You know I am in the stages of getting my stuff together also. I have found that reading travelogues of other travelers, from novices to those who bicycle across the globe gives me a starting point. I also read the online versions of many outdoor magazines. Some examples are below:www.backpacker.comwww.crazyguyonabike.com www.outsideonline.comwww.gorp.comwww.kenkifer.comwww.bicycling.comwww.travel-library.com
On these sites you can find packing lists which include the basic items to take and in many cases personal recommendations from other more established bicycle tourers. I take a summation of this info and print out what I need to study further. This list is taken to the local REI or Galyans and also some thrift shops. This way I can see it, try it on and figure out what sizes work best. From here I usually find the gear is way too overpriced. Here is a good tip. I check resale shops for gear often. To date I have found Pearl Izumi rain pants ($3.99), Pearl Izumi Zephyrr rain jacket ($3.99, Patagonia fleece top (4.99), mountain hardwear rain jacket (7.99) you get the idea. You can save much money over new if your budget is tight. I usually check the Goodwill and resale shops in wealthier neighborhoods for best results. Many times items are donated once there are abrasions, or out of style. My mountain hardwear is purple but I saved over $200.00 on the purchase price.
As far as a tent and sleeping gear. I find many items on ebay. If I come across an item from the websites listed above I research it online to see how favorably it was reviewed, the pros and cons, then I review what size or model fits my needs. Then I decide what the max is that I will pay and bid for the item. This way I bid once and not over and over. If the final bid exceeds my max then I keep looking until I find the item for the price Im willing to pay. My tent is an Eureka solo bivy. It retailed for $89 new, I found mine on clearance at The Sports Authority for $15. I am putting together a lightweight system of clothing and gear to reduce my on bike carry weight. My gear will also double as backpacking gear and I want to keep my packweight as light as possible. In this case I watch the weight of everything I purchase but I also seek out low prices. This isnt the easiest thing to accomplish but it can work with patience and planning. As far as as a stove, I chose to go with an alcohol stove. I wanted something that didnt rely on store bought fuel cannisters which are hard to find in some places. Denatured alcohol can be found in most hardware stores very cheaply and fuels a homemade stove. You can also buy these on ebay for about $5 to $15 for the stove, windscreen and fuel bottle.
The other thing you are doing which is highly important is continuing to train and dream of where you want to go. You may not believe this but I have yet to go on an extended tour. I am in the planning stages as well. I commute by bicycle myself about 85 miles a week. I'm slowly adding mileage each week to build up my base miles. My problem is I cant decide where to go. I want to go overseas at some point but I want to get some solid experience touring in the states first. You may want to consider the supported tours with Adventure Cyclist Magazine. They have a section on the website which details what they offer. You can also acquire maps from them with info relevant to bicycle touring.
I ride portions of the Lewis and Clark trail on my training rides from St. Louis to Alton and over to St. Charles. Local rides are best to practice using camping gear and get used to riding a loaded bicycle.
How is the bicycle riding in Kansas? In Missouri we have rolling hills to just about everywhere and the humidity in the summer can be sticky.
Talk to ya later.