Biking Journeying

In the grip: pre-trip gear anxiety

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What do we need to take? Have we got it all? Will it fit in? Will we be able to move with it all loaded?

Do you suffer from pre-expedition gear anxiety? You know that feeling there’s some vital piece of gear you’re missing without which your trip could take a turn for the worse and be ruined in ways you can’t yet imagine? You don’t know what this gear is but you know it might be out there somewhere, in one of the many mountain hardware stores, outfitters or camping shops you feel obliged to visit in a vain and time consuming effort to allay your generalised anxiety by either finding the missing link or confirming you really have already got every possibly useful gadget known to man.

I can’t believe I still get it, after so many years of planning and gearing up for tours. Although I’m getting better at resisting the pull of the gear shops in the months and weeks before departure day. For I increasingly know in my heart of hearts that it’s not the hardware that makes our tours a success but the software – our skills, mental attitude and experience, things you can’t buy off the shelf but have to nurture and develop in yourself and those you travel with.

OK so do we really need all this stuff?

I had an email from someone recently, who sounded in the grip of gear anxiety: “What are the most important things to take on a family bike journey?” she asked, “I’m a bit paraniod that I’m going to forget something!” We exchanged lists of gear at first, comparing notes on what she had, what we took and what she though she might need. But in doing so we nearly missed the most important things because it’s not getting the hardware ready that matters (although it does) but preparing the team….

Family expeditions are an essentially human endeavour. And while it’s easy (and tempting) to focus all your attention on packing your kit bags, your success depends on getting yourself and your family ready together. Of course what you’re going to need depends on you, your family and what you hope to achieve so there’s no easy list to follow here. But it’s interesting to think about what the other ‘stuff’ is that you and your family need to make your adventures together a success, for everyone.

Here’s where we got to thinking about making our long-distance cycle tours a success; it’s a kind of mindset kit list for a happy family tour.

  1. Positive attitude(!)
  2. Patience and flexibility.
  3. Determination (but only if you really want to get there)
  4. Imagination (to overcome whatever obstacles you encounter)
  5. Good route choices (safe, quiet= enjoyable, past interesting things to stop at)
  6. Clear goals everyday (that everyone’s on board with)
  7. Keep everyone looking ahead (things to look forward to: today, in a few days, this week, next)
  8. Well managed expectations (about hills, hard days, easy days, when to stop, where to stay)
  9. Staying open to unexpected (even if it slows you down or takes you off route)
  10. Accommodating everyones needs (the hardest but probably most important)

So, what would be on your list?

(Here’s a tip: Make a list. It’ll keep you away from the gear shops. You’ll save you a fortune.)

About the author

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The Family Adventure Project. Ideas and inspiration for an active and adventurous family lifestyle. From everyday adventures to once in a lifetime experiences. Stories, images and media produced and published by Stuart Wickes and Kirstie Pelling.

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