Unpacking - Two Old Guys Take On A Continent - CycleBlaze

August 6, 2023

Unpacking

Back Into the Closet

John here.

Everything that left Washington, DC with me with arrived in Portland with me at the end of the trail, unless it was used up or broken along the way. I never sent anything ahead or mailed anything back home along the way. So how did that turn out, you ask. I won't comment on every bit of kit, so this list will be a lot shorter than the original packing list. If you're a gearhead you may want to refer to the original list. 

Bike

The Long Haul Trucker performed well overall. After all my bragging about the past performance of the Continental Ride Tour tires I used, I had five rear flats along the way, all in the first half of the ride (2 rim tape failures, 2 pieces of wire and one mystery flat). I replaced a couple of the tubes along the way, but had the same number of spares at the end. I replaced the tires with new ones at Fort Collins, but that was part of the plan. I replaced the rear wheel in Marshall, Missouri, when I discovered the rim disintegrating. After consultation with gurus along the way I blame the bike mechanic in Terre Haute for over-tightening the spokes when he trued the wheel.

For the most part all of the accessories and doodads on the bike performed well, but I have a few notes to make:

  • PedalCell dynamo- I used it a few times and it worked admirably, but I could have lived without it. It would be much more useful on a backcountry tour where availability of charging stations would be more of an issue. I plan to try to sell it now that I'm home.
  • We used up the duct tape I had wrapped around the top of the seat tube for various purposes, and I was able to replenish from the owner's garage at the RV park in Cottonwood, Idaho.
  • Wahoo Elemnt Roam GPS worked great but for a few niggling issues. Sometimes a route would not load completely in the morning, and would fail to provide cues or turn-by-turn directions, though it still displayed the route in map view. More of an issue was the sometimes lack of synchronization between the cues and the map, calling for turns before or after they should occur (up to 4 miles different on one route) which worsened the farther along the route we were. I don't know if that is a Wahoo issue or a Ride With GPS issue, but I'm going to let them know. Way back early in the ride I noted that the edge of the Wahoo screen was delaminating.  By the end of the ride it had delaminated on both sides and at the bottom, but the delamination stopped at the edge of the display itself, so it was useable to the end.  I expect it to last for years to come at this point.
    Thank goodness for whatever barrier there is at the edge of the display portion of the screen that prevented the delamination from making the screen unreadable. Whatever is happening is under the surface layer of glass.
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Handlebar Bag

Tools

  • 10mm wrench - Used once to assemble the bike in DC, but necessary
  • spoke wrench - Used only occasionally after the rear wheel was replaced due to some loose spokes on the new wheel
  • Brooks saddle tension adjustment wrench - I'll bet that saddle stretched 1/2" over the course of the tour. 

Other Stuff

  • Topeak Mini Morph pump - Worth its weight in gold. Best pump I've ever had that could be carried on a bike.
  • emergency TP - OK, I admit to being a bear in the woods (or sagebrush) a couple times. Don't leave home without it.
  • lip balm - I carried several spare tubes, and kept picking up more along the way.  One or two would have been sufficient.
  • Coppertone Sport SPF50 sunblock - I could only find pediatric aerosol sunblock when I ran out. Didn't like it. Eventually found more Coppertone Sport,, but it was SPF70, and I didn't like the consistency (too thick), though I used it for the rest of the tour.
  • vaseline - Used maybe twice to keep a saddle sore from developing. That Brooks saddle is so well conformed to my posterior now that any further issue is unlikely.

Right Front Pannier

Tools/parts not in handlebar bag - Most of these items on the original list were intended for emergency repair use only, and thankfully they weren't needed, though I would carry them again with a few exceptions.

Tools/parts not in handlebar bag

  • Presta to Schrader valve adapter - Leave it at home.
  • 2 sets brake pads - Used to replace rear pads in Fort Collins.
  • old toothbrush for cleaning - Leave it at home.
  • spare handlebar bag mount cable - Leave it at home, but keep an eye on the mount.
  • blue Loctite (tiny tube) - Used when I assembled the bike in DC and once or twice thereafter.

The Office

  • paperback book - Started reading James Michener's Hawaii about a month into the tour. I finished it as the plane taxied to the gate in Oklahoma City on the way home. Over 1000 pages.
  • iPad Air 2 - a great decision
  • X-Dragon USB detector - Ended up not taking it along.
  • 12" homemade extension cord - Came in handy a number of times

Other Stuff

  • roll of quarters - Not useful only for coin-operated showers, but several times the laundry facilities we had access to did not have change machines.
  • Tide pods - Not on the original list but should have been. See note above about laundry facilities.
  • cable lock - Rarely used, most often in populated, bike-friendly areas, almost never when camping. Discourages the casual bike thief but would not deter the determined professional thief.
  • chlorine dioxide tablets for water purification - Never used this or Ed's filter. If we expected a potable water shortage we loaded up on extra water before we started out. Leave at home.
  • 30' of cord and an assortment of clothespins - Never used. Leave at home.
  • more tissues and TP - Leave at home.  Could collect this stuff along the way if necessary.
  • pee bottle - Never used. The weather was never too rainy or cold to discourage me from getting out of the tent when nature called. Jury's out.

Left Front Pannier

The Kitchen - Pretty sparse to begin with. Eventually added a book of matches when we had problems getting our disposable lighters to work on the coldest mornings in Yellowstone.

