Monday, August 15, 2011

Packing for Paris-Brest-Paris

Ok, first off I should point out that if you found this post by googling “packing for paris-brest-paris” and you’re looking for some helpful advice, you may not find it here. I’m sort of stumbling through this. You see, I’ve never taken a bike on a plane before and I’ve never done a randonneuring event outside my home state. I’m used to waiting until the night before the ride to finalize my packing list, when I have a reliable weather forecast in hand. That way I can bring the absolute minimum of clothing necessary to avoid hypothermia. I’m tempted to bring all the bicycling clothes, tools and other gear I own so I can make the final call the night before in France, but if I did that I’d need one of those Victorian steamer trunks to pack into. I’m thinking the airline my charge a bit extra for that.

The bike is already packed up, and it wasn’t too much of an ordeal. I ended up buying myself a fancy bike travel case. It wasn’t cheap, but I’m hoping this won’t be the last time my bike and I travel together by air. And if it turns out I don’t need it again, I can always sell it and get some of my money back. Fitting the bike in the case was a little like trying to put the parts of an Ikea bookcase back in the original box after you’ve assembled it. Eventually it all got in there and I’m able to close the lid and latch it, but it took a few tries. Reassembly in the hotel room in France should be fairly easy as long as I didn’t accidentally leave any parts out and I remember to bring all the right tools along. I’m thinking a bottle of French wine will help the process too.

The weather in France over the past few weeks has been pretty consistent and Seattle-like. So, I’m going to assume that’s what I’ll be riding in and pack my bike clothes accordingly. Basically I’m figuring I need to have just enough clothing with me on the bike to comfortably survive nighttime temperatures down to about 50 Fahrenheit. That doesn’t take a lot, though I have noticed that later in a long ride when I’m really wrung out it’s a little bit harder to keep myself warm. Here’s what I’m planning on wearing/carrying on the bike:
  • Wool shorts/Poly Shorts (depending on weather)
  • Leg warmers
  • Poly base layer
  • Poly Jersey/Wool jersey (depending on weather)
  • Arm warmers
  • Rain jacket
  • Reflective vest
  • Cycling cap
  • Bike gloves
  • Wool gloves
  • Socks
  • Reflective ankle bands
  • Sun glasses
  • Helmet with headlight
  • Bike shoes
For tools and other supplies I tend to bring the same things whether I’m going out for 200k or 1200k, so I didn’t have to put too much thought into this list. This is what I’ll have in my handlebar bag, on my bike or in my pockets:
  • Tool kit (multi-tool, chain tool, tire irons, tire patches, tire boots, fibre spoke, knife)
  • 2 tubes
  • pump
  • 2 water bottles
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip stuff
  • Clear glasses
  • Space blanket
  • Chamois goo
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Passport
  • Money
  • Cue sheet
  • Spare taillight
  • Spare headlight
  • Nuun tablets
  • Enduralytes
  • Ibuprofen
For food, I'm used to mostly foraging in convenience stores along the route. In France I'm not expecting to find convenience stores or if I do find them, I doubt they'll have the kind of food I'm used to eating, so I'll be carrying more food than usual. Well, not food exactly. Call it fuel. But mostly I'm planning to subsist on whatever they have available at the controls and the occasional sandwich jambon from bars along the route. In my bag I'll start with:
  • 8 Packages of Shot Bloks
  • Enough Sustained Energy for 4 bottles
  • 4 Clif Bars
Sarah will bring a bag to Brest with a change of socks, shorts, jersey, gloves and replacements for the Shot Bloks and Sustained Energy. I'll also put a couple spare tubes, tools and few other odd bike parts in there just in case, but I'm hoping I won't need any of that.

That's it. I'm sure I'm forgetting something important, but no doubt it will come to me about 50 miles outside of St. Quentin.

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