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Old 05-23-12, 09:12 AM   #1
CMoss
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NY-->CA Coast to Coast

Hi everyone! I'm new to the forum and new to touring so I've spent the last couple of days reading everything I could find. I've been scouring the forum trying to find all the little ins and outs that I could gather from the years of conversation the experienced tourers have had on this forum...

Now, however, I'm asking for some outright help! I'm planning to make a trip next year (probably May of 2013) from my home here in NYC (I'll start at a beach somewhere just so I can say I went coast to coast) all the way out to CA (either San Fran or LA) and I know nothing. Well, that's not completely true but for the sake of argument lets say I know nothing. I've been riding with the local New York Cycling Club and have been getting some nice help from a lot of the people in the group, but they are mostly racers or day riders focused on going fast and now I'm trying to focus on going heavy.

I'm looking for advice on how to prepare for a big ride like this. What do I need? How should I train? What are the good brands for things I need? I need to know everything! I'm a big guy (6'0, 240 and dropping) so that should probably be taken into consideration when it comes to camping gear and weight. I should also mention I'm going on this trip with my friend who is a tiny little punk who runs marathons while I sit on the couch watching baseball...he's 5'5, 145 so we can share the load, tent (if that's reasonable), etc. Any advice would be great.

So far I have:

-A Surly LHT (with 700x28 slick tires...I purchased them so I could take a training course with the NYCC...will definitely need new tires)
-Topeak road morph G pump
-Topeak Alien II multitool
-a couple pairs of wool socks
-1 pair of bike shorts
-1 pair of awful tights
-one short sleeved jersey
-one long sleeve jersey
-PI leg warmers
-PI arm warmers
-helmet
-front light (AAA battery)
-back light (USB charge)
-dry bag saddle bag...medium sized I think

And that's it. I know I put a lot of obvious stuff in there but I figured nothing taken for granted.

Thanks in advance for any help!!!
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Old 05-23-12, 09:27 AM   #2
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Add another pair or two of bike shorts.

You will want to ride in clean dry ones everyday.

Canon Power shot camera.

Take a pic of where you stay each and every night. It will help you remember the trip later on.

Spare tubes and patch kit. Parks Tire boots.

I know one guy that had 40 flats, I know of one guy that had 8 flats the same day, I had 12 flats on the ride.

Four or more water bottles.

Set of long Hex wrenches, Hub wrenches. My left crank arm fell off in Arkansas, then my rear hub became loose.
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Old 05-23-12, 10:05 AM   #3
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A lot depends on how light you want to go. The range of bags, gear, and clothing that I have seen folks carrying has been from <15 pounds to >150 pounds so advice can be all over the place. Looking at what you are listing so far I'll assume that you want to go pretty light.

-A Surly LHT (with 700x28 slick tires...I purchased them so I could take a training course with the NYCC...will definitely need new tires) - Why new tires? If because of the size and tread type, I'd consider keeping them.
-Topeak road morph G pump - A good pump. Consider some of the tiny Lezynes if you want to go lighter.
-Topeak Alien II multitool - Figure out what tools your specific bike needs. Sometimes individual tools can be lighter. I usually use a much smaller lighter multitool. What I take varies with the bike I use.
-a couple pairs of wool socks - Wool socks were a fail for me. I found that poly under armor socks worked out much better for me.
-1 pair of bike shorts - one pair has worked OK for me. Most folks do take 2 though.
-1 pair of awful tights - Why awful? I usually take tights, but it is either them or leg warmers
-one short sleeved jersey - Yep
-one long sleeve jersey - I skip this but take a warm but thin pile shirt
-PI leg warmers - these or tights
-PI arm warmers - I skip these
-helmet - I skip this too
-front light (AAA battery) - I have used a headlamp type light for in camp and riding, but lately have switched to no front light for riding and a tiny keychain light for in camp.
-back light (USB charge) I I prefer to have something that takes a couple AAA's
-dry bag saddle bag...medium sized I think - figure out exactly what you are carrying and choose bags accordingly

Rather than duplicate my list here you can go to an article I wrote on ultralight touring.

