"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door" … "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
~ Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Sunday, May 10, 2015


As the final day draws near, I'm pretty much done acquiring all the the last minute stuff I need. Now I'm trying to pair the whole rig down to 50 pounds or less.

Self-powered RV. Not exactly traveling light.
Don't think I could manage getting that around THE LAKE.
But it would solve the problem of where to sleep each night.

Carrying It All With You

My bike weighs 25 pounds with rack, fenders and two empty water bottles. That leaves me with under 25 pounds for everything else.  When we did a trial run in the middle of April I was hauling 55 pounds. Cutting out 5 pounds doesn't sound like much, but I thought I'd already paired the list to the bone and now I have to add a few things I'd forgotten, like a foldable spare tire, a lock and some wonderful Michigan bike maps. That'll mean leaving some "essential" things behind. 

Here's where I am at the moment in that agonizing trade-off.

My collected gear - unstuffed

Biking Clothes

Weather, weather, weather - someone once said "there's no such thing as bad weather, just insufficient clothing." How true and how vexing for the cycle tourist. Late spring in the upper mid-west, and particularly in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan can be wet (very wet) and cold (very cold, snow-like cold). Because we'll ride unless its dangerous, we need to be prepared to ride when its uncomfortable. Two shorts and two jerseys will do when I hand wash them each night.  But, I'll need to be prepared for the cold and the rain otherwise I'll face hyperthermia - a very real danger in this climate. So, here's my minimal list of bike clothing:

Bike Shorts (2)
Socks - wool (3)
NSC jersey (2)
Bike Tights
Rain Jacket & Pants
Technical long sleeve shirt
Smart wool undershirt
Sweat band 
Black wool sweater
Biking Gloves (short & long)
Ear band & fleece hat
Helmut, shoe & glove covers

Regular, Street Clothes

I don't expect to spend too much time in my non-bike clothes, so, unless I spill spaghetti sauce all over them, one set of street clothes should do. But, I'll indulge myself with a pair of pajamas and a swim suit. Hate sleeping in my clothes and REALLY need to be ready for a hot tub or a pool once in a while. (They're light anyway)

Travel underwear (2)
Sun shirt
Bras (2)
Technical Shorts (1)
Swimming suit
Long technical pants
Light walking shoes
Baseball Hat

Bike Equipment

Its all well and good to pair down the clothing, but that doesn't save a lot of weight. Making the right decision on what bike equipment to bring does. Here's where we do a little sharing; I'm lucky, Will is carrying the tools, I have the first aide and bike cleaning kits. 

Bike Shoes
Tube & folding tire
Handle bar extension
Sport beans, electrolytes
First Aide Kit
Sun glasses 
Waterproof handle bar bag
Bike Lights (front & rear)
Trunk bag & waterproof cover
Bike Cleaning & lube kit

Electronic Equipment

Sun arm protectors
Now here's where we get into the REALLY heavy but truthfully non-essential stuff. Forty years ago when the Bicentennial riders set out across the country or thirty-five when I rode self-supported in Europe there was no such thing as cell phones, GPS navigation systems, iPads, lap tops or the rechargeable batteries that powered them all. Now, we can't conceive of getting lost or being out of touch. We want to stay connected via phone, texting, Facebook … or even blogging (who would do THAT?) Sure all this stuff has gotten incredibly light - my new Macbook weighs just 2 pounds - but its still heavier than an extra pair of socks. Yet, to me this trip would not be what I intend if I snuck off in secret, called home once a week, or navigated exclusively by paper map and cue sheet. So, I'm paying the price - hauling this stuff around, leaving some other things behind.

iPhone, cable & ear phones
Thumb drive
Camera & cable
Extra batteries for sensors & lights
Garmin & cable
Recharge battery & cable
Laptop & cable
Heart rate monitor
Multi-charge plug

Miscellaneous Stuff

Just a few more things and we're done. My friend Diana showed me that light weight packing cubes made life on the road so much more manageable. With multiple cubes I can group like with like. and separate out the things I won't need on the road from those I might need to access with changing weather. Need the toothbrush and paste, the medicines, the sun screen and bug dope. Can't forget the ATM or AAA discount card. And this time I'll bring my swiss army knife with bottle opener. Nothing worse than getting a great brew and not being able to open it.

Zip lock bags (gallon, sandwich)
Journal, Pen
Regular glasses, case & cloth
Swiss Army knife
Packing cubes
Postcard stamps
Cash, ATM, Ins. AAA cards
Bath Kit
Trip cards
Sun Screen, bug dope
Sewing Kit
Water proof Panniers to put it all in

What Didn't Make the Cut

My daughter Elise asked, "So what's getting left behind?" That might be interesting. So far here's what I've discarded after my trial run:

Light bath robe
Bike pump
Flip flops
Night light
Cliff bars
Clothes Shami
Tire irons
Capri pants

In the next day or two I'll weigh the whole lot and will probably find I need to pair it down even further. I'll pack all the stuff in those cubes and give you another look. Might need that self-powered RV after all. 

1 comment:

  1. Ok... I'm a bit of a trek geek but having led numerous treks I found this entry to be remarkably interesting. Getting the gear pared down to EXACTLY the right stuff is both science and art, and really essential. Too little and the trip really suffers. Too much and all that extra gear starts to own you. Good job. About the only thing that raised an eyebrow was the lack of tire irons and a pump. 1350 miles X 4 tires (minimum - more when others join you) = 5400 tire miles. You are gonna get some flat tires. But I assume that you have a plan. You always have a plan. :-)