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Old 05-25-09, 05:33 PM   #1
dewaday
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Oops, I gotta turn around.

For you veterans tourers out there.

What's that one item most likely to make you turn around to retrieve? I'm guessing your all pretty good improvisers, but there must be something you can't (or just rather not) live without. Maybe it's that spork/can opener/pasta strainer combo tool. Or the compass your granddad used in WWII. iPod? Lucky gloves? Lipstick? Help the newbs out with that one secret item that makes your tours easier or happier or just luckier.

I've been obsessing over packing lists for my first tour and figure with your help I'll end up with the kitchen sink and lipstick .
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Old 05-25-09, 05:43 PM   #2
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None of the things you mentioned would make me turn around. Lipstick??? There's not even a reason to have lipstick on the tour in the first place, it's just dead weight. Kitchen stuff? I can buy that sort of thing along the way. My granddad's compass? No way I'd bring that on a tour. iPod? Don't even own one.

Also most of my tours start some distance from where I live ... I fly there and then start cycling. So if I've forgotten something, too bad, I'm not going back for it.

There are shops all over the world where people can get stuff. You can buy things along the way. If lipstick is really important to you for some reason, and you forget it, just about every town of about 5000 people and more has a pharmacy or grocery store or something that would sell lipstick. They also have hardware stores where you can get most of your other camping and touring needs.

Read the stickied "Tips" threads here in this forum.
Have a look at my Packing list, it's pretty thorough: http://www.machka.net/packinglist.htm

And also ... when Rowan and I went to Europe in 2007, we went without a tent, fully intending to camp. That was an intentional omission ... we bought a tent when we arrived in Dunkerque and slept in it a few hours later that night. http://www.machka.net/pbp2007/2007_Pre-PBP_2.htm

You've got to go with the flow.
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Old 05-25-09, 05:53 PM   #3
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I'm not a veteran tourer, but there is one item that I can't go on any type of expedition without -- my Victorinox Swiss Army knife with wood saw. It was given to me as a gift almost 20 years ago, and I have a huge sentimental attachment to it. It is, perhaps, my most prized possession. It is a living item, a good luck charm, and a steadfast friend. I rarely leave the house without it, but I'd go back just to retrieve it if for some reason I left it behind. I'd probably realize it's absence in a matter of 2 hours though
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Old 05-25-09, 06:07 PM   #4
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Wow, now I know how stand up comics feel.
That was an attempt to put a human face on the anxiety of first time tour planning, but I guess I'll stick with dry and meaningful. Now what if that store doesn't have my shade in stock?

JC, very cool, practical and meaningful.
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Old 05-25-09, 06:14 PM   #5
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You'll leave that anxiety behind you after a few days on the road, and you won't need to go back for it. Bring your passport/ID/visas and money/credit card, everything else can be sorted out as needed.
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Old 05-25-09, 06:21 PM   #6
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Wow, now I know how stand up comics feel.
That was an attempt to put a human face on the anxiety of first time tour planning, but I guess I'll stick with dry and meaningful. Now what if that store doesn't have my shade in stock?

JC, very cool, practical and meaningful.
We all go through that kind of anxiety at first, but you've just got to remember ...

1) You've got to be adaptable, or you won't enjoy cycletouring. Relax and enjoy the experience and adventure.

2) Travel light ... chances are you can buy something comparable to what you want along the way if you happen to discover you need it. It took me a little while to figure that out. Toiletries is one area where you could probably leave home with nothing ,and just pick up bits and pieces along the way.

3) Remember the important things, like your passport and money. Don't worry about the rest.

4) Make a list, and check things off when you pack.
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Old 05-25-09, 06:38 PM   #7
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Helmet, gloves and sunglasses.

I have since got in the habit of hanging my helmet on my bike and placing gloves, glasses etc. in the helmet.

Before breaking camp / leaving the hotel room, I do a sweep of the area to make sure nothing was forgotten.

It is very hard to leave those sentimental at home but your better off to leave them there. Basically, if you can't afford to have it broke,lost or stolen, then have it insured or if it can't be, leave it at home.
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Old 05-25-09, 06:41 PM   #8
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It is very hard to leave those sentimental at home but your better off to leave them there. Basically, if you can't afford to have it broke,lost or stolen, then have it insured or if it can't be, leave it at home.
+1

It's a good idea to bring only, or mostly, those items you can replace.
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Old 05-25-09, 07:20 PM   #9
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Wallet/ID

I cycled with an ex from Boston to Rochester, MN. From Niagara Falls we cut across Ontario to Port Huron, Michigan. While in Canada, we ate at a fast food place and inadvertently threw away her wallet. Unfortunately, we didn't figure this out until we were ten miles further and had a flat. We fixed the flat and went back to the food place. They let us look through their bins, but unfortunately, said wallet was not to be found.

