Highlighting the Bike: The Early Weeks
The bike question is coming into clearer focus, and I wanted to share with you a little in these first few weeks of the planning stage.
First, a few basics:
- It’s a ‘recumbent’ style bicycle, otherwise referred to in biking circles as a “‘Bent.'”
- It’s going to be made primarily of bamboo (picture located HERE)
- It’s kindly being constructed by an expert recumbent bike builder in Brazil.
- It will be the taller of the three styles of recumbent. This is good for visibility (both seeing and being seen) and climbing hills.
- It will have jet booster packs filled with nitrous for when I get tired.*
- I’m getting the “luggage” scenario worked out at the moment.
This is the picture Klaus, the bike’s creator, sent me this week after some back and forth discussing the needs we see as important. This is of course just the style of the bike…the actual one will be made of panda food! (bamboo)
He’s thinking a taller version of the bike, which is more visible and better on hill climbing will be optimal. Recumbents are notorious for their lack of hill climbing prowess, as there’s not an option to stand and really crank on the pedals to get up a hill. Also, when you start to slow down going uphill, there’s no way to sway back and forth to balance yourself. The best way to do hills on a ‘Bent is to have a higher sitting recumbent, get in the highest gear, and pretend you’re in the spin class from Hades and just go for it.
And that’s where weight factors in.
Just as I found while preparing for my PCT hike, if you want to bring something, and you have decided against a Sherpa or a pack mule…then pretty much YOU have to carry that weight yourself. The last 1,000 miles of my PCT hike, I was shedding weight from my pack like I was losing weight from my body. At the end of my hike, I was carrying 40 pounds less weight (in gear and body fat combined) than the first day I stepped on the trail. And what does that mean for this trip?
I have a head start!
I’ll be starting off ridiculously light for a cross country trip, and keeping it that way all the way to New York.
WHERE I WILL BE CARRYING MY GEAR
Back Seat Bag
I’ve been looking into pannier systems and other storage bags for a while now. A little difficult to do at times when I didn’t know what the bike was going to look like, and what the mystery seat configuration meant for the carrying style, but I looked nonetheless. As of today, actually, I was contacted by a well known bag manufacturer that they will be sponsoring me with at least one bag for the bike (almost identical in placement and looks as the one on the bike above). So that is fantastic news! More on that when it arrives, so I can give a more complete rundown. Essentially, though, this bag will be able to carry my sleeping bag, tarp, bivy, sleeping mat, and ground sheet. maybe 3 pounds of stuff at the most.
These will fit the bulk of my items, and will consist of two bags, one on either side of the bike, right near or just behind the seat, slung low. At the moment, I have not found a set of panniers that I will use for the trip. I do have a set of REI pannier backs, and if I cannot find anything better, I might modify them to do the job.
Under The Seat
I’ll be looking for a waterproof bag that I can lash to the underside of the seat for bike tools, pump, extra tubes, extra burritos, etc. These are fairly prevalent and pretty inexpensive. (The bags, not the burritos).
I will want to keep my navigation materials as handy as possible. When you stop on a recumbent, from what I can tell, it’s harder/more awkward to keep your balance. So having your map and other navigation items handy is important.
I’ll be using a few different types of navigation items:
I’ll be using the Adventure Cycling Association’s maps for 95% of the trip. There are just a couple spots where I will be off the ACA grid, but those are rare and not far to ride. The maps are separated by sections, and I can take a couple sections with me at a time and in any free time study the upcoming sections. I’ll keep them in a handy, easy-to-reach location to check on when necessary.
My GPS won’t be the type with the pretentious yet calm-sounding man with the english accent, or the pushy, overly urgent lady who’s last gig was working as the voice-over for Verizon Wireless. Thankfully mine doesn’t speak or make sounds at all! It’s a handheld version, and will be able to be mounted on my handlebars for quick views on direction and location. One of the best parts, though, at least to me, will be the total miles ridden as well as the miles per hour. I like that! 🙂
Yep, those prior two methods combined with my over-developed sense of direction and acute ability to gauge, on a daily basis, where the sun rises and sets, should be just what I need. Not to mention, I know other important pieces of information: sky/clouds = UP, ground/dirt = DOWN.
OTHER IMPORTANT BITS AND PIECES OF THE BIKE
There are a lot of question marks at this point as to the rest of the bikes moving pieces, and pieces that will keep it moving. I have a sponsorship through Crank Brthers, so I will be filling out the bikes accessories with products from them. More on those details in a later post.
Thank you for reading, and hope you had a great day!
*P.S. … The jet boosters filled with nitrous? I think I pretty much made that up… 😉