I am indebted to Charles Standley for the equipment list he has posted online (which I found through bikeforums.net). I am not following his list exactly, but it is a very helpful guide. I’m trying to follow the spirit of packing light without sacrificing a reasonable level of comfort.
I am deviating from his approach most obviously in my choice of bike—I am riding a recumbent trike, a Catrike Speed. I’ve been interested in recumbent trikes for a long time. They make good load carriers for touring, they’re comfortable, and no matter how slow you go up hill on one, you can’t tip over. They do have drawbacks in that they are heavy (though mine is not really heavier than many touring bikes), awkward to handle when you’re not riding them, and require some non-standard parts. And recumbents (bikes or trikes) have the benefit of not punishing one’s wrists, neck, shoulders, back, or ass. They punish legs just as effectively though.
I would have needed to get a new ride for the transam no matter what—my existing road bike is a racing bike that is not designed for carrying loads at all, and has a tight geometry that would batter my body to jelly after a few long days in the saddle.
The Speed is not the most obvious model to choose for touring—of Catrike’s product line, the Road would be more logical, with a higher and more upright seat, slower steering, and all three wheels the same size—a size where replacements would be easily found en route. But after test-riding most of their product line, the Speed is the one that really grabbed my attention.
I’ve decided to put all my eggs in my iPhone basket—I’ll be using it to take pictures, to write in this blog, listen to music, send Twitter updates (which will automatically appear in this blog). And although I will be carrying paper maps, I also have the route in electronic form, which I can access through my phone as a backup. I am sure I’ll miss having some kind of physical keyboard—this will be both an opportunity to get better at thumb-typing and a prod toward brevity.
I’ve always been fascinated by Steve Roberts‘ pioneering efforts at on-bike electronics. I feel that with the iPhone I’ve got a significant fraction of his functionality at an infinitesimal fraction of the weight.
My total pack weight, not including water, comes to just over 28 lb. It would be nice to get that down, but I’d need to spend a fair amount of money to get into the low 20s. Everything packs with room to spare into the two Ortliebs, except the bike tools, which fit into pockets built into the back of the trike’s seat.