day's lunch before I leave or at the first dairy. I just hope that I can get over tomorrow's hills carrying what I have.

It looks like the best I can do, without converting to hostel or credit card touring is to lighten up on food and possibly mail some clothes and spares back to Waiheke at some point.

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