Touring 'Culinary Cornwall' with Pannier.cc
Central London at rush hour wasn’t quite what we had in mind when Pannier.cc invited us on a 4-day tour down to Cornwall, but once aboard the romantically named Riviera Express, 'Culinary Cornwall' had begun. A few hours later, relaxed and far less harassed, we stepped off the train in Penzance and eagerly pedaled off with the scent of the region's finest local fare in our nostrils.
On a four day tour of eating, camping, riding and kit testing we could easily write several features. However, we are going to stick to our strong-point and focus at the kit that came with us, how it performed and if we would do anything differently next time. For a full route including points of interest and where to stay do head over to Pannier.cc’s Routes Page. Moreover, if you're planning a trip to that part of the UK, on two wheels or not, and want some info on the food we indulged in, check out the Pannier Journal. Lastly, thanks must go out to Harry for some stunning snaps.
For the 200km or so of fully laden bicycle touring, we thoroughly looked forward to testing the kit we so enviously see coming in and out of the Always Riding HQ each day. With plenty of stops at places you don’t necessarily want to be seen waddling around clicked into road shoes and rocking full-on lycra road kit, we were excited to see what a more touring orientated set-up would feel like over a few days.
First up let's start with the bikes - Brooks Panniers, Arundel Cages, Crank Brothers Pedals and bags from Inside Line Equipment were bestowed on our touring rigs. All performed as expected, in fact the Brooks Panniers belied their size and seemed especially roomy.
Of the three bikes, we built one up with front panniers and an Inside Line Equipment Rack Bag - ‘front loading’ for those in touring circles. Having never ridden with so much weight over the front end, we found the Rack Bag came into its own and was a real unsung hero of our trip. Swallowing up jackets aplenty, food and valuables, its easy access roll-top and simple rack attachment made life on the bike a real pleasure.
We even found ourselves turning to it in the least expected moments. On what turned out to be the only wet morning of the trip, the prospect of packing up camp was not a task to look forward to, but as kit left the tent to be put away, the cavernous opening of the Inside Line provided a dry, safe staging area whilst we grappled with what went in which pannier… On another occasion we set off for an explore once camp had been established and found ourselves carrying the bikes across rocky outcrops on the coast; the Rack Bag’s handy shoulder strap made traversing the tricky terrain all too easy - a clever addition by the guys over in San Francisco.
Another top performer from the four days was the Giro Privateer shoe. Their simple, non attention-grabbing design meant that no one batted an eyelid as we popped into pasty and ice-cream shops for some mid-ride fare.
Used by two of the three of us (Stefan from Pannier used the Vittoria Lorica SPD which also deserves an honorable mention) they provided plenty of stiffness when riding and plenty of grip when a steep muddy incline forced the ‘get off and push’ approach.
Long days started with a cool and breezy ride across gothic Cornish landscapes and somehow finished with riverside climbs with high, lush greenery on each side. This variation both in exposure to the elements and in temperature gave the clothing we had chosen a real workout. Fabrics like Merino Wool, Cotton/Modal Blends and jackets with a DWR (durable, water-resistant) finish formed part of many of the items we wore throughout the excursion, and we were pleased but not surprised that each fabric lived up to its versatile billing.
As the weather was demanding shorts, a good opportunity presented itself to try offerings from Cafe du Cycliste and Swrve, with the Odette Short and Lightweight shorts respectively being pulled on most days. Cafe du Cycliste's Edith City Jersey, Yolande Long Sleeve and Berthe Merino Base Layer also came in handy both out on the road and around the campfire.
Merino wool featured heavily in things like lightweight Defeet gloves, Woolie Boolie socks and Buff neck warmers; ideal for chilly starts and more sitting around the campfire.
Despite outrageous luck with the weather - that means only a couple of spots of rain for those of you unfamiliar with the UK - taking a good rain jacket is a must. We opted for an offering from Showers Pass due to their ultimate waterproofing and off bike similarities to many other outdoor jackets.
One piece of clothing that you might be tempted to overlook is the gilet, seeing it as perhaps a compromise that doesn't quite warrant a place in your pack. We took along the Cafe du Cycliste Madeleine Vest and the Giro New Road ultra packable down jacket. Pulled on to take the edge off a chilly start or worn at day’s end whilst setting up camp, their versatility earned them a place in the pannier for future trips.
While there are unlimited options for top layers, we found that a simple principle of taking something windproof/DWR, something waterproof and something warm meant that we were never going to go far wrong.
Finally, if you do need any kit advice or have a trip planned and are struggling to pull a kit list together, just get in touch!
Basic Kit List (not including tent, stove etc):
Front Panniers x2
ILE Rack Bag
Giro Privateer Shoes
Defeat Dura Gloves
Craft Bike Boxer x2
Swrve Lightweight Shorts
Merino Wool or Warm Base Layer
Long Sleeve T-Shirt x2
Short Sleeve T-Shirt x2
Warm or Down Jacket
Merino Socks x3
Cafe du Cycliste Josephine Bib Shorts (for longer days)