If you want to pack heavier I have an older article that I wrote when I carried more.
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Old 05-23-12, 10:36 AM   #4
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Do your research on here and here. Once you've got your gear sorted, do an overnighter or two. Then unload the stuff you don't need. Often a lot. Don't haul cool weather gear 2000 miles. Have someone ship it ahead to a post office a week before you'll need it for the mountains. Pack a Park Tool tire boot and some Gorilla tape. Piece of mind for so little space/weight. Cable ties too.

Journal your ride.
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Old 05-23-12, 11:43 AM   #5
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Looks like you are off to a good start with your gear list and the advice you are getting here... You'll need to decide whether you are going to use racks and panniers or a trailer. Most people go with the former although many people are happy with trailers. Ortlieb panniers are very popular (waterproof) although there are many other choices. There's a clearance sale right now at wallingford bikes on all Ortlieb panniers and tubus racks...

Adventure cycling has three main routes across the U.S. The Southern Tier, Transamerica, and Northern Tier. The advantage of these maps is that they provide a route with quieter back roads. They also include a list of services--campgrounds, etc along the way.

Be sure and read some touring journals. They will get you absolutely hooked on the idea of a cross country bike trip. Many of these journals have gear lists. So you can get an idea of what people bring and why, different packing styles, etc... Here are a few... Best of luck with your planning and trip!

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=1291&v=10D
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=6117&v=OI
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=723&v=oO
http://cycleacrossamerica.co.uk/
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=1503&v=1ho
http://www.tuz.net/cycling/NmHvZ/1571/small/index.html
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=6645&v=1MG
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=2471&v=vM
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Old 05-23-12, 12:51 PM   #6
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care about History? learn some about where you are going,
so you know something about where you are.
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Old 05-23-12, 01:03 PM   #7
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A sense of adventure is really all you need to get you through any difficulty crossing North America by bicycle. By that I mean, if you are still having fun, even when things are difficult or uncomfortable, not a lot can really go wrong for you, and if it does you'll figure things out on the way. People have done it completely out of shape, on Walmart bikes, fixed gear bikes, loaded with the kitchen sink, or not loaded at all, on shoestring budgets and on zero budget. The only common thread is that they had some motivation to do it, and ultimately that motivation (or lack-of) is the deciding factor.
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Old 05-23-12, 02:03 PM   #8
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Number one recommendation is to do a few shorter trips between now and then to learn what works and doesn't work. Experience is the best guide.
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Old 05-24-12, 05:52 AM   #9
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Thank you so much for the advice.

I'm planning on going with racks and panniers. I've seen a lot of recommendations for Ortliebs and I've been told the Surley racks are good to go with the bike, so I'm planning on picking those up soon.

I figure as soon as I have my gear I'm going to start making some short weekend trips. I want to head out to the Berkshires and do a night or two and then back. I still have to relearn how to camp since I haven't done it since I was a little kid. Hopefully all that boyscout stuff will come flying back.

Thanks again everyone and keep it comin'!
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Old 05-24-12, 06:06 AM   #10
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I've done a few long trips like this; they're a lot of fun. Jandd makes great bomb proof panniers. I've never worried too much about whether bags are waterproof since I put all my stuff into plastic bags which helps organize stuff and keep it clean when you take it out of your bag. I'd go minimal on clothes but I'd bring 2 pairs of short. Clean one every night and leave it drying on the back of the bike.

10 wheels had a long of great advice. Do take lots of pictures. And do bring everything you need to deal with flats from something to repair the tire to extra tubes to patch kits. I'd probably bring a spare folding tire. You will get flats, you will go through tires, and it probably will happen in the middle of nowhere.

staehpj had really good advice on lights. Get something that uses batteries and doubles as a flashlight around the camp. I'd go with a fatter tire though than a 700 by 28c. No matter how fit and strong you are, you are not going super fast on a fully loaded touring bike. Fatter tires (say 700 by 32 or 35c) won't slow you down much if at all and they are kinder on your body and your wheels.

And I gotta agree with Dan the Man that it's all about attitude and having fun. Have a great time; I'm jealous and post some pics of your trip when you are done.
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Old 05-24-12, 08:10 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by CMoss View Post
Thank you so much for the advice.

I'm planning on going with racks and panniers. I've seen a lot of recommendations for Ortliebs and I've been told the Surley racks are good to go with the bike, so I'm planning on picking those up soon.

