You will need enough mileage with your loaded panniers to learn how to handle the loaded bike and whether there are any problems with how you have arranged your gear, but 98% of your training miles can be done unloaded.
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it's hard to weed through all the different opinionsYou're just going to get all the same opinions over again.
I think it would only ever come into play if crossing an international boundary.I,m glad for this topic. Lots of states will arrest you if not in correct bottles.. Ive 8 bottles to carry on my tour coming up. So what to do???I find it kind of hard to imagine anyone searching my panniers in the first place and even less likely that I would be arrested for that.
That said if I were concerned, I would probably take the original label or a copy along. That is what my wife did for a cruise. She peeled them off very carefully and stuck them all on a sheet of paper.
how to distribute the weight in the panniers to equalize our speeds.If you are going to carry a tent and/or stove, those are obvious thing to give him. You are going to want to keep certain stuff with you in case you get accidentally separated. Keep some money, some food, your water, a map, your tire patching stuff, your cell phone, and some warmer clothes if there is any chance of it getting cold. He can carry the toiletries, non-essential drugs, camping stuff, spare clothes (including all off-bike clothes for both of you), and extra tools and parts. This might enable you to use only one pair of panniers. You might experiment with using only small front panniers, with perhaps a small bag strapped to the top of the rear rack. This will save you the weight of the extra pair of panniers, which can be significant all by itself.
What’s the best way to break up our daily rides so we can keep going day after day?Stop frequently, at least once an hour. Have something to eat before you start. Then start early. Stop for a second breakfast. Take a break for lunch. Stop at points of interest. Take a small side hike. Overnight, get lots of sleep--at least an hour more than you do at home.
Unless necessary to avoid heel strike, moving the weight back is absolutely not preferable. In fact, moving the center of mass of your panniers behind the center of the rear hub is dangerous. If you must do it to avoid heel strike (which likely means you're not riding a touring bike), then it is important to have front panniers for balance..... you want to be able to mount the pannier toward the back of the rack.Assuming heel strike is not an issue, why is it preferable to mount panniers toward BACK of the rack?