Monday, March 24, 2014

Mar 24 (Day 83) - More distance west, itemized list of what I'm carrying

I had a very nice, 64-mile ride west to Tallahassee today. If you ever bike through this area, I highly suggest that you take highway 90. I have been on it for the last 2 days. It has a great surface, a relatively low amount of traffic, and a nice wide bike lane. The terrain alternated between pancake flat and rolling hills, and it changed frequently enough that boredom never really set it. It also passes through a number of interesting, small towns. Most notable today was Monticello where I was able to snap a photo at the center of the town.

64 miles today - more hills than I expected
around Tallahassee made the end a bit tough!

Monticello town center

I did knock into another LDB (long distance biker) on the road this morning. Steve lives in Colorado and has been biking across the southern United States for the past 6 weeks. He started in San Diego and plans to end in St. Augustine in a few days. I will be doing much of his route in the reverse direction, so we exchanged a bit of information about roads, routes etc. Steve also offered me a place to stay in Colorado once I reach the mountains! Note the Surly bike, the same one I am riding.

Tomorrow I am going to to head due south to St. Mark's NWR where I will spend all day and tomorrow night. This place is supposed to be very "birdy", so hopefully it will be a productive day. I should also mention that I did add Eastern kingbird (#252) along the road right as I entered Tallahassee today. 

As I arrived to my destination on the early side today, I took a walk over the a local shopping mall to try to find some ice cream (I was successful). This was my first real reintroduction to consumer America since I unplugged almost 3 months ago. Every time I enter a mall I cannot help but think how 99% of what is sold there is useless junk that people could certainly do without. After all, how many clothes/shoes/hats/bags/toys does one person need? Anyway, I started thinking about how nice it has been to live such a materially-streamlined life this year. I have always been a minimalist, but this year has been even more extreme. Minus Sonia, I have only REALLY missed one thing: my big camera (Canon 500 f/4 + 1.4III + 1DIV). Outside of it, I can basically survive without most of what I currently own. Unfortunately, in this country most people have succumbed to hideously false message that material things equal happiness and success. I am so glad that I have missed this memo. No one can buy my bike trip; That's why it's valuable. 

NOTE: I have received several emails pointing out the disconnect between the minimalistic tendencies articulated above and the list of material goods that I provide below. I totally understand these sentiments, and I realize I sound like a hypocrite. I will try to explain myself a bit better. Basically, I tend to do A LOT of research on the few, but very high quality items that I purchase. These items will get daily or weekly use in perpetuity in all instances. I am trying to contrast this buying pattern to that of the impulse shopper who buys lots of poorly made stuff that will just collect dust once it goes out of style or falls apart. No one goes into the mall thinking "I really need a 'Hello Kitty' toilet seat or a 'Hello Kitty' AK-47", but people will walk out with these precise items nonetheless. If you have recently purchased either of these items, nothing I can say is going to make any sense, so I'll just conceed defeat. 

AH-HA! Now would be the perfect time to provide a list of what I am carrying this year. Several people have asked about my gear, so I will try my best to include everything.

Surly Disc Trucker bike
Surly front rack 
Bontrager/Trek rear rack
2 water bottles with holders
One pair Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers (Panniers #1, 2 below)
One pair Ortlieb Rear Roller Panniers (Panniers #3, 4 below)

Pannier 1 - Front Right - "Optic stuff"
Camera body
400mm lens
17-40mm lens (not getting much use right now, maybe more out west)
Flash memory cards
GoPro camera
Lens cloths, brushes etc

Pannier 2 - Front Left - "Bike stuff"
Fold up spare tire (kinda bulky)
3 spare tubes
Tire levers
Bike light (doubles as flash light)
Reflective yellow vest
Hand pump for tires
Plastic zip ties, duct tape
Multi-use bike wrench/tool thingy
Snacks - Granola bars and Peanuts
Hand warmers

