UNUSUAL, BUT USEFUL, THINGS WE CARRY
Asking people for details on the unusual things they carry is likely not to work; because we all think that what we carry is entirely normal. For example, probably everyone carries medication for muscle-spasm don’t they? No? Hmm, well I better not mention the anti-inflammatory cream that I also carry! And that’s another thing; even if we acknowledge that something we carry is unusual, we might be too embarrassed to admit it! What started me thinking about this was reading a story where a bloke mentioned that he carried a can of fly-spray with him. I had a mental image of him riding along slowly, squirting fly-spray ahead of him – “Get away you bugs! Get off!” No, of course it’s quite a sensible thing to carry. If you were on tour and camping – as he was – it could come in very useful. In the story he described using it to dispel a swarm of flies when he was putting his helmet on. But it got me wondering what unusual items people might carry. So, I did ask the question, and got a surprisingly good response. (As well as posing the question to readers, I also put it on a forum I belong to). Some of the things you people carry are very clever and extremely useful. Others are, well, perhaps positioned more on the “unusual” side of the equation! So let’s take a look.
Okay, just so you’ll feel comfortable, I’ll go first. I mentioned the medication above, and having a crook back this is, I would think, fairly understandable. The anti-inflammatory cream was added after test-riding a bike that upset my back and I had to go looking for a chemist to buy some relief for my aches and pains. So now I carry some with me. Of course I have the usual wet-weather gear, maps, camera, cap etc that most of us probably carry. They’re not unusual. I’d reckon most people would also carry the standard tool-kit, although I have supplemented that with one made up of some slightly better quality ones (some of which I’d previously cut down to fit in the small area where the standard tool kit was on the bike I had at the time). Of course there is the puncture-repair kit in there with the tools too. Another thing I carry is a travel-pack of “Wet-Ones”. I like to be hygienic. I like to wash my hands before I eat. I know that might go a little bit against the image of the tough biker, who eats his sandwich with barbecue-sauce on the inside and a smear of Castrol on the outside, but that’s not me. They can also be useful for getting particularly big bug-spatters off your visor. (Although I have a small bottle of spectacle-cleaner for that). Wet Ones are also useful if you have to do any roadside-repairs or adjustments on your journey. There’s other stuff too, but nothing too unusual. Well, apart from the koala! My mate Steve carries a little teddy strapped to the mirror or handlebar. A kind of “good-luck-charm” I suppose. Although I’m not superstitious (Steve isn’t either really), something about that appealed to me. So while I was on a trip once I bought this little clip-on koala as a souvenir, and have it clipped inside the top-box. Okay, I’m going to stop, because now it is getting embarrassing! But speaking of Steve…
STEVE AND THE 3 PHONES
I mentioned my mate Steve in my article on Touring, and some of the unusual items he carries; like nail-clippers, his favourite wine, and a mug to drink it from, and so on. If you read the story, you might recall he also had three mobile phones with him. The third one was just because he found one that was cheap and …! But he did intend carrying two. And it’s not a bad idea. I suppose many of us end up with more than one mobile phone. When I up-dated my phone a couple of years ago I didn’t want to just toss the old one, so bought a pre-paid card and keep it as a spare. I was preparing for a trip recently and decided to throw that in too. I figured that it could save charging the other one, but also if I carried one in the top-box and the other in my jacket, if one happened to get lost, or damaged, I’d have a spare. I ended up not going on the trip, but the wisdom of this was demonstrated when I got caught in a storm a while ago and my phone – which I was carrying in a front pocket of my jacket – got wet; wet enough to stop it from working. That was on a short trip, and I didn’t have – or need – a spare, but if I’d been on a long trip I would’ve been left without a phone. Anyway, let’s get to the things that you people carry.
