The Paradox of Preparation

One of the things I’ve been wrestling with of late is juggling my desire to spec out the very best kit and clothing with an awareness of the sum value of everything that I’ll be taking with me and riding through countries full of people who have very little.
That’s not to say I’m hugely nervous about security but it is an issue to think about.

I’ve read plenty of blogs stating that you can do these sorts of trips on the most basic of bicycles and with the most meagre of budgets.
I’m in a really fortunate situation where I’ve been able to afford, within reason, pretty much any kit that I’ve wanted. I’ve pondered, at great length, almost every aspect of kit and clothing, trying to heed the advice of everyone that’s gone before. I’ve always been someone who likes to be well-prepared; whilst I was never a Boy Scout, I probably should have been! There’s no denying that I get real satisfaction from having the right kit for the job – it makes life a lot easier.

However, there’s a freedom in having little, or relatively little of value. You don’t have to worry about your stuff to the same extent. Less time spent thinking about who might have their eyes on it or what will happen if it is damaged or lost.

This is the paradox. I’m starting to wonder if perhaps I’d be somehow better off if I were just taking the basics.

I acknowledge that I’m going to stand out whatever – let’s face it, I’m a 6’2″ pale-skinned, fair-haired Englishman! And I’m doing this not out of necessity, but for fun – something that many locals will not be able to comprehend! I’ll be a ‘gringo’ throughout South America. So, perhaps whatever I have will look expensive.  Furthermore, locals are probably not going to know (or care about) the difference between a Hilleberg tent and something cheaper or my Rohloff-equipped Ogre and a basic model.

This issue is something I’ve become increasingly mindful of as I’ve gone through the process of planning and preparation.  It stems from the everyday materialism that almost all of us buy into heavily.  Packing up my life (my flat and all belongings), has only served to make me aware of the endless piles of clutter that I’ve amassed, much of which is really not necessary.

Even if I never make it more than a few miles on this trip, the process of clearing things out and reassessing priorities will have been well worth it!  A real catharsis of sorts.  [And I’ll be super well-prepared for the next festival I go to!]

How do you find that balance between being prepared and being free of material concerns?

UPDATE: Having negotiated more than one seriously steep South Wales hill with my full kit, I’m going Titanium everything!

One comment

  1. I guess that there’s a third school of thought that if you are well enough prepared then you don’t need that much stuff. I think that’s what I aspire to but the reality is that I’ve only just left the place of having more stuff than anyone really needs. Like you, packing up my flat was a real eye-opener and I will try never to go back to that again, but I’m still a long way from the nirvana or minimalist living without felling like I’m lacking things.

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