There are many excellent books available for novice bicycle touring cyclists to get vital information that will aid in planning the trip and make the experience more enjoyable. I didn’t want to re-invent the wheel so I used my resource from Elizabeth and Charlie Skinner in their book Bicycling the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive: A guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Skyline Drive. This book provided a list of necessary items to include when packing for a self-supported bike tour.
The first decision I had to make was to decide between a single wheel trailer or panniers. This was a big decision that I should have spent more time researching and ultimately lead to what I consider a big lesson learned. I looked at panniers but for some reason felt drawn to a single wheel cargo trailer. I purchased a single wheel cargo trailer from I10direct.com. This is a good trailer for road touring and it tracks well. It included an orange water resistant bag, has a load capacity of up to 75 pounds, and is very well built. The downside is it’s weight. The trailer weighs 21 pounds. I could have spent another $200 or more for trailers that were 5 – 6 pounds lighter. Panniers and the mounting frames on the other hand can weigh, depending on the manufacture, anywhere from 3 pounds to 8 pounds. When climbing mountains weight is an issue that I did not give much consideration during the planning stage of this trip. This was a major lesson learned. A touring pro by the name of Darren Alff has a website called Bicycle Touring Pro.com. He once did a survey of subscribers to find out how many bicycle tourists used panniers vs. trailers. Ninety-five (95%) of over 2,500 respondents said they used panniers. Now I know why.
Other equipment I carried included:
- Mountain Hardwear Spirit 1 tent – 2.2 pounds
- Mountain Hardwear Lamina sleeping bag – 1.7 pounds
- Coleman singlel-burner propane stove – <.5 pounds
- BV bicycle strap-on bike saddle bag
- Blackburn mountain mini-pump for presta and schrader valves
- Roswheel sport cycling bike frame pannier front top bag w/cell phone pocket
- Sigma 1200 wired bike computer
- Clothes – 2 pair bike shorts, 2 bike shirts, underwear, socks, rain gear, long pants for biking, hat, short and shirt for evenings, helmet, windbreaker.
- 3 days of food. Water bottles
- Toiletries, towel, medications, sun screen
- Small cook pan
- Small propane bottle – 7.75 oz.
- Shower shoes
- Matches, small flashlight, plastic for under tent, maps, spare tubes, bike multi-tool.
My gear weighed 21 pounds which I felt was a good number. But add the weight of the trailer and I was pulling 42 pounds. Had I used panniers I could have reduced the weight by about 15 pounds which would have helped on the long, winding climbs along the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia.
Now that I’ve researched, planned, and trained it was now time to ride.