I was asked, “Are you really planning another trip?” and the answer is a definitive, “Yes!” How can you put aside something that offers so much? But what about the problems like broken equipment, rain and money? Few things cannot be resolved if you’re willing to make adjustments and, especially, if you learn from your mistakes. So, what did I learn?
One of the best decisions I made was to purchase “Cargo Short - Padded for Bicycling” from Aero Tech Designs (aerotechdesigns.com). By incorporating typical padded, skin-tight cycling shorts as an inner liner to ordinary-looking outer shorts, you have both the supportive feeling and practical advantages. Being able to enter a convenience store without attractive unnecessary stares and carry essential items in useable pockets was a really good thing. I am aware that Aero Tech is not the only manufacturer of such cycling garments, but they are made in the USA, their customer service is very good and their price is extremely competitive. After wearing one set frequently for several months I purchased two additional shorts. I have no reason to believe they will not give me a long service life.
Of equal value to Aero Tech’s shorts is Chamois Glide (bodyglide.com), which I originally purchased as Body Glide. No matter what name, the stuff works, eliminating any concern about chaffing. It even worked on hot spots on my feet. You really don’t want to leave home without it.
Ortlieb (ortliebusa.com). As far as I am concerned the name says it all. Back Roller Plus, Front Roller Plus, Ultimate 5 Plus and Dry Bag all performed as advertised and as expected. Nothing got wet despite several encounters with heavy weather. The panniers and handlebar bag installed and removed efficiently and with their locking capability provided a measure of security (false or real) that I appreciated. Some tourists complain about the lack of pockets in Ortlieb’s bags, but I found this to be a non-issue. Not having to manage pannier covers before, during or in anticipation of rain was its own reward.
Adventure Cycling’s (adventurecycling.com) route maps are durable and accurate. They are not always the easiest to decipher in metropolitan areas and where signage is lacking, inadequate or different, but 95% of the time you where you are and where you need to go. Sometimes it is useful to have a broader view of an area for basic orientation, but most modern cell phones can deliver those as necessary.
Big Agnes (bigagnes.com) also performed as advertised. Their Lynx Pass 3, three-person backbacking tent was large enough to easily accommodate me and all my bags. During the several heavy rains, I remained dry. Any issues with tenting were related to the quality of the campgrounds and my own limitations. Lynx Pass 3 went up quickly and stowed easily.
No, this is not the end of this list nor of the one that will identify what did not work or serve me well.