What do you bring to ride across the country?

What to carry depends on a few things. If you’re on a self-supported tour, you carry everything you think you’ll need and can’t get along the way. Tent, sleeping bag, pad, stove, staple foods, snacks, clothes. You’ll buy fresh foods every day. Parts, tools, supplies for foreseeable repairs. If you are on a deluxe tour with hotels and restaurants, you carry next to nothing. My friend Ken, who rode across the country when he finished law school, joked that he was going to have a fitting brazed onto his bike frame to carry a credit card and would carry nothing else. He would eat in restaurants, sleep in hotels, and pay for anything and everything he needed.

I was on a supported tour some years ago and at the end of the week we were told that we had been provided 7500 calories/day. Carrying and preparing that much food is a lot of work – one reason I’m doing this as a supported tour. They will carry and cook food.

I’ll bring a tent, sleeping bag and pad (we’ll be camping every night); but they’ll carry that stuff – I’ll ride my bike.  I would normally bring a pump. (I’m going to try CO2 inflators for emergencies on this trip, since the pump in my previous Davidson bike

Davidson1
The Davidson

picture won’t fit on this bike frame) I’ll carry a patch kit, tire levers, spare tubes, spare tire (though I’ll be riding on new tires), spare spokes (though I’ll be riding new wheels), spoke wrench, freehub removal tool to get at drive side spokes, a spare chain, connecting links, and chain tool, lubricant for chain and brakes (hubs, bottom bracket, and headset have ceramic sealed bearings and are fairly new so should not need any attention). Spare cables (though, again, I will have fairly new cables in place).

The company I’m riding with has mechanics available (for a fee) and the ability to order parts to be delivered along the way for anything I didn’t foresee.  I will only carry what I reasonably expect to need on a given day. The rest will be available to me in the evenings (including a pump for keeping tire pressures optimal, so I’ll bring the CO2 inflators for emergencies only).

I’m having second thoughts on the day I edit this. In my youth, Campagnolo parts were available at every quality bike shop. Now the evil empire (Shimano) has such a stranglehold on the market that Campagnolo parts can be hard to find in the US. Should I be riding a Shimano-equipped bike to make it easier to get spares? Stay tuned.

wilier1-e1516591644409.jpg
Campagnolo components – wise for a cross country trip?

I’ll also carry some favorite snacks, electrolyte replacement, multiple sets of riding clothes and mild detergent to wash them every night. The best prevention for saddle sores is to wear clean clothes every day and change as soon as the ride is over. After ride clothes will probably be pretty limited and basic.  I will bring rainwear for riding.

I plan to buy a cell phone for the trip (I don’t yet have one – update – now I do). I’ll carry it during the day to use as a camera so I can post photos (day one will include a picture of us dipping our wheels in the Pacific Ocean) and I plan to use it in the evenings to write this blog, rather than carry a computer.  I’m bringing a solar charging system that I bought on IndieGoGo. I understand we will have showers available every night. I haven’t decided what books to bring (or if I’ll read on my phone like modern people do).

death ride (cropped) - Version 2
Your blogger, Ebbetts Pass, 1992 Death Ride (jersey from the year before)

Most importantly, I will be bringing a nearly new and very light bike, with a wide gear range. I will be bringing a trained body.  While I have ridden 130 miles in a day, crossing 5 mountain passes and climbing 15,000 feet; and I have ridden (an average of) 85 miles/day for 6 days; this is an endeavor way beyond anything I have done. I know how to train. I have trained for riding. I have trained for martial arts and other sports.  This is quantitatively different, but qualitatively the same thing.  I am also 65 years old, which was not the case for those other endeavors.

P.S The Giro d’Italia (one of the three Grand Tours in bike racing) began yesterday in Jerusalem. There are three stages in Israel before the tour moves to Italy. Stage 6 (Thursday) will be the first mountain stage.

P.P.S. Those of you who have already ridden across the country, use the comments to tell me if you think I’m a fool for bringing something you found unnecessary, or a bigger fool for leaving out something essential. If you just think I’m a fool in general, please keep that to yourself.

P.P.P.S. Spring may be here. 80 degrees on Monday, so my first back-to-back days getting out of town on the bike. 25 mph wind so I had to work heading south out of town. I saw a magnolia in bloom – thought I’d stop for a photo on the way back, but I returned a different way.

On Sunday, nothing was green in the countryside except some winter wheat poking up through the ground. On Wednesday, grass was green, a few trees were blooming – and I saw a snowy owl at the top of the last climb of the evening. A thunderstorm arrived minutes after I stopped for a post-ride pizza.

bleeding heartThursday: Maples bloomed today, bleeding hearts bloomed today, buds on the apple tree. More rain. As soon as the sun comes back, more stuff will bloom.

Author: halffastcyclingclub

We are a group of friends who ride bikes. Some of us are fast, some of us are slow, all of us are half-fast. In 2018, one of us is riding coast to coast across the US. If we meet Sal Paradise, we'll let you know.

2 thoughts on “What do you bring to ride across the country?”

  1. Take the new bike. Option one for planning is everything goes well. Chances are good that you won’t need a Campy replacement. Also even if something does go wrong either the support or other riders might be able to take care of it. Absent that Campy replacement might be reasonably available.
    I really like taking a Kindle reader with me when travelling. Battery life lasts weeks and it holds lots of books.

    Liked by 1 person

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