I will probably be burning through tires like a high-speed drill through a necrotic molar (YO YO CRYPTROLLIN UP IN HERR), & as a result, I decided not to get overly nerdy on this subject either. Yet I did a fair amount of homework, & decided that the options available to me at my local bike shop were perfectly adequate, & undoubtedly shall serve me well.

I will be riding on Specialized’s 2014 All-Condition Armadillo Elite tires (700×28 presta).

The AC Armadillo E’s are heavy-duty tires for all-weather touring; they are boasted as being the most flat-resistant tires on God’s pavement-black Earth. They wear slowly. They ride excellently. And they are foldable Kevlar tires so that I can easily ride with a backup pair – already ordered.

This shall also be the first time ever that I have ridden with road tires (“slicks”), & so I rather expect that the experience is going to be nigh-on religious, regardless of other considerations.



As previously alluded to, the biggest gap between my bicycle and a thing which can be toured upon, is its wheels. To remedy this: new wheels.

I did not take this opportunity to nerd out quite to the extent that I did over some of the other components of my bicycle & choices made. In part because of the extreme nerd-outitry available: with frames it was either “the bike I own or an LHT/520,” with wheels it is “the kaleidoscopic myriad of all options, squared and cubed and rounded to the sky.”

…which would hardly daunt me, except that I feel that I lack context to appreciate any of the options available to me. I have little enough context when it comes to frames or saddles. When it comes to wheels? Wheels for touring? None. I am only-an-egg. Such questions I shall better answer on the far side of this wanderjahr, when I have had so much context that I can barely stand up.

& so I yielded to the advice of the pros at my bike shop (tempered only slightly by confirm their recommendations by means of some internets). And here’s what I ordered:

700c Shimano LX rims, 3x-laced 36 spoke (DT Champion 2.0mm), Velocity Road hubs

They should be here next Friday.

I cannot wait 🙂


A short Day One (like, after my last final) to Kennebunkport, & spend a goodbye evening at my mother’s house.
Day Two: 60 miles to Bear Brook State Park outside Manchester; camp out
Day Three: 65 miles to the Horatio Colony Trust near Keene; camp out
Day Four: 60 miles to the edge of Bennington/the Green Mountains; camp out.
Day Five: A bare 45 miles to the doorstep of my friend Alicia. A warm couch to sleep on, a warm meal or six to eat, a warm shower that takes so long the hot water runs out…
…then the next day I start fresh with the sprint to Ann Arbor, 600 miles in somewhere between 6 and 10 days.


I have a very dear friend whose father once cycled cross-country. It was just after his second year of med school and he needed to stretch his legs, get some sun. (It is nice to know I’m walking in noble tire-steps.)

He gave me, though her, a list of things that he deems essential to cyclotourism. I quote verbatim:

-spare spokes

-entire tire (lol not just a tube)

-rear gear tool

-“big” wrench

-comfortable non-biking shoes

To which I respond:

-Spare spokes: YES! I am having wheels custom-built for my bike, and they are going to be 36- or even 40-spoke wheels – so redundancy is my biffle. BUT I shall be lashing a half-dozen spare spokes to my downtube for just such an emergency. Which, over 10,000 miles, I expect is all but guaranteed to occur at least once… if not a dozen times.

-Rear gear tool: YES! Insofar as I read this to refer either to tire-tools, or spoke wrenches, or any of the tools necessary for adjusting the rear derailleur… viz this earlier post

-Off-bike shoes: YES! I am going to be packing my Minnetonka moose moccasins (say that three times fast), which weigh almost nothing and which can be pressed down to almost zero volume. Also I am, at heart, somewhere between a hippie and a marcher-lord; all this carbon and nylon and steel needs to balanced by a little bit of leather. Mais non?

-entire tire: MAYBE. since I am taking the Northern Tier, there are very few times when I’ll be more than a day’s ride (or a brief hitchhike) from a bike shop – to say nothing of a WalMart or the generis equivalent. Also, modern tires being what they are, flats are less common – and true blow-outs very rare. I will have to ponder this point, but as of now I am unconvinced that it is necessary.

-“big” wrench: NO IDEA. I cannot for the life of me think that this could be used for. There is nothing on my entire bicycle which cannot be adjusted by a hex key or a screwdriver. Perhaps this is a relic of the Before Time, the Long Long Ago, when parts were less standardized & some  things – racks, say – were held together with lug-nuts and such heinous attachiage.

Alternatively, it was the late 70s, and so “big wrench” is some illucid colloquialism for a bong. Honestly, I’m going to go with that. It makes more sense. (And then: NO. Performance-enhancing drugs are bad.)



A summer-of-bikes in northeastern Canada:


Portland to PEI vie Nova Scotia:

(and then home… total: 2500 miles)

achievements unlocked: the coast of Maine; circumnavigating Nova Scotia and PEI; return trip powahhhh


circumnavigating New Brunswick, Labrador

(and then home… 3500 miles)

including a ferry from Kageshka to Blanc-Sablon


biking all the hell over Newfoundland:

(1500 miles self-inclusive)


Biking from Portland, Maine to Halifax, Nova Scotia; then around New Brunswick and to Quebec; then up to the end of the line at Kafeshka; then all the hell over Newfoundland; then up to the very tippy-top of Labrador; then down past that lake that looks really cool on Google Maps, back through Quebec, and home…


7500 miles

at a good clip, that is 2 1/2 months of riding. A rider in even fair shape could complete this route in a single summer.

And one will, in one swoop, have seen the entirety of maritime Canada.




SF -> Klamath Falls by means of the Tahoe and Modoc national forests

-> Blackroot past the Craters of the Moon

-> Grand Teton National Park and Jellystone

-> through Bighorn National Forest, skirting Thunder Basin grasslands

-> across Black Hills and the Badlands

-> some path across the Midwest heading towards the sunrise, to Ann Arbor


Ann Arbor -> Buffalo

-> Syracuse

-> Albany

-> Northampton

-> Boston

-> Home


Some few weeks ago, I posted a list of all the things I’d need to get – or at least, look into – for the trip.

I am going to repost the list, then go through it and pick out what I’ve acquired by putting it in bold. (Things that I’ve picked out, but not yet hit the “but it now” button for, will be bold italicized.)




cleat shoes

4 pair. bike socks

2 pair heavy wool socks

pair PJ pants

4 bike shorts

a wool jersey

a bunch of crappy t-shirts, which I hope will soon be too big for me

rain gear, if I want to carry it


sleeping bag


ground cover


stuff sacks (waterproof)

sleeping pad

quick-dry towel

camping pillow (if I so choose)

bungee cord(s)

zip ties

various rubber bands

a few zip-loc bags

a few heavy-duty trash bags

       BIKE & TOOLS



tire tool

patch kits, spare tubes

chain lube

spare break pads/cables/spokes/cleats/chain/master links – all will be bought at my local bike shop juuuust before I go





cellular tellular

duct tape

little leatherman

flashlight (if I bring it)


glasses strap


toothbrush + toothpaste + floss

soap + case

nail clippers

smalll first aid kit


various pills – tylenol, tylenol pm, tums

chamois creme

bug spray


     I think I’d like to start out with 48 hours worth of calories – which hopefully can be stretched much longer with judicious stopping+buying+eating. But it’d be nice to start that way.