Listing our entire wardrobe would be a hassle and for that matter, probably not very interesting. However some items or ideas are definitely worth mentioning. Here is our pick of the bunch:
Unfortunately Son's Marmot jacket which she bought in San Francisco in 1994 had seen better days and she had to replace it in Barcelona. She loved that jacket and it was a right ceremony throwing it in the rubbish skip at the campsite. Marmot makes great quality sports gear: the stitching, the fabric, designs are all good and well thought out, so she decided to try the, new at the time, PreCip Rain Jacket. They only had the men's design, but that was fine.
Unfortunately as far as a rain jacket is concerned, it just doesn't hold up. She wished she had forked out more money on the Marmot Exum jacket with full Goretex protection and performance. After 6 months of use on the bike, and keeping the raincoat very clean, the PreCip Rain Jacket was no longer waterproof. It is still a great riding jacket for windy or cold conditions and even a small shower for that matter. But if it really rains, then guaranteed you'll get wet. The other problem is, it doesn't dry very quickly at all. The design has some super features though: like the pit zips under the arm; and the slanted pockets for easy access, especially while you are riding; plus the holl-up hood which fits perfectly around the face. The velcrose fastening for the hood does however catch in your hair constantly. But in general, this very lightweight jacket has great moveability with no restrictions for action sport and it is beautifully made with taped seams and great stitching work. And by jove it feels great on and even looks good too.
PreCip Rain Jacket
+ quality made; great design with good moveability; feels great to wear; easy access slated pockets; pit zips underarm; holl-up hood; really good windstopper; inexpensive - isn't completely waterproof; doesn't dry when you're sweating a lot; velcrose hood fastening catches hair
Ali's raincoat, similar to the latest Gore Bike Wear Alp-X 2 Jacket can't really be faulted. It keeps you dry and warm and yet still has the ability to wick away moisture in both rainy and sweaty conditions. The pocket system inside allows you to keep documents dry and the roll-up hood is easily accessible when the rain really comes down. Unfortunately, you have to buy the hood separately on the recent seasons jacket. It is a snug fit but still allows good movement while riding.
Gore Bike Wear Alp-X 2 Jacket
+ great fit; keeps you really dry and warm; reflector are very visible;.
- no colours to choose from; have to buy hood separately
The Gore Bike.wear City Overshoes. Cycling with wet shoes and socks isn't pleasant for you or your feet, so it was not hard to make the decision to buy these rain and wind covers to keep our pedalling partners happy. While they are not 100% proof, they are at least something to protect your shoes in downpours. In really cold environments they can also make cycling a little more comfortable.
As mentioned above, we have a version from Gore, but Louis Garneau and Pearl Izumi make a couple of Neoprene shoe covers with great reflectors as well. Also something to think about when cycling down highways in dark gloomy wet weather conditions.
The Race Power Gore-Tex Thermo shoe covers are the finest available thanks to the design, construction and materials of GORE BIKE WEAR. It starts with the Gore-Tex outer layer with strategic stretch panels that enhance the fit and taped seams underneath.
Patagonia Capilene Layer Wear
Also, Son is totally crackers about Patagonia tops and bottoms. So much so she is also trying to convince Ali by buying him tops and things for his birthday and any other celebratory event. It's expensive but it lasts for years (already proven) and of course, the most important factor. . . it dries with the wind from a fairy's exhale.
Son has since changed her mind about Patagonia. It is still good stuff, but there are many more products out there on the market that are just as quick drying and cheaper to purchase. Patagonia has become a real elite brand name and consequently you have to pay for it. Also the quality is not as good as what it used to be. Son still has a top from 15 years ago and while it looks like it has been through the wars (and it has) it is still in better condition than the last couple of Capilene Men's t-shirts Ali returned to the Patagonia Store in San Francisco. Capilene 1 and 2 seems to get tiny holes forming randomly all over the shirt, which eventually lead to long ladders and rendering the shirts completely non-wearable.
Still Patagonia sticks by their quality assurance and they replace them every time. We have done it before in Japan. So we have to give their customer service ten out of ten, and as long as Ali keeps getting new shirts each time, we can't really complain. That is until we are in countries where there are no Patagonia shops: then it'll be a problem. But more news to come on the most recent t-shirt aquisitions...
Besides the normal gel cycling gloves, we both bought breathable, waterproof, winter down gloves from Kolon HiPora. Hopes are, we don't have to use them that often...
...unfortunately we did, and they didn't perform at all. Not only were they not waterproof, but the inside lining kept coming out of the finger section when you took them off and it was then almost impossible to put your fingers back in. You had to poke the lining back down with a stick. Try this at freezing temperatures and you'll know what a pain in the neck these gloves were. Well, Sonya hated them in any case and Ali tolerated them... just. Luckily for Son, she found a pair of brand new ski gloves, in her size, on the side of the road, on her way to Las Vegas, in stinking 35 degree heat. However, she wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth and stopped to pick them up. She has yet to try them out.
Cycling gloves are a pretty personal thing...
but Sonya really wants to give her latest ones a plug. Well she says latest, but really her Giant Women's Plush Gel gloves were bought in China 20 months back. And they are still going strong and probably will for another 8, maybe 12 months more. That's pretty good going for hand covering that cost around $US 10. Anyway, if anyone is interested in trying to source a pair the product numbers are Women's 11596-11599 and there's a guys version as well Men's 11592-11595.