I figure as soon as I have my gear I'm going to start making some short weekend trips. I want to head out to the Berkshires and do a night or two and then back. I still have to relearn how to camp since I haven't done it since I was a little kid. Hopefully all that boyscout stuff will come flying back.

Thanks again everyone and keep it comin'!
as mentioned doing trips between now and then is your best advice. $.02 Surly racks are unnecessarily heavy, at least the front one is.
Start with a rear rack and a set of small/front panniers then go from there. No need to make your gear match your largest carrying capacity. Start with a capacity that can be added to. LHT handles rear loads great, start with a good solid rear rack, not huge rear panniers and possibly a cheap Nashbar mini-front rack to experiment with compression bag sized loads in front of the head tube. If you want front panniers you can add a Tubus Tara later on. While the Surly front rack is impressive with that big front platform handling is better keeping weight in line with the forks and not high above the axle.

No need to start out with big rear panniers, heavy front rack, front panniers, handlebar bag, etc.

go to 32mm-35mm tires.

put out 60% effort compared to your fast club rides that roll along at 75%-90%

get comfortable sleeping outside and finding places to crash.

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Old 05-24-12, 08:58 AM   #12
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$.02 Surly racks are unnecessarily heavy, at least the front one is.
+1
In the original post I got the impression from the minimal amount of clothing listed that the OP would be traveling fairly light. Given that it would seem like a bad idea to use a 3 pound front rack. The rear one is pretty heavy as well.

FWIW: I have happily used the Blackburn EX-1 quite a bit, but have recently come to like the Axiom Streamliner, light, cheap, narrow, and sturdy. The Narrow part may not suit everyone, but I consider it a plus.
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Old 05-24-12, 09:17 AM   #13
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One comment concerning lights. I'm a big believer in lights - front and rear. Having been caught out both in the rain and after dark, I consider lights imperative. A little extra weight is worth it safety-wise. If gram-counting is your thing, then so be it. But you could bring along a small but powerful flashlight with a removable red translucent disk to use in case either your front or rear light fails though you still need to be on the road (stuff happens, you don't make the miles you planned, you got lost and rode bonus miles, etc.). This light can double as you in-camp light.

staehpj1 has lots of good experience so his posts are quite valid (see his journals on cgoab for specifics). However, he and I definitely have different points of view on this. YMMV.

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Old 05-24-12, 09:24 AM   #14
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FWIW: I have happily used the Blackburn EX-1 quite a bit, but have recently come to like the Axiom Streamliner, light, cheap, narrow, and sturdy. The Narrow part may not suit everyone, but I consider it a plus.
I've got a Streamliner DLX (not Road DLX) on my CrossCheck and it seems to reduce the tail wagging effect I got with panniers on the wider Tubus Cargo rack. This isn't an issue with the LHT but I wonder if narrow racks are a better fit for more flexible frames using panniers. The regular Axiom mounts didn't fit with the fenders so I used two ss. straps to seatstay mounts. It's a short distance from rack to seat stays, the whole set-up is extremely stiff.
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Old 05-24-12, 09:26 AM   #15
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+1
In the original post I got the impression from the minimal amount of clothing listed that the OP would be traveling fairly light. Given that it would seem like a bad idea to use a 3 pound front rack. The rear one is pretty heavy as well.

FWIW: I have happily used the Blackburn EX-1 quite a bit, but have recently come to like the Axiom Streamliner, light, cheap, narrow, and sturdy. The Narrow part may not suit everyone, but I consider it a plus.

I am probably going to go pretty heavily packed. I'm planning to camp most nights and only sleep in doors when we know somebody or weather gets so exceptionally bad that it becomes imperative. ...probably should have mentioned that earlier, huh. haha

So I'm seeing most people agree that the Surley racks aren't all they're cracked up to be...or at least not the front. I've heard a lot about the Tubus brand...or those considered the cream of the crop?
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Old 05-24-12, 09:36 AM   #16
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I have not heard of Tubus but that doesn't mean that they are not very good. Rivendell sells Nitto chrome-moly racks that look pretty bomb proof (and should be for almost $200): http://www.rivbike.com/product-p/r4.htm. For about half the price, you can pick up Jandd's expedition rack: http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FREXP. I'm a Jandd fanboy. I've used their gear extensively (and not just for bike riding). Jandd gear is exceptionally well made and it really holds up well over time.
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Old 05-24-12, 09:42 AM   #17
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I am probably going to go pretty heavily packed. I'm planning to camp most nights and only sleep in doors when we know somebody or weather gets so exceptionally bad that it becomes imperative. ...probably should have mentioned that earlier, huh. haha