WHAT OTHER READERS CARRY
Barry has done quite a lot of travelling, including an around-Australia journey. He wrote, “When I did the trip around Oz I carried fly spray, a bloody great hunting knife down my boot, just 'in case', and two toilet rolls (in case one got wet).” "I have the Roadside Assist card in my wallet. A Leatherman Tool and an almost Swiss Army pocket knife complete the tool bag. Importantly, the pocket knife has a pair of scissors and a corkscrew. Not all wine comes in boxes or with screw top caps.” Hmm, a Leatherman – pictured on the left – and a Swiss Army Knife; now that is being prepared for anything! I have a more humble version that came free with a renewed subscription to Road Rider magazine once. The Leatherman was a popular item carried by people, including Gary, who writes, “Under my seat you will find insulation tape, spare fuses, zip ties, Leatherman and the bike tool kit, mini can of chain lube, and spare lighter." Ivor said, “I used to carry a compass. I know what you’re thinking – ‘Can’t he read road-signs?’ I’ve always been fascinated with compasses from when I was a kid, the fact the Earth has a big magnet at its north pole that attracts a steel compass needle. When I used to go trail-riding, some guys carried a compass. They said that it helped you navigate along bush tracks using topographical maps. So I thought, well that’s the thing to do, so I chucked one in as well. Carried one for years afterwards, but not now though.” (I vaguely remember, back in my trail-riding days, people saying they carried a compass, for the same reason). Givit said “In the back pocket of my tank bag I carry a damp dishcloth impregnated with washing up liquid wrapped in a poly bag for cleaning the dead bugs off my visor. Admittedly if I forget to soak it now and again it stinks but it works.” Sounds like a good idea. He added: "I saw a thread like this on Adventure Rider a few years back. Title was 'Where do you Pack your Piece'? In Scot's language that would mean, 'Where do you carry your sandwiches'? Not to the Yanks though. It was all about where you carry your firearm when riding the bike. One guy tucked his into his right boot and reckoned he could thumb the cruise control - draw his weapon and fire six rounds into whatever was bothering him in so many milli-seconds. Best not to get into a 'road rage' argument in the States I guess.” He gave me a link to a YouTube video of a Scottish guy singing a song about sandwiches. It was a catchy song, and sounded funny, but the singer’s accent was so strong it made Billy Connolly sound like Michael Parkinson, so I hardly understood a word of it! But I digress. Possum wrote, “In the top box I carry a half roll of bog paper (a full roll is too big) and some of that antiseptic hand cleaner stuff in a small bottle.” (Yep, I’ve recently added one of those to the top-box too!). “A pill bottle with a wide neck carries a supply of ear plugs. A tube of sunscreen also lives in the top box - you get burned through the visor. My wet weather gear never leaves the bike and include rubber overboots (foot frangers), goretex over pants and those rubber overgloves that AndyStrapz sells.” Sounds like a very sensible compilation there! He continues, “Now I have big aluminium panniers instead of those awful Vario bags BMW saw fit to include in the purchase price of the bike, I carry a tool bag with the right sockets to facilitate the removal of both wheels and drop the oil out of the engine (not all at the same time). In the tool bag are a couple of pairs of rubber gloves to keep my paws clean while performing these functions. Any more tools would cause trouble.
Haven't you people heard of public toilets? It seems toilet-paper is a popular item to carry. Okay, it has it's uses outside the obvious I suppose!
Doug is another who carries it. He says he carries, “Toilet paper, gaffer tape, a small 6x4 tarp and a small bottle of water (all four rarely used together!). I figure that these will comfort me in most situations whether rain, hail or shine. The tape is handy for securing anything to anything, the tarp for protection in rain, hail or shine or to keep clean if you have to lie on the ground, and the water for mishaps or breakdowns in the middle of nowhere. Rob says, “Side pocket of tank bag usually got quite a few gloves in (the thin ones you get in petrol stations) keep crap off hands if have to do some dirty bits and also go under gloves if really pissing down.” Freddy replied that the unusual thing he carries is, “The wife”. Mike tells what’s under his seat. “I have a disc lock, waterproofs, stand puck, torch, tool kit. And last but not least, Gaviscon indigestion tabs.” Ah, at last; someone else with medication! Bluey says, “I carry a 30 volt jump battery pack in my saddle-bag in case I get a flat battery when I am on a long or over-night ride. It works through the accessory plug on my bike. It has a two way switch for jump starting and can be switched over to recharge the battery pack while you are traveling. I haven’t had to use it yet which is ok by me; nice to know its there if I do.” Yes, it’s always good not to have to use emergency supplies! Evssv has a similar collection of items. “12v socket, cable ties, spare fuses, mini tool kit, plus stock tool kit, bit of rag, and disc lock.” GWB writes, “I guess everyone carries this but here goes. An angled tyre valve adapter, zip ties, insulating tape, cargo net (in case I spot a bargain at some bike show), and cutlery.” Cutlery? Well, if you’re camping, I suppose… The angled tyre-adapter is a great idea. I’d forgotten they were available. Getting air-hoses onto the valves can be very difficult if you’re stuck using one of the ones they usually have at servos. I must get one of those. (Most bike shops carry them; cost about $25). I vaugely remember many years ago someone having a rubber tube with a screw-on piece on one end and an externally-threaded section (like the end of the valve) on the other. He screwed the tube onto the valve and then had a flexible hose to attach the air-hose to. Red writes, “When I camp I have a tube of bite cream with me.” Useful; like the fly-spray that got me started on this whole thing! Andy says he caries “A couple of spare levers.” Always handy if you happen to drop the bike and break one - especially if it is the brake one! Hairbear says he has, “Every-day stuff: bike tool kit, cloth for cleaning visor etc, disc-lock (that I never use), spare lighter, and a cargo net.” Zoe writes, “Under my seat I have usual stuff plus an emergency tampax and spare pair of knickers.” Good reminder, Zoe, amongst all this “blokey” stuff, that there are women who ride - and who have, er, special needs. (Mind you, she probably doesn't carry a box of 100, but this was just a photo to llustrate). And spare knickers? I’ve heard it said that the way some blokes ride, they should be standard-issue for pillions! Pmchippy lists his items, “Yamaha tool kit, digital tyre pressure gauge, cleaning cloth, tyre repair kit, wet wipes, and cargo net.” Note the wet-wipes! But what is it with cargo nets? Freddy, who had seen some of the replies on the forum I mentioned, expressed surprise that no-one seemed to carry a tyre-repair kit. A couple of people have listed them here (including me!), but yes, it is surprising there aren’t more. Bikes do get punctures, people! So, there it is; a list of what many of you readers carry on your bike. A lot of the items are the usual things you’d expect, but there are a few, um, unusual ones there!
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