Traveling by Bicycle Across America

Category: equipment

Big Sur

Replacing rear spoke

Replacing rear spoke

Day 30 was a rest day at Big Sur, Pfeiffer State Park. I went to the library, did laundry, cleaned the drive train and discovered a broken spoke. I carry spares. So the wheel is ready to roll.

Biketober Fest – Fairfax Marin County

Don Koski

Don Koski

It is not every day that you meet one of the pioneers of mountain biking. Don Koski’s old business card says he had the world’s first mountain bike shop in 1970!



We saw the Biketober Fest during set up as we rode California Highway one to San Francisco. It was a fun interlude. We met Kyle with Cliff Bar’s. He was touring in Oregon at the time the big storm hit. I love that mojo dark chocolate, almond with sea salt.

Older bikes

Older bikes

Sun Power – first trial – day 11

solar battery charger

Solar battery charger

The solar battery charger is shown on tied to the front pannier (saddlebag). I used it on day 11. One of the few days I used sunscreen and not a rain coat. Fortunately the last few days have been better. I tried to charge the camera from it without success. It does take several hours to recharge.

How Many Flat Tires Did You Have Biking Across America

Continental Contact Tire

Continental Contact Tire

As amazing as it may seem, I did not have any flat tires in my 4540 mile bicycle ride coast-to-coast across the USA! I did wear out the first set of tires. I rotated the front to the back in Circle, Montana and replaced those tires on my rest day at home in Illinois in mid-July. I installed a set of Continental Contact tires 700c x 28mm. These were a little narrower than the tires I started on. the Continental Contact tires had less rolling resistance. According to the advertising they have Continental’s SafteySystem. “The SafetySystem Puncture Protection is made of a strong and tight Nylon fabric. This fabric is additionally reinforced with Kevlar®. The result is a tire construction that is highly resistant against pinches and cuts.” One of the common hazards for a bicycle tire on a tour is the debris and small pieces of wire from failed truck tires that litter the shoulder of the highways and by-ways. Puncture resistance is a big plus. Many of the touring cyclists that I met had fitted Schwalbe Marathon tires, usually 700c x 32mm or larger. The Marathon comes in a Plus or Supreme versions. These tires have a reputation for being very durable and capable of long life.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus bicycle touring tire

Schwalble Marathon Plus Touring Tire

The Specialized tires that I used at the start of the trip seemed to wear faster and did not roll as easily as the Continental Contacts. Remember this is not a direct comparison, since the Contacts were a narrower tire. The tread and casing design seems to be superior on the Continentals. I didn’t have any flats on the Specialized tires for more than 3200 miles, so they did a good job too. I wore them down to the Kevlar under the tread. I tired to keep these tires inflated to about 75psi. I know that some of the time they were down around 60psi. A heavier rider might well have experienced problems at that pressure.

Specialized Tire After 3200 miles

Tire After 3200 miles

While I didn’t have any flats, I did talk to other people who did. A rode and camped with Thomas Mach, a German citizen here on vacation. The day we rode to Fairhaven, New York, Thomas experienced his 24th flat tire. He pulled B.O.B trailer like mine with his Stevens road bike, using narrow 700c x 23mm tires. He had also experience a flat on the trailer tire. As he examined his tire that day, he found a very small embedded piece of wire from a truck tire. I do not recommend touring with regular road tires. In the interest of full disclosure, the front tire developed a slow leak in Vermont, after my wife joined me for the last ten days of the ride. I used the floor pump in the morning and in the afternoon, and it made the duration of the trip. If I had to pump the tire up every day with the frame pump, I would have installed a new tube. You will find an article on bicycle touring tires at the Bike Across USA website:


worn tire

worn tire

More than 3000 miles seems like a reasonable life for this set of tires. The red is the Kevlar belt under the tread. I rotated the tires at about 1500 miles while camping in Circle, Montana. The rear tire was just starting to show a red spot when I arrived at home. Many of the cycling tourists I meet are using Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. I have heard some people get very high mileage from those tires, which would offset the initial cost of the tires. The old tires were 700c x 32. I replaced them with a set of Continental Contacts which are 700c x 28 ( found on C-list). They are noticeably narrower than the 32s. The weight is about the same. I am hoping for a lower rolling assistance. With 1460 miles remaining in the tour, I expect this set with last me to Bar Harbor, Maine.

Cyclist hot foot

With many hilly days in southern Minnesota and eastern Iowa, I experienced foot problems. The article in the link explains the cause and solutions for the problem

I changed my cleat position and frequently loosen my straps. I will try orthotics tomorrow as I prepare for the last third of my trans-continental tour.

Carrying My Gear in a B.O.B Yak Plus Trailer

B.O.B. Yak Trailer

Shular’s B.O.B. Yak trailer

I have been pulling my gear in a trailer for a month now. This first picture shows it fully loaded without my tent on top. It is so full that it is hard to roll the top closed to keep the rain out. I don’t know how much my gear weighs, but I am guessing that it is 45 to 50 pounds. Add to that the weight of the B.O.B Yak Plus which includes the bag, another 15 to 17 pounds. It is like an anchor on steeper hills. Even here in Minnesota I have found some grades of 6 or more percent.

The company was originally Beast or Burden – the origin of B.O.B. It is a beast to manage at times. As you see in the picture, the trailer is leaned against a picnic table. I love picknick tables. I have to find something to lean it against to park. Guard rails on the highway work well as do grocery cart corrals at stores. It is tricky to park against a post or a tree, especially when I the Racktime handlebar bag is loaded with food.

B.O.B. Yak trailer attachment
Attachment of B.O.B Yak Trailer to Bicycle

The trailer came with a quick release axle to replace the regular axle. The spring loaded pin in the photo wrapping around the axle keeps the trailer attached to the bicycle. It is somewhat awkward to attach the trailer. I have to lift up the ‘tongue’ then place the tabs over the special axle and insert the keeper pins. It helps when the bicycle is leaning against something. I have left it at a campground to go grocery shopping a few times.

bicycle and trailer against bicycle rack

My Bianchi Volpe and B.O.B Yak trailer leaning on bicycle rack

You can see in this photo with the back of the trailer in the foreground, the bike and trailer takes up one whole side of a bicycle rack. On the plus side, the trailer allowed me to continue the trip. On the minus side, it is heavy and can be hard to manage at times. As long as the load is balanced, it is easy to ride on the level.


Libby is the first place I”be had 4g since Seattle. T-mobile is a poor choice for riding the Northern Tier.

Canari rain jacket

The first time I unzipped my Canari rain jacket this morning, the top pull came off in my hand. After less than two weeks of use, I am very disappointed. It is 50 degrees and raining.

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