The motivation to move – The bike and gear

I bought a Cannondale T800 in 2005. I’m riding it close to stock. I have replaced the seat with a women’s Terry Liberator. For a long time, I wrestled with whether or not to get clipless pedals. I planned to spend a lot of time off the bike hiking, and didn’t want to take an extra pair of shoes, or worry about wearing out cleats in the middle of nowhere, so I decided toe clips on the stock platform pedals would be fine. I figured that at the speed I travel I’d never really notice the difference in pedalling efficiency. (Note: after the trip I was perfectly happy with this decision).

2005 Cannondale T800

Rear rack: what came stock; Rear Panniers: Ortlieb Sportspacker.

In the left rear pannier I kept all of my clothes in gallon-size Ziploc baggies. This kept them nicely organised by function (e.g. on-bike, off-bike, warmies, etc.). I also kept food and, when it was hot, extra drinks (e.g. a 32 oz Gatorade) in this pannier. In the right rear pannier, I carried a spare tire, my sleeping bag, ‘the office’ (i.e. journal, maps, battery rechargers, phone, etc.), my warm jacket and ‘the delicates’ ziploc.

Front Rack: Tubus Ergo; Front Panniers: Lone Wolf P-099s.

In the left front pannier, I kept my tent, tent fly, groundsheet and flip flops. In the right front pannier, I kept an assortment of bike tools and spare nuts, tubes, etc, a first aid kit, personal hygiene stuff, 3 oz of laundry detergent, spare rags, pannier covers and anything else that can be classified as miscellaneous. (left pannier was always more bulky than the right, but they always weighed about the same)

Handlebar bag: Arkel Small

In the handlebar bag I kept my wallet, camera, asthma inhaler, weather radio (though most times this was kept with ‘the office’), passports, lightweight cable lock and sunscreen. Pepper spray kept in outside pocket.

On the rear rack I rolled my tent poles in their bag within my sleeping pad.

Tent: Northface Tadpole – owned this for five or so years, mostly pleased with it, kept me dry through considerable amounts of rain early in the trip. I use one of the reflective space/emergency blankets as a groundsheet.

Sleeping bag: Kelty women’s Light Year 20 degree bag, long . Got on clearance through Campmor specifically for this trip as my other bags are all more than 10 years old and have lost their loft. Only dislike of bag is having a ¾ length zip instead of a full length one. It’s my first down bag – doesn’t seem to bother my asthma.

Sleeping pad: Standard ¾ length Ridgerest. I like simplicity and have never owned anything other than one of these. I may acquiesce when I get older .

I use a 1.5 litre Camelback instead of drink bottles. I personally stay better hydrated this way.

I did not carry a stove or cooking gear, just a fork, knife and spoon. Along my route it was easy enough to find veggies, fruit, junk food and drinks in supermarkets and hot food from cafes/ fast food outlets along the way. I really enjoyed Wendy’s when I could find it (order a ¼ lb single meal with a salad or plain baked potato instead of fries, add a small chili to put on top of potato and voila! – I was happy and it was cheap). We don’t have Wendy’s hamburgers down under, so it was a treat I didn’t tire of. I also ate a considerable number of Subway sandwiches as sometimes this was the only alternative to diner food in the small towns I rode through.

When packed, the final weight of the four panniers, handlebar bag and sleeping pad with tent poles was 35 pounds. This is about five pounds more than I would carry when backpacking. My gear set-up varied little throughout the trip and I used everything I took (except the pepper spray, spare tire and tubes, fiber fix spokes and some of the bike tools – though I still consider these items to be essential even if they didn’t get used). In retrospect, I probably wouldn’t change anything about what I took or how I packed.

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