So I'm seeing most people agree that the Surley racks aren't all they're cracked up to be...or at least not the front. I've heard a lot about the Tubus brand...or those considered the cream of the crop?
You can secure your comfort and camping needs carrying 25lbs or 50lbs. It's not so much that getting light weight is an imperative it's just that carrying unnecessary weight, is unnecessary and could be taking the place of a half gallon of water or an extra comfy camp pad. The Surly racks are what they are, very durable. But if you're carrying a set of front panniers you can do that with a 1lb Tubus Tara or a 3lb Surly Rack. You can turn the LHT into a load carrying 18wheeler but you don't have to. That's why folks are suggesting a series of short trips. They'll tell you what you like.
More folks start off a trip mailing stuff home than adding things as they go along.
Tubus is good stuff but it matters more how you secure things to it. 25lbs of gear flopping around in big expensive bags on an expensive rack isn't as good as 25lbs in cheap panniers strapped tight to a cheap rack.
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Old 05-24-12, 09:45 AM   #18
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In 4k miles I broke six spokes and had 6 flats. Touring speed is typically 10-12 mph. I packed tools loaded for anything then in Winnipeg, shipped most tools, fenders, excess gear home. I used a bike cape for rain and that was fabulous. Probably take a rain jacket now as more dual purpose. Took one pair of jeans, light sweater, 60/40 cloth jacket as we spent weeks in freezing cold Canadian Rockies in June. Bug juice! Loaded bike and I weighed 215-220 (I was a lean 154, bike was 24, all my gear, rack, panniers, front handle bar bag (very helpful) was ~40. Hot nights are a pain. Handiest tool was a credit card. Have a health examine before you go. Early morning riding is best and allows for afternoon easier pace. Had three wrecks, two self inflicted and one we were literally run off road. No serious injuries. Severe bike damage (broken frame) and one potato chipped wheel means be familiar with road repairs as often you will be miles from anything. Expect road stress to affect riding partner(s) and you. Learn to deal with it.

One of my greatest life experiences.
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Old 05-24-12, 09:50 AM   #19
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I am probably going to go pretty heavily packed. I'm planning to camp most nights and only sleep in doors when we know somebody or weather gets so exceptionally bad that it becomes imperative. ...probably should have mentioned that earlier, huh.
I am still not clear on what your packing style will be. Camping does not necessarily equate with a heavy load. Any assumptions I made assumed that you would be camping. That still leaves a range of something like 15-150 pounds of bags and gear. My personal recommendation is to stay below 40 pounds of bags and gear and if you are inclined towards packing light you can go much lighter. Also I will add that you can go pretty light without going to a lot of high dollar ultralight stuff, 30 pounds is a very achievable goal that should not involve any lack of comfort.

My advice is to decide what your comfort requirements are and what the minimal gear is to support them. Then you will know how much weight and volume you will have. At that point it is the time to decide what racks and panniers you need.
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Old 05-24-12, 10:19 AM   #20
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One comment concerning lights. I'm a big believer in lights - front and rear. Having been caught out both in the rain and after dark, I consider lights imperative. A little extra weight is worth it safety-wise.
Yeah, while I am inclined to go pretty minimal with regard to lights, do take what it takes for you to consider it safe. Some folks take big powerful blinkies and use them even in the day time.
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Old 05-24-12, 01:41 PM   #21
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Hi everyone! I'm new to the forum and new to touring so I've spent the last couple of days reading everything I could find. I've been scouring the forum trying to find all the little ins and outs that I could gather from the years of conversation the experienced tourers have had on this forum...

Now, however, I'm asking for some outright help! I'm planning to make a trip next year (probably May of 2013) from my home here in NYC (I'll start at a beach somewhere just so I can say I went coast to coast) all the way out to CA (either San Fran or LA) and I know nothing. Well, that's not completely true but for the sake of argument lets say I know nothing. I've been riding with the local New York Cycling Club and have been getting some nice help from a lot of the people in the group, but they are mostly racers or day riders focused on going fast and now I'm trying to focus on going heavy.

