Bicycling Across The USA Jim's posts

Jim on Day 34: Gear

No doubt everyone is wondering what we are riding on and carrying with us during the day. Sara is carrying all the camping gear. But we’re still loaded down.

My bike is a TREK 520 ($1,200), a steel touring bike that weighs approx. 30 lbs. with the three bottle carriers, rear rack, and extra liners in the tires. My tires are currently a mix of brands; Bontrager and Continental Gatorskins ( $40 each). Each tire is fortified by a line of thick plastic tape between tire and tube, so minor pinprick flats don’t happen. I have only had 2 flats in 1,600 miles. I ran over a jagged piece of metal that tore a 2″ gash in one tire….wooosh went that tube. And 2 days later wooosh went $50 for a new tire. The bike and all the gear/water/food/clothing weigh about 50 lbs.

In the rear bag I carry the following: assorted bandages; 2 tubes & tube repair kit, tire levers, spoke wrench, all purpose tool, latex gloves to attempt to keep grease off the hands and clothing, electrical tape to put a temporary “patch” on large holes in the tires, leather gloves to assist in getting the tire back on the rim ( very stiff tires/ weak fingers), a portable but not small air pump that will pump 120 psi ( $40 for those who wonder what good equipment costs) Most pumps stop at 80 psi. I also carry handiwipes, sunscreen, vitamin I (Ibuprofen, for those of you under age 40), a flashing red tail light, a small canister of bag balm, an extra knee brace in case my good knee goes bad, reading glasses, and finally pepper spray for dogs. This is really just a psychological aid, since it is so buried in the pack I could never retrieve it while on the move.

The rear bag can also have any or all of the following: an orange vest, one of three extra pairs of gloves for warmth/ wind/ rain protection, a heavy duty rain jacket and pants ( which cost more than $200), and leg and arm sleeves that can be pulled up or down as needed for warmth. I might pull them up for a cold 30 mph downhill or roll them down for a long uphill. I also carry one of three different caps under my helmet for sun/wind/cold protection, and a neck gaiter for cold. There are lots of clothing choices, and we don’t always guess right, especially this past Saturday when we started out from Spearfish in a cloudless sky and temps in the 70’s and ended up in a north wind driven cold front with low 40’s and rain. This has happened to us before so we should know better.

It never fails that guys will ask us how our butts handle those tiny seats. I observe that cyclists have a variety of approaches. Mine was to throw $125 at the problem. Thanks to Chad at the Geneva Bike Center back home, it was the best money I ever spent. I bought two pair, and my previous ” way too expensive” $75 pair have not been used on this trip. What do you get for that over- the- top price?

You get “Baboon butt” one-piece foam padding that will return to its original density and shape. And leg grippers that work. And the padding does not give you that diaper between your legs look. We hate that.

Warning: the following text could be disturbing to children and certain adults.

Most touring cyclists will use some kind of ” crotch butter/gel/cream” to prevent chafing. I go to my local ag supply store to buy mine. It is also known as udder butter. Mooo.

Shoes have clips on the soles that fix ( trap) the shoe and foot to the pedal for a more effective and efficient pedal stroke. They allow you to not only push down but pull up. It took two falls to earn to unclip them before stopping. My shoes come with red flame socks, thanks to my two grandkids Alison and Emma.

Neoprene over- boots help keep some heat in on cold wet rides, but do not keep water out.

I learned about energy bars from Brad. He prefers “Clif bars” which he calls hippie cookies. I like Luna bars, but they are marketed for women. After a long ride, we get a bit punchy and the same old jokes start flying about our bar choices. On a 70 mile ride I will eat 4-5 bars, each of which has approx. 200 calories, 30 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein. I use Gatoraid in my water to add about 200 more grams of carbs during a 5-7 hour ride. My energy level remains high for most of the rides, depending on wind direction. We have had head winds during portions of most every ride for the past several weeks.

I also carry a cell phone, camera, cap, and my “junior ranger” wallet. Not pictured are the maps that we carry and usually refer to. We have not had much insight on elevation changes for some of our roads. We really paid dearly for that yesterday in the Black Hills ( aka Black Mountains).

That is what 20 lbs of “gear” can look like. What have I forgotten?

By bradedmondson

Writing about social change and how it happens.

8 replies on “Jim on Day 34: Gear”

I have made good use of that small pump you mention and you did introduce me to it.

