Now that summer’s over….
It’s time to review your touring year, carry out repairs to your kit and perhaps even do some thinking about next year ~ it’s never too early.
I discovered this http://www.woollypigs.com/2009/09/what-i-have-learned/ which is basically a list of really useful stuff to take with you when cycle touring with a tent. I’d agree with just about every one of those items.
Woollypigs is a good site and having taken a closer look around it, I’m impressed with both the style and the content. As always, I had a quick look at the ‘links’ page and found one or two out of date – inevitable I suppose – but also found this ~ http://www.bicycletouring101.com/ ~ which I’d not seen before. Plenty of stuff here, but very American and a bit cheesy in parts.
I liked Woollypigs’ article about washing a sleeping bag – one of those end-of-season chores that one is reluctant to do because sleeping bags don’t actually like being cleaned. It’s really all down to whether you can stand another year of sleeping in your bag knowing how many times it got really sweaty over this summer (and the last and the one before!). I decided it needed to be done. Cotswold Outdoor provided the Nikwax special down sleeping bag cleaner and all I needed was the time to tackle this really quite serious job. If it all went terribly wrong, then my beautifully warm, extremely lightweight and small-packing Vaude Polar 200 (I think) bag would be ruined. My experiences were similar to Woollypigs‘ in most aspects, however I chose my moment to wash the bag,believing I could air dry it if the weather was OK. So when the Indian summer arrived last week, I got straight down to business. After two days in the sun, there was no doubt that it was drying, but it was doing so extraordinarily slowly and, oh crikey, it was starting to smell very much like something evil was growing inside it. Anyway, I kept on working on the lumps of down which were gradually spreading out but there was no way my bag was going to dry naturally unless I thought of a cunning plan – which I did. I had no time to seek out a launderette tumble dryer so decided to use my car’s automatic drying facilities – only available in warm / hot weather. I was going away and my car would be left standing outside the Middleburn Cycle Components factory in sunny Hampshire for two days after being outside CTC’s offices in Guildford for one. Checking the bag after the Guildford day, I felt optimistic. It had been as hot as I’d hoped in the car and the bag was beginning to feel like a sleeping bag again, instead of some damp, manky bit of synthetic fabric with lumps in it. What’s more, the smell was beginning to go. To cut to the chase, two days later, on returning from a most wonderful tour of the Cotswolds, the bag was 99% dry, nicely puffed up and completely non-smelly. A few more days lying around in a warmish house and it would be ready to put away for the winter. Job done! And all for under a fiver – the cost of the soap – and I’ve still got enough left to wash another bag. I dread to think how many 20ps it would have taken in a tumble dryer.
Remember, if nothing else, make a list of the jobs that need doing! You know you won’t regret it when next spring arrives.