This was my first long distance self-supported tour (3,600 miles @ 65 miles per day & 1 day per week rest) on a recumbent; I would never again do another long distance ride on an upright bicycle. There are a few reasons for my comment:
- At the end of the day (sometimes 100+ mile days) my hands, wrists, shoulders, back, neck, and butt felt great.
- My relaxed field of view tended to be straight out in front of me when riding a recumbent rather that down toward the ground. When going up hills I was more relaxed and comfortable looking around and enjoying the scenery.
- Special biking clothing such as padded shorts/pants or bicycling shirts were not needed. I was able to wear my everyday summer or cool weather clothing.
- When riding into the wind I felt it required less effort to overcome the wind resistance.
- This bike was so comfortable that dosing off in the warm afternoon sun was a real concern, particularly after eating lunch. True fact!
- Disclaimer: This isn’t a knock on how anybody else chooses to ride or what they choose to wear. For me, a recumbent solved all of the physical issues I had previously experienced doing long distance bicycle riding.
For anyone considering a similar bicycle, bicycle accesories, or panniers, here are a few thoughts:
Bacchetta Giro 20 Bicycle
- The Giro 20 has a small, 20″, front wheel. When compared with the 26″ model I felt it was easier to put my foot down when stopping, easier to get my foot back on the pedal when starting, and didn’t seem so twitching when going slow.
- Velogenesis seat support clamps; before the tour started one of the stock ring clips that hold the seat support tube in place came loose, so I installed these clamps for ‘preventative measures’.
- Shimano Deore 26/36/48 front chain ring; I don’t think I would have made it up some of the hills, fully loaded, with the stock 30/42/52 gearing.
- The chain showed excessive stretch at the 2,200 mile point. Soooo, the chain and cassette were replaced.
- Bachetta accessory kick stand; good choice! There was no need to find a leaning post when stopping on the road. One thing to note: I used a Greenfield KS2 black kick stand, which was longer than the silver model. The longer stand kept the bicycle more upright and more stable when panniers were loaded on only one side.
- Bacchetta accessory fenders; another good choice. They minimized muddy rooster tails up my back and on my equipment as well as eliminating rocks flying up and about.
- Velocity AeroHeat Rims; I was concerned about carrying all of the weight on a 32 spoke rear rim so I built up a 36 spoke rim which performed as expected. Was this a good investment? I don’t know. It was probably a good preventive measure, and I would do it again.
- Schwalbe Marathon Tires; I spent the extra money on these 1.5″ tires. I had two flats on the road. Where they worth the extra money? Again, I don’t know.
- Topeak Turbo Mountain Morph pump; a great investment. This was used multiple times for flats and topping off. The included air pressure gauge was great.
- Planet Bike Blinky 5 Tail Light; good purchase. At night it was visible for quite a distance and the batteries (AAA) last a long time.
- Planet Bike 2 Watt Blaze Headlight; the light was sufficiently bright and the batteries (AA) lasted an adequate amount of time. But, the mounting bracket has a plastic ‘click stop’ size adjuster which would loosen up on rough roads. I had to wrap electrical tape around it to keep it in place.
- Edge 800; this was a gift from my son. Wow, was this a nice addition. The battery would last about 10 hours, and I tended to leave it on from start to stop each day. On really long days I needed to supplement the power with a Goal Zero battery pack. One note about the mounting bracket, which uses O-Rings to hold it in place. My deteriorated and one broke about the second week of the trip. Sooooo, I took nylon cord and tied the bracket to the ‘T’ and all worked well. I would not travel with the O-Rings, again.
- ADEM headrest; I didn’t always lean my head back against the head rest, but it sure was nice to do on long stretches of road or going up hills.
Arkel RT-40 & RT-60 Panniers
- These panniers were very durable and the zippers worked flawlessly. I enjoyed the ‘many’ pockets and storage compartments. After a week on the rode ‘stuff’ was easy to find and put away.
- I did not take the rain covers. Instead, I segmented my ‘stuff’ into lightweight color coded waterproof ‘stuff’ sacks from REI. This made it easy to find what I was after. The panniers seemed to be fairly waster resistant (not proof). The Arkel rain covers weighed about the same as the ‘stuff’ sacks.
- The bags had sufficient room for everything, including tent, cooking equipment, and sleeping bag.
- Note: Before the trip I used ‘ZipLoc bags’, or similar items, to segregate my ‘stuff’. Unfortunately, these bags were not zipper proof, thus my move to the more substantial ‘stuff’ sacks.
I used various sizes and colors of Sea To Summit Lightweight Dry Sacks to segregate all of my ‘stuff’. This kept everything dry, easy to find, and allowed me to quickly remove what I wanted. Unfortunately, you have to go to an REI store to select the colors, as online ordering does not offer that option. The dry sacks ended up weighing about what the pannier rain covers weighed, so that was a wash. I would definitely use these dry sacks again.