So what exactly should you pack for an epic 20,000km bike tour from London to Cape Town? Here’s the kit list packed by adventurers Emily Conrad-Pickles and James Davis for their year-long mission.
Gear selection is critical for a 12-month cycling expedition that will cross three continents, 27 countries and stretch 20,000km from London to Cape Town at the foot of Africa. Every item of kit has to justify its weight and space and make travel progress and life that little bit easier and more comfortable.
Adventurers Emily Conrad-Pickles and James Davis will have to contend with temperatures of up to 55°C in the Sahara desert and ride over 10,000ft mountain passes in Ethiopia, so they need gear that can cope with a wide variety of conditions and that will last a tough 12 months on the road.
Here’s an outline of some of the key items the pair are tightly packing into their Tardis-like panniers – sponsorship from Vaude provided them with most of the key essentials.
Conrad-Pickles and Davis aim to raise £50,000 for the charity World Bicycle Relief, which empowers people across Africa by donating bikes so that access to healthcare, education and economic activity is no longer barred by distance. The money raised could fund 500 bikes.
More info, london2capetown.org
The Dawes Ultra Galaxy Touring Bike is a classic tourer built around a Reynolds 853 steel frame, with triple chain rings of 48/36/26T and a 10-speed 12-30T cassette. Disc brakes provide beefed-up stopping power for the burdened bikes, while indestructible Schwalbe Marathon tyres will have their puncture protection tested to the maximum by thousands of miles of variable road surfaces.
This is the most important contact point with the bike, so it needs to be comfortable. The Brooks B17 leather saddle is based on a 100-year old design, and its softer leather should provide instant comfort.
Tent The three-person Vaude Ferret XT tent will give the couple useful space for sleeping and storage, yet weighs just 3.6kg and packs down to 55 x 22cm.
A pair of the waterproof Vaude Aqua Back Plus rear panniers can stow 51ltrs of gear, with internal storage pockets making it easy to locate smaller items.
The down insulated Vaude Cheyenne tips the scales at just 900g, but packs enough warmth to work well from spring through to autumn conditions.
Away from the grid, electricity supply has to come from a battery pack. The Goal Zero Sherpa 100 charges from the mains or the sun, and can hold enough power to recharge a smartphone 14 times, a digital camera 10 times and a tablet two to four times.
The pair’s Amazon Kindle is loaded with instruction manuals, contact lists, important documents and books.
Taking photos and video throughout their expedition; Conrad-Pickles and Davis will store their adventure on two Samsung M3 Slimline 2TB hard drives.
Wary of traffic on roads unaccustomed to cyclists, the intrepid couple will warn other road users of their approach with the deafening 140 decibel Hornit. That’s a mere whisper in Cairo and Istanbul!
A pair of these Water-to-Go bottles will filter out over 99.9% of all bacteria and viruses, making refills at taps and fast-flowing streams a safe option.
For camping and late arrivals, the Petzl Tikka XP head torches will light the way.
Whatever the problem the tried and tested Victorinox Pioneer Alox should hold the solution.
If there’s a mechanical issue with the bikes, the Crank Brothers M19 multi-tool should fix it.
Cuts, grazes, chafing, bites… hopefully a medicine cabinet of Savlon, Sudocrem, Vaseline and Celox Gauze will stay in their first aid kit for the entire ride.
This Lezyne Micro Floor Pump is tasked with keeping up the pressure in the tyres. It’s only 30cm long, but makes inflation easy.
It could be hard to find on their odyssey, but the MSR Whisperlite International stove is capable of burning gas, kerosene and even unleaded petrol. Compact MSR pans keep hot food on the menu.
A range of Sea-to-Summit collapsible mugs, plates and even a “kitchen sink” save space yet allow a degree of civilised eating and drinking.
Water storage is going to be vital through Africa, and the Camelbak Octane hydration pack will improve their carrying capacity when refills are few and far between.
Top-to-toe Vaude kit will provide lightweight, breathable comfort for long days in the saddle. The baggy cycling shorts have a removable chamois pad for ease of washing and allow the shorts to be worn purely as shorts on rest-days.