Saturday, July 26, 2014

bike touring: my gear, my comments

i got a request for info about the bike touring gear i used + my thoughts, so here it is:

  • miyata one thousand: i love my bike. her name is winnie and she's a stellar japanese touring bike built in the 80s. 
  • all originial shimano components: everything was about 30 years old and it worked out fine. i did get an extra jumbo chainring installed in the rear prior to starting. it allowed me to have the granniest of gears ever!
  • (started with the original biopace chainring: had it replaced about 50 miles in; was not working for me.)
  • brooks b-17 standard women's saddle: a beauty. the first two weeks on it were horribly painful simply because i was adjusting to cycling everyday, but it worked out great afterward. highly recommend.

  • our beloved orange flags: i think it's helpful to have something that's moving, that catches drivers' attention; it would also visually tell us when we had tailwind, not that we weren't feeling it. 
  • reflective triangles: i think people called us "the triangle couple." haha, kidding. but i would've if i'd seen a couple using our same triangle reflectors. loved how bright it was.
  • red rear safety lights: i need to invest in a better rear light.
  • first aid kit: only used it once, but glad we had it!
  • bell: my bell is super cute, but when i really wanted to "honk" at someone, it was too soft and cute. i totally want a loud air horn next time.
  • wrench: we used it 1-2 times. the time we really needed it, we actually needed two.
  • three extra inner tubes: way too many. just needed one and didn't even use it. we mailed home the other two
  • 2 patch kits: just needed one; gave one away
  • chain lube: absolutely
  • rag: absolutely
  • bike multi-tool: so helpful to have
  • brooks proofide: we used this to tan our saddles handful of times
  • reflective rope: used it to hang our clothes to dry/air out, but didn't really need it. we mailed it home 
  • i wish i had brought extra shifter cable + end cap: definitely could've used this when my cable held on by a few threads and i lost ability to shift my front derailleur. would've been an easy diy fix. instead we paid someone to fix it for us.
  • ortlieb back roller classic panniers (black): had these for a few years so stuck with them. i wish i had originally gotten yellow; it's much more visible!
  • ortlieb front roller classic panniers (yellow): rolling them down and having to clip twice was annoying. i'd like to try the ortlieb sport packer classic next time.
  • arkel handlebar bag: hideous 80s design, but very functional. i'm so glad i had a handlebar bag to access my phone, camera, chapstick, etc without having to get off my bike and unbuckle/roll-up my front panniers. i highly recommend a handlebar bag and so do they.
  • one bungy cord for rear rack: you never know what you'll need to bungy to your rear. 
  • blackburn FL-1 standard lo-rider rack: keeps the weight low, but for my size bike, my front panniers would get scraped up on the bottom because of where it was situated (and because i'd roll up fast and hard to a curb, ha!). i ended up with a couple holes on my front right pannier. oops
  • blackburn rear rack: just fine. 

  • soto od-1r stove: lightweight, easy to use 
  • hybrid summit cookset: to cook soups and korean spicy noodles occasionally
  • uconserve square containers: we bought these stainless steel leakproof containers for food storage and to minimize our waste production. (i.e. we'd ask for people to put our food in our container versus a one-time use plastic container
  • cloth napkin + fork and spoon: each of us had a set we carried and used as often as possible. another way to reduce waste
  • small plastic cutting board: i left it at a campsite (on purpose) b/c i was trying to reduce our load, but regretted it later when our makeshift cutting board grew mold.
  • swiss army knife: amazing knife i used to cut EVERYTHING, mostly in the form of vegetables.
  • two water bottles each: absolutely necessary
  • 3 liter water bladder: i would consider taking this if bike touring in a more remote area. we always had access to water when we needed it. 
  • klean kanteen 16oz insulated mug: i loved having this to get cold drinks/ice and have it stay cold. it fit in my cage well and it reduced waste production
  • reusable mesh & cloth bags: great for produce, nuts, etc instead of getting plastic bags. the cloth bags eventually grew mold on them. gross. mesh all the way
  • chicobag: great for getting groceries and handy in case we needed to carry stuff and didn't want to use an uncomfortable pannier. nice to have

  • mountain hardware skyledge 2.1 tent + footprint: great to have two doors and vestibules. enough space for two people to lay down and sleep. that's all we needed. 
  • mountain hardware phantom 15 degree bag: i love my bag. 
  • thermarest women's prolite plus + stuff sack: laying down on anything inflated is a wonderful thing when you're sleepy and tired. when we got a chance, we'd lay out our mats to get some air flow and sun b/c it started to smell a little mildewy from having to blow it up and seal it so frequently.
  • iphone & charger: took most of my pics using this, blogged on it, looked for directions and food, overall, it was something i used extremely often
  • sony alpha 7: my camera's name is "buster" and i would take it out to capture "buster-worthy" moments. had extra batteries, charger, and memory card as well.

