Thursday, November 20, 2008


Note: This post turned out to be me thinking out loud, kind of willy nilly. Some people might find some of it useful or interesting, but I would guess not many. I started this post mostly cause I wanted an excuse to post a picture of the police sniper bike above. Mission Accomplished. Read on at your own peril.

What to bring. Hmmm. 7000 miles, 10 days in hotel, 90 days camping, Touring S. Africa and Zambia afterwards. Maybe going on to ride from Paris to Bejing after that. A few criteria come to mind:
1) Utility - everything needs to have more than one use
2) Cost - almost anything I bring could be ruined or broken
3) Durability - I'd rather it didn't get ruined or break

Here's the list:
Poprad with 32 hole open pros and ultegra hubs. Nitto seatpost, thompson stem, alum bar and Ultegra group. Some really cool Specialized touring tires - 38 mm with a ton of tread. Negetive tread design and inflatable to 85 psi. They are folding but weigh a ton. My goal is zero flat tires on the trip and these babies are my secret weapon. I'm gonna bring an extra set of tires, jsut dome 32mm michelin mud2's, they pack pretty small and it might be nice to have a more fun set up every once in a while.

The real big bike question for me is pedals. If I bring clipless pedals I have to bring special shoes. Plus that's two things that can't be replaced if they break. But is riding 80 miles a day on flat pedals, especially with loaded panniers, a good idea? I don't know, I've never tried it.

Spare parts: I'm counting on most people to bring way to many spare parts and be able to buy them before they fly home.
2 tubes, 1 patch kits - TdA recommends 5 patch kits and 5 spare tubes - WTF?
Spare Tires - two 32 mm CX tires
1 brake and 1 gear cable.
extra spokes
brake pads - 3 pair
tool kit and pump
I'm thinking about bringing a rear thumbshifter or bar end shifter. Just in case the STI goes wonky on me.
bike lock, it's actually a snowboard lock
Extra saddle. Learned my lesson at Fools Gold.
extra bar tape
extra cycle computer - I guess these get stolen by kids a lot. makes sense.
bell - omage to cliffy,

Clothes - yep I'm bringing clothes. I'm pretty sure they sell clothes in Africa so I'm not that worried about it. Some cold weather clothes and some hot weather clothes. 2 or 3 sets. Of course clothes do present a real opportunity to show people you don't know too well how cool you are. I think I can accomplish this with my "Evolution Kills" and "I feel Pretty" tshirts. There appropirately sacastic and obscure. They really shout "I'm smarter than you but at least I have a sense of humor about it". I am definitely bringing my Joes Tshirt and of course my Atomic Jersey. Again the big issue is shoes. Also whether or not to bring lycra bike shorts or just wear regular shorts, it's that whole utility thing. Plus I look funny enough just being a white guy riding his bike thru africa, do I really need a superhero outfit to add to the spectacle? The upside is they don't take up much room and my regular shorts don't smell like ass at the end of the day. I guess I'll bring a couple pair

I am also debating whether or not to wear a helmet. Riding on dirt roads with no real extreme "hey y'all watch this" opportunities I'm not sure it's needed. I'm sure it's required as a matter of policy but... I just hate to lug it over there and not use it. I never used one in the peace corps and they threatened to thow you out if you got caught without it.

Tent, sleeping bag, bag liner, foam pad, Head lamp, bowl, spoon, cup, tent stake hammer, 8 ft of rope, groudn cloth - all the usual stuff. Thought about tarping it to save space and wt. but then I thought - mozzies and snakes and scorpians... oh my.

ipod with Swahili, Spanish and French audio lessons that I will probably never listen to, and some music and podcasts, I wish I hadn't sold my freakin shortwave on ebay last year.
Camera and extra storage cards.
two books - Africa, Biography of a Continent and Shock Doctrine by Naomie Cline.
medical stuff: immodium, contacts, advil, chamois creme, sunscreen, salt pills, larium (maybe),
misc toiletries of course.

I bagged the idea of carrying Binos and a bird book, I'm just gonna make up a bunch of cool birds to tell Cliff I saw. Cliff if you want I can just give you the list in advance and save some time. I am gonna carry a 8x21 monocular that I've had laying around for a while.

What to carry it all in?
Airlines want to charge you for everything bigger than a fanny pack and any luggage I bring has to be carried with me on the trip. So I'm thinking about filling my panniers and then putting them in a cheap cloth bag I can give away or pack. Bike goes in a cardboard box. I'm not sure if I can fit a bike with front and rear racks in a biek box but I will soon find out. I have front and rear panniers but I'm thinking about only using teh front, maybe I should just get off my butt and load the panniers to see how much room there is.... yep.


Human Wrecking Ball said...

Wet naps. Extra t's for local trades. Small vaseline for chafing, chaping and a million other things it can be used for.
Thats all I got.

Paul McManus said...

mmmmm wet naps. great idea.

trifry said...

I would take some high tech/lightweight clothing. Also pack a camping/backpacking clothesline - we washed and hung stuff every night (when weather is good - and even in hotels). As far a pedals, we rode in Europe (of course, it was flat and windy and our bikes weighed a ton) in flat pedals, but that was only 20-30 miles at a time. Maybe get some of the commuter pedals (flat on 1 side and spd on the other).

Anyhow, that's the 2 cents worth. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

The spd/flat suggestion is good. I rode flat pedals on a 50 to 70 miles a day, three month bike trip back in the day, toe strapped of course, and was none the worse for the ware. I was 22 or so at the time. High tech clothes is a good idea as well. They are not likely to ruin, unless you crash and you’ve said you’re not taking a helmet so you must not be planning on crashing. (Watch out for slippery, hurricane soaked, railroad tracks.) I took a helmet on my long ride, it spent most of its time strapped to the panniers, It made a great seat during rest stops. I wouldn’t worry too much about the books. You’ll learn more about Africa in conversations. Books will be available along the way, a serendipitous discovery will enhance the trip and the read. Maybe something light to read on flights and trade with along the way. Trade Magazines, you know what kind I mean, not Dirt Rag. You are a seasoned traveler, you’ll take some of the wrong stuff, some of the trivial stuff will turn out to the best stuff, you’ll make do with what is available and create some new stuff.

I love to travel with a hammock.


Paul McManus said...

Nice suggestions. I was wondering what kind of gearing you used when your bikes were loaded. Is a 39 T front ring with at 12-27 cassette in back enough to ride up hill on bad dirt roads?

Anonymous said...

oh too technical for me, my advice is always the same. No gear to low no speed to slow I like to see what the world has to show.


Mingo said...

While riding this morning I realized I forgot something, forget the cycling computer. Plenty of others will track the miles, who cares how fast you go.

Paul McManus said...

Actually computers are required for route finding, that way I know to turn left at the sand dune at mile 21.5, not 18.5. Otherwise I would agree with you, They're not necessary.