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Early Preparations for Self Supported Bike Tour

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I haven't been blogging lately, but I thought I'd post an update on our preparations for our self-supported bike tour my husband and I plan to do beginning next summer. He's retiring in June and will most likely take off in early July. Our first big goal is to bike around the perimeter of the US. If we do it in one shot, it would take about a year. Most likely, we will take breaks along the way.

Anyway, the equipment used for camping on a self-supported bike tour is very similar to that used for backpacking. The biggest difference is that we carry our gear in panniers and on a trailer rather than a backpack. We've had to purchase a tent, sleeping bags and pads, a stove, cooking gear. Since I haven't gone camping in around 20 years and my husband hasn't camped in even longer than that....we pretty much had to start from scratch getting things. Our camping gear totals about 25 pounds.

We've also been focusing on getting light-weight servicable clothing to bike in and wear while touring. It's a little daunting to consider what we would need for a year long trip when everything needs to fit into a pannier about the size of a carry-on bag that would fit under an airline seat. We each get one pannier for clothes. We need clothing for both hot summer days to cool/cold nights. Rain and shine! Our clothing weighs about 10 pounds each.

We wil be carrying repair items and tools for our bike and trailer. Things like brake pads and cables, spare spokes, tubes, patch kits, and tools. We will have extra heavy duty tires on our tandem and trailer. Our repair equipment is about 6 pounds.

Last, but not least, we will be carrying phone, netbook, mp3 player for evenings, camera, lighting for bikes and camping, rechargable batteries and solar charger. All that is about another 6 pounds.

We will be using maps from Adventure Cycling Association. They have very detailed route maps for parts of the US specifically designed for bicycle tourists.

We and plan to camp about two thirds of the time. The other nights, we'll be staying in hotels and occassionally with friends and Warm Showers hosts.

It's cold here in Chicagoland so we haven't ridden our tandem since early November. We will start training in early March. First the with bike unloaded and then gradually adding our gear until the bike is fully loaded. We plan on taking some short practice trips before "the Big One" to test out our gear and get our bodies used to camping/touring.

We'll be writing a separate blog specifically about the trip, but I'll also be blogging here from time to time.

We don't have a fixed "leave date" yet, or a fixed route. We have a lot of things that will keep that up in the air. We need to complete our move from our condo in Illinois to our house in Tennessee after my husband retires. We are putting the condo on the market in March. I don't expect to to sell before we leave for our trip, but we want to have it all emptied out so that if we get an offer, we can close on it without stopping the trip. As things stand, I'd rather start the trip from Illinois (it's flatter) than where we live in Tennessee (it's much hillier there). So, there are a lot of complicating factors that still need to be worked out. The nice thing about being retired is that we don't have to worry about cramming the whole trip in all at once if the weather turns bad before we can complete it.

I feel very fortunate that we are in relatively good health and we both have the time, money and interest to go on an adventure like this.

I'll be keeping you posted....stay tuned!

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