  • crocs: i don't go anywhere without em, they were a daily use item. for the shower and then for walking around camp
  • inov-8 roclite trail running shoes: these are my go-to shoes for hiking, running, backpacking, everything. they worked fine for cycling in my toe cages

here's my thinking on clothes: we tried to look as 'normal' as possible on this tour. a few years back, this guy julian who toured the us and stayed at the barn where i previously lived, said that he didn't want to intimidate people when walking into, say, a restaurant, by coming in wearing all spandex. he wanted to fit into everyday society because cycling for him, was more about the lifestyle. samuel and i took the same approach and wore clothes that you could find us in on a hike or any normal day. plus, we didn't want to spend more money on gear we wouldn't end up wearing very much. (note: samuel did buy a pair of "diaper" shorts, but only ended up wearing them a handful of times.)
everyday wear
  • patagonia shorts: light, breathable and great length to cover my knees from getting burned. my only problem with them was the two buttons to close up. why buttons? and why two? dumb style design, i think. one snap button would've been way better so i could get out of them quick when i needed to pee BAD.
  • rei hiking pants: when i wasn't in my shorts b/c they got too dirty, i wore my lightweight hiking pants and rolled them up below my knees. loved them.
  • horny toad travel skirt: loved having a skirt to slip into on off days. didn't absolutely need nice to have
  • icebreaker short sleeve: when we got further south, i really enjoyed this shirt b/c it's light breathability. icebreaker shirts also do not get stinky for like...4-5 days of major sweatage, and it's barely smelly if that. 
  • icebreaker long sleeve: i wore this shirt a lot when it was cooler up north, but barely touched it down south
  • the north face cotton button-up: glad i had it b/c cotton is a luxury item didn't absolutely need nice to have
  • smartwool long sleep half-zip: for evenings after a shower or to layer up on cold days. didn't touch it much when it got warmer
  • white cotton vneck tshirt: my favorite shirt on any given day. i brought it so i would have one regular shirt i could wear on an off day or if i just felt like wearing it. i felt so nice in it. :-) AND, i ended up wearing it on our last day! didn't absolutely need nice to have
  • the north face running shorts: useless. i wore them once and did not like how they kept riding up, exposing my thighs which then rubbed against my saddle. i did wear it after a shower (instead of long johns) when it got warmer down south. didn't need
  • the north face running tank: ehh..i could've done without it. i did wear it a few times on hot days or on cold days, i'd layer it under my long sleeve didn't absolutely need
  • three pairs of ankle socks: two were smartwool awesome sauceness, and one was an old pair of cotton ones i brought in case of emergency. i ended up losing one smartwool sock at a laundromat one day, so the extra pair came in handy
  • one thick pair of smartwool socks: i loved these for the colder days after my shower and to wear around camp
  • outdoor research rain jacket: necessary to have a rain jacket! if it's barely drizzling while you're standing still, it feels like it's pouring when you're cycling. very bizzare. 
  • mountain hardware rain pants: necessary! rain gear was as much about staying dry as it was about keeping the mosquitos off my skin. 
  • patagonia down puffy jacket: i wore this a lot in the evenings at camp, then used it as my pillow at night
  • patagonia trail running houdini jacket: super lightweight and awesome...for trail running. *doh* i brought it thinking it would be a nice outer layer to block wind on cold mornings, but it turned out to not be breathable enough. i mailed it home halfway through the trip didn't need
  • patagonia capilene long johns: kept me warm enough (but not too hot) while preparing dinner and hanging out outside
  • gap tank top: cotton is so nice to put on after a refreshing shower. and had enough boob support.
  • two sports bras: i ended up preferring one over the other and wore that one most days.
  • three underwear: 2 of 3 were patagonia and one always served as my emergency pair. i would wash my underwear everyday and dry them the next day so i'd have a fresh pair. the emergency pair would come in if i couldn't wash my underwear for some reason (i.e. too tired and sleepy).

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