Thursday, March 19, 2015

Packing List

 I'm a big fan of lists.  I should really use them more often.

Normally, on a weekday commute or a weekend bike ride, I don't make a list.  Most things either stay in my seat bag (two tubes, key tools) or get packed in my back-pack the night before (clothes for work, energy gels, lighter weight bike clothes for the commute home) or I pack just before the ride (two water bottles, rain gear if it's threatening, money, phone inside a zip-lock).  It's almost automatic.

But Sunday, I need to pack for Monday and Tuesday as well.  I'm a Randonneur, so I'm self-supported.  And I'll need the biking equivalent of an overnight bag.  I prefer electronic checklists with little boxes and each item disappearing as I check it off.  But this is a blog, so you'll need to endure my rambling text explaining each item as if you really wanted to know.

Imagine me standing and pointing with both hands at my feet, then sequentially up my body until I have both index fingers pointing at my brain.

What to wear:

  1. Bike Shoes (only one pair; I've checked the weather and I shouldn't get soaked with rain)
  2. Street Shoes (boat shoes; the flattest shoes I own so they'll pack more easily, but also marginally acceptable in restaurants - better than flip-flops.)
  3. Bike Shoe Covers (the weather should be nice, but it might be damp along the coast in the morning so the shoe covers are worth carrying to keep my feet warm)
  4. Bike Socks (two pair, because they are light and anything could happen ...but not so small that it's worth carrying three pair)
  5. Street Socks (nope, cancel that... this is California and going without socks is more than acceptable)
  6. Leg Warmers (check the weather one more time on Saturday; probably go with knee warmers instead)
  7. Biking Shorts (bibs actually; Giardana, my favorite - I'll spare you the reasons.  I'm going to risk it and only bring one pair.  I can wash them in the sink and dry them out overnight if needed.  They are bulky to carry.)
  8. Underwear (boxers or briefs? I'm not telling.)
  9. Street Pants (I've got some super-thin hiking pants with zippered legs than convert them to shorts if it's really warm - which it won't be since this is northern California along the coast.)
  10. Base Layer (my internal thermostat runs cold, I prefer having an extra layer compared to most of my cycling buddies)
  11. Heart Rate Monitor Strap (not that I frequently monitor my heart rate, but I border on obsessive in terms of collecting data.)
  12. Crashtag (instead of a RoadID, I use something that looks like a dog-tag with my emergency phone numbers and medical insurance data - just in case.  It is a pendant made of titanium and has a slot that makes it a bottle opener - just in case.  It's from
  13. Bike Jersey (Heart Across America, buy one!)
  14. Bike Vest (Heart Across America; again, my thermostat runs cold)
  15. Rain Coat (Showers Pass; I'll pack it.  I don't think I'll need it.  But if we wake up in Davenport or Carmel and need to ride in dense coastal fog or rain, I'll need it.  It's way too risky to ride without one.)
  16. Street Shirt (I think I'll bring a long-sleeve and a T-shirt or polo in some technical fabric - not cotton - and not bring a sweatshirt.  They pack easier and don't get wrinkled.  A sweatshirt, while comfy, is way too bulky.)
  17. Cycling Glasses (Rudy Project, prescription lenses, photo-chromatic)
  18. street glasses (because wearing cycling glasses in a restaurant would look uncool, pack in a case)
  19. Cycling Beanie (headsweats, for that reason ...and to prevent sunburn; just the thin one for summertime, not the thick one that covers my ears when it's 30 degrees out)
  20. Helmet (obviously)
  21. Biking Gloves (long-finger pair and short-finger pair)

So now I am no longer pointing at my head, I'm staring at my hands.  I'll wear half this stuff and pack the other half.  

