Written by Nick Miles, Gravel and Bikepacking expert and founder of RPM90 Cycling Adventures.
The well-known British fellwalker, guidebook author and illustrator Alfred Wainwright once said ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’. For our latest foray into new European adventure cycling destinations, we were once again reminded of just how important suitable clothing is.
Years of experience has meant that my kit list for trips like this has been slowly refined to the point where I hopefully carry everything I need and nothing I don’t. With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you exactly what I took on our Slovakia to Poland multi-day trip to ensure I was comfortable whatever the terrain and importantly whatever the weather.
To help us on this trip we were very lucky to be supported by 'The Overland' a brainchild of local cycling clothing company Morvélo. The Overland perfectly complements the types of trips we offer and rides we do. Keen to make getting outside and seeing the world as easy as cake, their super versatile on and off the bike clothing range means you need to worry less about packing too much kit and instead concentrate on the long day of riding and taking in the local nature and terrain.
This was our aim for the Slovakia trip. We were able to travel light as this time we did not have to add the requirements for camping or cooking for ourselves in a wild wood somewhere in eastern Europe to our kit list. Instead, we stayed in small local hotels and guesthouses and focused on making the riding the reason for our visit.
We rode five long stages through the mountains with the knowledge that a pre-booked bed, hot shower and plate of steaming Slovak food awaited us as the sun set after another day in this beautiful country.
Here is a breakdown of what I took with me.
This trip is ideally suited to riding something in the ‘Gravel Bike’ genre, the variety of surfaces you’ll roll over is ever-changing and endless. From the smoothest blackest dream road bike tarmac to something you might prefer to take a mountain bike down and everything you could imagine in-between. For me, this meant I was lucky enough to take my new Mason InSearchOf complete with the super-slick Shimano GRX / XT Di2 groupset, Hunt 29er wheels with WTB Ranger 2.4” tyres, Ritchey bars/stem/post and a Fabric saddle. Fast when it needs to be and very capable off-road when it doesn’t.
September in Slovakia sees a wide range of temperatures. From the low 20’s in the day which is lovely to ride, to a fairly frigid 1 or 2 degrees at night depending on your altitude. So to be prepared for anything my clothing choice had to reflect the varying conditions.
There are plenty of key items you need to take with you on any multi-day trip. You learn from every trip and its good to see what others are carrying and who has that surprise 'hack' to fix something. Luckily for this trip, we weren’t carrying sleeping bags, tents or cooking equipment so the accessories could be kept to a minimum. Nevertheless, a good first aid kit is essential as is the necessary tools to fix any bike or luggage mishap as you won’t always be able to find a bike shop en route.
And what would I take next time? I don't think that I would change too much as it was a successful few days in the saddle. If it's not broke then don't fix it right? However, I have got my eye on that Overland Hauler Gilet!
Sketch by Philippa Batty