09 July 2009

Tour de Valli: Stage 1 - Gear

The gear is the unsung hero on the self supported bike tour. It does its job and that is that. It never gets the plaudits like bike- until now. (Of course let's hope this jump starts manufacturer sponsorship points.)
The indispensible gear
Ortlieb Pannier-
That's right, singular. I only have one Ortlieb I picked up at REI scratch and dent sale years ago. I had another pannier on this our, a Deuter, but I was able to resurrect the Ortlieb after finding the missing part online I had lost years ago. Back in those dark days Ortlieb didn't respond to my cries for the part. I really should get another one because the size and durablity are incredible. Did I mention it is waterproof?
Bontrager Bar Ends-
I added these to the bike because on the previous tour I must have placed too much pressure on my Ulnar nerve and had 2 tingling fingers for over a month afterward. The bar ends provided a few more hand positions to avoid this. I also got better gloves.
Euro Team Cycling Cap-
I picked it up on Nashbar and although it didn't have a sweat band it worked good. It fit under the helmet and made me look the part.
Inflatable Neck Rest-
I used it to elevate my pillow. It allowed me to get much better rest than using a pillow alone.
Camelbak Mule-
Thanks to my brother in law I got an awesome military issue reservoir. I then found just the MULE pack on ebay. Together they make a mean combination. It holds 3L of water and a respectible amount of space for things I want handy. I ditched a full size Trek hydration backpack and it certainly makes a difference.
Gatorade mix pouches-
Ok. Its not gear but food. I found the mixes to be an exceptional value to buying ready made. Although I hear that low fat chocolate milk may be a better sport drink.
Trangia Mini Stove-
I purchased this small alcohol burning stove for a song. It replaces the Esbit which I had little success. The Trangia is small and compact, puts out a good amount of heat, and came with a pot. I found that it burns Heet much better than Iso-Alcohol.
Folding Origami Cup-
It packed flat and was easy to clean. I bought it at REI for around $2 in fall.
Useful gear
Garmin Nuvi-
I did not use this extensively but it did come in handy when I questioned my position out in the sticks.
REI Quarterdome UL-
A spacious and lightweight tent. Easy to pitch. I used a smaller one in the past but found the ventilation to be lacking. I have not tried a true bivy yet but I do appreciate the room the Quarterdome offers.
Military Folding Canvas Sink-
I got this for cheap and only used it as a back up. However, on tour space matters and this little guy took up very little space and performed well. I think it might be from Belgium.
Gear I could have gone without on this tour
Rain pants- not a drop of precipitation while riding. I would still keep the rain coat.
Extra pouches and ditty bag- These just held personal stuff I didn't use. I did not need shaving cream or extra bug repellent.
Extra clothes- I used 3 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of pants and 4 shirts the whole tour. I did not need the extra shirts or socks. I regret that I never needed the bug repellant shirt but I brought it because of previous experiences.
Extra Bungies and ropes- 2 bungies would be enough to double for keeping stuff on the rack and stacking out the tent. Never needed the rope but a small strand would have sufficed for emergencies.
Windbreaker- This one is more questionable. I had a long sleeve jersey that did the trick. If it were another time of year (i.e. fall) I would take it.

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