getting ready... - Seattle towards Minnesota - CycleBlaze

getting ready...

In the pictures below you can see almost everything I'm taking.

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In the FAQ posting (above) you can read the list of everything I’m taking. Every time I take a trip I collect everything I need and spread it out over the floor. Then, when I look at it I think, “There’s no way in hell all of that’s going to fit in those two little bags.” (you can see a picture of the two little bags in the center left) Even before I start putting things into them I try to figure out what all I’m going to have to leave behind…. Do I REALLY need that much toothpaste? I could squeeze some out. I wonder if soap would work as well?

Then I start filling up the panniers, placing the heaviest items at the bottom to keep my center of gravity lower. I also try to keep the bags fairly equal in weight. After about 10 minutes of stuffing things into the bags, I look around and see that I don’t really have anything left to put in, and I have a little bit of space left over. I’m always surprised. Every time.

I actually have a set of front pannier bags, and have used them once. The reason I don’t use them anymore is because I found that if I have them on the bike, I’m going to fill them up. I start putting extra clothes and tools "just in case I need them." (I never did) Then, it’s just that much extra weight to drag around. It's easy to toss those things into the extra space, but when I'm grinding up the side of a mountain I have second thoughts about whether I REALLY needed to bring my bowling ball collection. At that point, it's tempting to just start leaving things on the side of the road and, in fact, I've passed some articles that people have jettisoned.

Taking a bunch of extra gear/equipment is sort of opposite of what I did on my first trip. My first set of panniers were tiny, about 2/3 the size of my present ones. I somehow fit everything into those, too. On that trip, I made it sort of a game to see how light I could travel.

I did things such as I using soap for shaving cream, shampoo, and conditioner.  I left the handle of the razor and just took the razor blade. I know I looked pretty silly trying to shave all summer just using the disposable razor cartridges. Of course, there's also the contributing factor that in 1982 I was really broke and just couldn't afford to take much, unlike those bourgeoisie snobs and their fancy razor blade handles.

Out of curiosity, I weighed all of my gear on this trip... clothing, tools, tent, sleeping bag... all together everything weighs 35.0 pounds.

Usually, I take my bike with me on the plane. After arriving at the airport, I simply reassemble my bike and start pedaling right out the door of the airport. For this trip, I considered letting a bike store box it up and ship it for me (I’m pretty lazy), but I would’ve had to get it to them 10 days before I start my trip. That means no riding for the 10 days prior to starting, and I thought that was probably too long to go without riding.

So, two days before I flew out I got the largest bike box I could find from beside the dumpster at the local bike shop, then started disassembling my bike. The handlebars come off, but stay attached to the frame via the brake and shifter cables. The front wheel comes off, then the fork gets turned around so the bike is shorter. The pedals come off, as does the seat. I place a hard piece of plastic between the front forks so that when the baggage handlers jump up and down on the side of the box, the forks don’t get bent. After that, I cover as many of the surfaces as I can to protect the paint. Lastly, I place other items into the box. I tuck my sleeping bag around the extra spaces. My tent poles, my helmet, my sleeping pad… whatever I can get into it. Otherwise, I have to either stuff them into my panniers to be checked or carry them with me on the plane to avoid paying extra, since you can only have two checked pieces of luggage.

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For this trip, I flew Northwest. It costs $80.00 to take a bike with you, as long as it’s less than 70 pounds.

I have a tradition before I leave on a bike trip: I order a bunch of pizza and watch the movie Breaking Away. The pizza is supposed to be "carb loading," but really it's just a good excuse to eat a bunch of pizza. I have a long list of reasons to eat Italian food, although "justification" is probably a better word than "reason." If you haven't seen Breaking Away, you really should. It's a fun movie, and I don't know of anyone who hasn't enjoyed it.

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