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Accidental Pilgrim - Travels with a Celtic Saint Accidental Pilgrim - Travels with a Celtic Saint - Buy The Book
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The bike was a 1997 Dawes Horizon - a junior member of Dawes' famous touring family. It's got a pretty good Reynolds 531 frame, but most of the other components are just OK. I added Time ATAC mountain bike pedals, a Sigma computer and the Selle Italia Trams-Am saddle. Shoes are Nike Inyo mountain bike shoes - sturdy, comfortable and I could walk around in them pretty easily while off the bike. Tyres were Continental Top Touring 2000.

The bike held up pretty well on the trip - the saddle was super comfortable, I didn't have a single puncture, and the shifting (from Shimano Alivio groupset with downtube shifters - indexed for the rear, friction for the front) was faultless. On the other hand, the brakes were only passable in the dry and very poor in the wet, the headset became graunchy and had to be relubed halfway through the the middle chainring (Alivio) became badly worn.

Helmet was a Giro Gila - a veteran of many miles, and it's still in good shape. I tend to wear a bandana in some wickable fabric under the helmet - it stops that nasty sweat and suntan lotion mixture going in your eyes, and also seems to keep my head cooler than it would be without the bandana, although your mileage may vary.

Bike clothes are a pile of standard stuff that I mainly picked up while I was living in the US. Fullsome praise goes to my arm and leg warmers (mine are made by Castelli, but it's the concept not the specific implementation that's crucial). It allowed me to just pack shorts and short-sleeved jerseys but beef them up when necessary. My Gore Bikewear Pac-Lite waterproof is a fine thing, but it did take in some water under the heaviest downpours. Special mention for the super-useful Buff - bandana, scarf, scrunchy - is there nothing this thing can't do?

Rear panniers were Ortlieb classic roll-top bags, and the bar bag a Jack Wolfskin one donated by my sister. I didn't cook, so didn't need front bags and all the extra stuff. The bar bag had an annoying tendency to open while hitting bumps, but the map case effectively doubled a store for French bread. The Ortliebs were bombproof and entirely waterproof. One handle came loose on the last day, but was fixed in ten minutes.

Bike repair stuff includes a light but solid Blackburn minipump, and a great Topeak Alien multi-tool. Spare tubes, puncture repair kit and a small Kryptonite U-lock are also along for the ride. I wasn't riding across barren deserts or the like, so I just needed enough repair equipment to get me to the next bike shop.

The tent is a Walrus (now MSR) Zoid 1.0 lightweight one-person thing. It's way cool and even I can pitch it quickly. As I mentioned, travelling through such culinary high-spots as France and Italy I was happy to take advantage of the the great local food, so I didn't carry any cooking gear.

The sleeping bag was an amazingly small Western Mountaineering High-Lite down bag - it weighs less than a pound and is about the size of one of my water bottles. I figured I couldn't justify the extra bulk of my full-on mummy bag over the summer, and this thing is a wonder of compression and toasty warmth. A ThermaRest sleeping pad made the whole thing more comfortable than my bed at home.

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ISBN: 0340832282
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