Monday, July 07, 2014

6 Essentials for a Bike Overnighter

We finished our first overnight bike trip, so naturally I need to talk gear for a moment. Because we were staying in a hotel, packing for it was super easy. I basically took the contents of everyday carry bag and added a short sleeve and long sleeve shirt to change into, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a tube of suntan lotion. Shira added some clothes and toiletries of her own, packed us a ditty bag full of snacks, and we were good to go. I tossed all this in a day pack and lashed it to my bike. The setup may have looked unsophisticated, but it was quite functional.

Here are a few items that were especially valuable for the trip:

1. A mount for your cell phone (or GPS). We used ths one from PhotoJojo. With a ridiculous number of turns in our route, the heads up version of Google Maps was the only way to go.

2. A backup battery for your cell phone. We used the Anker Astro 3e. The Galaxy S5 is supposed to have great battery life. Doesn't matter, after 25+ miles of continuous use as a GPS the battery was toast. No problem, we swapped in Shira's phone and plugged mine into the Anker. It could charge while on the go. If we were going longer than an overnight, I'd have to look for a way to mount the battery on the bike, so it could stay charged while we were riding.

3. Ibuprofen. Ahhh, life's little miracle drugs. After 5.5 hours of bike riding, our bodies were pretty beat up. Being able to pop a couple of anti-inflammatory was a no brainer.

4. KT Tape. Also on the theme of medical aids, by the time we were headed home Shira's knee was acting up (it usually gives her problems while running; but this was enough abuse that it hurt while biking). KT Tape to the rescue. We improvised and stopped a CVS to pick up a roll, though it would be smarter to bring some Rock Tape, that stuff, well, rocks. KT tape is like magic and gave her some relief.

5. Sun Tan Lotion. While backpacking, I usually get by with a broad brimmed hat for sun protection (or, if we're in the open, I might pop-open my umbrella). But biking is a different story. For hours, I had my arms and hands outstretched just cooking in the sun. We were smart enough to bring suntan lotion with us, though next time, I'd be pickier and bring higher SPF and really slather it on. I've so got a biker's tan right now.

6. Gel Bicycle Seat Cover. I can't find the one we used, but it was something like this one. A while ago, I made two realizations: (1) my bike seat isn't particularly comfortable and (2) we had some gel spinning seat covers lying around. I'm not sure if anyone else does this, but I slapped the gel covers over our bike seats and the setup worked. They became a whole heck of a lot more comfortable instantly. You're probably supposed to buy a custom seat or something, but our little gel cover over the top approach worked well. And it really proved itself this last trip: one part of me that had no problems was my tush.

Bonus item: 7. Dedicated Camera. For a trip like this, where keeping the weight down is essential, I'd usually rely on my cell phone to take pictures. However, my cell phone was put to use (see #1), so a dedicated camera (any old Point and Shoot) would have been really handy.

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