My Gear For The Cross Country Trip

After a lot of thought, suggestions from others, and several preparation rides I finally settled on the equipment that I will start with. I really appreciate all of the suggestions provided by everyone, but in the end, each person needs to decide what is best for them.

A detailed .pdf of my gear is included at the bottom of this post. Please use the information as a starting point but not an end all.

The total weight = 31.1 pounds (no fuel, water, food)

  • spare parts = 2.1 pounds
  • cooking and eating = 1.3 pounds
  • shelter and sleeping = 7.1 pounds
  • clothing* = 10.3 pounds
  • toilitries = 1.3 pounds
  • medicine and first aid = 1.8
  • miscellaneous items = 1.6 pounds
  • electrical and electronics* = 4.1 pounds
  • bicycle security = 0.5 pounds
  • items carried on me = 0.7 pounds

*Note 1: The clothing weight may seem somewhat high, but I elected to include everything, which includes the shoes, helmet, and the clothing I will be wearing during the day. I have to pedal that weight up the hill so I decided to include it.

*Note 2: The electrical and electronics may seem excessive. Early on I decided to carry a Samsung Chromebook (and charger) to ease the burden of working on several blogs and articles during the trip.

Here is a .pdf of my gear: Touring Weight

The Outfitted Bicycle

The bicycle from the side.Here are the modifications to the Bacchetta Giro 20 bicycle in preparation for the cross country trip.

On the front post there is a Planet Bike water bottle cage attached with a Two Fish Quick Cage Adapter.  At the front, underneath the main tube, is a Topeak Turbo Morph G pump.  The front crank set is a Shimano Deore with 48-36-26 gears and Shimano PD-M324 pedals.

The front of the bike.In the middle of the bike there is a TerraCycle Easy Reacher Rack for the midship panniers.  Behind the seat, on each side, are two Planet Bike water bottle cages.  On top of the seat is an ADEM Headrest with Planet Bike Blinky Super Flash.  The ‘pull pins’ holding the seat stay tubes in position were replaced with TerraCycle Velogenesis Seat Strut Clamps.

The bicycle rack.On the back of the bike there is a Topeak Explorer Tubular Rack; the front of the rack is attached to the seat stay tubes  with tie wraps and a piece of old inner tube for insulation.  On the back of the rack is a Planet Bike Blinky 5 LED light.  I got tired of constantly trying to find a ‘leaning post’ for the loaded bicycle and added a kickstand and bracket from Bacchetta.  A loaded recumbent seems to be more ungainly than an upright, so the 13 ounce stand/bracket has been a worthwhile investment.

The bicycle handlebars.On the handlebars I have a Blackburn road mirror on the left side, and a Volae ‘T’ Bar Light Mount in the center tube.  On the ‘T’ bar there is a Garmin Edge 800 and a Bontrager Trip 2L computer.  I elected to use two types of computers: when using the Edge 800 to follow a route the Bontrager will continue to display the speed and other information.  There is a Planet Bike Blaze 2W Headlight on the main handlebar.

The loaded bicycle.Between the weight of the bicycle, the weight of the gear, and my body weight I was concerned about using a 32 spoke rear wheel.  I elected to replace both the front and rear wheels: Shimano SLX hubs (32 spoke front and 36 spoke rear), Velocity AreoHeat rims, and DT-Swiss spokes.  The tires are Schwalbe Marathon HS240s.

Other items: I added Bacchetta fenders to minimize water splash on wet pavement and rocks/trash kicking up.  Based on a chain stretch indicator reading I decided to replace the chain: KMC X9.99 sliver.  The chain is of some concern because I only have about 1,500 miles of road riding plus another 400 miles on a trainer.  I was hoping to make it cross country on a new chain, but this may not happen.

All of the repair parts are carried in a Sunlite Utili-T Handlebar bag which is mounted between the seat and the rear fender and is attached to the rear rack.  The panniers to carry all of the gear are made by Arkel: RT-40 for the mid-ship panniers and RT-60 for the rear panniers.  I elected to skip the waterproof pannier covers in favor of using Sea To Summit dry sacks to organize my gear.  I also decided to remove the tubes from the RT-60s.

The bike (no water in the bottles) as described above weighs in at 42.2 pounds, the panniers weigh 12.1 pounds, and the repair parts bag weighs .3 pounds.

Trying Out Food

Testing FootOur 3 day shakedown ride starts in 6 days, and the cross country ride starts in a little more than 3 weeks.  Wow!  At some point I need to decide what sort of food to take with me: on both trips.  Sometimes we will be eating at restaurants and convenience stores, but many times we will be eating ‘on the road.’

We will be passing through towns on a somewhat regular basis, so I am anticipating the need to carry only enough food for 3-4 days at a time, thus saving weight.  The bad news is trying to figure out what to carry with me.  I tried to identify some basic requirements for the meals:

  • nourishing
  • sufficient calories
  • light weight
  • easy to fix
  • require minimum cooking time (breakfast & dinner)
  • quick to eat (lunch & snacks)
  • minimal preservation
  • somewhat balanced nutrition
  • cost effective

I figured breakfast will generally comprise oatmeal with powdered milk & raisins, hot tea or instant coffee, and perhaps some fresh fruit.  Snacks will involve granola bars, candy bars, and trail mix.  Lunch will be something like peanut butter & jelly & bagels, fresh fruit, fig newton bars, and sandwich ‘stuff’ picked up along the way.  I plan on taking some Mrs. Dash seasoning along with salt/pepper and bacon bits.  Prepackaged cookies can always serve as a desert.

Ah, that leaves the dinner meal itself.  What fits the bill for a dinner meal when camping out? So far, I have tried out several meal ideas and received ideas from other people.

  1. Idahoan brand instant potatoes taste pretty good, take about 5 minutes to fix, are lightweight, and can easily be repackaged for smaller sizes.  The negative is that they are not a full meal, and something else must be fixed with them.
  2. Zatarin’s Jambalaya rice meals fit the bill, however, it takes about 25 minutes to fix and burns excess cooking gas. Vienna Sausage’s cut up add an a little extra taste; not as good as andouille sausage, but decent. I thought about adding canned shrimp, but they were too expensive.
  3. Zatarin’s Long Grain & Wild rice meals are another option; it has the same pros and cons as the jambalaya rice. Adding a tin of chicken to the rice would add something to the meal. Also, adding some broccoli or peas or corn could improve things.  I haven’t tried this, yet, but plan on doing it before I leave.
  4. Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with a tin of tuna fish mixed in seems to make a decent tuna fish casserole. Using instant milk instead of real milk works okay. Most boxes also call for margarine, but leaving it out didn’t seem to make a difference. Adding few veggies could boost the taste a little.
  5. Noodles, spaghetti sauce, and cut up Vienna sausages made a decent ‘Italian’ mixture.  Certainly not the real thing, but close enough.  Noodles seem to work better than spaghetti because of the small cooking pot I am taking.
  6. Hormel makes a line of meals called ‘Compleats.’ They are designed for microwave heating, but I think they will heat up just fine in a pot. Again, I haven’t tried them, but plan on trying them out.

Most of the ‘boxed’ meals are designed to serve 4-6 people.  I plan on repackaging them into several smaller portions.   There are some other things that I am looking at, and once on the road my taste buds will surely change.

At least I now have some food ideas to kick start the trip with.  After the upcoming three day weekend I will see what my meal planning has missed.