We filed a police report and got a copy. This was prior to 9/11 and hence also prior to requirements for passports. Folks at the US border looked at our police report and accepted our story to let us pass from Canada to the US. We didn't have a lot of $ and much of that was $100 traveler's checks in her name. Unfortunately, there had just been news about fake traveler's checks in Michigan so we had difficulties cashing those travelers checks. This was 1988 and ATM networks were not as widespread as today (my "plus network" card had only four ATMs in entire state of Wisconsin). We had just enough $ to get by and eventually her parents sent some extra $ via Western Union to Green Bay where we got enough to get us the last part of the trip. It was an adventure.

So if I lost a crucial document such as passport, I'd go back to find it. I would still have a scanned copy of that passport + visa sent to myself via gmail and also on a USB stick as well as other crucial documents like health insurance cards, plane ticket info, etc.

However, I wouldn't go back for lipstick or other things you mention (though it would be difficult to leave behind lipstick when it wouldn't be on my packing list to start )
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Old 05-25-09, 07:22 PM   #10
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Not a veteran either. Turned around Friday at the start of my four day ride to switch pedals as one broke a mile from my house. Then in Pampa Tx this morning I blasted out of the campsite without filling my water bottles.
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Old 05-25-09, 07:30 PM   #11
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Not a veteran either. Turned around Friday at the start of my four day ride to switch pedals as one broke a mile from my house. Then in Pampa Tx this morning I blasted out of the campsite without filling my water bottles.

How does one break a pedal??? I can see wearing one out, maybe but breaking??
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Old 05-25-09, 07:39 PM   #12
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the answer to the OPs underlying question is: "shakedown tours"

load up your stuff, do an overnighter out and back in your area. a Thurs-Sun works well.
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Old 05-25-09, 07:50 PM   #13
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the answer to the OPs underlying question is: "shakedown tours"

load up your stuff, do an overnighter out and back in your area. a Thurs-Sun works well.
Absolutely!

It will give you an idea if you brought a bunch of extra stuff ... or if you are missing something you might want on a longer tour.
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Old 05-25-09, 08:21 PM   #14
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It's usually a person who makes me detour - - -
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Old 05-25-09, 10:01 PM   #15
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How does one break a pedal??? I can see wearing one out, maybe but breaking??
I haven't found it to be too difficult. Two were due to snapped pedal spindles - one right in the middle and one at the crank attachment point. Another failed due to a bearing disintegrating, and the fourth had the SPD clip mechanism crack. The first three would definitely have caused me to turn back or get a replacement ASAP. The last one was not so crucial since there was still a usable clip on the other side.
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Old 05-26-09, 08:54 AM   #16
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don't forget the toilet paper!

I was once forced to turn around, twice, during offroad tour in the 1980's on a first gen mountain bike. I lost my sleeping bag off the back rack. Rode the afternoon until a break when i discovered the sleeping bag was missing. I backtracked in the dying light, to the field where it had popped out from underneath the bungies and set up camp there, erasing my afternoon mileage.

That was also the trip the pannier hopped the rack, split open, and spilled the contents on a high speed gravel descent. I had to backtrack uphill, looking down the hillside for my gear, and never did find everything.

ah, the early tours!
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Old 05-26-09, 10:59 AM   #17
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My bike is the only thing I would turn around for... you scoff but in our case it's not impossible. We usually have to drive to the ferry landing where we park the car for several weeks and start our tour with a ride to Vancouver Island and it's possible that we could forget to load the bikes before leaving the house.

We could (if we got up early enough) ride to the ferry landing but on the return the ferry gets in pretty late and riding on our roads with no shoulder in pitch dark with the drivers we have and after all day of riding and several hours on ferries, it's not the safest thing nor appealing at all.

