We're home after a short break cycling between Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire with just what we could carry in our panniers and of course wicker shopping basket. I'll share more on what we saw on our trip soon but first I want to reflect on our learnings, while I still remember them.
So how did it go?
On the whole it went well and was, as we hoped a useful test for our trip to the Loire in the summer when it will hopefully be a little warmer and our clothes will be a little lighter and smaller.
It was slightly strange to cycle with the panniers on the back of the bike to start with, but we soon got used to it. MOH had done the gentlemanly thing and ordered larger panniers for his bike, and so carried more of our gear than me, which was good news.
Over the four days we cycled 95 miles: 25 miles on the first day, a 35-miler the next day followed by just a short ride into town on the third day before a 28-miler on the last day to get us back to the car. So a decent enough distance to call it a real test.
The packing took more planning than normal as space was at a premium, but even so with my expert packing skills we still managed to take all this:
- Trousers x3 - jeans for cycling in, cycling leggings as backup and jeans for the evening
- Cycling base layer, fleecy cycling top and cycling windproof jacket
- Shoes x2 - cycling trainer-type shoes and shoes for the evening
- Tops x3 - two t-shirts and a shirt
- Slippers (under duress)
- Trousers x3 - a pair for cycling in, running leggings as backup in case of wet weather and a pair for the evening
- Cycling vests x2 - gym-style tops with wicking ability, one to wear and another as backup
- Long sleeved tops x4 - two for cycling in (yes another backup) and two for the evenings
- Shoes x2 - trainers for cycling, ankle boots for evening
- Pyjamas and slippers - yes my warm slippers with the red furry bobbles on!
- Fleece and a jumper - the fleece for cycling in, the jumper to warm me up
- Scarf and leather gloves
Plus: cycling locks, water bottles, a small flask, cycling gels and energy bars, maps of the areas, phone chargers, iPad, underwear, toiletries and make-up and a medley of plastic bags. And my diary, I didn't want to be without something to write in for the whole week...
I was convinced the weather would be wet at some point and while we had some drizzle, that was on the day we spent exploring Newark-on-Trent so we were able to duck inside when it was at its worst, and thankfully that was nothing like we've seen this weekend, so that was good news. I wasn't expecting the nice weather on Good Friday though, and that was welcome, if not a little warm!
So what did we learn?
Quite a bit:
- Our panniers actually hold quite a lot. Clearly our clothes at this time of the year are bulkier than the ones we'd hope to wear in France in the summer, so that was good news.
- It was a holiday with a lot of unpacking and repacking, as our heaviest items - shoes and toiletries - were always at the bottom of the panniers.
- We need stickers of some sort to be able to distinguish which of our panniers is which, because invariably we'd look in the wrong pannier first.
- Our bike racks are the same size, which means on the day around Newark we were able to take one of my small panniers and that could be carried by MOH, instead of me.
- The smaller pannier easily takes a bottle of wine standing up, along with our other shopping such as pork pies, some local stilton, crisps and some fruit. The French stick however didn't fit in the pannier so that needed to be in my shopping basket.
- Sometimes the best evenings on holiday involve a bottle of wine, cheese and other provisions (see 5 above) and a picnic in the room.
- Towpaths can be quite bumpy to cycle along.
- We packed too many socks - both of us - so next time we can cut down on those!
So we think not taking to the car to France could now be a serious option, as well as being quite an adventure. We still need to confirm how we'll get our bikes to France as it was nice to cycle with our own bikes, instead of hire bikes like we did in Bavaria. The only downside to that though is not being able to bring back very much wine, as we won't have the boot of the car...
So yes, a useful trip to test out our panniers. We stayed in some lovely places, ate some fantastic food and cycled through some beautiful countryside where neither of us had visited before. As I said at the start of the post, expect more on all of that soon!