“On a long journey even a straw weighs heavy.”
– Spanish proverb
OK, let’s find the straw in this pile of gear.
As of today, the stuff shown in the photo at left is what I plan to haul on my bicycle when our transcontinental journey begins in San Diego on Sept. 20. As I pack it into the bike’s front and rear panniers, some weeding out is inevitable.
The heaviest single pieces of gear are the Eureka Horse Creek sleeping bag, the REI Quarter Dome T1 solo tent and the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook. Each weighs under 2.5 pounds. And I consider each an essential item. The weeding out will probably involve articles of clothing and ancillary electronics gadgets.
I carried essentially the same gear on the Illinois Great Rivers Ride, a trip through southern Illinois last September and everything fit nicely into my Arkel panniers, with room to spare. The panniers, in fact, have so many zippered compartments that it’s sometimes difficult to remember where stuff is stowed.
I used that weeklong ride in Illinois, which included some formidable hills, as a shakedown cruise for the cross-country ride. The Illinois ride was fully supported, but I carried all my gear to see how difficult it would be on a long journey. It turned out to be easier than I thought it would be.
The only “heavy” item that I didn’t carry in Illinois was the Dell netbook. But I’ll need that if I want to maintain this blog on the road to keep my wife and three sons — and anyone else who might be interested — up to date on the journey.
In his book Made in America, travel writer and humorist Bill Bryson notes how the Pilgrims, who arrived in America aboard the Mayflower in 1620, packed for their voyage to the New World.
“It would be difficult to imagine a group of people more ill-suited to a life in the wilderness,” Bryson wrote.
“They packed as if they had misunderstood the purpose of the trip. They found room for sundials and candle snuffers, a drum, a trumpet, and a complete history of Turkey. One William Mullins packed 126 pairs of shoes and 13 pairs of boots. Yet between them they failed to bring a single cow or horse or plough or fishing line.”
I hope I’ve packed a bit better than the Pilgrims. I’ll have only two pair of footwear — Lake MX 155 high-top biking shoes and Keen sandals. No sundial, trumpet or candle snuffers. But it would be nice if I had room for a cooler full of cold beer.