To say that I live a minimalist life on Sookie would be a bit of an overstatement, simple yes, minimalist no. I could probably raise 15k if I sold all the crap I have on this boat. Travel and bike touring is a different story. My first Brompton tour was on a whim, half hazard and zero planning went into it. I landed after dark in Maui to a damn near hurricane and torrential down pour. I would wake up with less than $400.00 in my pocket and no return ticket. My heart was raging with pain and I needed some serious living, I got it.
That trip would have been more successful had I brought nothing but the shirt on my back, a three ounce daypack for snacks and a hammock. My pack was way too heavy and I literally used less than 10 percent of the contents. I just took what I had and left. The set up was less than ideal and most days were spent in stages. The early mornings were for making art in the sand and nibbling on coconut. I’d spend a few hours searching for the perfect stealth camp and ditch my gear for the day. Usually by 10:00 am it was just me and Brompty out exploring, always searching for the next day’s camp area based on my days findings. Dark came early and fast, I’d be in bed by 8:00 with a tin cup of wine, it was always warm enough to sleep naked.
I nearly starved to death on that trip but learned as much about touring on a Brompton as I did about myself. My tent was useless against the elements but as small as it was it held me, the bike and all my crap. My main staple was coconuts so I never has to carry too much in the way of food and most of my dumpster diving treasures were eaten on the spot. I did save one can of beef for my thanksgiving dinner which I shared with a local kitty I wanted to adopt. I was more than ready to leave the islands when I finally had an opportunity and regretted leaving the second the plane touched down in a frozen land.
9 months later I was back out on the Brompton, on the road and while I still brought way too much crap the second time around was much freer, and with my better, lighter set up it was much more fun as I wasn’t always backtracking to find my crap. My daily mileages averaged 50 give or take but sub 40 days gave me the most latitude for side exploring. I didn’t have any way go gauge my day to day runs other than the very old guide book I carried but I would guess an easy 20 additional miles a day were spent exploring side roads, these side journeys were one of the best parts of the trip.
Certain pieces of gear like my DSLR, ukulele and way too much in the way of just in case stuff turned out to be more of a burden than a boon. Still, most of the cyclists thought I was bat shit crazy carrying so little gear. If my budget was different I’d buy a titanium Brompty with no rear rack which would save me over five lbs. in addition to that my load on the next tour will be 10lbs lighter. My iPhone 4 worked in Hawaii, it was all I had. I’m thinking about 5se for the next trip as they are cheap and have a better camera, im pretty sure the DSLR and iPad will not be coming. It’s hard to not carry a real camera as the images it produces are very important to me but the weight, space and complexity are a nightmare as is the risk of theft or damage.
The blog is too much effort for the minimal return so it will be all but abandoned on my next trip and the few posts I do put up will be easy enough with a smart phone. I’m also leaving all my extra warm clothes behind and potentially my cooking gear but more about that later. I’ve added a gear button to the top of this page where I will very slowly add all of the contents for my next journey.
For me bicycle touring is about a very slow exploration with minimal distractions. The Brompton is part of the genious of the journey and makes friends every step of the way, my complete lack of anything helps to make the cycling more enjoyable and a lot less work in camp. I’m always up before the sun, shivering and attempting to make hot coffee to compliment a few pieces of fruit and my morning stretching session. I’m on the road within 15 minutes of the rising sun as that’s where I prefer to be.
Today was set to be my first short tour of the year but I got jacked out of it. Either way, the season for both bikes and boats is at hand. A year from today I fully expect Sookie to be ready to point her bow anywhere in the world but Brompty is already there. Now that my boat budget is busted I’ve pulled out the envelope with bike penned on the side. It has $300.00 in it and that is more than enough to add the last few articles that I killed on my last journey.
“If your not cold while wearing everything you own you brought too much stuff” unknown but the truest words ever spoken of minimalist travel.