The more I talk & think about my plans for a bicycle tour into the U.S. this fall, the more excited I get about hopping on my bike. There are seemingly countless things I need to put into order. In this post, I shall detail the basic equipment plan.
My bicycle is a 52 cm. Surly Long Haul Trucker . I purchased it in the spring of 2011. It comes with the basic stock equipment, but I have embellished it somewhat to suit my preferences. Additions include a Brooks B-17 saddle, Arkel low-rider front racks, Tubus rear racks & fenders. I use Shimano A530 road pedals & wear Keen Austin cycling sandals. I am currently riding on 26x1.5" Continental City Contact tires. They have already given me about 5,500 kms. of flat free riding & show little appreciable tread wear. I do, however, plan to swap them out for Schwalbe Dureme 26x2" folding tires before heading out on this ride.
Perhaps the biggest modification I have made is the addition of a second stem & bar that allows me to mount extra equipment, such as mirrors, bike computer, front bag, cycle-cross brake handles, Samui Air-Zound cycling horn, & bells. More details on the installation on this previous blog post.
To carry the gear I will use Arkel GT-54 Grand Touring rear panniers, MEC cordura front panniers, & a MEC handle bar bag. To better compartmentalize my clothing I use three labeled waterproof stuff sacks. With respect to clothing, I figure whether you are going for three days, or three months, you pretty much take the same stuff. One of those stuff sacks holds "cool weather" gear. This includes a merino wool sweater, long tights, 1 pair of full fingered gloves, 1 pair of wool socks & a beanie type cap that will cover my ears. (Okay, if I'm heading out from home in the middle of July for only a couple of days, I probably won't need this bag;) My cycling clothing bag holds two days worth of riding clothing (two cycling shirts, two padded shorts, two pair of socks). The street clothing bag holds lightweight convertible pants, a lightweight nylon long sleeved shirt & a polyester t-shirt. In the handle bar bag I will carry leg & arm warmers. I will also have the requisite Gore-Tex rain gear, including jacket, pants, booties & lobster style gloves.
My tent is a Big Agnes Fly Creek UL-2 and I sleep on an Exped Downmat sleeping pad. I sleep in a Europe Bound +2C sleeping bag. (If it's colder than that, I'll be renting a room somewhere, I hope;) For a pillow, I stuff a down vest into a pillow sack. When I cook it will be with an MSR WhisperLite stove.
Other items include a basic tool kit, spare tube & tire, a few spare parts and other repair paraphernalia. (An entire blog post could probably be written about those details;) There will be a first aid kit, toiletry bag, lightweight towel, bug repellent, afterbite, anti-chafing cream, etc., etc., etc. I actually have a master list on a spreadsheet that I will be dutifully checking off as the date approaches.
Of course, I don't want the ride to be about the equipment. It is the gear, though, that, in combination with my body & soul, is the great enabler. Whenever I reminisce, either with myself or others, I always reflect very fondly on exquisite memories of the people I meet & the hills I climb & descend. A memory of a bad day on the bike is always so much better than a great day at the office. And those amazing days on the bike? Absolutely priceless.