Posted by: twistsoffeet | January 28, 2011

Bicycle Logistics of a Solo Cross Country Bicycle Trip


One would think that riding a bicycle would really not be a logistical nightmare; for short jaunts around town or a day of mountain biking it isn’t, at least not for me.

Cross country touring is a whole new game for me.

I will set this record straight from the beginning: I am not some wealthy or retired and bored person with money burning a hole in my pocket. Funds for a new touring bicycle are just not available. I mean 2-3000.00 dollars for a well set up touring bike would be nice, but it just ain’t gonna happen.

My current bike is an off-brand generic 26 inch front suspension bike with a 34 tooth front crank and simple clipless non spd open pedals.  It has a 7 speed cassette with Shimano brakes and derailleurs. It also has 26 x 1.95 around town road tires and a cruiser saddle, the handlebar has a 2 inch rise and it actually has extremely comfortable grips. The shifter is 7 speed twist shift.

Now for the logistical nightmare. I will leave the front suspension untouched, as well as the handle bar. I do need to change my crank to a 3 speed crankset compatible with my 7 speed cassette and then find the appropriate derailleurs and shifters.

Did I say I am doing this on a tight budget?

That means I can not just run off to the local bicycle shop and say, “Hey guys could you do this for me? And by the way– cost is no object.”  It is enough that I will have to have the bike shop install these components because I just do not have all the tools needed to do all of this.

Now comes the saddle. Choosing a saddle is really an intimate choice. I mean… anything that is going to be up close and personal with my nether region for a couple of months continuously… well it just has to be right. For me, that means a saddle that will be able to support my large frame, though I imagine this frame will shrink daily. It must be comfortable for many hours and miles every day on the road and also serve duty as a mountain bike seat if I go off road.

It must be anatomically suitable for a male who wishes to protect all of his sensitive parts.

Cushioning is important, as is airflow and breath-ability. Add on double front roller and double rear roller panniers a front cargo rack and rear cargo rack with a trunk bag.

I have found the trailer I want to use it will have 2-16 inch wheels, it is pretty aerodynamic and can carry 100 lbs. The trailer will have a safety flag so people will hopefully see me, and I intend to cover it with lots of bright reflective tape and stickers. I want to ride with 2 red rear strobe lights for low visibility riding and a front head light/strobe light as well. I always ride with a helmet because, to be honest. this head of mine just can not take to many more blows.

I need to get a quality bottom bracket for my crankset and quality spd compatible pedals, at this time I am looking at Crank Brothers Acid1 mountain bike eggbeater type pedals. They are heavier than road bike pedals but this bike must serve double duty as a mountain bike and to be honest I would rather deal with an extra ounce or two of weight and get the added support and durability.

Add on water bottle cages, air pump, handlebar bag, GPS unit (necessary for finding my way safely around swamps, rivers and non-bicycle friendly communities). I would like to have a heart rate monitor as much to gauge my health status and improvements, as setting a proper and consistent pace. I will need spare tires and tubes for front and rear of my bike but also for the trailer, as well as a tire repair kit, spare cables, several spare replacement spokes, and a sufficient repair tool kit with chain and bike cleaners and lubricants.

Since I will be publishing this blog from the road I will need a solar charger for my computer, phone, GPS, my one luxury– my iPod– I just can not live without my music.

Okay… my music is not my only luxury. I have decided to take a bottle of single malt scotch and several full bodied Dominican or Nicaraguan cigars to reward myself as I relax on my off days, which will be 1 day out of 7, hopefully. I know Scotch and cigars are not healthy, but I do not care.  At 54 years of age, I have earned this and I am going to do these things just because I can and I want to, so there!

I have not yet decided on tires; I am not certain how aggressive I want my tread pattern to be since most of the trip will be on road, but still several hundred miles are possible on dirt roads and trails.  I do have to pay attention to how efficient  the tires are and also how noisy they are.  Then I must think about (or maybe first think about) what tire will be safest to travel on. I will need appropriate tire liners, preferably Kevlar and cotton rim tape, spare brake pads, self sealing tubes, fenders and batteries for my lights.

And this is just the logistic challenge for the bicycle portion of  my equipment.

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