Pannier 3 - Back Right
Field guide
Hiking boots (relatively lightweight)
2 T-shirts - could probably get by with one
4 pair underwear - too many, I cycle in bike shorts so I probably only need 2
Pain killers - Big bottles of both ibuprofen and naproxen sodium
2 pair socks

Pannier 4 - Back Left
Rain coat - will ditch this at some point. I won't see much rain in the nest 3 months. Warm rain OK.
Extra pair biking shorts
Extra long-sleeve, fancy-fabric biking shirt (long sleeve to keep sun off my arms)
Power cords/chargers (Phone, Laptop, Camera batteries, Light, GoPro etc), card reader 
2 pair long pants (can certainly get away with one)
1 light pair fleece gloves and fleece hat

On my person I normally have a pair of socks, my Shimano biking shoes, a pair of biking undershorts, a pair of regular shorts, a long-sleeve, fancy-fabric biking shirt, my helmet, a pair of cheap sunglasses, and a pair of fingerless gloves.

My scope and MeFoto Tripod are bungee-corded to the back rack. They are in a waterproof bag and wrapped in a lightweight coat. The coat hides the items so that people just think its more junk strapped to the bike. The scope+tripod is about 8-9 Lbs. I will almost certainly ship the scope/tripod and a few other extra items from Texas to Arizona to save weight on that very challenging leg. I might just ship the scope all the way to California since it would be a lot of weight in the mountains as well. This will be a huge decision. 

When I was in the Northeast, I also had a heavy fleece coat, North Face Down Puffer Jacket, long underwear, fleece pants, 2 additional pairs of gloves, a fleece/neoprene facemask, another wool hat, and 2 heavy duty pair of wool socks. I sent all this stuff home when I reached North Carolina. That was a VERY, VERY good day.

I also have a handlebar mount for my iPhone on the bike.

OK, I think this about covers it. I am sure I have missed some smaller items, but the main stuff is all listed.


  1. Who's the minimalist? Your camera equipment alone cost more than I'll make this year.

    1. I see your point, and I totally understand your feelings. That being said, my photography is a huge part of my life. I do it very often, and my gear gets a TON of use as a result (the results are clear The hourly cost of my gear is very low since I use it so much. A movie ticket is more expensive per hour! I also wear mainly used clothes, drive a 16-year old car, and do not own a house. The point is that I spend a ton of money on my camera and very little on anything else. I hope this clarified things a bit.

  2. Thanks for the note, and I totally hear you Nick. I went back and added what I think is a humorous note that will helpfully clarify things on the blog. My thing is that I buy VERY high quality products that will last a long time. I do a ton of research on all items before I buy them. This way it gives me time to think if the purchase is really worth it. I avoid the impulse "on sale" buys of junk that shopping malls and Black Friday thrive on.

  3. Hi Dorian, ignore the person who hides behind anonymity. (They're called trolls). But please let me know how I can buy a couple of those Hello Kitty toilet seats! I've always wanted those.

  4. Yeah, the anonymous thing is lame. At the same time the person does have a valid point, so I wanted to respond. I do not know if you saw the series of movie quotes posted by someone anonymous back in January, but those were pretty funny! I hope ll is well with you.

  5. With all those sensitive optics and electronics strapped to your bike, have you taken any precautions to minimize the potential of damage from bumps in the road? Any single bump probably won't do much harm, but I'm curious about the cumulative effect of countless bumps over the course of many thousands of miles. (Not to mention accidents like the one you had the other day.) I worry about that sometimes when I strap my backpack-with-laptop onto my bike for my commute to work, or when I carry my camera and/or binoculars on my bike on leisurely rides.

  6. Hi Dorian,

    Great this is going so well! I've enjoyed reading, and in the spirit of the post, and with a smile, will add that I'm right with you. Don't buy much, but buy quality. That said, I didn't think you to be a complete optimist when I saw your ride plan, not at all. And I didn't think you a complete optimist when I saw the number of birds you will find. But things we purchase these days lasting in perpetuity?? Now I think you are a comple..........! Keep riding, travel safe!