You can only take one dress?!!

 

It was really difficult for me to adjust to the decision that I was going travelling around the world on a bike, with only four bags meaning I only had the room to bring one dress. In reality I was going to wear the same clothes every day! I am pretty body conscious and I was also very aware that a lot of this trip would be documented on social media, so I wanted clothes that were simple, relatively stylish and flattering. It should be noted that now after only being on this bike tour for 2 weeks I have realised that your body completely changes, and quickly! My lady lumps that I was concerned about showcasing on social media are disappearing, so I am hoping to change my wardrobe to sexy/social media ready in a few months time :).

It was obvious that I absolutely must bring good biking/workout clothes. Unfortunately there is no way around this, you are on a bike tour!, so the majority of clothing is going to be for this purpose. The main challenge is keeping everything clean. To help with this we try to find accommodation where we can wash all of our clothes every few days. Looking at AirBnB washing facilities is now an obsession of mine.

Here is a list of the biking/workout/necessity clothes that I have brought with me.

  • Castelli thermal bib tights
  • 2 x nike dry fit tops – I really couldn’t live without these, they wash well and they dry super quickly, plus they aren’t super ugly.
  • 2 x nike pro hyperwarm tops – I love these! they are actually cute enough to wear out and they double up as a warm layer when biking. I will probably get rid of one of these soon as the weather warms up.
  • Bike shorts
  • 5 pairs of cycling socks
  • 1 pair of waterproof socks
  • 5 pairs of work out panties
  • bikini
  • North Face Shinpuru gore-tex jacket – I spent a lot of time looking at best rain jackets and then picking the one that I thought was the cutest. This is a really amazing coat, but I would say it is pretty warm so may not work for all seasons and it does rip pretty easy. But I was right, it is cute!
  • Waterproof trousers – Thus far I have only used these when camping, so I think I might ditch these when I have the chance.
  • North Face waterproof trail runner shoes
  • Nike sandals – You really need a pair of shoes that you can change into to let your feet breath in the evenings, also sandals or flip-flops double up as shower shoes when you are camping.

We are camping regularly on this trip so I also needed to pack base layer clothes that could be worn in the tent – again hopefully I can shed some of this stuff when the weather gets warmer and replace it with clothing I actually want to wear.

  • Uniqlo light puffer coat – Pretty simple and can be worn out as well as a layer.
  • silk turtle neck – only to sleep in if needed
  • gloves and winter hat

My everyday clothes that work as staples for the trip are as follows. I wanted to feel good when I went out so I tried to pick clothes that worked as casual and smart items.

  • Nike loose fitting black tank – I love this and will probably get another one. It is super light can double as a work-out top but still looks good as an every day item.
  • H&M white loose fitting white tank – I will probably replace this with the above. You  don’t have many opportunities to iron while you are bike touring so I have mostly just been wearing this to bed and it is much better to have tops that can be used for multiple uses.
  • Free People Te Amo Mini Dress – This would be considered a luxury item for most bike tourers, but I am so happy I brought this. Having a dress that you can wear out to dinner as well as around a city while you site seeing is a must.
  • Sweaty Betty black leggings – Again I don’t think I could live without these now. I know that Sweaty Betty is an expensive brand, but let’s face it the leggings look great on! I literally wear these every day and they are my staple with pretty much every non-bike outfit.
  • Longchamp back pack – It was important to me that when we were site seeing and relaxing with a drink after our ride that I didn’t look like a bike tourer at all times. I wasn’t going to bring an expensive bag with me mainly because it wouldn’t be practical and they usually weigh quite a bit. Longchamp is made for travel and the backpack is nice to wear out. This again has become a can’t live without item for me.
  • Ballet flats – These are extra and probably not needed, but it is nice to have access to a pair of nice shoes.

In conclusion, the clothes that I invested a bit more money into to and the items that can be used for more than one purpose (i.e. workout and around the city) have been my ‘can’t live without’ pieces. You can go without some of the extras that I brought with me such as the bag and the flats but if they make you feel like your old feminine self while bike touring then I would say take on the extra weight because it is well worth it!

Make-up and Hair

One of the goals of this trip for me was to let go of some of my attachments to material things and to become less self conscious and dependent on make-up and hair styling. I was willing to make some sacrifices in this regard but I still wanted to the opportunity to feel like I look I good when I wanted.

I read quite a few blogs on the best make-up to take take travelling as well as what the best and smallest hair straighteners were. I didn’t take a blow dryer with me, because of the weight, and I figured I would probably only want to work on my hair when blow dryers were available where we were staying because I then I would feel comfortable enough to get glammed up.

