Archive for May, 2011

Tour packing list.

Reading other cyclists’ packing lists has been immensely helpful in my tour preparation. So, here’s mine. It only looks like a lot of stuff on paper; when I packed for my shakedown ride to McKinney Falls last week, I felt like I was lightly loaded. Note: I’ve edited this post-tour so that it will be more helpful to anyone who reads this as part of future tour research.

I’ll hit a grocery store once I’m in Ohio for food. Today I’m also making up “care packages” with a few harder-to-find food items for myself, that my husband can mail to me along the way.

You’ll notice that I only have 2 water bottles on the list. One is 1 liter, and the other is .6 liters. Not nearly enough water! What I like to do is buy a couple extra 1 liter bottles at a grocery store, and then stick those down in my panniers wherever there’s room. For me, 1 gallon is about the right amount to carry between stops.

A note about total weight: I don’t know, I don’t want to know, and I don’t care. I don’t haul anything I can do without (you won’t find makeup or a pillow on this list) but I’m not an ounce counter, either. So if you want advice on the best way to file down your toothbrush, ask someone else.

Bike stuff – bike ships ahead of time

–       pedal wrench (taped to inside of bike box, did not go on the road with me)

–       pocket knife, allen wrench set

–       flat kit, 2 spare tubes, frame pump

–       locktite

–       zip ties

–       duct tape

–       wrenches 8 10 and 12 mm

–       cassette tools

–       spoke wrench

–       rags – padding bike in box (took one in panniers, the rest stayed with bike box)

–       pannier rain covers

–       orange triangle

–       bunjee cords (3)

–       helmet (carried on plane_

–       lights + batteries (AA, AAA)

–       U lock + cable lock (U lock gets mailed home after Buffalo)

–       Both water bottles (one in bike box, one to carry on plane)


–       camping hammock + suspension

–       100 ft amsteel line + sus rings (post tour, I think 50 ft would have been better)

–       tarp + guylines – replaced guylines with shock cord 1/2 way through and was much happier

–       tent stakes (8)

–       tent footprint

–       thermarest

–       sleeping bag + liner

Misc. equipment

–       cell phone + charger

–       passport

–       micro-SD card adaptor

–       rosary

–       trash bags (doubles as a seat at remote campsites)

–       hiking staff

–       Kindle + charger

–       rubber bands – handy everywhere!

–       sock to knit on plane

–       compass

–       clothespins

–       safety pins

–       hand towel + washcloth

Toiletries/self care

–       earplugs

–       first aid kit + chemical ice packs

–       normal toiletries

–       hair brush

–       sunblock

–       toilet paper

–       non-prescrip med bottle

–       prescription meds

–       3 pair contact lenses + solution

–       soap

–       bodyglide (the athletic kind)

–       handtowel + washcloth (yes, I can dry my hip-length hair with a hand towel.)

Clothing – 2 outfits for riding, 1 for restaurants and churches, warm stuff for layering

–       cycling shoes (in bike box)

–       3 handkerchiefs

–       long black Columbia pants

–       fleece tights (never wore)

–       travel dress + compression shorts

–       Wool sweater (carry on)(used for a pillow while camping)

–       2 skorts

–       2 sleeveless tops

–       1 tee shirt

–       2 sports bras

–       rain jacket and helmet cover

–       head scarf + bobby pins

–       2 pair socks

–       full finger gloves (never used, but it was close)

–       fingerless gloves


–       water purifier

–       stove (Pepsi can stove)(must be new to fly)

–       fuel bottle (bigger than last time)(new to fly)

–       al foil

–       windscreen

–       Nuuns

–       Cook pan set

–       fork, spoon, steak knife

–       1 kitchen towel

–       sponge

–       dishsoap

–       wet wipes

Purchase in Ohio (most of this can’t be checked with the airline)

–       chain lube

–       stove fuel (DN alcohol)

–       sunblock

–       bug spray

–       pepper spray

–       bear spray (purchase after leaving Canada)

–       lighter


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Bike in a box.

My bike, in a box. Could I get extra credit in my engineering classes for this?

Now I know how to take off the stem, handlebars, and derailleur. On Friday, I get to find out if I can put them back on!

Now, when I get to Ohio and I’m unpacking, and I can’t find my shoes, they are in the box. So, when I start freaking out because I think that I’ve forgotten my cycling shoes (necessary for my clipless pedals!) someone remind me that I packed them with the bike.

