Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: Lessons learned on the road this time

Previously, I wrote about the 10 things that worked well on
I was always in good spirits!
this summer's Connect the Dots tour. Now here are the things that didn’t work out, I didn't need,  or I should have brought.  Some of these I realized right away, other after thinking about it at home.

No Mini Pump. This one is easy, and I should have known it. A mini pump makes it easy to be lazy, and I had a second flat just a few miles down the when I didn’t get the pressure I needed for a loaded touring bike. The solution will be a frame mounted mini=floor pump (Like the Bontrager Mini Charger I have on our tandem) or a traditional, full size frame pump. (And I have 3 of those from Silca and Blackburn).

The Wrong USB Charger. I had a pair of backup batteries for my iPhone, but I only had a one-port USB charger, and it was the low-powered iPhone model, which could not fully charge the batteries. At the very least, my next tour will have a two-port, dual output charger. My ideal solution? A backup battery/charger with two USB out ports, that could charge a phone and the backup battery at the same time. I will let you know if I find that product.

Leave the sling chair home.
Only used it since the picnic table was soaking wet.
I have a light-weight (2 pounds), REI Flex Lite chair. I love this chair on my sagged tours; but it was two pounds I didn’t need on this trip; I only used it one night.

Too many miles per day. Though I was bound by the lodging availability restraints on the Katy Trail, my overly optimistic mileage planning didn’t allow enough slack for wrong turns and bad weather. My next trip will be based on shorter days, with longer days just an option.   I loved the time I was riding; it just seemed I never had any down time during daylight.

A real headlight. I had a small strobe/safety light, but when things wrong, it was inadequate for safely finishing a late ride into camp, or even riding around a dark campground (when the showers and restaurant were each over a ½ mile from my tent site). I am also going to continue to ride with a running light when on highways. My Light in Motion Urban 650 will make the next trip, and probably one of their Vis180 tail lights. And that adds one more USB item to charge.

Bring some PDF Road Maps. Even though I was relying on the iPhone for navigation, road maps can still be handy. They will be stored on the iPad for my “plan B” for navigation.

Did I need the Big Ring? When a loaded touring bike keeps you under 20mph, and you have 8, 9, 10 or 11 cogs going down to 12 or 11 teeth, I am not so sure about triples and big rings. On my very first touring bike, I used a 47-42 combination. But this really gets into bike design as well, so I will leave this discussion, along with 650B (27.5”) wheels for another post.
Small rings good in "flat" Illinois.

So there you have it, my post-tour review.  I thought I would come up with 10 items, but I guess my prior experience paid off. And the last two were really more conceptual, than anything I did wrong on this trip.  I have a few more days to wrap up, and then I will tie these all together in a summary, as I start planning my trips for 2015.


  1. More miles!!! You should at least average 100 miles/day. :)

  2. Thanks for sharing. Helpful post for a noob like me.