As a warning for some, enticement for others, this’ll be a bit more technical than my other posts. I want to mention the gear I used on this trip 1) as a reminder to myself for possible future trips, and 2) to show others interested in touring cycling that you don’t need to break the bank on top-of-the-line gear for your adventure.
The Mystery, The Mancycle, The Moose – $33
This is the horse that took me across the country. The frame is a Fuji Finest Sport Series, 61 cm., found at the side of our house. It belonged to my friend, who I believe bought it sometime in high school, so it’s definitely not new. It came with an FSA Power Pro 201 crankset, Shimano Sora front and rear derailleurs and shifters, platform pedals, brake pads, and a rusty chain. I replaced the chain with an 8-speed SRAM PC 850 P-Link Bicycle Chain ($14) and got a SRAM PG850 11-32T 8 Speed Cassette ($19). Also shown in the picture are water bottles. Two 1.5 L bottles kept me hydrated, plus a smaller 500 mL for when the big bottles couldn’t fit beneath shallow sinks/water fountains (turned out to be VERY useful).
The Most Important Part of a Touring Bike – The Wheels ($220)
Rear Wheel: Dimension Value Series 2 700c 36h Rear Wheel Shimano 2200 Silver Hub WTB Freedom Ryder Rim ($52)
Front Wheel: Dimension Value Series 2 700c 32h Front Wheel, Shimano 2200 Silver Hub, WTB Freedom Ryder Rim ($47)
These consisted of WTB Freedom Ryder rims, Shimano 2200 hubs, and 3x crossed DT Swiss stainless silver spokes. For how cheap these wheels were, they performed amazingly. Dripped someThreadlock ($3) into the spoke ends and the wheels stayed true for the entire ride. Considering I rode with about 50 lbs. of gear, this was quite a feat.
Two tubes, plus two spare ($25)
Two rolls of Velox Fond de Jante rim tape 17mm ($14)
Two Vittoria Randonneur 700 x 28c Road Tires ($50)
I only had three flats on the trip. Three! I switched the tires rear-to-front and front-to-rear in Kansas, and admittedly by the end of the ride both were well worn, but after 3,600 miles, I couldn’t be happier with them.
Extra Panaracer Pana RiBMo Folding Tire 700×28 ($29)
Goodies in the Front – $32
Avenir Mini Metro Handlebar Bag ($15)
91 1/2 cubic inches of space. Plenty of room for my wallet, cell phone, iPod, camera, passport, sunglasses, chapstick, and pepper spray in the side pouch. Easily detachable when going into shops.
Bell F12 Bike Computer ($10)
Worked fine until Kansas. Replaced the battery in Denver. Went on the fritz again in Wyoming. I’m not sure what was wrong with it, but it was useless through the last leg of my ride. I don’t know if any bike computer can last a cross-country trip, but I was not impressed with this one.
LED headlight ($7)
I bought this as a pair with a taillight. The taillight fell off somewhere in Colorado. Fortunately, I never rode at night so it wasn’t a big deal, but I should have spent more on brighter, better quality lights.
I also had a clown horn given to me by Katherine, but the Kansas heat caused it to crack. Just like strong wheels, the clown horn is an important necessity for touring, if for entertainment alone.
Where My Rear Was (and other non-related items) – $10
Brooks saddle borrowed from a friend. Of all Moose’s components, this one was commented on the most. Nearly every host questioned its comfort, and one even compared it to a medieval torture device (“It even has metal bolts in the rear for extra pain!”). Despite its spartan appearance, Brooks saddles are the way to go for touring cycling. Many gel or padded saddles start out fine, but day after day of sitting will cause pressure points on your bum from where the padding has compressed. Leather saddles start rigid, but daily riding softens the leather to the shape of your butt. After many miles, it’s actually quite comfortable (for riding 60-80 miles a day, that is).
Also pictured: a Bell helmet given by Edward for my birthday – I think the padding is permanently salty from how much I sweated, and a letter-combination bike lock – my word was not BATE ($10).
Junk in the Front – $10
Front racks and panniers borrowed from a friend. TheAxiom Journey DLX Low Rider Rack kept the bags sturdy and free from interfering with the front wheel. The front panniers contained maps, first-aid kit, repair kit, toiletries bag, sunscreen/bug spray, granola bars, extra tubes, extra folding tire, Schwinn Aluminum Frame Pump ($10), which saved me a few times with flats in barren parts of the country, a second pump in case one broke, and MSR Whisperlite stove and cooking supplies borrowed from Edward’s dad. I used stove nearly every day and never had a problem, even in wind, rain, or other poor weather condtions. Nearly everything was in Ziploc since the bags weren’t waterproof.
Junk in the Trunk – $156
Ventura Universal Bicycle Carrier Rack ($12) sturdily held two Racktime Travelit panniers($55), providing a whopping 46 liters / 2,806 cu. inches of space, extremely easy mounting/dismouting, and pack-away rain covers for those drizzly days. The left contained my food bag (a day or two’s worth of cereal, oatmeal, bread, bananas, apples, peaches, peanut butter [near the end of the trip, I was finishing a jar every other day], tomatoes, onions, rice, and spaghetti) and my sleeping bag. The right had my clothes (3 quick-dry shirts, 1 cotton shirt, 2 bike shorts, 1 zip off pants/shorts, 3 underwear, 3 sock pairs, 1 fleece, 1 rain jacket, gloves, Teva sandals, sneakers, and cap). The top bag contained Coleman 5-Gallon Shower Camp given to me by Edward, wrapped around a Thermarest sleeping pad borrowed from Katherine, wrapped around a North Face Mica 12 tent ($89), bought with an employee discount from the same friend who let me use his Fuji frame. The solar shower allowed me at least a rinse-off at the end of every day, the Thermarest allowed for surprisingly good nights of sleep, and the Mica tent kept me off the ground, warm, and dry, even in severe lightening storms.
Total Cost: $461
For a trip of a lifetime, not a bad price tag.