I'm looking for advice on how to prepare for a big ride like this. What do I need? How should I train? What are the good brands for things I need? I need to know everything! I'm a big guy (6'0, 240 and dropping) so that should probably be taken into consideration when it comes to camping gear and weight. I should also mention I'm going on this trip with my friend who is a tiny little punk who runs marathons while I sit on the couch watching baseball...he's 5'5, 145 so we can share the load, tent (if that's reasonable), etc. Any advice would be great.

So far I have:

-A Surly LHT (with 700x28 slick tires...I purchased them so I could take a training course with the NYCC...will definitely need new tires)
-Topeak road morph G pump
-Topeak Alien II multitool
-a couple pairs of wool socks
-1 pair of bike shorts
-1 pair of awful tights
-one short sleeved jersey
-one long sleeve jersey
-PI leg warmers
-PI arm warmers
-helmet
-front light (AAA battery)
-back light (USB charge)
-dry bag saddle bag...medium sized I think

And that's it. I know I put a lot of obvious stuff in there but I figured nothing taken for granted.

Thanks in advance for any help!!!
Jandd products have performed and held up extremely well for me.
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Old 05-24-12, 03:05 PM   #22
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I am still not clear on what your packing style will be. Camping does not necessarily equate with a heavy load. Any assumptions I made assumed that you would be camping. That still leaves a range of something like 15-150 pounds of bags and gear. My personal recommendation is to stay below 40 pounds of bags and gear and if you are inclined towards packing light you can go much lighter. Also I will add that you can go pretty light without going to a lot of high dollar ultralight stuff, 30 pounds is a very achievable goal that should not involve any lack of comfort.

My advice is to decide what your comfort requirements are and what the minimal gear is to support them. Then you will know how much weight and volume you will have. At that point it is the time to decide what racks and panniers you need.
I'm sorry staehpj1, as you can tell I don't know what I'm talking about all that well so most of what I can give you is guesses. I'm trying to pack as light as I can but want to pack everything I need. If that means traveling with 100 lbs of gear, so be it. If it means two shorts and a water bottle I'll do that too. That's why I'm here. I'm soakin' it up like a sponge and thank you to everyone for all the great info!

Those lights sound like a good plan. I'll look into getting some head gear or good lights so I can see at night and most importantly be seen if we have to ride late a few times.

Thanks for the advice everyone! I just came back from a mentor's place today and she offered me a couple particularly kind items. I'm not sure if I'll use all of them but I wanted to add them to my list of supplies:

-2 thermalight (could have wrong name...can't find the label) pads. I don't know the models but they're the kind that self inflate and then can be rolled up.
-a sleeping bag...again, don't know the model number, but it's synthetic and rolls up into a bag the size of an average jansport backpack (seems a little big but what do I know)

Thanks everyone!
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Old 05-24-12, 03:47 PM   #23
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I'm sorry staehpj1, as you can tell I don't know what I'm talking about all that well so most of what I can give you is guesses. I'm trying to pack as light as I can but want to pack everything I need. If that means traveling with 100 lbs of gear, so be it. If it means two shorts and a water bottle I'll do that too. That's why I'm here. I'm soakin' it up like a sponge and thank you to everyone for all the great info!
Certainly nothing to be sorry about. Good luck figuring out what you want/need to carry. Keep in mind that you actually need surprisingly little.
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Old 05-24-12, 07:30 PM   #24
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Certainly nothing to be sorry about. Good luck figuring out what you want/need to carry. Keep in mind that you actually need surprisingly little.
Thanks I keep trying to remind myself of this everytime I start thinking about things to buy...I'm hoping some of those shorter tours will prove it for me .

Also, thanks to the ol' REI sale going on I've been thinking about new pedals. I currently have the shimano 324 SPD pedals (the hybrid ones with clips on one side and a platform on the other) should I invest in new pedals or even switch to toe clips?
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Old 05-24-12, 08:06 PM   #25
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why would you change pedals? From a utility standpoint a rear rack and slightly larger tires would make more sense. Check out Revelate frame packs or the Jandd frame pack. It's a very useful way to carry gear.

http://www.jandd.com/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=FFP
have this on 56cm LHT with 26" wheels.

https://www.revelatedesigns.com/inde...=1&ProductID=5

I've got the medium on a 56cm Cross-Check
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