Almost forgot to put in my seatpost and saddle. Oops.

I’m doing all kinds of last minute stuff this week. Yesterday, my wonderful husband happened to pick up my wallet. He looked it over, and decided that I needed a new one. I’ve had the old one for 17 years. It didn’t look like it was going to survive a six-week bike tour. So, he insisted that we go to the mall and find a new one. No one who knows my husband is ever going to believe this.

Ready to retire.

Am I really leaving in three days? Yikes!




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For anyone not already in the know, I’m leaving this Thursday to start a long bike tour. I’ll be riding solo and self-contained, carrying everything that I need with me. I plan to ride from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Bar Harbor, Maine, using routes published by Adventure Cycling Association.

During my tour, I plan to write here about once a week, subject to computer/Internet access. A lot of people keep asking me the same questions about my tour, so I’m going to post a few of those questions and answers here, before the trip starts.

How many miles is it? How many miles will you go every day? How long will the trip take?
The official mileage for the route I’ve chosen is 1,345 miles. I am very comfortable planning to ride 50 miles/day. With a few rest days and some detours thrown in to visit friends and go places I want to visit that are off-route, I plan to take 5 – 6 weeks.

Are you touring to raise money for charity?

How much weight do you want/plan to lose?

None. I am very happy with my current weight and fitness level. I am doing this for the personal challenge, not weight loss.

How are you going to get your bike to Ohio? Can you take a bike on an airplane?
Bikes can be checked as luggage with an airline, but the box is oversized and overweight, so there is a stiff fee attached. For this trip, I’ll be shipping the bike by Fedex to my uncle’s house. It’s cheaper, more convenient, and doesn’t involve the TSA searching and then trying to repack my disassembled bicycle.

How much does all of your gear weigh?
I don’t know, and I don’t want to find out. My guess is about 25 pounds without food or water. Remember that that’s everything that I need for 6 weeks – shelter, clothing, cooking implements, personal care, and anything I need to maintain my bike or fix it in case of mechanical trouble. If it’s 40 degrees and raining when I get to the mountains, I’d better have my jacket and some gloves!

Where will you stay? What will you eat?
My goal is to camp or stay with friends/family 6 days a week, and stay in a hotel one night, preferably on Saturday night. I strongly prefer to avoid campgrounds on Saturday night, plus if I stay at a hotel in a town on Saturday night, I can clean up and go to church on Sunday.
I like to cook for myself as much as possible. This means that I have to haul around a lot of food. I’ll be going through towns and a few large cities, so I can visit grocery stores to stock up along the way. I’ll probably eat out a few times a week as well. After a hot day of riding, it’s really nice to sit down in a cool restaurant and have someone bring me all of the ice water I can drink!

Aren’t you worried about safety? Are you taking a gun?
I live and commute in a large urban area. Realistically, I’m probably going to be safer on tour than I am at home.
In my opinion, taking a gun would make me less safe. It is common for bike tourists who carry to spend a few nights of their trip in jail, simply because the concealed permit process varies so much from state to state – it is logistically difficult to adhere to the regulations while on a bike tour. Getting a handgun into Canada would also be much more of a hassle that I am prepared to deal with. Also, I do not have nor wish to undertake the training necessary to safely manage and use a firearm in an emergency situation; I don’t think that turning a bad situation into a shootout would be doing myself a favor. This is my personal opinion. You are entitled to your own. If you want to debate about it, please find an appropriate forum elsewhere for doing so.
I do regularly carry pepper spray, to use against dogs. I absolutely hate hurting a dog by spraying it. The dog is just doing his or her job and defending the house – it’s the owners who screwed up, but the dog pays the price. However, in the end, I think that my health and safety are more important than that of the animal. Yes, I have used my pepper spray before.
(For anyone reading who is inspired to start carrying pepper spray for riding, running or going on walks: Practice before you leave home, don’t try to spray while you are moving, check the wind direction first if at all possible, and AIM FOR THE EYES.)

How will you shower? Where do you go to pee?
Most campgrounds have showers. If they don’t, they certainly have a source of water from which I can manage a sponge bath. Bathroom access really isn’t a problem; I don’t get that far from civilization! I’ve packed a trowel and TP on past trips, but never used them, so I’m not taking the trowel this time.