Everything else can be improvised, done without, or bought on the road if we absolutely need it.
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Old 05-26-09, 12:54 PM   #18
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don't forget the toilet paper!
Now we're talkin'!
Dunno, guess I thought there'd be more talismans in touring. I'll stick to stock stuff stat.
For my part though I can't imagine going anywhere (touring, vacation or whatever) without a piece of historical fiction attached somehow to the place I'm visiting. Something I'll insist on for this first tour. Oh, and lipstick for the pig, obviously.
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Old 05-26-09, 01:31 PM   #19
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For my part though I can't imagine going anywhere (touring, vacation or whatever) without a piece of historical fiction attached somehow to the place I'm visiting.
See ... if I'm going to read about a place, I'll read about it before the tour. If I'm going to read during a tour, I'll pick up a book at a used bookstore, read it, and then drop it off at the next used bookstore I come across.
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Old 05-26-09, 01:41 PM   #20
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Have a look at my Packing list, it's pretty thorough: http://www.machka.net/packinglist.htm
You really fit all that into two panniers, the carradice, and a handlebar bag?

How big are the panniers?
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Old 05-26-09, 02:03 PM   #21
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You really fit all that into two panniers, the carradice, and a handlebar bag?

How big are the panniers?
There are a few things I don't bring anymore ... and I believe the panniers, Carradice, and handlebar bag are on the list, as are waterbottles, so those things go directly on the bicycle. But yes, most of that stuff goes into my bags and on the bicycle. My panniers are not very big.
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Old 05-26-09, 02:24 PM   #22
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See ... if I'm going to read about a place, I'll read about it before the tour. If I'm going to read during a tour, I'll pick up a book at a used bookstore, read it, and then drop it off at the next used bookstore I come across.
See...I'd rather read as I experience (remember, historical fiction, specifically not accidently), it seems to broaden the idea of the place, thereby yielding a superior travel memory. But that's just me.
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Old 05-26-09, 05:47 PM   #23
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Two summers ago I started a tour on the Northern Tier. I left my brother's house in Edmonds, Washington and rode about 15 miles. Suddenly I got this sick feeling that I had left my ACA maps at his house. I searched, didn't find them, called my sister-in-law, she couldn't find them, then I searched my panniers again. They were stuffed in the bottom of the 4th pannier I checked. Aargh!

Last year I took a training ride on the way to the start of my summer tour. I took my Topeak Road Morph pump off the bike and set it on the bumper of my truck so I could put the bike on the rack. Yes, I drove off with it on the bumper. I discovered my loss the next day and 300 miles north.

I ordered a replacement via next-day air. I wouldn't want to start a tour without the ability to fix a flat.

Most everything else I'd replace along the way and grumble a lot. I agree about the Swiss Army Knife. I now have two identical - the one I misplaced and found later, and the one I bought to replace the misplaced one when I couldn't live without it.
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Old 05-26-09, 09:36 PM   #24
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How does one break a pedal??? I can see wearing one out, maybe but breaking??
I've broken five pedals while touring, though none of them caused me to turn back:

First time: 12 miles from New Smyrna Florida on New Years Day, the right pedal spindle snapped. I pedaled twelve miles with one pedal and then on January 2nd was at the bike shop right when it opened to buy a replacement pedal.

Second time: While cycling the Natchez Trace Parkway, my right pedal spindle snapped. I pedaled thirteen miles to Houston, MS with one pedal. It was Saturday afternoon and the Walmart didn't have compatible size pedals. However, the 9/16th threading was the same as a spark plug. So I bought an "extra long" spark plug and used it to cycle the next 120 miles until I came upon a bike shop with replacement in outskirts of Jackson, MS.

Third time: Cycling through Paris, TN on a Sunday afternoon, the threading of my right pedal worked loose and stripped threads of the right crank, eventually completely tearing free. So, I found a motel and then on Monday rented a van from local car dealership to drive myself and bicycle to Jackson, TN where I had cranks replaced.

Fourth time: Cycling through Russia in town of Хлевное, my left pedal seized up. Replaced it with a spare I had along.

Fifth time: Cycling through Thailand, my right pedal seized up. Replaced it with a spare I had along.

So I've had occasions to have pedals fail, but typically I'm fixing them along the way rather than turning around.

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Old 05-26-09, 11:47 PM   #25
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OK - So for some of us breaking a pedal is routine enough that its not a turn around event. Mev- a spark plug? Thats the pure genius of necessity! Now I've a new reason to track those old spark plugs lying on the side of the road.
In my case the outside bearings were ground to shards and the pedal started flopping. Because I was 1 mile from the house, and had a new set of pedals waiting to be installed on my new bike frame, I booked it backed home for a quick switch. BTW-new frame arrives tomorrow....yeahoo
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