this trip has, to some extent, been all about the gear that i've taken along with me. while i'm not roughing it in the sense of sleeping on billboard ledges or in the backs of uhaul trucks, there is a certain lack of material comfort that accompanies a person riding a bicycle across a continent. the things i've chosen to push across the united states, then, each have a purpose (or, if possible, several) and are all more or less necessary for the success of the trip. i know there are many lists out there of things to pack on a bike trip ; i just want to record the particular things i've chosen to take with me this time.
first and foremost is the bicycle itself. i ride a beautiful, wonderful, excellent cannondale t700 (purchased new in 1999) : green, triple front crank. since this is my first large tour i started the trip with all stock components and parts (even the tires) and have had absolutely no problems—not even a flat—while cycling through rivers, over gravel roads, and through potholes (not recommended ; i dented my rims on the first day of riding, but impressively did not get a flat, and the bike shop in raleigh was able to get them straightened out ok).
the bike came equipped with shimano rx mountain bike components (shifters, brakes, derailleurs). the wheels are built up from 700 sun rims and shimano rx hubs, with continental top touring 2000 tires (38c, i believe). these tires are amazing : literally all the other tourists i've met or heard about have used these tires, and i have personally been consistently impressed with their performance.
for storage on the bike i have four jandd mini mountain panniers, hanging from a jandd mountain rack in the back and a jandd rack in the front. on the top of the back i lay my blanket and my smallish timbuk2 messenger bag.
in the left rear pannier are my extra clothes :
in the right rear is my sleeping gear and some miscellaneous stuff :
on top of these sits a 4-foot by 5-foot fleece blanket, and my timbuk2 bag, which holds journals, books, maps, pens, letters, etc. i also carry a cell phone and a minidisc recorder for capturing interesting sounds.
the front panniers hold my food and cooking gear. because the rear of the bike supports both my weight and the weight of three bags, i wanted to shift the denser objects toward the front. fuel, then, along with pasta, tuna, oil, trail mix, fruit : these things got stuck in the front panniers. i use an msr cooking pot with lock-down handle (great for cleaning and packing), along with an msr whisperlite internationale backpacking stove. also, i've noticed that if you have trail mix with chocolate anything in it, it melts less quickly if you stick in on the side away from the sun.
everything is packed in ziploc bags for water resistance (their air-reducing quality does not really last long) ; even though i've been through a couple severe thunderstorms the gear inside the bags has stayed fairly dry as a result.
under my seat i carry a small jandd wedge bag filled with tools and another spare innertube (that makes three). i carry a complete set of tools with me : 2mm through 6mm hex wrenches, tire irons, phillips screwdriver, spoke wrench, 6in crescent wrench, swiss army knife. the set only weighs a couple pounds, probably, and in my experience is worth it for its just-in-case value. if you're not into carrying all those tools, take the 5mm hex wrench (fits 85 % of the screws on a bike), a spare tube, tire irons (they're plastic anyway), and a spoke wrench.