Post–Ride Gear Performance Review

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Cycling Gear (See the Bike page for bicycle specs.)

  • Shimano SH-M020 cycling shoes - These shoes performed very, very well. They are an excellent compromise between street shoe comfort and stiff soled riding shoe performance. They are comfortable to walk in, have recessed cleats, yet are stiff enough to provide a good platform for the foot. Many other touring cyclists ride with them and attest to their value and performance. Using stiff riding shoes usually requires cyclists to also carry a pair of street shoes for around town and camp
  • 1 can of Halt! - Works like a charm! I only used it a few times on dogs that seemed like they wanted to have me for lunch. Most dogs just run along to play. You can get at least 10 applications out of one can. It comes out in a tight stream of orange liquid that can be accurately sprayed at a dog's muzzle up to 10 feet away. Even the most viscious dogs stops immediatly and recovers within five minutes.
  • water bottle in cage (bought second bottle and cage in Breckenridge, CO) - Get the soft nozzle type bottle made by Specialized. Otherwise this is a no-brainer. It's good to have a total water capacity of a least one gallon while doing the TransAm because there are long stretches with no services. I had a total capacity of two gallons but never carried more than one gallon at a time.
  • 2.5 L MSR Hydromedary hydration system - Excellent peformance. The bag is lightweight, strong, and does not have a flavor. I only put water in it because flavored drinks may leave a flavor. The bite valve gave out after one month of use and I replaced it in Breckenridge, Colorado. I don't consider the bite valve to be defective or inferior since I did use it every day for over a month. The replacement bite valve has lasted longer.
  • Giro Stelvio Helmet (replaced with Giro Gila helmet in Pueblo, Colorado) - Giro helmets are very comfortable. I highly recommend using a helmet with a plastic visor when on tour to keep the sun off your face. That's why I replaced my helmet - so I would have a visor. I don't regret the decision to drop $60 on a new brain bucket.
  • Bolle sunglasses with Rx insert - Excellent performance. If you wear prescription glasses then this is an economical, high performance way to go. Taking care of contact lenses on tour is difficult at best.
  • Planet Bike Dual Spot LED/halogen headlight - Excellent performance. Four available beams. I usually only used the blinking LED mode while riding in rain, fog, at dawn, and at dusk. I used the high halogen beam at night while riding around towns but never toured at night.
  • Lighweight lock (to keep people honest) - Most everyone uses a lock. It's up to you what you use. Remember to keep your eyes on your bike at all times, regardless of if it's locked.
  • Maps (ACA route maps and state road maps) - Indispensable. People tour with regular road maps but they don't get the valuable climate, terrain, and service information that the ACA maps provide. I consider these absolutely essential. Having state road maps along is also very useful for when you have to go off route.
  • EMS Trekker 2000 Backpack (modified to mount to rear of seat) - Excellent performance. My modifications (which my mom sewed on for me) worked perfectly.


  • Tent - Eureka! Zeus EXO 2 Read more about the tent here
  • Ground cloth for under tent - Your choice. Most people use regular clear plastic ground sheets but I carried a fabric reinforced plastic tarp that was colored on one side and silver on the other. There are grommets in the corners, it is stronger than a plastic ground cloth, and usually weighs the same.
  • Sleeping Bag - Marmot Mystic 30°F (0°C) bag with Polarguard 3D fill - Superior performance. Synthetic bags are probably preferable to down bags on tour since you may be exposed to multiple days of wet weather (down doesn't perform well when damp or wet). A 30°F rated bag is just right for the TransAm route. I did encounter night temperatures in the 30s and it was plenty warm enough.
  • Sleeping pad - Cascade Designs Therm-A-Rest GuideLite 3/4 - 14 oz. - Excellent performance. Quite comfortable, rolls very small, and long enough for my torso and upper legs. The full length pad is not necessary and the GuideLite series is just the right thickness to pad even the most uneven ground.
  • Therm-A-Rest camp chair (Sent home while in Berea, KY) - Not useful. I only wished I had it once after I sent it home which is not worth carrying it.
  • Gerber Gator knife (Sent home while in Illinois) - Not necessary. I had a small swiss army pen knife that suited all my cutting needs.
  • 20' length of parachute cord - Necesary to hang a bear bag and clothesline.
  • Petzl Tikka LED headlight - Superior performance. Lightweight, bright, leaves the hands free, and runs forever on three AAA batteries. I never changed them all summer and it's still super bright.


