This is a combination of a highly edited "journal" and a long trip report.
The only route pre-planning we did was to check tour books, mark the interesting things on the maps (Michelin 1:250,000) and generally connect the dots. We made no pre-arrangements for lodging or events. We "winged it" as it were. We had a departure date and a return date, and that was it.
I use Madden "TransAm" panel loading panniers on the back (2500 cu in), and Lone Peak on the front (about 1500 cu in). I have bright "safety orange" Madden pannier rain covers for all. I use a Lone Peak handlebar bag with map pocket and in the rain, covered with a large plastic bag. My sleeping bag (compressed to about the size of a loaf of bread) fits in one part of a rear pannier. My tent and RidgeRest were in a trash-compactor bag (thicker plastic than a garbage bag) spanning the distance between the rear panniers (perpendicular to bike), held on with compression straps. I take many compression straps and zip lock bags. All my clothing went into a variety of zip locks (since this ride, I have switched to Outdoor Research Hydroseal stuff sacks). I keep quickly needed items in the panniers on the left (I lean my bike on it's right side) - e.g. rain gear in front, food and emergency stuff in rear. The right side has cooking utensils, book, journal, etc. (front), and clothing (rear). I carry no more than about 32 lb. (pre daily food additions), which doesn't include the teddy bear nor water bottles and their weight. I ride a 1987 Trek 400 (triple) which I have modified to have bar end shifters (I learned the hard way when touring Scotland about constant shifting up and down hills) which are wonderful! I have also changed my gearing to match that on mt. bikes (48-38-24 and 12/30).
I have a Brooks saddle (model B-66) which looks kind of funky, but I can
sit on for days on end (oops, no pun intended :*) ) without discomfort.
I traveled with my then 24 year old son who is a very strong cyclist, plus
another not-so-highly-powered cyclist. Generally we would go at our own speeds
and regroup at major route changes or places of interest -- or, tea/scone/meal
stops. This usually averaged every 1-2 hours. For the most part, we ate out
of grocery stores. We indulged in pub grub or restaurants for our evening
meal. With my son on a grad student budget, we economized wherever possible
without denying ourselves as many interesting sights and sounds as were available
We had no flats nor any other bike breakdowns of any kind. My son rode a
Trek 520 touring bike (35x700C) and Jack rode a Trek 830 mt. bike. We pedaled
about 600 miles.
My bike touring gear list is available as a link from my web home page.
(Basic premise: "Lay out everything you think you need, and don't take 1/2
of it." [Richard Steves, in Europe Through the Back Door.])
Prior to Leaving
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Copyright Judith J. Colwell, 1996, 1998. All rights reserved.
Last modified: August 12, 2004