So far, we are relatively pleased with our pannier bags. We bought 4 Schwinn basic pannier style bags that happened to be on clearance at Walmart. We paid $30 for the 4. We also have one pair of higher end Jandd pannier bags that cost $125 for the set. The Schwinns do what we need them to do and are “no frills” style bags. The Jandd are roomier, have expanding top closures, bungy style top straps for add on items, cut away corners to make room for pedalling, etc. One of the Schwinn bags has started to fray and a seam has started to separate. We patched it with duct tape and figure that we’ll replace them en route, if need be. If they survive ‘til the end of the ride, we won’t feel bad discarding them when we buy better ones for future rides. (Yes, we’re actually thinking we’ll tackle other big bike rides after this one.)
So far, we are pretty pleased with our bikes. We didn’t pay more than $40 for any one of them and we’ve replaced worn parts with better quality parts, utilizing Frankenbutt’s employee discount while he worked at the bike shop. As I mentioned in a prior blog, we’ve recently replaced all of our chains and Frankenbutt said mine was really “stretched out” and I can feel the difference with the new chain. He also said that he figures we’ll probably need to replace the chains again before the end of the ride.
We experimented with bike saddles and it turns out that my low priced Schwinn seat ($19) works just fine for me. The Beast is riding on a WTB (Wilderness Trail Bikes) Saddle which cost $50 after she had quite a few uncomfortable miles on her older Schwinn saddle. Frankenbutt has the most expensive saddle, a Brooks, which cost $120, but he, too, had unbearable butt pain with his prior saddle.
We all bought bike helmets about the same time, last summer. Both Frankenbutt and I bought Schwinn helmets and the Beast got a Bell helmet. They were all under $25 each at Walmart and fit OK. About a month ago, my helmet’s padding started peeling out and the inner plastic frame started slipping around. Within an hour after starting a ride, I found my ears hurting where the plastic frame pressed down on them. I stopped at Black Bear bikes in Spring Hill today and tried out some new helmets. I found a solid Lazer brand helmet that fit well and happened to be red, my favorite color. While I was there, I asked about another issue I was having.
About the same time that my old helmet started acting up, I found sweat from my forehead rolled down to my eyes and really bothered my contact lenses. I went to a franchised sporting goods store and bought a sweat band, the terrycloth stretch kind from the 70’s, and that helped but wasn’t perfect. My buddy, Joe, a BMX dad from Tampa BMX track, recommended a “halo” style sweat band with a channel to pull sweat away from the front of your face. Unfortunately, Black Bear Bikes were sold out of that type. (We chatted with the store manager who couldn’t believe we’re attempting a 3000 mile bike ride.) Frankenbutt recalled seeing a similar style headband at Sports Authority so we drove a few more miles and bought an Under Armour wicking headband that was on clearance for $4.97. I’ll be wearing both the new helmet and the headband on tomorrow’s ride to test them.
It’s nice that our training has reached the point that we can ride most of the day and still feel like running errands, doing laundry, cooking dinner, etc afterwards. The gentleman at Black Bear couldn’t believe we had ridden over 100 miles in the last 2 days. I guess the “old me” wouldn’t believe it either. The me of TODAY can’t believe that in 5 short days, we start our adventure! I really think we are ready and that these last few weeks have been moving too slowly. All 3 of us are ready to hop on the bikes and get rolling.
Soon, we’ll be adding a way for our readers to track our travels online. More about that in a few days (Frankenbutt is working out the technical details on that). We also started a Twitter account (@ridethenation) and plan to tweet daily during our ride. If you’d like to follow us on Twitter, go to Twitter.com, set up a free account and search “ridethenation”.
Thanks again for joining us as we move forward with our epic adventure!