Packing Your Panniers

P.B.cropWhen packing your panniers, it is important to remember where you put things. This allows for ease in locating emergency items in a pinch. It also helps you to quickly set up for camp and quickly pack up in the morning for an early start.

For rear panniers, we stuff the down sleeping bag into the left panniers to prevent accidentally dragging it over a greasy chain. For ease of packing your sleeping bag, sling it over your shoulder while stuffing it into the pannier. The sleeping sheet should be the only other item on that side.

In Bob’s right rear pannier, we put the spare bike parts, bike tools, tent (without the stakes and poles), and lotions. In my right rear pannier, we pack the tent fly. Emergency food and anything else remaining can be tucked in anywhere. We roll our tent poles and stakes inside a sleeping pad and secure it on top of the rear rack.

The front panniers are loaded with clothes. Tops on one side and bottoms on the other. It doesn’t really matter what side you choose for each. Just remember where you put them! You will be grateful when you can quickly find that rain jacket.

When packing, it is best to keep the heaviest item on the bottom for a lower center of gravity for better bike handling. Depending on what you pack, it may be different from our heavy items, but we find that the bicycle tools and spare bike parts are among the heavier items.

We like to pack in an orderly fashion so we can easily locate items. Orderly packing also allows us to pack with speed when necessary, like when we have to stealth camp. Please read my blog article, Stealth Camping, if you would like information about that.

There really are no rules on how to pack. If there is one piece of information that I can stress that you follow, it is to keep the heaviest items at the bottom of your panniers. It really does make a difference in how your bicycle will handle.

Do You Have a “Bike-It” List?

“I don’t have a bucket list but my bikeit list is a mile long”.    – unknown

There were times that I considered writing down a bucket list but never got around to it. When I came across the above quote, I decided that if I am going to have a list, it would geared towards biking.

The problem is, there are so many places in the world I want to see. New Zealand would be one destination on my list. There are some Asian countries and South American countries I would like to bike-pack as well. It is a matter doing some research on individual countries to decide what I might be most interested in.

Do you bike-pack around the world? If so, where did you go? Would you recommend those places?


Bicycle Route

One of Bob’s goals is to establish a low traffic Indiana bicycle route that extends from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River. It took a few years of bicycling different routes to determine what would work best. After riding 8,000 miles to choose the best roads, we are now working on getting a route plotted out to introduce to the bicycling community.

The route will be called the Indiana North/South Continental Divide Ride. The name was chosen because of the geographic drainage at Lydick, which parts the waters of the Atlantic Coast (St. Lawrence Drainage) and the Gulf Coast (Kankakee Valley Drainage). The gem of this circuit is that it can be ridden without the need for return transportation from any point on the route.

From Lake Michigan, the route goes through South Haven, Berrien Springs, and Buchanan. Dropping into Indiana, the route will continue near Lydick, then through Culver, Winamac, Buffalo, Delphi, Greencastle, Bloomfield, Montgomery, Petersburg, Princeton, Owensville, New Harmony, and Mt. Vernon.

After crossing the Wabash River on Indiana 62 and a short ride south into Illinois, the route goes across Shawneetown Bridge over the Ohio River. From there, Bob used ten Adventure Cycling route maps to create a new circuit that totals over 3,900 miles.

Our goal is to have an inaugural ride on the Indiana section, north to south, in 2019. We plan to have the ride as a fund raiser for a worthy organization. More information will be posted soon.

Bicycling For Emotional Wellness

Most of the time when I ride, it is simply to get some exercise or to go on a bike-pack trip and enjoy my time.

On occasion, I just need to get away and clear my emotions. Biking is the greatest way for me to calm down. The combination of physical activity, fresh air, and solitude does me wonders.

There is one time in particular when I house sat for my mom. It was a couple years after my dad had passed away. I was walking through her woods when sadness hit me with such force it was overwhelming. My dad had passed away a couple years earlier. His presence within and outside the house was still strong. His absence drove me to tears.

I had to get away so I hopped on the spare bike I keep at her house. It was a pleasantly cool autumn day. Soft warmth from the sun casting its rays onto my face was soothing. Further down the road, my focus turned to the beauty that God created that day.

I found myself talking to God, thanking him for his wonderful art. Then I said that I did not understand why he took my dad away so soon, but was grateful for the years he was with us.

God has his reasons, and many times his reasons are beyond understanding. It is hard to accept sometimes, but it is a part of life. Yes, I miss my dad and still think about him with fond memories, but choose not to dwell in the past. Dwelling in the past keeps a person from living in the present.

Distance Bicycling on a 29er

The first century ride I participated in was in 2010 on my 29er. It was not planned that way. I intended to ride the Schwinn I used to have, but I had a mishap the weekend before. Two large dogs came out of nowhere. The lead dog rammed my rear wheel on the side so hard it bent the rim and popped the inner tube. Fortunately I was able to catch myself to stay upright. I had no time to get the bike fixed before the century ride.

Riding on a 29er with massive knobby tires is an experience I will never forget. It amazed me that I was able to keep up with road bikes for several miles. Sensibility kicked in after awhile so I would not burn out too soon.

Ben, who drove the sag wagon, came around to check on me several times to make sure I was okay. The last time I saw Ben, he could see I was exhausted from having to work extra hard. He offered to give me a ride to the finish line at the park. I thanked Ben for the offer, but I was determined to complete the course even on a 29er.

The last ten miles seemed to take as long as the whole ride. It felt like the park was saying, “catch me if you can. Ha ha.” Relief flooded my body when I finally saw the park. A few of the riders hung around long enough to make sure I made it back. They were so happy to see me that they clapped and cheered as I arrived. Wow.

I have since then ridden several 100 plus daily miles for overnight or month long bike pack trips with Bob. No, I don’t use my 29er for those trips. Once was enough. What we use are rebuilt mountain bikes fitted with tires that handle all surfaces. The way we travel, those bikes suit us just fine.