Leave the toolbox at home

Carlton Reid with a few tips on what to take on tour
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The Independent Travel
There are some vital provisions the experienced touring cyclist never goes without. By the same token there are some non-essentials better left at home.

For your tour, you WILL need:

1. Cool-Tool. A marvel of miniaturisation, the Cool-Tool is a contortionists idea of how to fit 10 or so cycle tools into one fit-together package. With a chain-breaking mid-section, an attached crank extractor, two allen keys and an adjustable wrench, the Cool-Tool weighs just a few ounces yet replaces about 2lbs of tools. It costs pounds 21.99 and is available from most good bike shops. For stockists call 01855 821252.

2. Sparer inner tubes. Don't leave home without them. Puncture repair kits are fine for casual evenings by the fireside but are no fun in a downpour.

3. Zip ties. Excellent for tying unwieldy afterthoughts to the pannier rack. Zip ties can also clamp together broken bike parts to enable you to limp back to civilisation. Get the reusable kind, not the locked-for- ever type.

4. Pertex windproof jacket. Bike outer wear needs to be light or you won't pack it. But it also needs to protect you from wind and rain and stay breathable. A jacket made from Pertex scrunches down to the size of a small fist, is windproof and, because it has no heavy linings or laminates, is very breathable. Good clothing brands with Pertex jackets in their range include Karrimor, Snugpak and Buffalo.

5. Water bottles. Cycling on a warm summer's day at a moderate intensity will lead to a typical water loss of half a litre per hour. This needs to be replenished or your capacity for exercise rapidly diminishes and you end up dangerously dehydrated. Water bottles can be carried on the bike but it's difficult to remember to swig from them regularly. Far better to wear a water pouch on your back. I'd recommend the Blackburn Hydra Pak 2-litre capacity plastic bladder in a high-tech narrow rucksack. It costs pounds 39.99 and is available from bike shops stocking Madison products (0845 6034612).

You WON'T need:

1. Oil or spray lubes. With a garage or workshop in every outpost of civilisation there's no need to pack expensive, messy chain lubricants. Simply wheel up to the mechanic and point to your chain and you'll soon get a dribble of motor oil. This isn't as mechanically efficient as high- tech bike lube but fine for a two-week tour.

2. Tons of tools. As you know, any mechanical problem you suffer will require the only tool you forgot to bring. Ditto for tons of spares. A few inner tubes, tyre levers and a Cool Tool is all you really need. Dire mechanicals can be sorted out at indigenous bike shops.

3. Bike lock. On tour where you go, the bike goes. You can't take all your pannier bags with you every time you pop to the loo or buy a supermarket lunch so it's best to be able to see your bike and kit at all times. Leave with a trustworthy local or, if you tour with partners, they can look after the bikes. To fully protect your bike you would need at least two u-shaped locks. These have a weight penalty too heavy to pay.

Carlton Reid is editor of 'On Your Bike' magazine, available from newsagents, Halfords and bike shops.

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