For all of you out there that have gone on a bike touring trip and/or are contemplating a wonderful endeavor such as bike touring of any length, following are some of my learned experiences from a largely self-contained 1300-mile trip:
What Worked Exceptionally Well
- Model Year 2000 (purchased in 2001) Cannondale T2000 ‘Adventure’ model
- I now have 29,750 miles on this incredible bike — best bike that I have ever owned!
- Original rims, frame, fenders, rack, and most components (outside of the drivetrain, which I completely replaced for this trip with new Shimano Deore components, crank arm, pedals)
- Made in the USA!
- ‘Bullet-Proof’ Aluminum Frame
- Upright handlebars (partially modified) allowed me to ‘see’ the country and provided multiple grip positions to alleviate stress and pressures to the hands
- Shimano M089 SPD Mountain Bike Shoes
- Shoes and feet were never an issue, pretty much says it all
- Bell Stoker Helmet
- Comfortable, well fitting, relatively light
- Under Armour MapMyRide App
- For a trip like this (out in unfamiliar terrain), must have a great map application, MapMyRide was just that — easy to use, plan routes, and track progress
- Could generally use this app intensively for about 5 hours before the i-Phone battery petered out
What Did NOT Work so Well
- TaoTronics Bicycle Phone Mount — My i-Phone 6s routinely (11 times) popped out of this not-so-secure mounting system. On a trip of this length, phone security must be fool proof, this product did NOT securely fasten my phone, particularly at the bottom of hills when hitting bumps at higher speeds.
- Transit Escape DX Panniers — generally solid, but three issues cropped up
- The yellow auxiliary covers, while great in ease of use and general design, severely degraded in color intensity from being exposed to the sun for two weeks. At the end of the trip, the yellow had faded considerably, thus offering less than ideal visibility, which is what I was using them for.
- The rack clips are vertical, which means that they impede placement of a sleeping mattress or similar
- The lower clip to the rack is compression based. I lost one clip after three days of riding from apparent vibration issues. These clips should also be foolproof and not subject to vibration-induced loosening. I rode for most of the trip without the bottom clip on one pannier, which then allows for the pannier to bounce around a bit — not insurmountable, but not ideal.
- i-Phone Touch Screen
- Simply put, if it is warm and humid and/or in combination with sweaty hands, the touch screen does NOT function. I often went for 1-2 hours without being able to use my phone unless I went inside an AC gas station or similar
- AT&T Service/Reception in several remote areas of SE Minnesota and SW Wisconsin
- I did not have internet service and sometimes phone service for a few hours on several different occasions. Quite simply, when in unfamiliar territory, availability of mobile service is critical, especially when you need to know when and where to turn onto new roads. Also, one time along the Root River trail in SE Minnesota, phone service was not available so I could not reserve a hotel. Ended up biking to three different B&Bs before finally securing a reservation in person because my phone was not getting reception.