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The Joys of Camping and a Lesson in Tent Erection Humility

The Joys of Camping and a Lesson in Tent Erection Humility
AS someone who has been a keen outdoorsman/camper for close to 50 years ever since I joined the Boy Scouts as a very naive 10 year old, I have prided myself on my camping ability.

Wild camping in difficult terrain – no problem, camping above the snowline – no problem, survival camping with minimal provisions – been there done that, camping equipment knowledge – above average, can start a fire without matches – fluked it once.

Anyway, you get the drift. Over the years I have done a lot of camping in all sorts of places and in all sorts of weather conditions.

Basically I love camping and have always taken every opportunity to get acquainted with the great outdoors – basically it is the ONLY way to get close to nature.

It is also, I have found, the best way to get a great night’s sleep. I don’t know what it is, but no matter where I camp, if there is a gale blowing outside, if it is snowing or pouring rain or even if I am in the middle of a noisy campground, once I crawl into my sleeping bag in a tent I sleep like a log.

With the e-Bike Cycle Tourists due to set off from London on April 23 in an attempt to set a new world long distance e-bike record, one of the many things I am looking forward to is being able to camp for a year.
Essentially this means two things - one year of great sleeps and the chance to camp in an array of amazing places on a nightly basis.

It was therefore with great anticipating that Mrs e-Bike Cycle Tourist and I travelled to a friend’s farm last week to test drive our newly purchased Vango Omega 3 person tent in preparation for our upcoming cycling adventure.

The European designed Vango tunnel-style tent had been purchased after much deliberation after finally deciding it ticked all of the boxes for us to be able to live in it for a year.

Essentially it provides plenty of sleeping room, has a generous 1.35 metre head height, has a separate storage/sitting area and weighs just over 5kg.

Anyway, back to the story at hand.  Given that the camping retailer where we purchased the tent did not have one on display, we were keen in the extreme to test drive our new purchase and to actually see it in the flesh.

Would we have any problems erecting our new home for the first time? No way, I have owned an estimated 15-plus tents of all sizes, styles and makes over the years; it will be a piece of cake!
“Should we read the instructions?” inquired Mrs e-Bike Cycle Tourist? “No need,” was the confident reply. “Maybe a YouTube instructional video?” she continued. “You have to be kidding, it’s a tent not a skyscraper,” I scoffed.

Anyway, I bet you know where this is going. After scratching my head for 10 or so minutes after unpacking the tent bag, I meekly conceded that “yes, it might be a good idea to read the instructions”.

After another 45-plus minutes – you read right - of reading and rereading the instructions and battling with a howling wind that insisted on trying to blow our new purchase into tomorrow, I finally came up with a great idea … “why don’t we see if there is a YouTube instructional video that we can access on the internet”.

Two instructional videos later and it all became clear – you don’t put up the inner sleeping quarters first and then erect the outer tent over it – as I have done with every tent I have ever owned. No, no, no, you put up the outer tent first and then finally hook up the breathable sleeping quarters under the protective outer skin.
Brilliant, who would have thought such complicated instructions could in fact be so simple. Anyway, just 20 or so minutes later our new home was proudly standing for the first time and was the centre of all of our attentions.

The bottom line is that we are delighted with our purchase and are confident it will serve us well as we cycle 16,000-plus, plus, plus kilometres throughout the UK, Europe and Scandinavia in an attempt to set a new world e-bike long distance record.

And in case you were wondering, yes I had a fantastic night’s sleep.


Gary Corbett is an award-winning Australian journalist who has written for a wide range of newspapers, periodicals and travel magazines for the past 30-plus years.

After years of writing about other people’s travel adventures, in the mid-2000s he  booked a personal holiday with a difference – a one week guided cycling tour in the Loire Valley in France – and was instantly hooked on those “how good is this” moments that only cycle touring can provide.

In ensuing years he has gone on to cycle well in excess of 30,000 kilometres completing guided, self-guided, bike and barge and solo long distance tours in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America.

Gary now writes exclusively about cycle touring and travelling in general and as such the attempt to set a new electric bike world long distance record along with his wife, Rachel, is his latest “fact finding” cycling adventure – however this time it will be on an e-bike.

His future goal is to see more of the world from the seat of his trusty Trek 520 touring bicycle, and now that he has discovered the world of e-biking, his new Haibike xDuro Trekking RX e-bike. There is, after all, always another country to be explored, new cultures to be experienced and more cycle tours to be completed.


Before this epic journey Gary (a.k.a. The Cycle Tourist) contributed many excellent cycle touring articles to the Cycle Tours Global blog - you can read them at cycletoursglobal.com/Gary-Corbett.

To find out even more about the expedition please visit http://ebikecycletourists.com.

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By: Gary Corbett
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