Bike Across USA blog

Traveling by Bicycle Across America

Tag: Northern Tier

How Much is Enough: Better Choices for My Packing List

You don’t always need the economy size

Comparing sizes

On the Northern Tier I carried the big one on the left. At 10 ounces including the container, with far more sunscreen than I needed for a 74 day trip, it was too much.

Items like sunscreen can be replaced along the way. I hope the small “stick” works as well as the lotion. A weight savings of 9 ounces compared to my first bicycle tour is a great change to the total weight for my packing list for the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Weight Reduction: Do You Really Need That?

Can opener from my first tour

From my first bicycle tour

When I started on the Northern Tier in 2012, I had not cycled on a self-supported trip before. I did not have a stove. I used it to open cans of tuna fish. I am thankful for the wide availability of tuna in foil packets and many options not in a can. On my next tour I used the opener on my pocket knife. After that, I haven’t carried any cans. At 6.4 ounces, it was a heavy luxury for limited use.

My packing list is much more refined today, yet it still is not as light as I would like it to be. It still is not an ultra light packing list.

Shular’s Bicycle Tour Across the USA FAQ

What rind of ride are you taking?

I am doing a self-contained bicycle tour coast-to-coast across the USA. Originally, I planned a supported tour. Plans have changed. I am gathering the necessary items to make a self-contained bicycle tour, adding front and rear racks to my touring bike to hold panniers, somewhat like large saddle bags to hold all of my gear.

Are you supporting a cause?

Yes, I am supporting His Wheels International. They have provided bicycles for people in 89 countries as well as a hand -powered trike to provide transportation with dignity for many people. You can learn more about His Wheels at their website: http://www.HisWheels.org . If you want to donate, please make your checks payable to His Wheels International, letting them know you are responding because of my ride.

How much gear are you taking?

I am hoping to keep the weight of my gear, including the bags at around 45 pounds. This may mean not taking any cooking equipment. I plan to order a Therm-a-rest sleeping pad. I still need to identify a tent of sufficient size for me and my gear that weighs about 3 pounds. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment.

What kind of bicycle are you riding?

I am riding a Bianchi Volpe from about 1996. It has a lugged steel frame, cantilever brakes, bosses for the racks and three water bottles. I have updated the wheels and drive train and I am switching to bar-end shifters. I’m adding fenders. If you ride very much in the rain, you will know that your feet get soaked. Fenders do help. I found this bike on Craigslist and discovered later that it needed more repairs than I originally thought. I haven’t been riding it, because it isn’t ready yet. I hope to have it road worthy this week.

What route are you taking?

I am using maps from Adventure Cycling Association. The route is designated the Northern Tier. It starts in Anacortes, WA north of Seattle and ends at Bar Harbor, Maine. The route crosses Illinois south of I-80. I do plan to stop a home on my way east.

How far will you ride?

The Northern Tier at Adventure Cycling’s site show a total of 4285 miles. I haven’t added up the total from each of the twelve maps to see if that reflects the changes now that the route no longer goes through Minot, North Dakota. One of the routes from Seattle to Anacortes shows just over 100 miles. Side trips and camping spots off the route will add more miles. I am expecting to ride about 4500 miles.

How far will you ride each day?

I am planning to ride about 6o miles each day. There will be one day that has to be longer, because no services are available for 76 miles. I know it will be slower in the mountains. It may be possible on more level roads with favorable winds to travel more miles some days.

How long will it take to reach Bar Harbor, Maine?

Until I actually get started, I have divided the total expected distance by 60, then added one day each week for a rest day. That comes out to 85 days.

How did you train for your bike ride across America?

I have prepared by riding a lot. My total miles this year (excluding hours inside on the trainer) is just over 2650 miles. A thunderstorm is passing as I write. I hope to get in 50 miles today. I have done longer rides on the weekends, and usually take off on Mondays. I have tried to ride up and down local hills multiple times at least once each week. On shorter days I frequently push the pace. Last year I rode a little more than 4000 miles, so you can see that I got an early start this year with the mild winter. Around 3000 miles of last years miles were with my friend Tom Simeone, on early morning rides; great training to get up and started every morning.

Is anyone riding with you?

Currently, this is a solo ride. My daughter Kate plans to bike across Illinois with me. If you can ride a day or even a few miles, I will be happy for the company.

How can I follow your progress?

I will be posting, pictures, video and updates here. I will also make some posts on my Facebook page . For those of you who use Twitter, I will try to do some tweets at @Bike_Across_USA .

How can I help?

Three things come to mind. Support His Wheels International, encourage me with your comments here and pray.

 

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