Ali left with a pair of Trek Club Gloves and only just replaced them in the US with a pair of Ironman ones, though it was definitely high time to do so. They were literally falling off his monstrous fingers, which is why he likes Trek cycling gloves in the first place: the X-Large fits him perfectly.
Aaldrik also owned a couple of Agu padded cycle shorts...
...and he had to badly replace one of them in Vancouver; which he has done with a cheap MEC home brand. No amount of searching on internet has answered our question as to what model number or design of the original cycle shorts were from Agu. Guess we will never know; only that they were damned good bike shorts... It would have been better to safe the money spent on the MEC shorts. They gave up within six months; they lost their stretch, shape and thickness, so were replaced by a pair of Cannondale shorts and a pair of Colombian Suarez bike shorts. Better padding, better fit. See how they last... The Cannondale has totally disintegrated, while the Suarez one in stil in very good condition.
Son bought two pairs of Gonso Mona Lisa bike shorts along with her and...
though the cycling padding has worn a little thin and they really do need replacing from an aesthetic point of view, she hasn't yet done so. A couple of machine sewn patches and repairs later and she took off from San Fran with the same bike shorts she bought 31 months ago. Now that's some wear and tear. The DRYUP®-Seat Pad is amazing and remains in a usable state to this very day, though expectedly thinner than when they were new. Her attempts at trying to get a couple of pairs sponsored from Gonso have been to no avail. They just didn't answer her emails. What a pity :-(
One recommendation for women's cycle shorts is to look for the designs that don't have that plastic elastic around the waist or legs. Girls, you know the stuff that makes your legs look like sausages bursting out of their skin. They are definitely deigned for young skinny waifs without an ounce of fat on them. Shebeest Nirvana Shorts or Giordana Body Clone Forma or Women's Laser Cycling Shorts are just a couple of designs. Beware though, they are expensive.
This is Son's department but Ali has expressed an interest in giving a comment or two as well. She left with a couple of cheap no-name brands from Aldi but they were completely done with in a couple of months. It wasn't until Florence, Italy that Ali found himself hanging out in a women's lingerie store waiting for Son to decide on purchasing the Fila front fastening sports bra that they sadly no longer make. She still has it, but uses it for the beach these days. She has recently become the proud owner of a Moving Comfort Clara sports bra and thinks it is amazing. Not only does it provide medium impact comfort and support, but it gives really good lift and shape. Just ask Ali about that last point, he'll will certainly vouch for it. For a bit of variety, she also bought a Champion Women's Powersleek sports bra as well and while that is a higher impact bra, it still looks good and wicks well in sweaty climbing conditions. Ali likes this bra too, but prefers the Clara much more.
Travelling Towels from the Bathroom
Fine-Well sports towels from Rubytec are a necessity in any travelling bathroom, so we have two of them.
These quick dying towels are not only very light and compact but they dry so easily. Throw away the plastic container they come in and you'll have no nasty smells either. Just hang them to dry during the day on the bike.
In recent years there has been an influx of Micro-fibre products on the market so you have your pick of many brands. MSR Packtowl or Sea to Summit Dry Lite have a great range of colours and sizes and get rave reviews from happy customers. Ours, from Rubytex, have lasted us for the last couple of years and we are really happy with them. One thing I'm going to do when this one is no longer any good, is go up one size to something a bit bigger. We both bought the small size for weight and space issues but honestly for such a long tour a little bit of comfort should be permitted on occasions. Oh yeah, and get a different colour to Ali's!
The Camp Shower System
Together with two Ortlieb Water Bags both 4L each, shower nozzle and the biodegradable soap products we thought our outdoors bathroom was pretty much taken care of, but...
In hindsight, we were probably thinking that we would do more back-country camping and that just hasn't really happened. Besides if we camp wild, we either use rivers, lakes or use wet-ones (baby wipes), if there is no water supply or if we have to watch how much we consume. The 4 litre Ortlieb water bags were a nice idea as well, but they are awkward to attach to the back of the bike and we tend to strap 1.5 and 2 litre bottles on the back now. Hence we have sent our complete shower system back to Australia.
Diva Cup or Glad Rags Moon Cup
That time of the month comes around like it or not, and then a menstrual cup, either the Diva or Glad Rags Moon Cup, is one of those toiletry items a travelling gal should not be without.
Okay, so there's no remedy for the moody spells or uncomfortable disposition, but you can end the endless hassle of finding tampons and sanitary napkins in countries that are not quite as far advanced as the western world, or as open about the on-goings of a woman's body. Besides all those products take up extra space in the bag and the Diva Cup is so small. It's also perfectly clean and simple to use. No more being caught off guard, no more leakage problems and you can wear it safely for up to twelve hours at a time. All you need is a bit of water to wash it with. The only down point would be the first few cycles, when you need to get a hang of using it, but that is a small price to pay for future ease and convenience.
What you also shouldn't forget is you'll not only be saving yourself loads of money, but you'll be doing your bit for the environment as well. It has to be the perfect female travel mate. Can't recommend it highly enough.