Day Sixty Five: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

Over the years I have made it a point to travel light.  It stems from a time when, at the tender age of nineteen I embarked on a two thousand mile bicycle trip. In winter.  This meant packing quite a bit of cold weather gear.  Over the course of two months I cursed the amount of blatantly unnecessary weight that I was carting around.  I promised myself that in future whenever I travelled I would try to pack less than I thought I could make do with.

I was deciding what to pack on a motorcycle touring trip last summer.  I would be wearing a pair of Sidi motorcycle boots and a change of shoes would be appreciated so I packed a pair of flip-flops.  These also provided a bonus of sorts, in that they feature a rather clever bottle opener built into the soles.  I smiled and put them onto the coffee table in front of me.  Upon this table would rest all the items that would fight for their right to go into my rucksack.  The flips flops were guaranteed entry to my bag.

Next onto the table was my mobile phone and charger.  Following that was my passport and my ferry ticket.  After that my laptop and charger took their place upon the table.  I then added my waterproof jacket and trousers.  I stopped and looked at the pile of clothes, books, maps and assorted bits and pieces that were still sitting on the floor next to the table.

In a moment of madness I scooped all of it up and put it away. I decided not to take anything else.  Not even a map. I figured if I couldn’t find my way to Barcelona there was little point in having a map anyway as I’d lack the intellectual capacity to read it in the first place.  How hard can it be to find a large city?

My rucksack was too big and began to flop and wallow, like a boneless chicken. It looked ridiculously empty.  I dug around in the pile of stuff that I had decided not to take and located a book with a stiff cover.  I put it into my bag, propping it up like a piece of scaffolding, using it to give the rucksack at least some semblance of being full.  To make it look better still, I unrolled my waterproof jacket, puffed it up and tried to make it take up more room.  I could have filled my bag with rolled up bits of newspaper to make it look full, but decided against such subversion.

The next morning after my drive down to Plymouth I was sitting at the front of a long queue of motorcycle tourists, about to board the ferry bound for Santander in Northern Spain.

I felt slightly out of place leant up against my sports bike amongst the crowd of BMW touring bikes and large Harley Davidsons.  In front of me on board a massive BMW R1200GS complete with shiny metal panniers, was a chap dressed head to toe in off-road gear.  He looked like a competitor in the Paris Dakar event.  He wore a large scarf around his neck.  It looked like something a Bedouin tribesman would wear.  I wondered if this motorcyclist was indeed Ewan McGregor, however I could not see any film crew and there was not a back up vehicle in sight.  It turned out he was an estate agent from Hull.

The Harley guys were teasing the BMW boys.  The banter went back and forth between the two of them.  The Harley guy, grey haired and pot bellied, pointed a hand at his leather panniers and said “You don’t need those metal panniers mate, what you need is a nice pair of hand stitched leather ones like these, with nice tassels”.

The estate agent from Hull on board his BMW smiled and asked where Mr Harley was going.  He said he was travelling around Northern Spain for three days.

Then they spotted my bag tied with bungee cords to the back of my bike.  They went a bit quiet for a moment.  Then asked me where I was going.

I took a deep breath and said “Barcelona”.  They nearly died laughing.  I think the guy on the BMW coughed up his kidneys and undid his belly button. They had never seen anyone travelling so light.

Fast forward four months. I was in my kitchen, thinking about the last time I had packed my rain jacket into a bag.  I was about to go mountain biking and was being sensible, packing some kit into my CamelBak.  I had enough kit to go touring for weeks.  I had tools and spares.  I could practically have set up a shop fixing bikes.  Indeed I had enough tools and paraphernalia to build the shop first that I would be working out of.

As I crammed a massive multi tool-set into my bag I thought back to my motorcycle trip. As it turned out I never needed the waterproof jacket or trousers and I never read the book. If it weren’t for the fact that I needed my laptop, I could have just taped the flip-flops to the pillion seat and put the phone and charger into my pocket.

I leave you with a classic bit of Mr. Bean footage, courtesy of  YouTube.

PS. I had a lovely mountain bike ride up in the hills and didn’t need any of the stuff I had taken with me. ☺


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