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After the long distances between suitable lodgings in Cambodia last year, we decided to carry camping gear to prevent having to do long days on the bikes trying to reach the next town. In India we needn't have worried, with settlements not more than 15km apart, and we only truly camped on the beach in Goa for a couple of nights when we had finished the journey - and this was through choice rather than necessity. We found no evidence of anyone else camping on our trip even in Goa, but everyone has been so friendly wild-camps would have been possible. We have seen collections of tent-dwellers, but they seem to be more impoverished people on the edges of villages.Despite going against some advice and using our own modern mountain bikes with hard-to-fix front suspension and hydraulic disk brakes front and back, we didn't carry many spares and relied on the good condition of the bikes and the relative shortness of the tour to minimise breakdowns. The disk brakes came into their own on the fully laden descent of the Western Ghats and the suspension made the sometimes poor roads and tracks more comfortable. Our luck held and the worst problem we had was one puncture on Kate's Kona.For carrying the four panniers, we use a Blackburn rear rack each which fits the Topeak baby seat, and matching Axiom front racks to fit front suspension and disk brakes. This meant we could swap things round according to how we felt, but in the end Jon had Rose and the front panniers as far as Hampi and then we swapped for the western section. It seemed a balanced load, although more wind resistance with the seat so felt a little harder work. I must say I enjoyed using a front basket, so useful for sunscreen, Rose's removed shoes, camera, emergency toilet roll etc. I bought it from a bicycle shop early on in the journey and it's certainly been worth the Rps210 (£3) we paid for it. Apart from the basket and the front racks, we tried to use the things we already have rather than buying new.Rose's pop-up bed was again one of the most indispensable items we carried and the peace of mind that she was safe, sound and mosquito-proof during some of the worst nights' accommodation was invaluable. We never used her cloth high chair this time even though it was a top item last year, as a year older she preferred normal chairs. Pro biotic supplements, factor 50+ sunblock, antibacterial wipes and child-friendly insect repellent and malaria tablets have all contributed to keep her trouble free so far.Clothes-wise we opted to bring waterproof jackets and a fleece each and they are still at the bottom of our panniers unused. Additional to these we restricted ourselves to two pairs of shorts or trousers each and three tops, basically cycling clothes for three days. We brought a small amount of detergent and hand washed when necessary. In terms of wearing appropriate clothing, I (Kate) ended up wearing my long-sleeved shirt every day for modesty, but my cycling leggings did show my lower legs which were regularly stared at; we were stared at anyway though so I hope I didn't offend anybody too much. If I were to come again I would bring some prettier clothes to be photographed in.For finding our way we had used a 1 : 1.500,000 Nelles map of south India and google maps on our Nokia N8's. Google maps with the phone's GPS showed much more detail and as the reception of our Indian sim card was generally good this was very useful getting in and out of the towns and cities.A late addition to our kit was a PowerMonkey solar charger and battery but the availability of power and the good battery life of our phones and lumix camera meant we didn't really use it. Our JBL battery speakers were a real (and heavy) luxury but we had a nice day peddling along quiet country roads to the sounds of Bollywood theme tunes given by an enthusiastic teenager we met, and we have used them here on the beach at the end of the trip.The cycle computers have been useful, for distances, speeds, and temperatures, as well as impressing the locals, although google maps probably winds out for reliability and the satellite view was really informative. Crossing the last section of the Western Ghats, and especially the last day along the Goan coast, it would have been nice to have an altimeter although the hills are probably worse in my mind and it all gets a bit geeky. Incidentally the total distance came to 992km.In preparing for this trip, we found it really useful to read other adventure cycling blogs and peoples' recommended kit lists. We would encourage anyone considering a long-distance cycle through India to get in touch with any questions at all, especially travelling with babies, and we can give you lots more detail.Right, back to these Long Island Ice Teas we are sipping, with our feet in the sand and the sound of the ocean just metres away, stars twinkling above.
19th Feb 2012, 15:28
| tags:#adventure cycling,#india,#cycle touring,#gear list,#kit list,#babies,#traveling,#long distance cycling with children,#camping,#cycle luggage,#panniers