But cycle touring is expensive…
Or is it? I mean sure, it can be expensive, but does it have to be expensive? All the marketing tells you to buy expedition-grade kit. To be fair, price is often (but not always) an indicator of quality, and higher quality kit usually lasts longer. With that in mind, there’s a definite argument for buying the very best kit you can afford.
The £100 challenge
What’s the £100 Challenge about? Simple: including the bike, you need to get everything you need to go cycle touring, for at least one night, for no more than £100. Yes, you’re allowed to use kit you already own, but you must deduct the purchase price of such kit from the £100. For example, I’ll be using my normal tent, which I paid £10 for, brand new, from Tesco. Yes, I’m very proud of my little cheapie tent, even if it weighs 4.5kg!
My budget breakdown
However, using that tent means in my case, I have only £90 of the £100 budget remaining, and I still have to buy a bike! In my case, I managed to get an absolute bargain: a Sparta Paleo, for £25 – that’s the bike in the pic. Yes, as expected at that price, the bike needed repairs. Specifically, the Shimano Nexus 8 hub gears needed fixing, and so did the brakes. Neither of those cost me anything but my time, so my budget was only reduced by £25, to £65. Obviously, I’ll be using my normal sleeping bag (£8 in a sale at Lidl) and my sleeping mat (£30 from a sale at Go Outdoors). That reduced remaining my budget down to £27. I have 2 panniers from Aldi, which cost £10 each, reducing my available budget down to just £7.
Seven Pounds isn’t enough for a camping stove, nor something to cook in. To overcome this, I figured I’ll simply have a cold meal, but I can’t go without coffee! I cheated a bit here: I was given a cycling-themed tin mug for my birthday once. Effectively, that cost me nothing! That gives me something in which to boil the water for coffee, but doesn’t give me a source of heat. Both my Vango gas stove and my Trangia-copy alcohol stove cost more than £7, meaning I can’t use those. However, Kajsa Tylen has a wonderful video (further below) on making an alcohol stove for free, so that’s solved my heat problem. I also cut a further corner, as I was given my AeroPress Go for free.
Effectively, that means I have £7 to spend on the food I’ll take along. To be fair, I bought my folding bike for £5 (yes, really) so could have opted to use that instead, and if I did that, I’d have £27 left in the budget.
Seems clear, doesn’t it? Your challenge is to go cycle touring – which means at least one night away – while remaining within the £100 budget. Some corner-cutting is acceptable (after all, that’s what I did) but please don’t go attach a £10 value to your £700 tent, based purely on the fact that it’s now second-hand? You must base the value of existing kit on the full price it cost you to buy.
For starters, for the same reasons people climb mountains: because you can. Because it’s fun. Also, because it will help dispel the notion that cycle touring must be expensive to get into. Sure, it can be expensive, but that’s not a requirement. Finally, because (if you haven’t done so yet) it may get you to go cycle camping and cycle touring. And those last two are very, very valid reasons!
What’s in it for you?
Here’s the deal: you participate in this challenge, and I will handmake and send you a personalised WillCycle Adventure Journal. Before you get excited, there are conditions attached: You must remain within budget, and you will have to give me a breakdown of your kit, and the costs thereof. You also agree to send me some photos, to be published in a future post (you don’t have to appear in any pics, but equally, you’re welcome to). You also agree to let me have some details about your adventure – where did you go, how far did you cycle, where/how did you get the bike, and what happened along the way.
Sounds good? Come on – embrace your inner adventurer and let’s get this challenge off the ground!