Packing list for PBP follow up - what worked and what didn't

My packing lists were quite a hit with people it seems.  I wrote them primarily for my own benefit and was pleasantly surprised when the statistics on the posts went through the roof in the run up to PBP.  They were published in Arrivee as well.

I got a lot of compliments on them during PBP which was very rewarding.  Hopefully I got most things about right and most riders will have been okay with what I had suggested.

I made a few small changes to the list pre-PBP and I have a few tweaks I would make in future.

What did I change from my original list?

In that list, I had questions/internal discussions on what rain jacket to take.  I had a very bulky, heavy, but effective one and a tiny little one that isn't really waterproof.

I decided to buy a new jacket and got a Gore Power jacket (didn't come with any extra power though!).  It was about half the weight of my previous jacket and worked very well.  I got to wear it on the last morning when it absolutely bucketed down from Dreux to Paris.  

I also did some weighing and measuring and chose to go with something slightly heavier, but warmer than the option of a long-sleeve base layer and arm-warmers.  I chose to take my Rapha Pro-Team jacket as it really is lovely and warm.  Turned out to be a good call as it was unseasonably cool on the 2nd night in particular.  

I left out my silk sleeping bag.  I was in a hotel for two nights, so it just seemed to be silly to carry something for only one night's usage.  So I didn't carry it, or need it.  I slept at the hotel (lovely clean, crisp, white sheets!) and on night three, I slept at Mortagne and was just fine without the bag.

What did I not use?

Clothing wise, I used everything at some point.  As above, it was pretty chilly on the nights, so long fingered gloves and all my layers just about was okay for me.

The stuff I didn't use is the stuff that you don't want to use:

Tools, spare tubes, all medicines and emergency bits and pieces.

I did not need my travel towel this time, I showered in my hotel on the two nights there and then at Mortagne where I got a nice sized and clean towel for a shower. 

I also did not use my spork on this trip - but I wouldn't leave it out as it does make life easier in many circumstances, particularly on events where you are living off the land a bit more and want to be able to eat things bought from a supermarket etc.

The only thing I didn't use and probably wouldn't take again was a separate camera.  I have a crappy little point and shoot in the barbag.  I never took it out once.  My phone was in my back pocket and was far easier to use.  The photos weren't brilliant, but weren't terrible either!

What would I change for the next big ride?

As above, there's not much I would carry differently.  I got it about right for my needs.

However, I would make a change to how I carry stuff - I have been using a Revelate Viscacha saddlepack on and off for a while now.  Partly as a weight saving exercise (a Viscacha weighs 390 grammes, compared to, let's say a Carradice Super C Audax at 610 grammes and that's before you even think about the Bagman support at 400 grammes).  So, it seemed an easy way to remove over half a kilo from my setup.

I also have no saddle rails to attach a Bagman support due to my setup (COBL GOBL-R and Fizik Antares), so other than buying the SQR system from Carradice, mounting the Carradice became impossible.

It's only when you don't have a Carradice saddlebag that you realise just how good a Carradice saddlebag is and how versatile they are:

A Viscacha has no side pockets whereas a Carradice has huge sidepockets for snacks and stuff you need in a hurry.

A Viscacha is not particularly waterproof, whereas a Carradice is amazingly so.  Both are not quite in Ortlieb territory, but a Carradice will keep your stuff dry in some pretty terrible conditions, whereas the Viscacha lets water in pretty quickly.

You can put your rain jacket on toe straps on the lid of a Carradice.  Putting anything on top of a Viscacha is a bit bodgy and not terribly secure (see photo below of my sandals etc. balanced on top of the Viscacha).


And worst of all with a Viscacha, you have to be super diligent in packing with things you need placed at the back (front!) and stuff you don't towards the front (back!).  If you need something from deep in the bag, everything has to come out.  A Carradice is easy to flip open the lid and see what you want to get out etc.

Oh, and they do sway when you are out of the saddle, whereas a Carradice on a Bagman is pretty damn solid.

So, next time, it's either a Carradice on an SQR (or Bagman if I am on the geared bike) or, to be honest, what I used on many of my qualifiers is not really different in weight to the Carradice setup (call it 1000 grammes) which was my standard commuting rack (Tubus Fly at 340 grammes and an Ortlieb Front Roller Plus at 770 grammes).  

So that's my big takeaway from PBP, Viscacha/Alpkit/Apidura etc. are good bags and if every gramme matters, then they are a good option for ultra-distance racing.  But they are a bit of a pain and not very flexible compared to more traditional solutions.