New tent and gears; learning the hard way as novice cycle tourers

We’ve learned some important lessons about our kit recently. We realised we’re cycle touring novices and have made some mistakes with what we’ve brought – namely our tent and Chris’ gears – and it’s costs us time and lots of money. Hopefully our lessons will help others who are just starting out too…

Firstly, our tent. We originally opted for a fairly large, heavy (3.6kg) tent that we could store our bikes in for security and protection from the rain. We bought a Wildcountry Hoolie 3 ETC that has a large porch and easily fits two bikes and all our stuff. We really liked it but Chris snapped several poles awkwardly limboing out of the tent. The problem is the tent is quite low. Chris is only 5’9” but still has to contort himself out of the inner tent and around the bikes to exit through the front. We were able to get the first few snapped poles repaired but after that they started to rip through the outer tent and we realised we needed a bigger tent.

We also realised that we didn’t mind the weight of the larger tent. We figured that we’d lugged that tent over the Rockies, so a slightly heavier tent wouldn’t make much difference. We did some research and decided to buy a Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 2. The inner tent is actually much smaller than the Hoolie 3, but the front tent is ENORMOUS! So big you can wheel two bikes in and store them stood up. At 5′ tall, Ties can stand upright in the tent and Chris can all put stand in the centre of the front tent. It folds up to about the same size as the Hoolie 3 and is much easier to assemble. We also bought the footprint which we’re very pleased about because we don’t think it’s as waterproof as the Hoolie 3. While we haven’t had it long, we’re pleased we made the swap and very pleased we discovered that carrying a bit extra weight is well worth it for the extra space.

Lesson two; don’t go touring with untried and tested components. Chris has a Rohloff hub with a Gates belt and Cinq5 shifters / gear box. Everything was working perfectly until the Cinq5 gear box failed 5 miles from Vancouver. And then the replacement gear box failed again, 5 miles outside Vancouver. We were very lucky that we were helped out by Rohloff guru Ed Luciano of Mighty Riders, who liaised with other specialists – Peter White Cycles and Cycle Monkey in the US – to find a solution. Ed recommended replacing the Cinq5 box with a proprietary Rohloff click box and shifter, mounted to a Hubbub adapter in the end of Chris’ drop bar. This is a very unusual looking set up, but a tried and tested one that is working very well so far.

We would like to thank Jon and Jess Easthope again for letting us post the tent in their house in Renton. And massive thanks to Ed at Mighty Riders for driving out to try and fix Chris’ gears, giving us a lift back to Vancouver and storing our bikes and all our kit for 10 days while the bike was being fixed. Amazing service!