Trucs & Astuces
pour le cyclotourisme
Tips & Tricks for cyclotouring
Saved lint from your dryer or tampons make good fire starters.
You can also put some cotton balls with Vaseline in a zip-lock bag.
To protect yourself from the cold, lay a survival sheet on the floor of your tent and if it gets well below zero, then place one over the top of the inner tent as well. They are light to carry and every cyclist should have at least one in their first aid kit anyway. Obviously, they are not indestructable, however replacing them at intervals is not really going to break the budget.
Don't wrap yourself in one of them to sleep, as they are airtight you will sweat too much.
If your tent is getting wet from the inside, heat some large stones in campfire, then use sticks or something to roll them into an empty camp stove kettle. Carry the kettle in the middle of the tent floor. Be careful not to burn tent floor or walls. Leave it there for a couple of hours, make sure that you have some ventilation in the tent. The heat source will dry the inside of the tent. It's not enough to dry a sleeping bag completely, but will help there too.
Bury a few hot stones a few inches under the ground, then place your tent on top you stay both warm and it helps dry out your tent.
A good alternative to a tent is a hammock.
Finding two trees is sometimes easier than finding a flat spot to pitch a tent. Bring a tarp for the rain, which conveniently provides a place under which to cook/hang out when its raining so you dont have to cook in the tent or get wet while you cook.
Once you get used to sleeping in a hammock you might find it is perfect for keeping those hamstrings from tightening up, blood drains out of the legs too. The best hammocks are the fine cotton
ones made in Central America. Bring a mosquito net if there are bugs where you are camping. You can also buy a ready made camping hammock (hennessyhammock.com).
With a hammock and a green tarp you can pretty much camp anywhere and no one will see you/bother you, whereas a tent is like a red flag. Usually your bike will fit under the tarp/hammock too so it stays dry and protected.
"Mark" your campsite (PEE/PISS) at the 4 corners and most animals seem to stay away. It only works with male pee. Female pee doesn't have enough testosterone.
It will help keep away the smaller animals and if in bear country it will let them no your there so their not surprised or they can avoid you all together
(still get your food away from your tent)
Always hang your food (and everything smelling food, even toothpaste) in trees if there is the remotest possibilty of bears in the area, and especially if is raining. Animals tend to have a keener sense of smell when it rains.
Put food in a sack. Tie long string to sack. Tie rock to other end of string. Throw rock over a tree branch. Fetch rock from the ground. Pull the rock end of the string until food bag is dangly safely out of reach of critters. Tie string to a low branch.
Make sure you get it far enough out on a limb though, bears can climb quite well. Better still is to loop both ends of the rope over different trees, tie your sack in the middle, and hoist it on both ends.
This can take time and requires some experience. If you don't want to do this you can just let the food bag closed on the ground 50 meters away from your campsite and from human/animal paths.
Also, in bear areas, always wash very well your hands and lips.
Nourriture - Food
Have minerals (dirolite) at the end of a long journey when touring. It restores the chemicals in the brain to ensure connectivity in the thinking process. You wont have that delay in the brain when you walk into the shop thinking "What have I come in here for?"
Vichy tablets found in some drugstores also contains most of needed minerals.
Put your water bottle in an old sock, keep the sock wet, and your water stays cool.
When it's feezing, put all your bottle that do not leak inside your sleeping bag to avoid having only ice for breakfast.
In places where water is unsafe to drink, it is a very good and cheap solution to boil your water (30 seconds seems to be enough).
Advantages are it kills all bacteria/viruses and doesn't need an expensive filter or chemical tablets. Drawbacks are it is preferable to use clear water (but as for filtering or with tablets), although you can filter it with a sock and/or coffee filter and that you'll have to get heat resistant bottles.
Anyway, you can boil your water before cooking or drink a tea/coffee while it cools down a little.
Heat resitant bottles can be useful in Asia for exemple. There are shops and restaurants where you can get hot water along the roads.
Parking brake: Tighten your front brake lever with a velcro strap or a carved piece of wood. You can lean your loaded bike against any vertical surface or even a stick stuck under the saddle and it won't roll away.
Tighten a cable lock to your bike frame and the other end to your helmet/pannier. Put the helmet/pannier inside your tent and shut the zippers. This will act as a anchor for your bike. If anyone tries to move it you will wake up.
Nettoyage - Cleaning
Coffee filters are useful for filtering water in high sediment areas or fuel for your stove if the fuel isn't of good quality.
To clean your stove you should sometimes use white gas (Coleman's fuel) that heats better and has no residues or additives in it.
If your water bottle is getting dirty inside, squeeze a little bit of toothpaste in with water, shake, and rinse. It will help keep your bottle clean and fresh.
You can also use the denture cleaning powder: just put the powder in the bottle filled with water and let it soak overnight
Unscented baby wipes are great for quick cleanups after fixing the chain or other sanitary purposes., put them in a zip-lock bag (you can add rubbing alcohol).
Wet towels provided in planes or restaurants are also nice for this purpose.