I’ve tried to think of all of the more common questions, but I’m sure that I’ve missed a few! Feel free to post questions in the comment section, and I’ll get around to answering when I can.

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Just a little trip, before I go on a Big Trip.

In front of the state capitol, on my way out of town

Next week, I’ll be packing up my bike and flying to Ohio to start a bike tour from Cincinnati to Bar Harbor, Maine. Since I didn’t get to go camping at all over the winter, a short local trip to shake down all of my equipment was in order.

I’ve got to say, late May is a less than ideal time to go camping in Texas. It was still 85 degrees and quite humid outside when I turned in at 10 PM. I have a hard time sleeping when it warmer than 80. I did enjoy hearing the owls, however. The road construction noise that started at 7 AM, not so much.

During the long trip, I’ll be posting to this blog at least occasionally. How often depends on how easy it will (or won’t) be to post from public libraries or other computer access points I encounter along the way. Those of you who know me in real life can also follow me on Facebook, where it’s very easy to post photos from my phone; I should be updating there a few times a week.

Campsite at McKinney Falls S.P., just south of Austin.

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I feel like I jumped in the deep end for this one.

Alpine Lace table runner

This is the pattern “Alpine knit scarf” from the book Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. Because I wanted to make a wedding gift, I modified it to make a table runner by changing the proportions and knitting it up on a smaller scale, with size 30 Cebelia crochet thread. This means that I knit it up on size 000 (1.5 mm) needles. Tiny! This was one of those projects that required extremely good light and lots of hand washing before handling the work.

Here it is with my hand for scale.

In order to determine a good length for the piece, I did some measurements and calculated the proper number of lace repeats to knit using the golden mean. This worked out well. For anyone who is interested in reproducing the proportion, this worked out to be 20 repeats of the rose leaf pattern; the rest of the piece was worked as written in the pattern.

I like to give household items for wedding gifts. This means working in a strong fiber like cotton. Wool and silk are both higher-maintenance and will fuzz up over time if left out on a table. Silk will also fade. White, mercerized cotton, however, won’t fade and doesn’t have any fuzzies left to cause trouble. However, I hate working with the stuff. Cotton has zero give or “bounce” and it’s hard on my hands; my left hand is still recovering from this one. Slippery cotton + slippery, tiny metal needles + lace patterning on every row made the first few rows a tad perilous as well. I must say that it was a mentally stimulating project. Blocking the finished work was also something of a challenge. The first time I blocked it, it bounced right out of block the next day. So, I soaked and blocked it again, with lots of starch and a little steam after it was dry. It should stay put now. I hope.

(No, I do not knit every wedding gift. I don’t have the time. Sorry Julie; I’m just not going to be home enough this summer!)

The diamond lace is patterned on every row. You can tell because the threads form straight lines in between the holes. Lace which is patterned on every other row has twisted threads. You can see this in the center "rose leaf lace" panel.

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Knitpicks makes some nice knitting needles. The company started up right around the time that I learned to knit, which was great timing for me. They make good, inexpensive stuff and, as a new knitter, I didn’t want to spend lots of cash on a craft I wasn’t sure that I was going to like. As my skills have advanced, I’ve come to appreciate the pointy tips and the fact that the metal coating doesn’t react with my hands. (All of my expensive Addi lace needles react with my skin and give off a strong metallic odor.)

The one problem with Knitpicks needles is that the cables tend to come loose at the join. This is a very common problem – at least half of my Knitpicks cable needles suffer from it. I found a good fix for it and thought that I should share. This fix is best used as a preventative measure, because sometimes when the cable pops out of the housing, it won’t go back in all the way, and then you’re left with a needle that snags the yarn. Knitpicks has an excellent reputation for replacing needles that fail this way, but I really prefer to buy my tools once and not have to replace them at all. Who wants to put a project down for a week while waiting for new needles to come in the mail?

crimping the cable housing

You can see the crimp line at the base of the cable housing.

My fix is that I crimp the end of the housing ever so slightly, using a pair of needle-nose pliers. I use just enough pressure to make a mark. After the end is crimped, the cable never moves. I treated some of my needles like this 3 years ago, and have had no problems with them since then, so this is a good long-term fix.

It’s important to not crimp the end too aggressively. Too much pressure will make the end of the housing flare out, so that it snags the yarn. (I did crimp one needle too aggressively and had to throw it out, because the end flared into a sharp spot that was snagging my delicate lace yarns.)

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