26 June 2009 — Two weeks until we head out.

First day out with front panniers instead of BOB the trailer.  Loaded them with 16lbs of water for a total bike weight of 89 lbs.  Well short of the 109 lbs that I have been dragging around with BOB attached.

Going through the check lists and gathering items into packages and beginning to establish the layout of the stuff around the bike.  Time to start taking the bricks out and put in the real items.

25 June 2009

Finally got my front panniers and rack installed on the bike so I can measure the difference between 4 panniers and two panniers and a trailer.

I purchased Jandd low rack because it is solid rod and single piece and sturdily welded, Seemed to fit our disk brake equipped bikes the best of all the units I saw and received good reviews.  We needed the disk brake adapters (standoffs) from jandd to make the whole thing work.  All is well with the installation but hanging the bags on it is another story.

Cyndy has Ortlieb bags all around and I have Trans-it (I don’t need the fancy stuff) and both have the same problem; There is nothing on the racks to stop the bag hooks, top and bottom from sliding fore and aft on the bar and in my case from sliding right off.  Would have been nice to have a little bump welded on the bar to keep everything in place.

Fortunately the transit bags have a little Velcro loop at the top edges to address the problem but I am not comfortable with this over the long haul, so I still need to come up with a solution for both systems.  I also  modified the hooks on the bottom. they were open wire forms that just fed through a loop in the band that applies downward locking force, so that if they slip off the rack while under tension the hook becomes a projectile.  I’m not worried about getting hit by this, but I am worried about watching it come flying off into a corn field in Kansas never to be seen again.  So I re-bent the hook so it is captive on the banding.  I also have reservation about the elastic banding and I am thinking of changing it over to nylon webbing.

I have the Transit water proof front panniers and rather than using tarpaulin like the Ortliebs, it using a single sided coating on nylon.  Seems to be very good quality material and workmanship and for one hundred bucks less I am happy with this item.  Of course only time will tell and I will follow up on this as we go along.

23 June 2009

Has been windy and challenging every day this week in some directions, but taking the pace down a bit makes a much more pleasant experience.  I need to think differently than I have for centuries: I need to pace for months of riding not hours.

Just checked out my rear tire for wear, wow.  It’s showing wear with the 300 +/- lbs it’s supporting.  Thinking I may change it before I go just to be sure.

21 June 2009

Going through the equipment list;  Have the med supplies assembled, spare parts list is either on hand or on order.  Ordered a spare rear derailleur hanger for the bikes, Turns out bending mine right of the starting blocks was a good thing.  These are custom and only available from Raleigh so I now have two spares for the road.  I also, by chance, found out that the hanger from a 29’er fits and has a stronger design so out with the old and in with the new.

Have the camping gear assembled, tools done.

June 20 2009

Went out on a 58 miler today with TNT folks and without BOB.  This reduced my load to 73 lbs.  What a difference, good training day, I needed that.

June 19 2009

Spending way too much time preparing for this ride. Still riding with rear panniers (full of bricks) and BOB the trailer, full of camping gear, for training.  Just got a scale the bike setup as it is for training weights 109 lbs. 73lbs for the bike and 36 lbs for trailer and contents.

Had two bad rides this week.  Very demoralizing.

Ordered front racks from Jandd, after a boatload of research to find racks that will fit our disk break equipped bikes. Will be testing the new configuration without bob next week after I receive and mount the new items.

6 – 8 June 2009

Just got back from Tahoe where we rode ‘America’s most Beautiful Bike Ride’ this past week end.  We have completed this ride as a part of the Leukemia Society’s ‘Team in Training’ program for the past 7 years.  What a wonderful group of people to be associated with.  As usual the weather was great and on the cool side which made the few climbs seem tame.

The Nevada Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator and his team were up there at registration with all sorts of biking information, printed and on the web  These folks had their act together.  They also told us to look up ‘Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinators’ for the other states we were crossing.  These folks would have information on cycling for their respective states.  We found a listing at

3 June 2009

We’ve been busy talking to friends and researching the best ways to carry our supplies and equipment for the ride. Generally there are two schools of thought; Front and rear panniers (bags hanging from the side of the bike on racks), handle bar bag and stuff mounted to the top of the rear rack and an increasingly popular method of attaching a trailer and shedding the front panniers and top loading the rear rack.

