Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Ride, The Bikes, The Gear

The Ride:  The idea behind the ride is purely adventure and exploring places that we have never been before. Some of the people who cross the country on bicycle every year go with large groups on guided tours, with large groups that ride to benefit certain groups of people, such as Bike and Build and some people even ride for larger causes like our friend Rudy and his ride to raise money for the one billion people around the globe that go without clean drinking water. Working with limited resources (time, money, wavering resolve) we chose to ride this alone and unsupported, which we hope will be cheaper and offer less time constraints because we do not have to arrive at any one destination at any given time. The drawbacks are you are your own navigator, tour guide, bike mechanic, cook, sag-wagon, etc.. anything that would be provided by an organization you must provide for yourself. Luckily,  Adventure Cycling provides a multitude of pre-determined/pre-ridden bicycle friendly routes that will take you just about any where you want to go in America. We will be using these routes for the entire journey from San Francisco to Bar Harbor, Maine. The whole trip we are estimating will take us roughly three months from June 8th until early September. We estimate we will be riding 60-100+ miles per day depending on several conditions that include mountains/hills, weather (wind, rain, heat, daylight), and the amount of miles we were able to ride the previous day. We plan on taking a rest day on a weekly basis to try to limit burnout. We will depart from San Francisco on June 9th, arrive back in Columbus (3/4 point) at mid-late July and finish in Bar Harbor, Maine early September/late August. Throughout the ride we plan on camping a majority of the time, hopefully in designated camping areas, staying in hotels and staying with bike friendly families that we contact on

The Bikes: The bikes we are riding for the ride are bikes specifically designed for long distance touring and are made to carry heavy loads and all the gear necessary for a self-supported ride and both will have loaded front and rear racks. The bicycle I have chosen to ride is renowned the world over for its toughness and longevity the Surly Long Haul Trucker, which is pictured below:


Lauren has chosen to ride the GT Peace Tour. Both bikes are equipped with Books saddles, which are coveted by the touring community for saving your behind on long distance tours, triple cranks for the long climbs through the mountains and hills, and very sturdy rear and front racks that are capable of holding up 60-100 lbs each (although we will only be riding with 30-40 lbs on each rack). We ultimately decided on shipping our bikes from Columbus, OH to San Francisco to Box Dog Bikes via UPS to save on the hassle of taking them as a checked bag on the flight an to make sure our bikes were professionally tuned-up and checked over prior to departure. We would like to thank our local bike shops Paradise Garage and B1 Bicycles who helped us out in countless ways with advice while building our bikes, helping us find the best gear at a practical price, hooking us up with Box Dog Bikes in San Francisco and allowing us to use their shop to pack our bikes for shipping without these two shops this trip would have been much more costly if not impossible on our budget. Lauren's loaded GT Peace tour is pictured below just prior to one of our training rides:

The Gear: The gear took us almost a year to amass. The search for the lightest possible tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, portable stove, water filtration water bottle, etc. was exhausting and consumed many nights throughout the past year. Aside from having to set up your own camp each night, cook your own food and prepare for the next days route, and as I previously mentioned we will also be responsible for any minor mid-ride bicycle repairs. In order to perform these repairs we will be taking spare tires, tubes, brake cables, shifting cables, etc.. This will give us the benefit of being able to limp towards the next available bicycle shop on our route if any major repairs are needed. Below is a photo of a 120 mile round-trip training ride we took from Columbus-Yellow Springs, Ohio in mid-March.

The tent we chose is the Alps Mystique 2, 3 season tent that weighs-in at 5 lb. 2 oz. and is pictured below:

The gear list we compiled as you can see is massive, is probably more extensive than we actually needed and would likely suit some one who is trekking through the most remote and hostile environments on the planet. I expect to weed out the heavier unnecessary items within the first two weeks, but at least we are prepared.

- Chris

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