Food

  • instant decaf coffee, with whitener and sweetener - Threw it out after a week. Switched to hot chocolate in the morning, supplemented with morning coffee stops.
  • hot sauce - Leave at home.
  • salt and black pepper - Leave at home.
  • Idahoan instant mashed potatoes (4 packets) - Leave home without it. Buy as needed.
  • oil and vinegar (need to find a small leakproof container) - They leaked. Leave at home.

Toiletries

  • comb - Plastic combs like to break when stuffed into panniers. Find a rubber comb.
  • disposable plastic razors - Forget the fancy multi-bladed razors. Single blade was best for trimming the edges of the beard on my neck and over my lip.

Medicine chest - I had little need for what I brought along, but I would still take most of it again. Somehow I managed not to experience seasonal allergies anywhere along the way. Hopefully COVID items (at home tests, masks, etc.) are a thing of the past. I did have to buy more bandaids after my zero-mph fall the last few miles before Wheeling, West Virginia. I used the eye shades a couple times, and the earplugs once when our camping neighbors decided to celebrate the 4th of July a day or two early.

sewing kit - Used it a time or two.

insect repellent - Take 100% DEET. It's compact. and it's the only thing the mosquitoes and other bugs out there respect. It's the gold standard. Apply carefully.

18" x 14" RatSack - Successfully defended my food against the ravages of competing raccoons one night. After that night we tried to hide our food in a restroom building or someone's RV or did raccoon-hangs until we got to bear country. Where a hang wasn't possible we attached the RatSacks to a picnic table with thin wire cables but never again had critter issues. In bear country there were always bear boxes at the campgrounds to store food and other smellables. Once over the divide into Idaho the bear boxes disappeared but so for the most part did the bear threat. We returned to making raccoon hangs or cabling the RatSacks to a table.

2 12" x 20" OpSak odorproof bags (one for food, one for toiletries) - Don't waste your money if you can hang your food or store it in a RatSack (I'm not talking about backcountry camping here). The closures on these expensive plastic bags are not very durable, and once the odor of food gets on the outside of the bags, their purpose is defeated. Just use large, heavy duty Ziplocks if you want to organize your food.

Hilltop Packs Dyneema rock sack, 50' of Notch 2.2mm throw rope, 2 micro carabiners and dogbone bear bag toggle for doing a PCT method hang - Worked great. The difficulty comes in holding your heavy food bag or pannier suspended by this thin line while you loop the line around the dogbone. Wear gloves.

Right Rear Pannier

Cold/Foul weather gear. The raingear worked as well as expected. Don't expect not to sweat if you're exerting yourself.

  • Showers Pass Crosspoint waterproof knit wool gloves - Once Showers Pass replaced the gloves I never needed to use them to keep my hands dry, only warm, so the jury is still out. I do like them.
  • Pearl Izumi AmFIB gloves - Ended up not taking the heavy gloves. I would reconsider if I expected colder mornings than we experienced (it did go below freezing one night in Yellowstone).
  • helmet/seat cover (dual purpose!) - I would leave it at home next time, but that's just me. It was not comfortable on my helmet so I only wore it once in the rain. It never rained hard enough for long enough to soak my bandana. I never used it as a seat cover at night.
  • neck gaiter - Didn't take it after all. Never needed it.
  • ear warmer - Used only once or twice. Could have left it home.
  • long sleeve lightweight merino wool base layer - Only wore it a few times. Could have left it home.
  • arm warmers - Never used them. Leave at home.
  • unpadded Aerotech tights - These tights over padded bike shorts were all I needed for the temperatures we encountered.
  • 2 Goretex Windstopper wind short briefs - Leave at home for the weather we encountered.

Other Stuff

  • Collapsible bucket - Leave at home
  • nitrile gloves for working on bike - Remembered to wear them only once or twice.
  • 1 gallon plastic water bottle with carrying handle - Replaced with 2 2-liter collapsible Platypus water bottles, and velcro straps to tie them when full to the rear rack, one on each side, nestled between the rear panniers and the tent. Good decision.

Left Rear Pannier

The Bedroom - Sleeping bag did great; wore socks or shirt in the bag on a cold night only a few couple times. My sleeping pad may have developed a slow leak, though not enough to allow it to deflate overnight. 

Fair Weather / Everyday Gear

  • Shimano XC100 cycling shoes - Would have replaced them with the same at Fort Collins but REI didn't have my size; still, they lasted for the next 2,000 miles. Because they were the only footwear I took other than cheap flipflops for the shower and around camp, the rubber soles wore heavily. 
  • 2 short sleeve jerseys- Ended up with one short sleeve jersey and a Coolmax t-shirt.

In camp - My non-biking wardrobe worked out well. I left the thermal zip-neck top at home, as well at one of the t-shirts. I'm glad I had the swimsuit.

Strapped On the Bike Somewhere

The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 2-person tent with footprint weathered the tour well.  It required no patching or other maintenance along the way. The tent packing scheme in multiple dry bags also worked well.

I  don't really plan to do anything of this scale again, but even on a smaller scale these notes will come in handy.

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
Kelly IniguezI enjoyed this equipment analysis. Thank you!
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10 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltEnjoyed the whole tour. Especially, of course the nature photos! Thanks for the efforts!
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10 months ago