Things to remember for a bike trip
- Ability of riders
- Preview route and make a map
- Does everyone have a bike?
- Does everyone have a helmet?
- Does everybody have enough equipment (panniers,
sleeping bags, etc?)
- Weather - is any special attire appropriate
- Cost - can people spend money?
- Budget - for a long trip, estimate daily expenses.
- Carpools to start point - who has bike racks?
- Flyers for publicity
- Open and close trip in prayer if appropriate
- Gas in your car?
- Campground or motel reservations
- Sign-up lists
- Release forms
- Film, or memory card, as appropriate
- Small Tripod - 6" one was very useful to me
- Film loaded in camera
- Batteries in camera OK
- Spare batteries and charger for digital camera
- Brake cable
- Folding tire
- Deraileur cable
- Chain rivet
- Small bolt (for water bottle, rack, etc)
- Sleeping bag
- Ensolite (insulated sleeping pad)
- Nylon cord
- Brake wrench
- Patch kit
- Allen wrenches
- Presta/Schraeder adapter
- Tire irons
- Adjustable wrench
- Chain tool
- Spoke wrench
- Freewheel tool
- 3 Cycling Socks
- 1 thin cotton long socks
- Long and short sleeve T-shirts
- "Can I draft you?" shirt
- Nice pants
- Nice shirt
- 2 Underwear
- 1 Cycling tog
- Leg warmers
- Cycling shoes
- Kung Fu shoes (light, slip on shoes that look decent)
- Aluminum frying pan
- Aluminum pot
- Fuel bottle
- Fill fuel bottle - but not for Air travel
- Small plastic spatula
- Water bottles
- Can opener
- Swiss army knife
- Sponge or scouring pad
- Powdered soap
- ATM card
- Credit card
- Adventure Cycling ID
- Company ID card (for rent-a-car)
- Insurance card
- Traveler's checks
- AAA card (for getting maps)
- Driver's license and/or passport
Medicine and Toiletries
- First aid kit
- Vaseline or chapstick
- Insect repellent
- Campho Phenique
- Cotton swabs
- Dental Floss
- Nail clipper
- Toilet paper
- Bike license numbers
- Credit card reporting #
- Credit card balance #
- Credit card payment address
- Credit card numbers
- SVBS directory
- Addresses of churches, friends, relatives to write to
- Cell phone
- FRS/GRS communicators (only for groups)
- "Head Light" Flashlight
- Batteries in flashlight OK
- LED rear flasher
- Inflatable pillow
- Camp book
- Snot Rag
- Straps or Bungee cords
- Small bag of plastic tie-wraps
- Ziploc bags
- 1 Trash bag
- "Wisdom for Cyclists" - (card with my
- Small reel of fishing line
- Lighter is better. Pack less for a longer trip. Go on a
2-day test ride that includes some hills.
- Use General Delivery mail in the US and
regularly scheduled phone calls to keep in touch with a base station. The idea of physical mail may seem
quaint in this modern age, but postcards last, and email doesn’t.
- Transamerica east-to-west: 2/3 of riders take this
route. Avoids oppressive heat and humidity of Southern/Midwestern summer.
Scenery improves as you go on. Camping more available as you go on. Can
start earlier - some mountain passes in the west may be snowed in before
- West-to-east: wind will be at your back more, you'll
meet more other riders (since they're going the other way).
- Adventure Cycling maps are the best, if you're going
that way. The AAA CampBook can help you find
places to stay, otherwise. Ordinary highway maps are OK. Best source of
navigation is to ask the locals.
- Rear view mirror is worth it. Types vary.
- A light, at least something that straps to your head or
arm, is pretty important. Over a long trip, for one reason or another,
eventually, you'll have to ride some road at night. Not all roads have
street lights. Also, a little red LED flasher for your rear (mounted on
your back, your helmet, or your bike) is probably your #1 safety feature
on a dark country road. The size and weight are easily justified.
- Visa is not bad, but no good for most food. If you want
to rely on ATM's, remember that cash back is free at most supermarkets. Best
to draw out the maximum that they allow, until you know what the general
spacing is between ATMs. It’s
probably good to have a Traveler’s check or two for use in a pinch, but
they’re less convenient to redeem.
I would use my ATM card to draw out cash in the US.
- Take a passport if you're going out of the country. Ever since 9/11, the rules have gotten
- Change tires after 2000 miles. Never mind if they don't
look worn. Of course, many of you will ignore this, anyway. It takes
getting stranded with a falling apart tire to learn this. Don't carry the
spare tires. Buy them at a bike shop along the way.
- 27" rims preferred to 700 mm. Hard to find 700mm
tires except in big towns (could be days apart). Presta
valve tubes also are only in big towns, but tubes rarely fail
catastrophically, and you can carry a spare or two. (this
was in 1988).
