Local Bike Shops are the Best!

The final month is upon us! Our voluntary homelessness starts on March the 28th and we’re itching to get out on the road. These next few weeks will be serious crunch time as we work to get the apartment cleaned out and get the bikes ready for our departure. Last minute tasks that we had forgotten about like doing our taxes and getting my scooter inspected have been taken care of and I’m starting to feel like we’re getting on top of things.

We visited our favorite local bike shop, Cycle Circle on Plum Street in Lancaster, PA, last weekend to pick up Hannah’s bike. It looks great and the brakes now work…which is more important than looking good. Tom, the owner of cycle circle, does great work and his knowledge on touring didn’t go to waste either. A couple of local riders were pretty interested in Hannah’s bike and I think it was smiling as we left the shop.SAM_0014After we got home we started the task of figuring how to fit all our gear on our bikes. I assumed this would be easy for two reasons. One, I am an experience backpacker and frequently teach others how to pack their bags. Two, I’ve spent way too many hours studying photos, blogs and informative websites about how to pack your panniers and what to take on a bicycle tour. In my head I had packed and repacked the panniers so many times I thought I had all the details worked out. It was not to be and is not exactly like backpacking although many of the thought processes and ideals are the same. I’m a ultralight freak when it comes to carrying things on my back so I rarely take much besides the absolute minimum. With this trip I want to have a few more comforts and plenty to eat so my backpacking skills did help me out but it isn’t really comparing apples to apples.

l front bags

Liz’s front panniers

h front bags

Hannah’s front panniers

h bike rear

Hannah’s rear panniers with z-rest and sleeping bag

l bike rear

Liz’s rear panniers with tent and top bag

So we spent a couple of days determining which items should go where, how they would be packed. Do we need more compression sacks? why do we have so much clothing? After a few nights spent sorting through all our gear, again and again, we got the right assortment and it all fit without too many flip flops and sleeping pads dangling off the backs of the bikes.We still need to pick up some odds and ends for attaching stuff to the bikes securely. Hannah needs a camera case for her DSLR that can be mounted to the front of the handle bars. She’s opted for trekking bars and it seems that only a few styles of handlebar bags with mount to those. I initially poo-pooed the idea of a handle bar bag since it seems aesthetically clunky and sort of like a black hole for small items to collect in that I will never find again. After thinking about how nice it will be to have quick access to pen and paper, camera, chap stick and of course snacks, I’ve changed my mind and will be shopping for one this weekend at Cycle Circle. I do have a great top tube bag compliments of Ray and Joe with Timbuk2! It’s been working out nicely, thanks guys!

Liz's bike without a handlebar bag

Liz’s bike without a handlebar bag

There are some things that most bicycle tourist wouldn’t be caught dead without that we are not taking with us. One of those items is a GPS unit or Smartphone with access to Google maps, weather, campsites, etc. We opted out on these tools for two reasons. One, we feel they cost too much money for what they are and we just couldn’t see spending the cash on something we weren’t really jazzed about. We’d rather have an extra $200 to $400 in our pockets, which is quite a bit of cash that can last for quite some time for a homeless person living on a bicycle. Neither of us are really into the Smartphone thing and between wi-fi spots and libraries, there will be plenty of free internet access for the compact laptop we are taking along. Reason two, people managed to ride their bikes to all sorts of places prior to all these gadgets existing and we think having a phone or GPS that tells us where we need to go all the time reduces the opportunities we have for needing/wanting to talk and interact with locals in the areas we will be riding. How else will we find the best ice cream, pies and free camping in town?

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7 thoughts on “Local Bike Shops are the Best!

    • Yes! There would most certainly not be room for our food without the front panniers but lots of folks go lighter (and in warmer places) and only load the back of the bike. By the way Olga, I was wandering around the web last night and found a great blog about some folks touring Holland. looks like a country that was MADE for traveling by bike!

  1. Educational! As a non-camper, backpacker or what have you, I’m looking forward to vicariously joining you and learning about how it’s all done. Had absolutely no idea what panniers were and now I know. I’ll be looking forward to your reports. Bon voyage from your cousin in California!

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