Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

BICYCLE TOURING: Accessories And Other Things To Bring Along

"When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me." ~ Emo Philips

 I must give credit to Cassie Sklarz for my new addition to this website.  She puts a quote at the top of each of her entries to her website.  Cassie is the daughter of my college roommate, Bob (Clyde) Sklarz.  So, Cassie, thanks!!  

Back to bicycle touring.  Accessories.  This topic encompasses a lot of things.  While they may seem incongruent, this is a mixed tapestry that, when complete, fits together and looks right to a touring cyclist.  The parts all come together and, while not all of them are necessary, they do make for a more enjoyable experience while touring.  Onward...
  • MONEY:  Money is important.  Sure, you may have a skill or a trade that you can use to pick up money along the way.  Me?  No such skills or trade.  And my looks, at best, are shaky.  Having at least one credit card is good.  Should you encounter a serious problem and need to do some major bike repairs or call a sudden end to the tour, a credit card will be useful.  Having a backup credit card is even better, particularly if one of the cards gets lost or your account is corrupted some how.  Cash and debit card.  I bring a debit card so I can access an ATM for cash.  Not everyone takes credit cards, y'hear?  As with travel anywhere, don't carry a ton of cash.  Not safe.  Most places use credit cards, but having about $50-$100 in ready cash can save the day.
  • FOOD:  Food is good and critical to your endeavors.  On average, a touring cyclist burns about 600 calories an hour.  If you're riding for 8hrs/day, do the math.  You NEED to replace those calories.  If you're headed into a stretch where food may not be available, bring some along.  That doesn't mean you need to have extra food with you all the time, but try to have enough on your bike, before heading into that backwater of no access to food, that you'll be able to get enough calories to get you down the road to a place where you can get more food.  If you're like me, this is one of the truly great parts of touring.  I eat everything while touring.  Getting those calories has never been more fun, but remember that you won't always find fine cuisine out there on the road.  When you get the chance to double down on some great food, do it.  There'll be plenty of opportunities to eat crappy food.
  • WATER:  Water is critical.  Even more so than food.  But what I wrote about food goes double for water.  Carrying extra water is worth the extra weight.  Trust me.  And don't forget to replace those electrolytes.  Say what?  Don't try to figure it out.  Buy some Gatorade or whatever other electrolyte replacement you like.  We're talking potassium and sodium here.  On long, hot rides where you sweat a lot, you lose these chemicals and need to replace them.  If you don't, you will pay the price.  And it's not pretty.
  • WATER BOTTLES:  Having a place to put that extra water is good.  Most riders use regular water bottles, but I prefer the insulated ones because I like cold water.  At least, as cold as I can get it.  There are several companies that make good water bottles out of stainless steel that are insulated.  My favorite is Hydro Flask.  I tried to buy a stainless steel water bottle that was made in the U.S., but no luck.  They're ALL made in China.  There's one company, Liberty Bottleworks, that make their bottles in Yakima, WA, and is a U.S. company.  Unfortunately, they don't make an insulated bottle yet.  As soon as they do, I'll buy one.  Or two.  Having a cold drink of water in the midst of a hotter'n'hell day is absolutely blissful.  And it helps bring your core body temperature down, too.  I bring 5 water bottles with me...and sometimes drink extra along the way that I've picked up at some local stores.  Now that I have several of the Hydro Flask bottles, I can carry more cold water for those long stretches where water may be iffy and I'd need some extra for cooking.  One of the best purchases I made was the Hydro Flask Growler...64oz.  My plan is to use it in upcoming trips where I can get it filled in various microbreweries with some tasty beer.  Certainly there are other companies.  Check some out.
  • PANNIERS, TRAILER, FRAME BAGS: I've seen several touring cyclists that have used combinations of ways to carry gear, clothing, etc.  Go to your local bike shop or wherever so you can see these up close and personal.  As I've said before, your choice is your choice.  My preference is panniers and there are many different companies that make them.  And I now have Arkel panniers.  Truly excellent panniers.  Some panniers are top loaders (single section), like Ortlieb, which are excellent panniers, and others, like the Arkels, have various sections in which to store things.  After having used top loading panniers, I prefer the multiple sections so I don't have to dig around looking for what I want.  Not the only way, but I like it.  Some prefer trailers, like the BOB, for carrying everything in one waterproof bag.  It does add a different feel to the way the bike handles while riding, but nothing that can't be adjusted to.  The most recent items to get my attention are frame bags that off road touring cyclists use.  A very condensed way to carry gear/clothing.  Here's a photo:

Revelate Designs
Mountain Bike With Frame Bags Attached.  

 Enough for today.  I'll continue this topic in another entry because there's more to cover, but, if I added it all here, we'd be here all day.  So, a tune to exit with.  Emmylou Harris performing "Save The Last Dance For Me".  Back in my day, this is a woman I would have run away with in a heartbeat!  Probably still would.  Enjoy...