- Use Mr. Tuffy's (tire
liners). Saves much aggravation.
- Bring insect repellant. Cutter's
or equivalent. Will be used almost every night while camping.
- Sunblock - use maximum protection.
You'll still get a tan.
- Touring shoes are wonderful! Even tennis shoes work
well. Special shoes for clipless pedals are a
little more efficient, but I found that I stopped in almost every little
town for at least a little while, to look around and get a cold drink.
- Don't bother bringing fishing tackle. Usually hard to
find places to fish. A small reel of fishing line, however, has other
- White gas is the best choice for a cooking stove. In
it is not necessary to have a stove that burns multiple fuels. Don't buy a
whole gallon of white gas at a store, ask
neighbors (car campers) at campgrounds if you can buy a pint from them.
The MSR XG-K stove is overkill for TransAmerica.
It gets very hot, but is hard to control. Don't use it on a picnic table;
it will burn the table.
- A 40-degree F sleeping bag is enough for the summer. If
you camp in an unusually cold place, wear heavy clothes inside your bag,
or cuddle up to a riding companion.
- Carry a boot (a 6" piece of an old tire), not a
spare tire. If you get severe tire damage, line the hole with the boot.
- Anti-itch lotion is good in hot dry weather. Lanacane is worthless, get the Hydrocortisone stuff.
- Keep a journal. Years later, you'll leaf through it
with fond memories. Also, you WILL meet a lot of people along the way,
whose addresses you'll want to keep.
- Bring a light point-and-shoot camera with a flash.
Better yet, sketch into your journal. A digital camera means that you
won't need to scramble for film, as you can always delete pictures to make
room. However, you will need to carry a charger for your heavy NiMH batteries, and go through the hassle of charging. Digital cameras are small, good, and
- Use a touring bike, not a mountain bike, for the
Transamerica trail. Too much work pushing a mountain bike. The new hybrids
are probably not so bad as the old mountain
- Use 28mm (1 1/8") tires at least. Some prefer 32
mm. The trail contains some short sandy sections where you would have to
walk a bike with a 20 mm tire.
- Put everything that isn't waterproof in ziploc bags. Did you remember your wallet, camera, and
- It will rain. When it does, don't stop unless you plan
to stop for a long time. The coldest feeling is when you start up again
after you stop in the rain.
- Don't use adhesive tape on handlebars. It may come
loose in extremely hot weather. Use adhesiveless
plastic stretch tape.
- A compass-thermometer combination was something I used
an awful lot.
- A PDA would be good if you're writing a detailed
journal for later printing, or if you use online services. You can get a
PDA with nearly everything in it – wireless internet, GPS, phone, MP3
player, camera, even video. The PDA
can be your alarm clock and entertainment.
Just have a backup plan handy for what you will do if the PDA
breaks. Fortunately, the fancy
functions on a PDA are not absolutely essential. You’ll see, if
yours breaks. If you have a Sony Clie, you can back the entire PDA up to a memory card,
very useful if the PDA breaks.
- The ordinary paper diary is still a good bet, since you
can sketch in it, affix small stamps and souvenirs, and the batteries
never run out. I would not rely solely on an electronic PDA to keep
important phone numbers and addresses; I would make a printout and keep it
separately in the pannier, in an out-of-the-way place where it wouldn't be
- In general, water is potable anywhere there's a town.
Water purification tabs are unneeded unless you plan to go off into the
- Rumors found to be false in my experience: the Midwest is boring with the same scenery all the
time, packs of wild dogs will chase you, Indians
are thieves and n'er-do-wells.
- Theft was never a concern outside of big cities. You are far more likely to lose or break
something than have it stolen.
- A harmonica is about the lightest musical instrument
you can carry. If you don't know how to play one when you start, you will
by the end of your trip.
- Portable radio was NOT useful. If you take one, find
the smallest one you can. A CD/cassette player is probably as useless,
unless you REALLY like music.
- Cost: If you buy all your food at grocery stores, then
it won't cost much, especially if you can survive on PBJ sandwiches,
pasta, and water. Truthfully, I had more money, so I ate almost all meals
at restaurants after a while. Figure 3 McDonald's type meals a day. Other
major expense is lodging. If you tour with friends, you can split the
campground/motel cost. A campground costs (at MOST) about the same as a
moderate sit-down meal at a restaurant. Split 4 ways, it's the same as a
fast-food meal. It gets hot and humid in the south, so if you have money,
you'll really want to get motel rooms each night for the A/C and shower.
Motel rooms are 2X the campground price, for cheap motels. BikeCentennial maps list various camping facilities,
some of which are free.
- Note: BikeCentennial changed
its name to Adventure Cycling in 1994. Their number is (406)721-1776. On
the web at: http://adv-cycling.org/cyclo.html