Stuff for the bike:

  1. Lights (taillight, headlight and helmet light - I use the taillight all the time and I use the helmet light around dawn and dusk.  The headlight that mounts to the bar is used if it's dark or if anything happens to my helmet light.  You can never be too visibly on public roads!)
  2. Water Bottles (two)
  3. Spare Tubes (two, in plastic lunch bags, in another bag so they don't get damaged)
  4. Tire Changing Tool
  5. Chain Changing Tool
  6. Spare Chain Master Link (in case the chain breaks; it almost never happens but it can happen)
  7. CO2 Cartridge and Valve (I also have a pump mounted on the bike)
  8. Spare Tire (I might not bring a spare tire on this trip, since I'll be close to civilization and close enough that I could call home for a ride but I will probably bring one on my five-day trip in May.)

Fuel for the Rider:

  1. Gels (I eat more frequently than most people, so I want food in my pocket.  Untapped Maple - basically syrup, Salted Caramel Gu, Mocha Clif Shots - with caffeine, and Clif Bars.  Two each of the gels and maybe four bars - none for Sunday but two each for Monday and Tuesday.)
  2. Drink Mix (I use Skratch Labs for hydration.  I prefer it over water because of the calories and the electrolytes.  I'll mix up two bottles before I go, and bring individual packets so I can mix up two each on Monday and Tuesday.  I'll also get water on the road whenever they're empty.  I generally consume one bottle every hour-and-a-half.)

First-world necessities:

  1. Garmin GPS (Edge 500, I've already loaded the TCX files so that I have the route available on my handlebars - assuming it can find a GPS satellite.  It shows me my heart rate, which I previously said I don't actually monitor.  Various other data is accessible like speed, elevation, incline, cadence, distance and a host of other information I don't need.  I'll leave the display on the map for navigation and listen to my body for the rest.  Obsessive?)
  2. Phone (since I won't have a laptop to upload my Garmin data, I'll actually run the Strava app on my phone to capture the ride data and upload to Strava.  I'll use the phone to upload photos to Instagram, which is linked to Strava.  I've got the email confirmations from the hotels on my phone.  And I can edit and post to this blog on my phone.  It's so much lighter than a laptop or tablet.  Oh, and I can use it as a phone.)
  3. External USB Batteries (two, so I can recharge my phone during the ride)
  4. USB Cables (mini for the Garmin, micro for the phone and lights, so I can recharge them as well as the external batteries)
  5. AC/USB Adapter (to charge the lights and the above gadgets from the wall outlet in the hotel)
  6. No Map (risky, I know.  But I'm comfortable enough with the routes that I can make it home if all the electronics fail.)
  7. No Jawbone UP to count steps and track my sleep (the fact that I mention this will tell you something)

Off-the-bike stuff:

  1. Wallet (cash, credit card, driver's license ...maybe my AAA card?)
  2. Toothbrush and Toothpaste (hotels don't have this stuff, usually, but they do have shampoo and soap and towels.  My hair is short enough that I won't need to comb it.  I won't shave Monday or Tuesday.)
  3. Sunscreen (smallest tube I can find, SPF 70)
  4. Aspirin (tiny sample bottle)
  5. Heart Across America Business Cards (I'll put them in the zip-lock with my phone. It's likely we'll meet people who ask what we're doing, give them a card and they might donate - right?)

How to pack it all on the bike?

I've got a Pika seat bag from Revelate Designs.  It doesn't have compartments and it rolls up to collapse any unused space.  It's perfect for someone predisposed to excel at spatial relations.  One trick with this sort of bag is to put certain categories of thing in their own bag (big zip-lock will work) inside the main bag.  I've got a bag for clothes, a bag for toiletries, a bag for bike tools/tubes.  It's also important to think about what you'll need to get at quickly. The biggest hurry I'll ever be in, is when the weather changes quickly (rain coat goes in last).  Next, is probably changing a flat tire (tool bag in second-to-last).  I'll have the most time changing into street clothes and brushing my teeth (clothes go in first).

You've probably seen cyclists with panniers and 400lbs or gear strapped to their bike.  The bikes are steel and have fenders.  The cyclists wear wool, ride methodically but don't look happy.  That's not me.  I may not look happy - I've had people ask me "what's wrong" because of the look on my face - but I'm happy.

The pack weighs in at just over seven pounds.

Let's ride!

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