Traveling Light

I’ve now got my ticket to Canada bought, so I’m feeling a little more committed to cycling to my hometown of Gaspé. It’s around 1000 km from Montréal, and really not that hilly for the most part, so to make it more interesting I’ve given myself 5 days to do it. If I can’t handle 200 km a day, I’ll miss my sister’s 60th birthday party. Considering it’s her place I’ll be staying at, I might not have a bed if fail.

So, in the interest of going far and fast, I’ve been looking at ways of going lightweight. This is what I’ve come up with so far, since it’s really the only way of rigging a road bike up for touring that I know of (although the one pictured below [Arkel] is slightly different to what I’m used to [Topeak]). I can see that packing will have to be a pretty creative endeavor with this set-up. Maybe I can take along a super-light backpack, too?

Have any of you done any ultra-light touring? While you answer that, I’ll go and start filing down my toothbrush.

Arkel Randonneur Seat Post Rack With TailRider

29 thoughts on “Traveling Light

  1. Hi Gerry, Just a thought and a possibility. Depending on the timing I’m thinking that I might ride a day with you if your up for some company. We’ve been thinking of visiting our families in Montreal anyways.

      • Gerry, that sounds great! Gin and I have tentatively scheduled that weekend in our calendrier. Let’s touch base on this subject when we see you this July.

    • I’ve used them before and they aren’t ideal (they swing from side to side sometimes, for example). Thanks for the articles. I’ll take a look today.

  2. What’s the big deal about carrying a pannier on a back bike rack? If it’s 1,000 km., I really think you’re going to need at least 1 pannier.

    Forget about the backpack: you won’t like it after awhile. Not for distance touring…which we’ve done over the years.

    • I’m not sure there is any big deal, Jean, except the fact that road bikes aren’t built for very heavy loads, and the more panniers you put on the back of a bike, the more weight you add. My bike also has no eyelets for rigging a rack, but I think that one is easily solved with clips, or so I read.

      You’re right about the backpack. I wrote that in a weak moment. I did 3 days with one once and it wasn’t very pretty.

  3. Umm, forgive me and I know I am not answering the question, but considering how fit you are, and please don’t deny that, if your bike will accommodate it, will 2 light panniers or a cargo box on a rack, really slow you down that much on the terrain you are riding? Having rain gear to avoid hypothermia while continuing riding, tools for bike problems, some food if there isn’t a store, your camera, a little first aid kit, might make a trip only minisculely slower but more secure. You really want weight on your back? I wouldn’t. Is that mindset the difference between touring and racing?

    • I was hoping you’d have an opinion on this, Suze! I think there’s a way to rig a proper back rack up on a road bike with p-clips, so this is definitely an option. I already have the rack and panniers, too, which could save me some cash. I guess I was just thinking that if I went ahead and did that, I should probably use my touring bike. I’ll put some more research into it. Thanks again.

  4. Have you tried using a little guilt? You know, like telling your sister that you are coming all the way over from France just to see her and to honour and celebrate her 60th you are peddling 1000km for her. The least she can do is provide a little support vehicle. And voilà your luggage woes are solved! 😇

    • 5 days vehicle support would be a bit too much to ask. I’d be indebted to her for the rest of my life…talk about guilt! In theory, though, not a bad idea.

  5. Hey Gerry – would love to see you off when you set out from Montreal. Are we talking June 17? Perhaps we could ride the first few kms together? Either way, would love to meet up and wish you Bon Voyage in person!

    • James, I think I tried to email you last week from your blog, so glad to hear of your offer! No, it’s August. Will you be in town? I was just looking at routes out of Montreal and having a local guide me would definitely save me getting lost, as I know I would. Another idea is meeting the 16th. I arrive in the afternoon, so will have some time.

    • James, I’ll be leaving next Monday morning from downtown (Sherbrooke) with Pierre. If you’re interested in joining us (or ‘guiding’ us!) for a stretch, let me know.

  6. I’m sure I’m not the first person that comes to mind when you think ‘traveling light’ – but I have to echo Suze in recommending against a backpack. The bike frame is there to support your weight, and IMHO you should really make it carry any other luggage you intend to bring as well. Sticking it on your back will make those 1000 kms more of a trial on your upper body, which is the last thing you need on a speedy 5-day tour.
    If you’re willing to risk getting stuck without a full set of tools, spares and rain gear, you ought to be able to squeeze a mini-pump, a couple of tubes and a fleece / windbreaker into the larger of the Ortlieb seatpost bags. It’s rated to 2.5 kg, and from the dimensions it should hold enough to get you through 5 days with your phone, cash and other valuables fully waterproof and safe. The trick will be wearing the same clothes for the whole ride – I’d go with a light wool jersey, lightweight fleece and a windbreaker. Wash & dry the synthetics in the hotel room at night – the wool could survive 5 days without a wash if you don’t have the drying time. Of course, it depends on your altitude and the general temps along the route – if it’s too cold, you’ll need to take more, obviously.
    The biggest hassle will be what to wear to the party! If you have to lug a full set of party clothes and shoes, you’ll need to go the rack-and-pannier route…

    • Dude, you’re scaring me. That bag is TINY! I was actually thinking more along the lines of something like the image in the blog post, or Ortlieb’s Trunk Bag:

      I’m a little concerned about weather because, even though it’s August, it can be pretty crap weather in that part of Canada. I’d like to go as big as possible without having to worry about anything snapping…like my seat post.

      But now that I see that little beauty I’m wondering if I could make it work…?

      • Yes, it’s tiny alright – but I still think you could get everything you *need* into it (or strapped to it) for a brisk 5-day ride through inhabited countryside / cityside. Again, it really depends on the temps and the likelihood of rain – if things get cold or ugly, it will be a problem, no doubt. But as I recall, you’re some kind of Sun God, bringing the shiny weather with us through 10 days of Europe – so Canada should be manageable 😉 Send your party-pants and other fashion trinkets to your sister’s place in the mail, and just ride with the bare minimum.
        Before you buy anything, you could mock-up a cardboard box of the same size and see just how much you can actually fit into it – you might be surprised. As well as two bottle cages, you could also add a main-triangle frame bag if you really need more carrying space…

      • And just to be clear – the Ortlieb holds 4 liters internally, plus the cinch panel on top. That’s 4 whole milk cartons, which seems quite a bit when you think about it… It’s not quite as tiny as it looks – 35cm x 14cm x 15cm – 30 cm long if you subtract the mounting hardware.

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