Friday, September 27, 2013


Jen and I have been hanging out in the cultural center of the universe for the past couple days with one of my old Snohomish friends and I've had a little time to catch up on some interweb work that I have been meaning to get to for a while.  I get good feedback on this blog and one of the most frequent questions I get from readers is;

What are you guys carrying for this bike tour across the country?

To start with, I think it may be helpful to state that Jen and I are on a completely self-contained tour and camping 99% of the time while we are on the road.  We have stayed at a motel exactly once on this trip in Eureka and it was the biggest waste of $70 we have made thus far.  We are preparing at least 95% of our own meals as well which impacts the amount of cooking gear and food we are carrying.  Those touring with credit cards and staying exclusively in hotels/motels will have a much lighter kit.

The Bikes

I am riding a 2009 Surly Long Tucker retrofit with a newer LHT disk fork and an Avid BB7 mechanical disk break.  I am huge fan of mechanical disk breaks on touring bikes for both stopping power in wet conditions and ease of maintenance.

Jen is riding a 2006 Trek 520 with a similar retrofit front fork and BB7 brakes.  A 1-inch fork for the 520 was a little harder to find and required some welding for mid-fork braze ons to allow attachment of a Tubus Low-Rider front rack, but was well worth the effort to get a front disk brake on the 520.

Both bikes are rolling a Sugino XD 600 Triple 46-36-26 crankset with a SRAM 9-speed 11-34 rear cassette.  This is basically a mountain bike drive train that performs really well for a heavy loaded touring rig.  

Both bikes have the exact same wheel set-up as well.  The rear wheels are built on Shimano Deore LX Mountain hubs and Mavic A719 36 hole rims.  The front wheels are built on Shimano 36 hole DH-3D72 Dynamo generator hubs which power Schmidt Edelux front headlights.

I had both bikes built up at Second Ascent with very similar component sets intentionally for a couple of reasons.  First, having the same parts on each bike minimizes the tools and spare parts that you have to carry.  Secondly, I am a pretty hack bicycle mechanic and only having to learn how to fix minimal gear just made sense to me.

While both of us started from Seattle with just front and rear panniers, I had my Dad send my BOB Trailer to me in South Lake Tahoe.  The primary reason for this was the additional water carrying capacity for riding through more remote portions of the southwest desert.  I can also carry more food, beer and whiskey; which nobody seems to complain about at the end of a hard day.

Group Camping Kit
MSR Hubba Hubba Tent
Feathered Friends Penguin Nano 20 Double Sleeping Bag
Two Exped SynMat UL 7 inflatable sleeping pads
MSR Whisperlight International Gas Stove
30 oz MSR Fuel Bottle
20 oz MSR Fuel Bottle
Evernew Titanium pot set (1 liter, and 1.5 liter)
Kitchen bag (spices, olive oil, salt & pepper, absconded packets of catsup)
Aero Press coffee maker
Two tin coffee mugs
Wine bottle opener

Apple MacBook Air 11-inch
Canon Elph 100 HS Powershot digital camera
iphone 5
Two ipod Nanos
Kindle Paperwhite electronic reader
GoalZero Nomad 7 Solar Charger
Camera battery charger

Matt's Cloths
2 x Ibex wool cycling chamois
OR Nobo Shorts
Patagonia Nylon Shorts
2 cotton t-shirts
Ibex Woolies long-sleeved shirt
Patagonia R1 Hoodie
Patagonia Puff Pullover
Long sleeve cowboy shirt
REI Short sleeve collared shirt
Rab schoeller pants
Altra Wasatch running shoe
Chaco Sandles
Ibex ool socks
Ultimax knee high socks
Ultimax ankle socks
OR Stormtracker gloves
Fingerless cycling gloves
OR Radar Pocket Cap
Second Ascent Truckers Cap
OR lightweight rain shell
1 pair of cotton underwear
1 pair Ex Officia Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs
Pearl Izumi knee warmers
Old school Patagonia prototype red leopard print fleece hat hand-me-down ;-)

Jen's cloths
One Ibex Wool cycling chamois
One synthetic Sugoi chamois
One Title Nine wool skirt
One REI lightweight knit skirt
Lucy Pink Sundress -Jen is super cute in this ;-)
Marmot Lightweight zip-off pants
Two tank tops
One Ibex Wool T-Shirt
One Ibex long-sleeved Woolies shirt
Patagonia R-.5 Hoodie
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoodie Jacket
Two sports bras
2 pairs cotton underwear
2 pairs synthetic underwear
1 pair of Smartwool tall socks
1 pair of Smartwool crew socks
1 pair synthetic ankle socks
OR lightweight rain shell
Ibex wool arm warmers
Ibex wool knee warmers
Chaco Sandles
Merrell trail running shoes
Wool beanie cap
Short billed hat

Jen's Personal Kit
Contacts and solution
Color pencils
Eye glasses
Girl stuff
Grapefruit extract
2 handkerchiefs
16 oz insulated Clean Canteen
Pepper spray
Reflective riding vest
Golight 15 liter frameless pack

Matt's Personal Kit
One paperback book (down from three when we started)
50 feet of parachute cord
Gerber multitool
Small bottle of bleach (water purifier)
Two plastic water bottles
16 oz Insulated Clean Canteen
Pepper spray
Extra batteries
Shave kit
Hair cutting Scissor
Nail clippers
Mini foam roller
Reflective riding vest
Mont-Bell Zero Point 20 liter frameless pack

Joint gear
First aid kit
Bike repair kit
Hooha! chamios cream
Toprocin anti-inflamatory cream
Dental floss
Baby wipes
Backcountry poop kit (TP, lighter and hand sanitize)
Travel Scrabble
Deck of Cards
Kryponite bike lock and cable (several keys!)

I am sure that I omitted a couple of things, but this is basically our kit for the tour from Seattle south to Southern California and east across the Souther Tier of the USA.  I intend this post to serve a platform for periodic gear reviews in addition to regular trip reports.  Please email me at malford777(at)gmail(dot)com if you have specific questions about gear our the route that Jen and have travelled on our bikes.

Kloshe konaway
Kloshe nanitch


You know you are in Nevada when the roadside brothels are on the MAP!

I can't even make up stuff that is this good. 

 The ride between Pahrump, NV and Vegas on trash littered Highway 160 into a 30 mph headwind was not very fun.  Jenny made sandwiches in the morning, and boy did it ever taste good today!

 Guardrail picnic: 50 miles of fenced off desert riding into Vegas left few options for lunch.  

 Never a shortage of climbing on this trip.

High winds and dust storms in Red Rocks Canyon.

 A Oasis in strip mall hell.  I went searching for post cards and found this wonderful independent bakery in South Vegas.  If you are ever in town and need a cake made for a special occasion or a good cup of coffee and a fine croissant, the Sugar Bee  Bakery is the place to call on!

 Sunset and sprawl.  Exploration Park, Enterprise NV.  
Local Knuckleheads and weird folks who ride their bikes.

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