Travel is required for many reasons. People travel for work, for holidays, to escape, to explore – and for reasons only known to them. Unless you’re super rich or destitute you will probably need to take some things with you. Packing a bag with the essentials isn’t something I find uncommon. A few times a year I’ll pack up and head away with my bike to ride and race wherever seems appropriate. This Friday, it’s a quick three day trip down to Apollo Bay, Victoria. The Kona Odyssey is on, and I’ll be there with my four Subaru-MarathonMTB.com team mates.
With the increase in the price of fuel, and the desire for cheaper travel, airfares have become more restrictive in what they include. And so they should. Air travel is a luxury for most of us, and I’m certain that we still pay far from the real cost of air travel – in terms of the carbon footprint. Now any of the travel I do involves a bike, so that is a pretty large amount of luggage allowance taken up. British Airways allow one item at 23kg. This is workable with a bike bag or cardboard box. And it’s easier than some of the cheaper airlines in Europe. Plus you get a sandwich, a newspaper, and a vodka and orange if you ask nicely.
Depending on who you fly with, you may need to be packing pretty light. When possible, I try to make sure it’s just me, a bike bag and a day pack. For the Kona Odyssey, there are some distinct essentials, and the rest can be bought or borrowed. What is pictured above will get you racing.
Clothing: Easy, two sets of kit, with arm and leg warmers, Linebreak Compression gear, gloves, and three pairs of socks. A warm up jacket and vest are making it in, but I think a waterproof may stay at home. No booties, just good socks. I may substitute some argyle for merino wool.
Kit: Your helmet, sunglasses (with a range of lenses) and shoes are obvious. But spares are worth thinking about. Some zip ties, a mini bottle of chain lube, a quick link, some electrical tape, spare hanger, spare cleats, shock pump, pocket knife, multi tool, pump, tubes – and of course a mini first aid kit. Check your required kit list for any race!
Nutrition: We can’t race fully supported Euro marathons all the time, so I usually pack about half a dozen bottles. Keep a clean one free from foot in mouth or whatever is the flavour of the month where you’re racing. If you have a feeder, pack a marker pen so you can label your bottle with your name and number. Even a preferred order, so your go-go Coke bottle stands out. Gels and bars – your choice on the selection. But if it’s an important race, take what you need and what you know works.
Hygiene: It shouldn’t need to be said, but pack the regular stuff. Chamois creme is essential for big races. Isocol is great for cleaning up post race, blistex keeps your lips together, and medicated eyedrops make sense if you race in muddy or wet farm areas.
Casual clothes: Do you need much? Most events come with a clean T-shirt. Throw some board shorts in if the race is near a beach or suitable river. A black t-shirt may or may not suffice for the after party. Experience helps on this front. Remember to pack your casual sunglasses.
Not pictured: a laptop, iPhone, a diary and pen, and a paperback book. These make my world run.
The little pieces change, but since my first Odyssey in 2007 I have done (at a rough count) a little over 100 days of racing out of a back pack, away from home. Getting the right mix of items for yourself and your desires is paramount. Previously I used a 30 Litre adventure racing bag to pack my things in. Being light, high volume and low weight were great. Being able to use it as carry on was essential. 2012 has marked an upgrade. With Camelbak sponsoring the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team, I chose the Camelbak Vantage 35L bag (and Vista for Kath and Naomi – womens bags need to be different!). Being a little more ‘fully featured’ than my previous bag, I’m looking forward to not needing to turn the whole contents out onto the floor to find socks or gloves. The great back padding will be a bonus when transfers at airports seem to make having all your non-bike luggage on your back a bad idea.