Yesterday I did the Highlander and used that same pump twice before reaching Miller Hill (25 mile point). Once to repair my own front tire flat at twelve miles and the second time to repair a young lady’s (also front) tire.

Why so many flats and front tires?

It had rained most of the previous twenty-four hours and the little stones placed on Ontario County 32 hadn’t settled in yet. They adhered to tires though, and worked and settled in them. I saw two or three dozen flats before Bopple.

A report on my training for the Highlander is at

That little pump, BTW, is the Morph Road G Master Blaster, and I wouldn’t trade it for a lifetime supply of those CO2 cartridges!


A big shout-out to my friend Armin Heurich and over 400 others who completed the Ride For Life around Cayuga Lake on Saturday the 13th. This is the first time in a while that I’ve missed the ride, which raises nearly $200,000 a year for the Southern Tier AIDS Program (

Here is an excerpt from Armin’s description of the ride:
“We were sent on our way at 7 and my ride started off great. The initial climb up to Lansing and the usually challenging Ludlowville hill was surprising easy. I even stopped for a shot of espresso at Gimme next to Rogues Harbor! Cool and overcast conditions with little wind make such a difference, especially when compared to last year’s challenging conditions. I reached Union Springs by 8:45 and crossed the Thruway at 9:35, feeling elated at my pace. I kept my pit stops very short, since I was in a good groove. At around 10, near Tyre, I started to realize that my pace was unsustainable, so I brought it down a notch. I enjoyed the company of my traveling companions, especially my neighbor Will, Team El Camino teammate Jeremy, and a very nice man named Bill, who kept me company on the ride into Seneca Falls for the lunch pit stop.

I arrived at the Seneca Falls Community Center at 10:30, and saw my friend Barbara Cerza who is a medical volunteer. I saw her last year at the same spot with the same red cross t-shirt, and I said the exact thing I said to her as I reached over to hug her and changed my mind: “I better not touch you, ’cause I’m pretty slimy!” Yeah, the volume of sweat that the human body can generate in one day is pretty impressive, and yesterday was one very sweaty day, in spite of the overcast conditions—the humidity still pretty opressive. I was clearly hurting after my brief lunch break, and I pushed through a moderate amount of leg pain and fatigue for the next 20 miles or so. Right around the Cayuga Creamery my body told me that it was ready for the last push, and Jeremy and I rode together past Taughannock and up that final challenging ascent before arriving at Cass Park. I have to say that Jeremy was most incredible. Prior to this, his longest ride was 65 miles, yet he was so strong on the hills on a relatively heavy mountain bike, which requires considerably more work than my touring bike. I told him that if he buys a road bike, I won’t be surprised to see him in the Tour de France next year! Jeremy, Bill and I pulled in to Cass Park at 1:30.”


Thanks for the insight into what your carrying. Love the bike pants. I have heard wonderful things about the bag balm. Now I can say that I actually know someone who uses it. The girls went to school in their matching horse shirts from Wyoming. Hope to see you at the finish line. We miss you so much. Rachel and the girls xoxo


Hi Jim – and Sara, too! It was great to catch up on your adventures and whereabouts. Please know that we think about you often and are cheering you on! After you return, we would like to have a gathering of the group to welcome you back. Sound OK? Today we went to the Naples Grape Festival; we’re about to dip into some grape pie. We wish you good weather and safe travels and send you our love. Margot and Gary


Hi Gary & Margot.. we are at the “Harvest Festival” in Green Lake Wi. We rushed our 80 mile ride to get here for the 4pm parade. It was like the “old days” with floats, Shriners in funny cars, a Queen, the fire trucks, politicians, and lots of little kids..they were the best. It has been a “culture” filled week starting with the SPAM Museum in Austin.
We’d love a party with the old gang. You betcha.
J & S


Hi All,
Hope you are staying in the Ludington State Park. It is very lovely there with lovely hiking trails that have little wooden bridges over the water at various places. These lead to sand dunes that I used to roll and run down as a kid. There is a nice State Park in Bay City with clean and modern bathroom facilities. It is on the water (Saginaw Bay which is part of Lake Huron) and there are lovely walking trails there with many swans on the water back in the marshes. But this might be out of your way a little. Route 46 is nice, quiet and flat. All farm land. Enjoy the ride. Your are making great progress.


Hi Jim and Sara! We are thinking of you as the weather is changing here in Sacramento, with a little rain while we are harvesting beans and popcorn. We look forward to your reports and wish you happy pedaling! With our love, Ed, Wynette, Katelyn, Jessica, and Andrew


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