Here is the list of the make-up that I have brought. It should be noted I have been wearing sun screen every day as well, which would make it difficult to keep on a good foundation.

  • Clinique moisture surge mini moisturiser – Perfect small pot for travelling.
  • Benefit they’re real mini mascara – I personally can’t live without this mascara and their travel size is perfect for this kind of trip.
  • Clinique chubby peach blush stick
  • Smashbox brow tint
  • Smashbox always on liner
  • Mac pro longwear paint pot eye shadow – This has to be my favourite new make up item. I wanted a gel eye shadow because I read that powder just breaks up. The great thing about this gel is that it goes on like a powder and the colour doesn’t smudge.
  • Clinique longwear eye shadow – I bought this for the same reason I bought the Mac above, but I have found it to have the opposite effect. It is definitely worth spending a bit more money on the Mac product.
  • Eye liner pencil sharpener

For hair I bought a really good straightening brush that is also lightweight and even though it is heavy I always carry a large bottle of conditioner (unfortunately when your hair is covered by a helmet all day, you must, must must! moisturise).

For straightening I brought the Cloud 9 mini straighteners. These are amazing straighteners, but they are very mini and are probably only useful for short hair or fly aways. If you want to go full out on styling you may need to bring normal size straighteners with you.

You can keep make up and hair items to a minimum, all in all these items take up about two handfuls of space in our panniers. I am happy that I brought these items but I have come to the conclusion it doesn’t matter how much make-up and hair items you bring with you, on a bike tour you are probably going to use them a minimal amount and you are quickly going to get used to your not so glam, more looking like you just came our of the gym self.

 

 

 

 

A few observations on Belgium

From a Bike Tourer’s Perspective

1. Drivers and Eurovelo Routes – I have never known a country which is so respectful of its cyclists. In fact, they are so polite at times I feel that I must have made a mistake. For example, when turning onto a road, cars will often stop (even holding up traffic) to give you as a cyclist enough time to make your turn safely. This kind of road generosity has felt incredibly foreign to my partner and I after our generally ‘beefy’ encounters on the streets of London

For any cyclist planning on travelling the Eurovelo routes in Belgium, they are so good! Easy to navigate, little traffic, lovely scenery, safe and generally pretty easy cycling (excluding the cobblestone bits! which I will come on to shortly). Although it should be noted that if you are in a hurry to get to your destination, google maps might be your best option. This is usually a no go for someone like me who will avoid busier roads like the plague, but again it is fine to go on busy roads in Belgium because generally they have pristine, fully separated, cycle paths which are again; easy to navigate and most importantly very safe.

My only issue with Belgian travel that I have encountered thus far is the cobblestones. I used to have a very romanticised view of cobblestones before becoming a cycle tourer, now I hate them with a passion! Yesterday we climbed the Bosberg hill, which too my surprise not only had an 11% gradient, it was also made of cobblestones. Cobblestones pretty much make your head feel like it is in a washing machine if you try to ride over them in a bike. If, like me, you enjoy an easy stress-free ride try to avoid the cobblestones in this country.

2. Eating and Drinking – I have found it very difficult to eat right in Belgium. First of all, their breads are incredible, and served with pretty much every meal. Second of all, their beers are incredible, and it is very difficult to pass up having one with at least every meal (and every time you want to stop for water).

I don’t have a solution for this issue yet, I just thought that it should be raised. If you are looking for bike touring to limit your waist line, Belgium might be a difficult country to achieve this in.

3. Middle of Nowhere – I had a very romanticised view of the European continent (probably due to my American misconception), that everywhere you travel in Europe you are only 5 minutes from a beautiful boulangerie, or café, or anywhere that serves nice food and drink. This journey has taught me that that is definitely not the case. If you are planning a bike tour through Belgium (as I am in this case) carry lots of food and water with you because you probably won’t see an eatery for miles or if you do see one there is a good chance it will be closed, because it is a holiday, or a day after a holiday, or generally just another day of rest.

4. No Phones! – One of the most interesting observations I have made about rural Belgium (we are staying out of the major cities so I can’t generalise about them) is that no one seems consumed body and soul by their phones. Generally, when my husband and I are out to dinner in London, people are talking then looking at their phones, and then maybe having a brief conversation again before going back to their phones. No one seems to be on their phones here! It is so refreshing! We eat dinner, or sit at a café for lunch and no one is on their phone. I haven’t even had anyone walk into me on the street because they were looking at their phone instead of where they were going. I don’t know if this is just a phase in Belgium but I think England and America could learn how to communicate again from this country.