An old toothbrush is good for cleaning the chain.
For better chain cleaning, put the chain in a 50cl plastic bottle, fill with fuel (add possibly up to 50% detergent), put the top and shake it.
If it's really dirty, leave it soaking overnight orlay the bottle on its side and put it on the top of the washing machine
Then use an old spoke to fish the chain out, wipe it down and hang it out to dry, then reinstall back on bike and lube it thoroughly.
A rusted chain can be saved by soaking it in vinegar or Coca Cola overnight.
Towels or expensive microfiber "camp towels" can be replaced by any microfiber towels you can find in supermarkets in the auto or housing department.
To dry yourself with a microfiber towel, just rinse it, wring it out and dry yourself. You aren't going to be absolutely dry, but in 30 sec you will be.
A big advantage is these towels don't need to dry.
If your shoes are wet, stuff them full with tightly screwed up balls of newspaper. The paper absorbs the moisture quite quickly, so be sure to check them after a few hours and see if you need to replace the wet with fresh paper.If they are not completely dry the next day and you have to wear them, line them with a few pages of neatly folded newspaper. Much better than wet socks and helps dry them out as well.
Éclairage - Lightning
Use a LED helmet light. Good after dark if you are riding, setting up camp, cooking your supper, reading or writing up your journal.
A good backup solution is the keylights/mini flashlights or the led lights found on some lighters.
A must is a dynamo flashlight (possibly waterproof)
Rangement - Storage
Toilet paper waterproof dispenser: Take the cardboard roll out of the middle . Flatten the roll, making sure the middle piece of paper is sticking out and place it in a zip lock bag. To get paper, just pull out what you need, levaing the roll inside the bag.
Instead of using bungie cords with wire hooks that bend out of shape and makes unwelcome holes in your luggage, you can use straps with metal/plastic buckles or double sided velcro straps.
Double sided velcro straps can also be put together to make a longer strap.
With these straps you can attach securely many things, including the bags placed on your luggage rack, two bikes together or your bike on a boat/train.
Always velcro your gloves together so you do not lose just one.
Camera film plastic boxes are very useful for cremes, 5mm bolts, salt, spices, etc... You can get them in any film processing shop.
Tupperware makes containers called "FlatOut". They are expandable airtight containers that flatten to a disc for easy lightweight transport when not in use. Being expandable, also means it has three different sizes for storing the left over rice dinner or salad that can be enjoyed the next day while on the road.
It is convenient to attach some spare spokes to the left chain stay. Like this, they do not bend as if they were stored in one of your panniers.
If your tent poles are too long to fit in your panniers, sling them under your top tube.
Use a canoing 'dry bag' to put your sleeping bag and other bulky item. These bags are relatively cheap, mush stronger than garbage bags and can easily transform into laundry bags or shopping bags if needed.
Even if your luggage is waterproof, it is better to store things separatly in plastic bags. Finding things will be easier and your stuff will not get all wet if you have to open a pannier under the rain.
Keep plenty of space in your bags for shopping... food for a nice diner can be surprisingly bulky.
Any piece of gear that's easily lost or forgotten, mark with reflective tape. Before you leave camp scan around with a headlamp or a blinky held near your eyes and it just jumps out at you.
Always tie pointed items in your bags. If they are loose, they can quickly make a hole through the fabric.
In countries where mosquitoes carry diseases (malaria, dengue...), trying not to be bitten is the best way to avoid being infected. So use strong mosquito coil and a good mosquito net.
There is a treatment against malaria, but it just prevents the symptoms, not the infection. It is a kind of hoax mounted by some large pharmaceutical companies to make money on the back of Western travelers ...
Most long-time travelers do not take these drugs, partly because they know the severe side effects (big sunburns, psychotic deliriums, etc ...).
Also, malaria mosquitoes bite only at night, but the dengue ones bite anytime, and there is no vaccination against dengue!
Mosquitoes usualy live near stagnant water and in the forest/jungle so don't camp near these places. Generally, there is no dangerous ones inside the main cities.
Mosquitoes and other insects don't like smoke. In Thailand, people burn coconut shells to create a thick smoke and keep insects away.
Beware of cattle, especially females with babies and males.
Young ones are not really aware of their weight and can easily jump on you for playing... forgetting that they weight 200 Kg!
Poultry and other animals on the road can also be dangerous, thus a "tssskk-tssskk" will usualy make them move off your way.
Dogs can be a real threat for cyclists. If you see one running at you, you'd better stop and get off your bike. Always look straight in the eyes and NEVER look away before him. If you look away first he'll consider that he his the leader and doing anything else will be useless. If there are several dogs, try to stare at the one that seems to be the leader.
Don't be affraid of him and never run away!
Most dogs that know humans will be affraid if you pick a rock or a stick
Also dogs hate water: they calm down or flee if you spray them with your water bottles (if water is scarce, use rocks!).
Another solution is to spray hot sauce in their eyes (if you find this cruel, use rocks!)