Now that the good weather is upon us, now is the time to give your bike a good clean and safety check. Many of you will have already done that but for those of you who have not - check the chain, does it need replacing the same goes for cables and outers. And if you brakes are not working very well maybe it is time for a new set of pads. After a good clean you can then check out your bikepacking kit , do you want to add any more items or did you discover you were carrying stuff you did not even use the previous year. The castle to castle is now only a few months away so if you have the time do a couple of overnight trips or if you are too busy like me a few long distance rides instead fully loaded with everything you will carry on the Castle to Castle. This Thursday I an off on a long ride and will be checking how long it takes to ride from Niigata city to the start line at Shibata castle and a new section of the course . Below is my route for my 1st training ride of the year. If you would like to submit photos of your training rides for the brevet get in touch with us and we will post them here on Japan by Bike !
These days a lot more bikepackers are choosing flat pedals over spd type pedals - why ? . Often on a bikepacking event you will be forced into a hike a bike situation where it is too rough to ride or maybe even too steep. Traditional cycling shoes with cleats are not great are providing enough grip nor comfort in that situation and the flat pedal with metal adjustable spikes hold onto a solid outdoor shoe very well. There is a vast range of pedals available to suit everyone's budget , from simple cup and cone bearing pedals to state of the art custom CNC machined lightweight pedals with high quality sealed bearings. Choose a pedal that is solid and can take the knocks and one that can be serviced as well . For shoes the list is endless as apart from tough outdoor approach shoes from well known brands now cycle shoe companies are starting to take notice and recently have developed shoes designed for bikepacking. As for me I have been running Shimano Saint platform pedals for 2 years and I love them, they are solid work well and have adjustable metal pins for grip. I have wide feet so my daily work shoes that I wear in the bicycle shop are the same shoes I use for bikepacking or climbing a mountain - The keen Bryce is a super tough water proof leather outdoor shoe and it has survived a lot of abuse and are still very comfortable. If you want comfort on and off the bike check out some flat pedals and shoes - you will feel the difference and your feet will thank you as well.
In this post I look at the things that you carry on your bike, some people carry a lot of unnecessary stuff, I did when I first started out touring / bikepacking . If you are going on a two day brevet or overnight adventure you really only need one set of clothes , plus rain wear in case the weather turns bad. Spare socks are great but if you wear merino socks you can easily wear them for multiple days without changing them , that goes for all merino clothing - it does not stink and keeps you warm . A lightweight shelter or compact tent and a very basic cook set with keep your weight down do not waste your money buying some cheap bulky item as after a few trips you will only want to change it for something smaller and lighter. The Castle to Castle brevet is in mid June so that gives you 2 .5 months to get out on a few rides , load your bike up with what you will carry on the brevet and if time allows do a few over night rides as well. Even though the daily distances are not so great there is a lot of climbing so best to check out everything now and prepare yourself. You can do a test pack at home and then decide do I really need that or will I even use it ?
In the picture below of my old bike a Kona Unit single speed I was carrying a 2 person tent and the poles had to be strapped to the top tube, as you can see the rear saddlebag is pretty big. I still own the two person tent but for bike packing trips I now use a small lightweight tent instead.