Saturday, August 03, 2013

Astoria, Or ---> Seattle. Pt.1 Planning

This story could take a long time to tell, I'm just warning you now.

It started in the Spring, when my team and I were out training for that big ride that I did back in June. Remember how I rode to LA? Right, that one.

So Team Unpoopular and I were out at Pt Reyes Station, right outside the Bovine-est of the Bakeries and we sat down next to Zeke and his dad Joel. Zeke is twelve and he immediate caught my attention because he is smart and funny and he was passionate about riding. We had a bunch of fun chatting with them about Randonneuring and Aids/LifeCycle and whatnot and before you know it we were exchanging information. Zeke told me he was planning to ride border to border this summer to raise money for the Sierra Club and for climate change.

They ended up donating to my ride and I in turn donated to Zeke's ride.

Fast forward to about two weeks ago and Joel emailed me to ask me a crazy question. They were looking for someone to ride one of two legs of the trip with Zeke: either Astoria, Or to Seattle or Seattle to Vancouver.

So I asked babycakes, is this crazy? Do you think I can do it? And he was like 'sure why not'? So I told my story at work and it turned out that I could get the time off. The timing was good too, 'cause it's about to get cray cray busy at workie.

Right so that worked out, I cleared the time and then I started talking to Joel about logistics. I held out for a couple of days before saying 100% yes because I had to do a little research to feel like I could handle the logistics of traveling with a bike. I've never boxed or unboxed a bike for air travel. I also couldn't figure out how to get my stuff on a plane, then tour and camp, then return.

With limited time, I couldn't do my usual reading and obsessing about details on the internets so I did the next best nerderific thing and I polled the SF Rando googly group. Super glad that I did because of course these people have experience with this sort of thing.

Best advice ever from the peoples who know:

  • Pull out your camping shit, lay it out on the floor, remove half.
  • Pack your stuff in a large duffle bag, when you arrive at the destination, mail the beforementioned bag to your final destination 
  • Get a bike box from your LBS, pack as much of your camping stuff in it as you can, including bigger tools. The airlines don't allow tools over 7" in carryon.
  • Take the train if possible, it is MUCH easier to deal with bikes on the train. Plus many folks have a deep love for the Amtrak Coast Starlight.
  • Leave the camp stove, pots and pans and all that crap at home if possible 
  • Get a small pedal wrench (I brought a 15mm wrench and it did the trick)
  • Did you know that it is possible to pack a bike in a plastic sheet? http://maxp.net/bike/packing.php
  • Have your LBS pack your bike for air travel (my option)

Armed with all of this great information, I called Joel and told him I was in.

Unfortunately the train tickets were sold out from SF to Portland, so I ended up flying that leg of the trip. I immediately arranged for Box Dog to do the packing because I wasn't confident about it.

I can fast forward this part of the story. The good news was that when I arrived at the airport United's system was down and they could not charge me for the bike. I saved $100 and that was fab. Now arriving and putting the bike back together will have to wait until the next post. That was the part that I was most worried about and it proved to be exciting.

Oh one more thing, I was able to test ride my setup (and knee!) the week prior to leaving because I went with Box Dog Bikes to BDBSummercamp. I took the advice of the wise Randonnuer tourers and reduced my crap to what you see below. Two front panniers and tent/sleeping pad secured to the back rack. Tent was secured with straps to the saddle. Thermarest was secured to the rack with a bungee. I was inspired by this and it served me well and was a flexible setup. Things grew and I was able to bungee more groceries, etc. on top of the Thermarest. And I ended up not shipping my bags so I was able to strap them to the saddle with the tent.

All ready for #bdbsummercamp #rivendellbikes

Packing list for those who geek out about this sort of thing:

woolie bottoms
woolie hoodie
woolie cami
1 pair wool socks
2 tshirts
1 pair jortz (jean shorts)
1 pair bibs
1 rain jacket (never needed!)
arm warmers
sandals
sneakers
toiletries

sleeping bag
liner
thermarest
REI T1 Quarter Dome tent

Bike tools
2 spare tubes
headlamp
small camp towel
bowl, cup, silverware
Swiss Army knife

What I do differently next time: I might lose the kitchen as we didn't cook. Might trade bibs for shorts and bring two pair so that one is always dry. I would love to get wool tshirts so that I can just bring one. Might leave the shampoo and conditioner. I see the wisdom of synthetic fiber clothing since it dries so much faster. I thought that I would use sandals in the shower but they were kind of a waste of space.
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