Good morning, campers!

I think most people who cycle LEJOG choose to stay in B&B’s/travellodges/guesthouses. Myself, not being most people, I have

Room with a view

You don't get this at the Holiday Inn...

chosen the luxury of a foam mat and a tent, cooking my own food where possible and of course lugging all this heavy equipment around the country with me.

The primary reason for this seemingly bonkers decision is…money. I just can’t afford £20-30 per nightand living off Texaco sandwiches/pub lunches. Actually, I can’t face living off pre-packed sandwiches. Having the means to cook your own food is cheaper and healthier and much more flexible (porridge and coffee at 5am is luuuuuverly).

With the ‘staying in buildings’ option, I would most probably have to book in advance, and I don’t like the pressure of having to stick to a schedule no matter what. By camping, I can always stay in a B&B in an emergency (tent gets ripped up by marauding sheep, etc). I’ll still have to look up all the campsites en-route, but shouldn’t have to worry about booking a pitch, as I won’t be travelling in holiday season. I can stick to my own schedule pretty much and if I get woken at 4am and decide to set off at 6am, I won’t need to wake people up demanding breakfast.

I don’t plan on wild camping in Scotland (where it’s legal), as I don’t think I’ll be far enough into the wilds to be safe (what with cycling on roads, like). I certainly don’t plan on stealth camping in England, as my tent is bright blue and not really very…stealth-like. Not that I would *ever* dream of illegally camping…(don’t do it kids, farmers may shoot you).

My tent is pretty waterproof (Vango Tempest, with 5000mm HH) as was proven last May when I woke up to a river running underneath the groundsheet, a la an unplanned water-bed. It’s a 2-man, but that’s perfect for me and 4 panniers. It’s not lightweight (2.5kg), but was only £80, compared with £200 – 300 for something like a Hillberg Akto at 1kg.  I can cook in the porch area and I padlock my bike to a tent pole at night, if there are no fences nearby. This is not realistically a preventative measure against theft, more of an alarm system which would alert me to my bike being stolen by collapsing the tent on my head. Perhaps not the most elegant system, thinking about it. Probably should revise that…

My wheels

So heavily laden the tree next to it started bending...

So heavily laden the tree next to it started bending...

I’ve got a pretty old bike. It was a present for my 16th birthday, so yeah – pretty old! It’s a Ridgeback 920sx Urban Series – basically a hybrid designed for commuting. Normal pedals; haven’t been convinced by clipless yet, but that may change.

It hasn’t got disc-brakes or carbon-fibre forks or titanium rims and I’m still running on the original City Slicker II tyres (although they are getting a *leeeetle* perished around the edges and I should probably replace them).

The picture is from my first long-distance cyle trip in May 2009, fully laden. I fitted a front pannier rack to accommodate all those extra pairs of (unneccessary) socks/pants.  I’ve got front and rear lights from Halfords, cheap and not-waterproof panniers, an 8-function cycle computer (Halfords again) and a rather lovely saddle by Velo. The saddle is a ladies-specific one, with a hole for increased, err… ventilation. (TMI – sorry).

Just the one bottle cage (need to add another somewhere), but I have a BRILLIANT old-skool bicycle bell that is even older than the bike. It’s one that goes *BRRINGG BRRRINGGG!* That was bought from Jeanstown Stores, Lochcarron, 1989. It work better than just shouting  ” Get out of the way! ” It probably weights about 1kg, but it’s staying.

So, the bike is old, heavy, not designed for long-distance and showing signs of damage from when my Dad borrowed it to come back from the pub and performed a spectacular face-plant into the gutter.  Perfect.