Gear has not changed dramatically from previous tours, adding more items for the cold and rain plus a few convenience items. Gear list for last year is posted here. Below is a summary of this year’s emerging list with some comments about new additions.
Bicycle: Surly Long Haul Trucker, 58 cm Cr-Mo steel frame. After 5,200 miles on it I’ve decided it is too small for me, but what can be done about it now?
Racks: Tubus Cosmo (stainless steel) and Tara (Cr-Mo steel).
Panniers: Ortlieb Back Packer Plus and Front Roller Classics
Other containers: Ortlieb Ultimate 5 Plus Medium Handlebar Bag (waterproof). REI rear trunk (not waterproof). I recently acquired a nylon cover from Topeak to add rain protection to the trunk when needed.
Kickstand: Click-Stand. I especially like this product while on tour. The brake bands alone are quite useful. But the ability to free-stand the bicycle while attaching or detaching panniers is very convenient every morning and evening. Note: I actually had my first Click-Stand fracture on me this spring (subject to some strong wind loading) and so I am now more careful about not leaning a loaded bicycle onto it too fully. The manufacturer supplied me a new one no charge.
Tools and Bike Accessories: Mini-chain tool, multi-tool, tire irons, TR kit, spare tubes, spoke wrench, electrical tape, Blackburn AirStik 2Stage Bicycle Pump, 3 Camelbak water bottles, Cateye Mity 8 cyclometer, small pair of needle-nose pliers with cutter, bungees, etc. Jack has a few chain and cassette tools I don’t have.
Tent: Nemo Morpho 2p and footprint
Bicycle Seat: Brooks B-17 in honey
Shoes: Last year, I toured in Keen Austin Pedal SPD shoes. The soles are flexible, which make them great for walking but the pedaling efficiency suffers. Also, the cleat position is too far inboard, a position that eventually gets tiresome and can lead to knee rotations. Last week I bought a pair of Shimano Multi-Use Touring Shoes (SH-MT33L). So far I’ve found the soles much stiffer and better for riding, and consequently they’re a little less comfortable for walking. The cleat position, however is a huge improvement, centered perfectly.
Riding Items: Jerseys, riding shorts, leg tights, arm warmers, toe covers, half-finger gloves, full-finger gloves, sunglasses, Chamois butter, sun screen. You know, the usual.
Civvies: Shorts, belt, flipflops, toiletries, golf shirt, baseball cap, etc. The Nike FIT base layer shirts double as good morning- and evening-wear.
- Performance Cycling Ultra rain jacket
- Foxwear Rain Pants, lightweight fabric -These are ultra comfy, moderately warm, and fit me well. The designer, Lou Binic, makes them sized for cyclists, with perfect cut around the knee and ample length for riding. The bottoms go over your shoe covers and can be velcro’d snugly around them. Other nice features include easy-access pockets (on the legs) and reflective strips.
- Rainlegs – A product from Europe, the design of these makes so much sense to me I just have to try them. In essence, a convenient waterproof strap-on bib for the tops of your thighs, while the undersides can breathe while riding. You just roll these ultra lightweight things up around your waist when not using them. In heavier cold rains, I’ll try combining these with my rain pants. An experiment.
- Specialized Radiant Gloves – Quite warm and sold as ‘waterproof’ but I’ll believe that only after a day of wet riding. They figure to be useful for cold camping or even for sleeping if needed. Another experiment.
- Garneau Neo Protect waterproof shoe covers
- Sugoi helmet cover
- Skull cap
- Yellow glasses
- Lightweight balaclava
Convenience items: Bookeen Cybook Opus e-reader, pens and a notebook, cell phone, cards. And, I finally decided to go ahead and bring a netbook (Samsung NF310), promising myself to use it sparingly.
Mojo: Reportedly an indispensible item. I’m bringing my “Artie,” the artichoke mascot from the annual J&P Tucson tours (pictured above sitting on one water bottle). You know, my best friend growing up was named Artie, and he and I did a lot of cycling way back then, so this all makes for very good mojo.
So what am I forgetting?