This is an obligatory page for gear geeks who like to know what sort of rig a cyclist might use for a transcontinental journey. Others might find it a monumental bore. So if you’re not very interested in panniers and V-brakes, headsets and derailleurs, just skip this page.
First, the bike: I ride a custom touring bike made by Dallas-Fort Worth builder Boyd Atherton, who unfortunately had to get out of the bike-building business because he couldn’t make enough money at it. So, at last report, he coaches wrestling and teaches at a Dallas-area high school. Boyd is a perfectionist and a super nice guy. Maybe those traits don’t fit into a profit-making business plan.
Boyd, who I believe still races in local criterions, built mostly racing bikes and at one time sponsored a team. Because of a childhood friendship in Michigan with actor Verne Troyer, who played “Mini Me” opposite Mike Myers in the Austin Powers movies, Boyd also had a special niche building or adapting bikes for little people. I believe I have the only touring bike that he ever built. I rode it for the first time Jan. 21, 2002.
Essentially, my bike is made from heavy-gauge aluminum tubing and is fitted out with a combination of road and mountain bike components.
The drive train has carbon cranks, three chain rings (46T/34T/24T) and a nine-sprocket rear cassette. It has a Shimano Ultegra front derailleur and a Shimano XTR rear derailleur.
It has Shimano Ultegra FlightDeck shifters and Shimano XTR mountain bike V-brakes. The wheels are heavy-duty, 36-spoke Mavic T520s with XTR hubs.
The tires are Schwalbe Marathon Plus, 300×32. I had hoped to mount 700×35 tires for the cross-country trip, but I don’t believe I have sufficient clearance between the chainstays for a 700×35 tire on the rear.
Other bits and pieces: Ritchey Pro headset, Bontrager seat post, a Brooks B-17 leather saddle.
For the trip, I will mount a set of Bruce Gordon racks that I had used on my other bike, a Bruce Gordon Hikari touring cycle. The panniers are Arkels: GT54 in the rear and GT18 in the front.
Some ancillary gear: REI Quarter Dome T1 solo tent, a lightweight Eureka! Horse Creek sleeping bag rated to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, Lake MX155 cycling shoes, a Topeak Morph Road G Master Blaster pump with a gauge and a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook to try to maintain this blog on the road. (See April 27 post, “Blogging on a bike.”)
The photo below shows the bike fully loaded in pretty much the same configuration that I’ll use for the cross-country trip. That photo was taken in Illinois last September during the Illinois Great Rivers Ride, which was a self-contained test run for this trip.