Getting Started Bicycle Touring: How to pack for a bicycle tour, says the girl

Women always ask me how do I get along for weeks on the bicycle with not much room for clothes. This is definitely a case where less is more. I have learned that the less you have, the less you have to look after and less you have to pack and clean and the more happiness you have. We always make at least one trip to the post office to mail stuff home.
The photos here are from our 2011 bike tour in southern Ohio. We loaded the bikes in to our pick-up truck and drove to the Xenia station and parked it there for two weeks. We took off on our bicycles and rode the Little Miami Scenic Trail south to Cincinnati and crossed the Ohio River to get to my brother’s house using Kentucky Route 8. My brother drove us, and our bikes, to the southern end of the Great Miami Trail and we went north to Dayton, Brookville, Piqua, Urbana, Springfield, London and finally back to Xenia. Totaled 450 miles.
We both had flat bar aluminum road bikes that we forced into touring bikes. It worked. We rode at least 4000 miles with this set-up. Guy rode a Raleigh Route 66 and I had a Giant FCR.

Guy and Carol on loaded aluminum road bikes forced into duty as touring bikes as we cross the Ohio River to Kentucky. We rode these bikes from 2007 to 2011 and went on three big tours and many smaller weekend or overnight tours.

It wasn’t the greatest because the front wheels were squirreley because the weight was too high. Both bikes had carbon forks and no braze-ons so getting a rack on the front was a challenge. I also had no idea that the aluminum frame was making things hurt.
The front racks we used are not such a great idea. They attach to the brakes. But, like I said, it worked. My front rack came with a three compartment mini pannier. This is where we put all the tools, spare tubes, cable lock, first aid kit, and snacks.
My vintage rear panniers are huge. I have to be careful not to over-stuff them or it gets too heavy. In one side I carried the tent and stove and our towels. I had my clothes, u-lock and off-the-bike shoes on the other side. We used bungee cords to attached the rolled up thermarest sleeping pads. The back pockets carried our cups and utensils, tent poles and other misc.
Guy’s vintage front panniers were also too high making his bike hard to handle. In the front he carried our sleeping bags and rain ponchos. In the back he carried the stove fuel, cook set, flask, food and his clothes and u-lock and off-the-bike shoes on the other side. He also had a trunk for books, maps, and misc. We had a small insulated bag on his front to try to keep food cold.
The next year we bought steel bikes, Guy a Trek 520 and a Jamis Aurora for me. I love my bike. I love it because it is steel. With a steel bike you get proper braze-ons so you have more options for mounting racks and panniers.

This is acutally the 2012 gear pile but it is always about the same.

See our bicycle camping checklist here.

The stack in front of me is what we are taking on the bicycle tour for two weeks in 2011.

Here is all the gear and bikes loaded in the truck for the drive to Xenia.

This is clothes I brought for two week tour in 2011. I took the photo while wearing a set of cycling clothes— So I had 2 pair of bike shorts and one more shirt. Missing from the pile is long pants. It was hot and the long pants I brought were heavy so I mailed them home. I regretted that when it got cold again a few days later. I also had a light wind breaker and a cheap rain poncho and a baseball cap. This is still a lot of clothes, it could be trimmed down but I like to be comfortable. I always roll my clothes--they pack down smaller and don’t get wrinkled. The short sleeve white bike shirt is key to cover up from too much sun.

In this front view of Guy's bike you can see how high his front panniers are mounted making his bike wobble.

The London Coffee Peddler

Here we are with our new steel bikes outside The London Coffee Peddler on the 2012 tour. Notice how low the panniers are in front. We fit the sleeping pads inside my new vintage front panniers so there is nothing lashed on to either bike.

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