Friday, August 29, 2008

Details for Bikers

For those considering this or any other long distance bicycle trip, here are some facts and recommendation from our trip.

We both rode a Specialized Tri-Cross Sport 'touring' bike.
Though it can be outfitted for racks/panniers and is sold as a 'touring' bike, DO NOT rack it. It will shimmy with weight on it to the point of being dangerous going downhill. Should be fine if you have a sag wagon carrying all your gear.
Recommendation: Go with a cromally (steel) frame and skip the 'sales gimmicks'.

Get bright neon color bags, if you can. Anything that can help you be seen is to your benefit. We found that from a distance the flags cannot be seen any better than the body on a bike and every ounce counts.
Easy removal of bags is essential if you plan any nights in a hotel room. Also helps, if you need to load your bike in/on a vehicle.
Front panniers were Sunlite.
- Waterproof, easy to work from, easy to get on and off. Highly recommend.
Back panniers were Jandd.
- Lots of great pockets and each bag offered an extra bottle holder but it was a devil to get on and off the bike.

REI Quarter Dome T3, Ultralight 3-season tent. We got a 3-man due to our height, plus it gave us extra room to bring in stuff off our bikes. This tent was the same weight as a comparable quality but smaller 2 man from other manufactures.
REI probably has the best selection in lightweight tents.

- Benefits:
Meet more people, though you should still get your fill without camping.
More camp sites than hotels/motels on The Adventure Cycling routes.
- Hotel benefits:
Privacy, shower and comfort of a bed.
Weight is the biggest factor. Without cooking and camping gear you can reduce your weight by over 50%; a huge difference when climbing mountains.

Every blog talks about it and every word is true....EVERY OUNCE COUNTS.
We each carried about 40+ pounds (including pannier weight). This also included some electronics which you could probably do without. MacBook and charger, Nikon D-60 (fabulous camera) with extra zoom lens and charger, iPod and charger and cell phone and charger. Next time we won't take the iPod.
On three different occasions we were able to shed a few pounds of 'stuff' and ship it home. Our biggest weight was camping gear. We climbed our last big mountain without our camping gear and it made a big difference.

SPOT Tracker - Where are We Now?
We had a link on our blog (since removed since we're now home) that tracked our progress and fed it to our site, so friends and family could easily see where we were. It has 10 minute feeds that were listed as well as giving a visual via Google Earth. Those that tracked us found it to be a lot of fun. The SPOT GPS also has a '911 Emergency' button, which offered us a nice comfort level considering the back roads we were traveling. You can find more details on the device by clicking here.

Sag Wagon or Not?
We were able to enjoy the benefits of a sag on a few different days. While it was a joy to ride without the weight of bags, it can make you lazy. You have to have a strong will to ride when there's an easy out.
A vehicle can restrict your freedom of independent travel and total sense of being fully unassisted.
If that doesn't bother you, go for it!