Stuff: Selecting Gear for a Cross-Country Bicycle Trip

| 5/14/2013 11:12:00 AM

Tags: Trans-America bicycle tour, bicycle tourism, cycling gear, Rick Stiles,

George Carlin, the comedian, had a routine about all of the ‘stuff’ we have that we can’t live without. He could have been joking about me preparing for my cross country bicycle trip.

I started out like Santa Claus: making a list and checking it twice, just to find out what’s needed and nice. Then I gathered everything up and spread it out on the living room floor, and the dining room floor, and the dining room table, and . . . 

My wife finally asked if the mechanical popcorn popper, the big cuddly pillow, the cellphone music speakers, my favorite frypan, and the small portable TV was really necessary. Adding insult to injury she then asked what everything weighed. Huh? Who was taking this trip: me or her?Sorting bicycle gear is a first step to beginning a cross country cycling tour.

Suddenly it dawned on me; I was the one pedaling all of this ‘stuff’ across the country. Maybe, GULP, she was right. My first weigh-in came to 72.6 pounds; not bad for two month trip. Then I discovered information recommending 30-40 pounds (no fuel, food, or water) to minimize bicycle and knee joint failures. Oh, no! She was right.

So, I separated everything into two piles: needed, and nice. The needed items came in at 43 pounds. I will be traveling through towns almost everyday so replenishing items like soap, insect repellant, sun tan lotion, first aid items, bicycle parts, and personal hygiene should be easy. With this in mind I drastically reduced the quantity and different types of consumables: 37.8 pounds.

The next place to look included repair tools, the tent, sleeping bag/pillow/mattress, and food preparation. Saving weight in this area meant spending money on lighter equipment. A lesson learned: lighter gear = more expensive gear. I bit the bullet, spent almost $400, and got the weight down to 33.4 pounds.

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