Making Friends

So this weekend was the Cycle Touring Festival in Clitheroe and it was frankly incredible. I’ve been in a bit of a funk if I’m honest, since coming back from my last trip but now I’m reinvigorated and buzzing. It’s prompted so many thoughts in my head that expect a few blogs to come out of it over the next few days.

However right now I just want to say thanks. Thanks to Laura and Tim for all the hard work in making the event happen and for giving me the opportunity to be involved. Thanks to everyone for being friendly and nice. Thanks for all the kind words especially after my open mic story, apparently being a bit drunk and sweary somehow worked.

Whilst riding to Leeds today I also ordered my thoughts on the sessions I was involved in which dealt with the kit required for cycle touring. In my head there appeared to be some common themes that jumped out at me.

Firstly everyone has an opinion on kit and there are no right or wrong choices but what really matters is your personal piece of mind. For example people might tell you not to carry the weight of a tool to fix problem X but if carrying that tool gives you piece of mind then carry it. Maybe you’ll never need to use that tool and it will literally be a talisman but if that makes you feel more comfortable touring then it is worth it. Everybody has their own definition and level of comfort and so what is the right amount and type of kit required to meet that will vary from person to person. What you need to carry to feel comfortable does change of course but clearly start with what you need to get you out the door and off down the road and then discard anything when you feel it isn’t needed anymore.

Secondly there will always need to be compromises. There is no perfect touring set up probably because the bicycle has definite limitations for carrying everything you feel you need to survive. However it does provide a very good if imperfect solution and importantly it’s driven by your own effort. So based on monetary constraints and the desire for comfort and piece of mind as outlined above we have to make compromises. The solution we produce, our personal touring set up is therefore the product of these choices and should be right for us.

If you have never been touring or have never been to a particular country or environment it’s difficult to know what kit you will need to give you piece of mind or what compromises you will face. The beauty of an event like the Cycle touring festival is it gives you the opportunity to meet and listen to people who have experiences you don’t. Based on these you can then make a more informed choice. You still need to run this information through your own personal filter as what kit they used may not be perfect for you but it gives you somewhere to start.

Lastly I think it was mentioned that someone had commented at the festival it was nice to feel ‘normal’. Well personally I’m not a big fan of ‘normal’ so I think it was nice to meet lots of people who were equally weird. Long may we all stay that way. I definitely feel like I made new friends this weekend and look forward to connecting with them and meeting them again in the future. Roll on next year?

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