We have a friend who recommended the latter and was very generous in allowing us to use this equipment for the trip. I have taken the trailer on a couple of test rides of 25 +/- miles and have determined that to load it to the maximum weight is suicide. So I did away with the 50 lbs of iron I had put in it and got realistic. I whipped out my true load and stowed it yielding a much more pleasant experience and quelling my initial fears.

I have had some very pleasant rides now and have become much more used to the setup. Two items still are in question with this configuration: The front end is very light, which will be somewhat mitigated by a handle bar bag that is yet to be installed, but that needs to be kept relatively light too. The other is that the trailer weighs 20 lbs all by itself. Front panniers and a rack will come in at maybe 5 lbs so do I want to haul around an extra 15 lbs just to get the load off the bike… ok and to give me some stowage options.  Of course, we are out testing the rig and are looking to demo the full pannier method to make sure we have the correct setup.

30 May 2009

We’ve been riding the touring bikes to get used to them and to break in the saddles.  Wow are these things heavy compared to our regular bike!!   Revising expected average speed expectations.

Got the trailer today, brought it home and filled it with as much iron as I could find around the yard.  Suicide!!

23 May 2009

Cyndy’s employer finally provided an answer to her request and it was not what we where hoping for.  They have chosen to not allow two consecutive 4 week vacations.  Having spent more than 1o years in the captains seat I can see both sides, but that doesn’t ease my disappointment.  cyndy now has and initial 4 weeks and then an additional 2+ weeks.

Given the hand we’ve been dealt, we have chosen to ride together from Sacramento to Pueblo, Co.  which is 1300 +/- miles.  Cyndy will return to Sac for 4 weeks and her bike will be forwarded to Buffalo, NY.  I will continue on my own across the Midwest, 1400+/- miles.  We will meet and finish the last 600 miles to Narragansett together.

17 May 2009

We are still on hold for final trip planning as a result of Cyndy’s requests for time off not being addressed by her employer.  With time getting short we need to come up with something, so we have decided to move ahead with the plans and adapt to what finally is decided regarding vacation requests.  In the worst case scenario, Cyndy will be doing the first 4 weeks and I will be solo for the balance.  In the most probable scenario Cyndy will be with me for the first 4 weeks and the last 4 weeks.

Earlier this week we went ahead with the purchase of touring bikes.  After spending many hours narrowing our new bike purchase priority list to a short list (Surly and Raleigh) we decided on Surly.  Off we went to the local reseller to make our purchase.  Of course nothing is simple, so there on the floor was a Raleigh Sojourn, our runner up selection.  Our selection of the Surly was driven by gearing and after speaking with the mechanic and the manufacturer about changing the small chain ring on the Raleigh to a 26 tooth (equivalent to the Surly), the deal was done.  We should see the new bikes late next week.

1 May 2009  –  Hhhhmmmm?????????

Still trying to decide how to make this work and be the adventure it was originally suppose to be.

30 Apr 2009 — way downer day

Cyndy’s employer finally decided to address her request for time off (at her urging) for the trip and it seems that they have an unwritten policy that allows a maximum of 4 weeks vacation at any one time.  Would have been nice to know that when Cyndy first approached them about this instead of waiting until now.

Now it seems that we are relegated to doing the trip in two halves, flying ourselves and our equipment back and out.

29 Apr 2009 — Check Lists

Nine pages of items and I’m not done researching.  Do you have any idea how much nine pages of stuff weighs?

28 Apr 2009 — Camping Supplies

Road into REI to check out bike supplies and camping gear.  Spent 3 hours talking tents, sleeping bags, stoves, water purifiers, Bob the trailer, panniers, handle bar bags, mirrors, tire repair, dry bags, mats, blah, blah, blah…

27 Apr 2009  — Lions and Tigers and Bikes Oh My!!

The list of  “things to do” seems to grow and of course, we come up with many more questions than answers as we move forward.  But we are making progress:

we went out to some local bike shops with a short list of bike candidates… actually I went out to order the Surly ‘long haul trucker’ but one of the stores had the Raleigh Sojourne on hand.  The Sojourne had been a top candidate but the gearing was a show stopper.  After chatting with the mechanic I found out that they could easily switch the front little chain ring to what I wanted, so now that bike is at the top of our list.  Just waiting for the shop to let us know when the bike is assembled so we can check’er out for sizing, then do some wheeling and dealing.