Kit

Our loaded Hase Pino and Bob Yak trailer – A couple of plastic tubs at the back of the trailer were useful for loose items, like the water bottle, and we used our ‘Brompton’ bags on the frame for more loose items – UHT milk (keeps better), Lucozade for Karon, washing up liquid, J-cloths, Sun lotion etc.

Our tandem is a Hase Pino, made in Germany. We bought it in 2011 and originally it was white. It was resprayed by Bob Jackson a few years ago. I fitted a Rohloff hub-geared rear wheel to the Pino in 2018 but retained the Truvative triple chainset. Since our return from France, the bike now has a single chainring and e-assist motor. The Bob Yak trailer was bought second-hand from another Tandem Club member and sent off to Bob Jackson for a respray to match the bike (yes, sad, I know).

Starting from the front, boom bag is Topeak Fuel Tank waterproof (only it’s not) bag. A Hase supplied low-rider rack with Canadian Arkle recumbent panniers. These huge 40 litre bags come with a waterproof cover but contents can still get damp, so we use dry bags or plastic shopping bags to keep our kit dry inside. There are a couple of outside pockets, handy for water bottles and sun cream etc.

We carried three 0.75 litre water bidons plus a 1.5 litre Camelback on the bike behind the front seat, and had a 1.5 litre bottle on the trailer. My GoPro was mounted to the bars – Video here. Also mounted to the bars was my iPhone 6s running Memory-Map or Google Maps and I used Cyclemeter Pro to record each day’s ride and automatically upload it to Strava. There’s a hub dynamo on the front wheel of the Pino and this is connected to a Busch Muller Lumotec IQ2 Luxos U headlight. This has a USB outlet for when the light is not being used and I connected my phone to this, so it kept charged all day. Tools are in the frame bag under the cross-bar and spare inner tubes under the saddle, behind the seat tube.

On the rear rack, Ortlieb 100% waterproof panniers and rack bag – We used a couple of draw-string bags for ‘stuff’ we needed to get to quickly – tea, coffee and food in one, papers and money etc. in the other. Karon used a large FRIO bag hung off the back, shaded by the draw string bags, to keep her insulin cool. One of the panniers held all her canulas and sensors – enough for well over the two months we would be away.

On the trailer there are two Voltaic Solar chargers fixed to a hardboard backing. These were connected to a couple of Anker PowerBank batteries so we could recharge phones and camera etc. overnight. As it only rained about four times and was overcast for only a handful of days, we never ran out of juice. Camping gear was in the Bob Yak bag along with non-cycling shoes and a small burner and pot for making tea/coffee. Off the side of the trailer we hung a couple of Brompton cover bags. These proved really useful for sun cream, insect sprays, washing up liquid and tea cloths.

Camping gear

Our OEX Coyote 3. We chose it for the porch and a flatscreen in the inner door.

Our tent came from GoOutdoors – an OEX Coyote 3, Sleeping 3 would be tight but with two, there was enough room to be comfortable. We like the big porch area, where all our bags can sit and there’s still enough room to get dressed etc. The inner door has a fly screen too, which was an absolute must after we decided we didn’t like sleeping under mosquito nets. You jus need a bit of discipline to keep that door zipped up unless you’re going through it. Outer doors both sides are handy. It’s not the lightest at just under 5kg but it’s ok for the price. We found it hot on the very warm, summer nights in France as there’s not much in the way of airflow through the tent but under normal conditions it would be ok.

For brewing tea, coffee and boiling up eggs we had a single Camping Gaz stove. Tea, coffee and biscuits were in small tupperware tubs. A single pot was all we needed for boiling water. We took a frying pan to cook eggs and bacon but it wasn’t very good and keeping bacon cool in the heat was impossible, so we quickly gave up on the idea of cooking breakfasts. Lifeventure Thermos mugs kept drinks hot or cold for longer and were handy in the tent with screw top lids. We each had a set of titanium camping cutlery, plastic plates and a Swiss Army penknife provided bottle opener and scissors etc. We started out with a small washing bowl but realised we didn’t need it, so donated it to a campsite give and take recycling pile.

For sleeping, we took Vango Pro 300 sleeping bags, but only used them on the first few nights before the heatwaves hit in Northern France. We each had a Snugpak camping blanket which was all we needed, they are warm and light and big enough to use like a sleeping bag without the zips – easy to throw on or off to regulate temprature. We slept on Thermarest Neoair airbeds which were a pain to blow up each evening, but provided enough cushioning and are light and pack down reasonably small. We had an OEX lightweight camping chair each which we used when sketching as well as around the tent.

Both of us had lightweight camping towels along with minimal wash stuff. Karon had a ‘She-wee‘ and I had an invaluable small pee pot for the inevitable night-time pee. We had a selection of bungees and a roll of nylon string on a plastic holder for making washing lines and guys etc which proved useful. We took three sets of cycling clothes, and a couple of sets of casual clothes – T shirts and shorts. Lightweight waterproofs spent almost the entire trip buried in our bags.

Typical municipal campsite with our gear. Foreground is the waterproof seat cover and a snugpak camping blanket. The white rectangular bag hanging in the shade on the hedge is Karon’s FRIO bag with her insulin supplies in. Putting up the tent each afternoon and packing it all away the next day was a hassle, and though it’s cheaper than B&Bs etc. we decided camping would be OK from a fixed base for a while, but not for us for moving on each day. The creature comforts of a B&B, hotel or apartment, however basic, are more appealing!

The Loire >