Sunday, April 25, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I finally have my packs and all my gear. I have just a few more things I'm waiting on like my water filter, pack towel and medical kit. I photoshopped those into the image so you can get an idea. (Now Clay can't call me out since I said it). It feels good to know that I can fit everything into one and a half packs and a backpack. This leaves me with plenty of room for food and water...and trinkets I find along the way.
You can find the weight and cost of everything here. Along the way I will be updating each item with a review of how it performs and the pros and cons.
With the plane tickets bought and the hotel reserved for the first night, the trip is totally planned and ready to go. I made the mistake of ordering Jandd hurricane panniers from California and they still haven't shown up but I do have everything else. Somehow, without the panniers, I'm able to fit everything in the back pack, so thats a relief.
Growing up in Apopka, there was really nothing to do but stay outside. Me and the guys I grew up with would find something to do, whether it be basketball, football, soccer, baseball, even paintball for about three days ... anything and everything was fair game as long as we were outside.
I can always remember, as a kid, seeing my dad roll in after a long ride with his buddies and wanted that. That freedom to ride somewhere off the beaten path, to push your body harder and faster, long before most people even wake. Finally getting to an age when you can get a good road bike, I got my Raleigh USA, my road bike. I soon learned all the tricks of pack riding and the great distances you can reach on two wheels, fresh legs, and a real comfy saddle.
After moving up the Gainesville, I lost track of my cycling, mostly because I had no where to put the bike, and got into distance running. Doing a couple half marathons and marathons, I wanted to get back into biking but really wanted it to take me somewhere. This is when I learned of a friend's trip across the US and knew that was it. I wanted to take my bike from ocean to ocean and see as much of this country in one summer as possible. Being my last summer before grad school, this may be my last chance for a real trip of a lifetime and seeing this country on foot, camping every night, and riding everyday seems like the best way to spend it.
As a kid in Ocala, Fla., I always loved the outdoors -- being active and getting dirty. I played outside every day until my mom told me it was too dark, but I always tried to say that I could still see.
When I was 3 years old, I rode my first bike without training wheels. Soon after, I crafted plywood jumps and the bumps and bruises followed. I played many sports, but I always loved riding my bike.
I rode it to visit friends before I could drive, and after I got my keys, I took to trails on my mountain bike after school and on the weekends. As I headed off to the University of Florida, I traded in my racing jersey for a backpack and my trail took me to my classes.
I kept the mountain bike, though, because it was cooler than the other Wal-Mart bikes. But I soon realized there was a reason for all the road bikes -- and even for the fixed-gear bikes the indie kids rode. It took all my energy just to cross campus. So I commandeered by dad's old Connandae that lacked shocks, and I slapped some street tires on it. It was stolen, and I made a switch to a real road bike.
It's funny that I'm riding across the country on a road bike now because I used to make fun of them, saying "What fun is that? They're just riding. There aren't any jumps. You can't slide your back tire around turns ... it's just road." I hadn't even been a serious road biker rider until Clay approached me about this trip. I still think that mountain biking is more fun than road biking, but it would be way too much work to ride across the country on that old mountain bike of mine.
After reading many forums and blogs I finally came across the Raleigh Sojourn. This is a proven company and has great marks with the biking community. Some standard bonus features of the bike that most others don't include: Brooks B17 Saddle, SKS Fenders, Pannier Rack and a Leyzne Tire Pump. It also comes with Brooks leather bar wrap and Avid BB5 disc brakes. With the disc brakes, downhills coming through the Rockies will be less treacherous since they dissipate heat better than the more widely used rim contact cantilever brakes. I found it in a shop in Toronto Canada and was quite the nail biter to see if it would show up in decent condition.
With the bike all put together it is a comfortable ride with a lot of stability. Its a little slow on the take off but, what can you really expect to get from a touring bike that weighs 30+ pounds before the gear. The brakes are quick to get the bike stopped in a controlled manner and easy to maintain. I would suggest this bike to anyone planning a touring trip on a budget.