Sunday, April 30, 2006
Kit list for cycling the Tibetan Plateau
Rob Thompson asked about my overshoes, which prompted me to go on at some length about the kit I had with me.
I reproduce the list here, in case anyone else might find it helpful, or interesting, or both, or neither.
My full cold-weather clothing list was as follows (bottom to top):
1 x thin pair socks
1 x thick pair of socks
1 x pair of Shimano cycling shoes (falling apart)
1 x pair of nylon windproof overshoes (make a huge difference to foot temperature - cold feet, physical and psychological, can be biggest obstacle to severe cold-weather riding)
2 x pairs thermal long-johns
1 x fleece trousers
1 x windproof overtrousers (not normally necessary when actually cycling - the legs tend to keep themselves fairly warm.)
2 x long-sleeved thermal vests
1 x cycling shirt
1 x woollen army jumper
2 x windproof fleece jackets ("Windstopper" style)
1 x GoreTex windproof jacket
1 x pair fingerless cycling gloves
1 x pair winter skiing-style gloves
1 x pair woollen socks worn over ski gloves as "mittens"
1 x fleece neck muffler (can also be pulled up over chin, cheeks, face etc)
1 x thin fleece cap (under helmet)
1 x cycling helmet
1 x spare garment (long johns, sweater, t-shirt, whatever comes to hand) to wrap around neck and/or face.
1 x pair sunglasses
1 x thick beard
Wearing all that, I was rarely severely cold.
Uphill I often stripped down to just one or two layers.
Downhill, it is the hands, feet, and, in galey blizzards, the exposed parts of the face, that suffer most.
Sunglasses are really important. I forgot to wear them one day and got snow-blindness which is EXTREMELY painful.
I had a down jacket in my panniers which in the event I never wore.
In my tent I had 2 foam mats ("Karrimat" style) to insulate me from the ground, and a good sleeping bag.
I also wore a "Russian"-style fake fur hat in my tent sometimes. When I got cold in my tent, I found I could usually warm up by wrapping my head up better, rather than by piling on extra layers on the body and legs, which can be uncomfortable/sweaty inside a sleeping bag.
As general advice, I should add that the "layers" principle of clothing is really important.
On the plateau, temperatures can fluctuate rapidly and widely.
When the sun shines in the afternoon, even in winter, it can get quite hot, and you need to remove lots of clothes.
10 minutes later, the wind can kick up, the sky cloud over, and a blizzard begin, probably kicking up a lot of snow and ice-crystals from the ground as well.
In these conditions you will get very cold very quickly, and need to add all the layers you can find.
The uphill/downhill factor makes a huge difference too. Uphill, you will probably be warm even in very cold conditions.
Downhill, the added windchill can freeze you even when the sun is out.
Stopping every five minutes to add or remove layers is tedious, especially when it is cold, you are tired, and your hands are gloved, all of which make fiddling with zips, panniers, etc., awkward.
But it is important not to sweat on the uphills, because if your clothes and body are wet, you will freeze very rapidly on the downhills.
I am wearing most of the kit described above in this photo:
(Although the sun was shining, there was a strong wind and I had stopped to fix a puncture, and eat.)
Posted by a blogger at 05:01