March 2nd, 2015
DAILY BAG / PERMANENT BAG SYSTEM
Each person is allowed 2 x 90L soft duffel bags for the Tour, each not weighing more than 23kg. That does not include your bike, anything you carry on your bike, or 1 set of non-folding tires. There is a further description regarding the type of duffel bag later on.
This bag will contain your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, enough cycling and casual clothes to last from one rest day to the next. This should also include toiletries, shoes, and headlamp. You do not need a dish kit for the Tour, we will provide a plate, bowl, cups and cutlery.
This bag will contain all of your extra equipment including clothes, bike parts, medications, books, maps, repair kits, shoes and electronics that you don’t need each day, and will only have access to on rest days. Here are some more things you should know about our baggage policy:
*It’s a good idea to save room for things you’ll buy along the way. If you have to sit on your bag to zip it up then it’s too full.
*Find a compact sleeping bag. (more details on type of sleeping bag later on)
*Camping mattresses are now available in very small sizes (once deflated) Be sure to bring a patch kit.
*You are not allowed to have anything outside your bag or strapped to the outside of the bags. Everything you have with you must be contained inside the bags. This is to keep belongings organized and with a lesser risk of being lost, broken or discarded.
*We will have a brief baggage inspection at the start of the Tour and for new sectionals to check bag size and weight. They are normally a quick and painless process and are designed to ensure fairness for all riders, and an efficiently run tour.
ORGANIZING YOUR BAGS
We recommend that you compartmentalize your personal belongings inside your duffel bags. Stuff sacks, compression sacs, plastic bags, or other small lightweight bags are a great way to separate your belongings inside your duffel bags. Here are a few suggested ways of organizing your bags:
*Shelter: Containing your tent, ground sheet, sleeping bag and sleeping pad/mattress. Keeping this separate from everything else will mean that you can keep it packed away while its not needed when in a hotel room.
*Clothes: Containing the clothes you’ll need from one rest day to the next, and toiletries.
*Repair: Containing all your tent and bike repair tools, spare parts, and brushes.
*Office: This would contain your maps, books, journal, and stationary.
*Electronics: This would house all electronic gadgets, batteries and chargers.
*Valuables: Plane ticket, insurance, passport, cash, travelers checks all kept safe and dry and out of sight in your permanent bag.
*Toiletries: Your usual toilet supplies, small first aid kit, medications.
*Excess items: Everything else you have that is used less frequently.
*Note – the support vehicles are normally monitored by our staff or locked up when no one is around but your valuables, whether in the vehicle or in your tent or elsewhere, are your responsibility at all times.
WHAT YOUR BAGS SHOULD LOOK LIKE
The bags you use on the tour have to be duffel bags: waterproof and durable. They should not be hard sided, or with an internal frame – meaning they should be moldable, and shapeable to the space we have in our support vehicles. We cannot allow anyone to have hard cases on the tour. Space on the support vehicles is limited; duffel bags allow us to use that space in the most efficient way possible.
Here is one example; there are also less expensive versions, through companies like MEC in Canada or REI in the U.S.
WET / COLD WEATHER CLOTHING
If you have followed previous incarnations of our South American Epic (Vuelta Sudamericana) you have probably seen photos of cyclists riding in very cold conditions in the high plateau of Bolivia and Peru. We can also expect some colder days in Patagonia with very strong winds.
On the South American Epic there is potential for fairly extreme weather conditions: rain, wind and even snow/sleet as we traverse the mountain ranges. At the highest elevation points the temperature can drop dramatically at night. In 2011 we faced temperatures of -4 degrees Celsius on a few nights where we were camped above 4000m. We can also hit highs of above 35 degrees Celcius in the lower altitudes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. For these reasons, you should carefully consider what clothing to bring, BUT we must stress, do not over pack.
Serious winter clothing like winter boots and heavy jackets are not necessary. Outdoor companies make down jackets that pack down to an extremely small size. Please also keep in mind that you will have ample opportunity along the route to stock up on items you may have forgotten, like jackets, gloves and hats, etc.
Everyone has their own preference, so we won’t get into specifics, but the key is to have clothing that can keep you dry in camp and on the bike.
As a general rule, for cycling in cold, wet or snowy weather you need to wear layers of clothing that can be easily stripped away as you warm up instead of thick bulky items. Keep this in mind when you are packing. You will not need to pack a lot of extra clothing for the tour, you will just be wearing a lot more of your cycling gear at one time. This will also help you to save space and not fill your bag with bulky items. Here are a few recommended items:
*Jacket – You should bring a lightweight, windproof, and waterproof shell. This should be appropriate for both cycling and for in camp.
*Base layers – on the cold or wet days it is a good idea to wear a thin breathable t-shirt or tank top under your jerseys and long underwear or full length insulated cycling tights.
*Outerwear – arm warmers and leg warmers are great as they can be easily removed during your ride when you heat up.
*Face and neck mask or scarf to prevent windchill.
*Head cover – Wearing a head cover under your cycling helmet that covers your ears is an excellent way to maintain your temperature. A lot of your body heat escapes through your head. A head cover will also help to prevent wind chill.
*Gloves – neoprene, waterproof, windproof, gloves are ideal. Nothing too bulky, but definitely something more substantial than a summer cycling glove.
*In camp – a good wool hat and sweater go a long way. It doesn’t hurt to pack one pair of warm pants as well.
*Shoe covers / booties to prevent moisture and windchill on your feet
PACKING YOUR GEAR FOR THE PLANE
You can save yourself some space in your bags by packing some bulky items (like your tent, sleeping bag, and mattress) into your bike box. If you do this, don’t pack anything too valuable into your bike box for obvious reasons. As a general rule, a light packer should be able to pack ALL their stuff for the airplane into a bike box and one large duffel bag (with their 2nd duffel bag for the tour being stuffed, empty, into the bike box). For people who will not pack extra items in their bike box – one bike box and two duffel bags should be more than enough. These two duffel bags can then be used as your daily and permanent bags on the tour.
BOXING YOUR BIKE
Most airlines now charge a fee for bringing your bike on the plane. There are also weight restrictions for both your luggage and your bicycle. On some airlines, your bicycle will count as one of your two checked bags whereas other airlines you must pay separately for your bike regardless of whether you have one or two additional bags. Speak with your travel agent for details on the policy for the airline you are flying with.? ?
The bike should be packed in a cardboard bike box. We do not have space to transport any bike bags or hard cases during the tour. You can get a cardboard box at your local bike store. Most shops will box the bike for you at a small charge, but if you plan on boxing the bike yourself, make sure it is well protected with cardboard, Styrofoam tubing, derailleur protectors, and fork stabilizers. Reinforce the handles on your bike box with packing tape. Reinforce the boxes edges and surfaces with duct tape to minimize the risk of damage during transport.
Don’t bring more than you need – you will regret it. If we all adhere to the baggage system then it means that we all have one less thing to distract us from the adventure that is out there on the roads – in between our campsites and hotels. Remember, part of your experience on the tour is to shed yourself of life’s excesses and focus on a goal without being distracted by the pressures of the modern world. Pack light, pack smart, and if you are not sure what to bring please don’t hesitate to call or email us, we will be happy to help.