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.)



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