  • Lightweight nylon bag for food - This is convenient to store food in and to hang as a bear bag.
  • Stove - MSR SuperFly stove with AutoStart ignitor - 5.1 oz. All about stoves - Excellent performance. No hassles at all like with liquid fuel stoves. I can't tell you how many times I heard other cyclists complain about their MSR Whisperlite stoves and how they can't get small amounts of fuel, keep the think clean, and simmer with it.
  • 2 canisters isobutane for stove at a time (resupply by mail drop or in stores along the way). I used a total of four small cans of fuel but someone who cooks all their food would use more. It can be purchased along the route in Damascus, VA, Breckenridge, CO, Eugene, OR, Missoula, MT, Pueblo, CO and other towns.
  • 2-quart pot - MSR Blacklite - Excellent peformance. Just right!
  • lexan bowl, cup (doubles as measuring cup), utensils - Lexan is great stuff. Lightweight, easy to clean, and nearly indestructible.
  • Small containers of dish soap (Camping Suds), salt, pepper, garlic, sugar - Camp Suds (or Dr. Bonner's) soap is a awesome, all purpose soap for cleaning anything and everything. It washes clothes and dishes perfectly clean. I always washed my clothes in a sink each night with hot water and a shot of Camp Suds and they came out spotless every time.
  • Scotch Brite scrub pad - Light and great for cleaning pots
  • 4 Liter MSR DromLite water container - Excellent performance. I mainly used it to get a lot of water when I pulled into camp for cooking and cleaning.

Clothing - this is a cotton–free zone! Why?

All my clothing served me very well overall. I didn't feel like I had too much or too little although I would pack a pair of lightweight pants next time.

  • 2 pair Coolmax Alta shorts with liners
  • 1 pair lightweight nylon shorts
  • 1 pair long cycling tights (I lose my pride while wearing these.) - I wore these on cold mornings about five times.
  • 2 short sleeve Coolmax Alta shirts (white)
  • 1 sleeveless Coolmax Alta shirt (white)
  • long sleeve Coolmax Alta shirt (navy)
  • long sleeve Coolmax heavy weight shirt (white)
  • microfiber fleece vest - great for taking the chill offs
  • Marmot Precip rain jacket and pants - I rarely used either. It hardly rained all summer! Both were good for taking the chill out of the air when it was cold.
  • 4 pair Coolmax socks (3 short, 1 long) (Wal-Mart)
  • 2 pair synthetic underwear (Campmor)
  • baseball hat
  • bandana

First Aid/Personal Care

  • First aid kit (Neosporin, Band-Aids, ACE Bandage, gauze pads, kling gauze, saftey pins, matches, Tylenol, Benadryl, Sudafed, etc.) - Good mix of stuff although I'll carry Spenco 2nd Skin and non–stick gauze pads next time to treat road rash.
  • Aquis pack towel - I used the small size towel (hand towel size) and it served me very well. The large size towel is overkill since they absorb so much water.
  • Foot powder - good if your feet are wet from rain
  • Moisturizer - to help my dry feet out
  • Soap - duh
  • Bug spray - never used it
  • Little bottles of hotel shampoo - free and easy to use
  • Deodorant - duh


  • 2 - 20" spokes - Never used the spokes although I rode with three guys who broke spokes during the trip.
  • 2 - 16" spokes
  • Kevlar emergency spoke - They work! We used it on Geert Schulte's bike when he broke a cassette side rear spoke which can only be replaced if you can remove the cassette. It got him to the next bike shop. These things are a miracle.
  • 2- 20" tubes (bike) - Not enough. I had to buy more along the way. I guess I went through four tubes all together
  • 16" tube (trailer) - Didn't use it.
  • 2 tube repair kits - Used about six patches total
  • Continental Top Touring 20" tire (for bike) - Here's the deal. I completely wore out two tires and had a hole ripped in a third by a road hazard. These are exceptional tires but the rear one gets worn at a far faster rate than the front tire. They are also small so they go around more times than tires on a regular touring bike.
  • 16" Primo Comet tire (for trailer) - My trailer tire never showed any wear after 4500 miles! I didn't use the spare but would have if the original got damaged badly on a road hazard.
  • pump (Topeak Mountain Morph) with built in pressure gauge - The Topeak Morph pumps are awesome and lots of people carry them. The little flip–out foot and hoze are awesome!
  • 2 spare chain links - Didn't use them.
  • Ritchey CPR-13 multitool [picture] - Good tool but I kept borrowing Joe's allen wrenches when I was with him because they are easier to use. I will probably carry a Crank Brothers multi tool next time.
  • 2 tire levers - Duh.
  • chain lubricant - Lots of it! Keep the chain clean and lubed all the time for quiet, smooth operation.
  • Duct tape (15' wrapped around a pen barrel) - Used it to temporarily patch a blown tire. Other people prefer to carry electrical tape instead.
  • Safety pins - Didn't use them
  • Sleeping pad repair patch - Didn't use it
  • Tent repair kit - Lent some to Joe Deely when he ripped a hole in his tent fly.
  • Small sewing kit - Didn't use it


  • Swiss army knife (really small one) - Used it a lot
  • National Park Pass - A great deal if you're traveling through a few parks
  • AAA Card - Useful at some hotels
  • Credit card/debit card/checks - duh.
  • Traveler's checks - I bought $250 worth before the trip and used them. They are a good idea if you're somewhere in the middle of nowhere that only accepts cash and you don't have any.
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Lawrence J. Flint