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Bruce Gordon Rock 'n' Road Tour, 28-38-48 front and 13-34 rear gearing (22 in. low, 100 in. high). Bar-end shifters on standard drop handlebars.
Continental Top Touring/Top Touring 2000 tires (700 x 32)
Brooks B-17 saddle (broken in)
Bruce Gordon pannier racks
Robert Beckman panniers & handlebar bag
Cateye CC-AT100 cycle computer/altimeter
Shimano M-535 SPD pedals
Visalite headlight, rear flasher
I had only trivial mechanical problems during the 8 weeks. All of this is great equipment and I would recommend it to anyone. Bruce Gordon makes a solid, dependable machine that is as well-suited for touring as any bike I've seen. It rode comfortably and true and gave me no problems worth mentioning. Continental's Top Touring tires are the best bar none -- I had two flat tires the whole trip, only one of them was a puncture and it was into a rear tire that had more than 2,500 fully loaded miles on it. Bob Beckman's panniers, well designed and impeccably manufactured, are in a class of their own. The only problem I have with them is figuring out to whom to will them when I die, because they're certainly going to outlast me. The Cateye CC-AT100 is the first cyclecomputer I've ever owned that endures cold and rain without pitching electronic fits. Bike altimeters have a reputation for skittishness but this one worked reliably and was accurate enough actually to be useful. The Shimano SPD clipless pedals needed a couple hundred miles to break in completely but I loved them after that and am even thinking of replacing the Look-compatibles on my road bike. The Zefal fenders added a few ounces but riding in the rain was much closer to fun without road spray constantly spinning up into my face. They also kept grit and grime off the bottom half of the bike, making cleanup a lot easier. And then finally, that Brooks saddle. It requires a little bit more attention than your standard plastic jobs but you're rewarded with a comfortable, shock-absorbent ride that only gets better as you spend more time on it.
Tools & maintenance
Cannondale hex key combo
cassette removal tool
spare spokes (all 3 sizes)
khaki long pants
Adventure Cycling maps
extra bungee cord
plastic cover for bike
North Face Ventilator tent
This is a fairly complete packing list. Indeed some might think it a little too complete, and to be sure a person could get by with a lot less -- a change of off-bike clothes is nice but not really essential; a bike headlight can double as a flashlight at night; a truly tough guy can shave with soap (or just water) instead of shaving cream. Next time I will probably cut out the purification tablets, the additional small towel, one synthetic jersey, one off-bike shirt and -- really! -- the Thermarest, which I used once. Other than that, however, I used just about everything on the list often enough to continue carrying it. I doubt I'd pare things down much below that.
A few items turned out to be exceptionally useful, and I won't take another long tour without them:
The single pair of shoes was a Shimano SPD hiking/biking model. They were generally quite comfortable, though something different on my feet would have been nice from time to time. Also they weren't the greatest for extended walking (which I discovered during my off-days in Yellowstone) but I would probably do the same thing again unless I planned to spend a whole lot more time off the bike.
Um, what else. Waterproofing! I had rain covers for the panniers, which were useful if for no other reason than keeping the pannier fabric from soaking up 3 pounds of water in heavy rain, but the covers were kind of a pain to put on and so I also kept most of my gear inside plastic bags too. Someone somewhere on the internet suggested using the long tubular bags that newspapers are sometimes delivered in, and it was a great suggestion -- they're lots less bulky than ziplocs plus they fit more easily into one's (primarily vertical) panniers.
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