Author Topic: Gear for traveling across the US? Need advice from those more experienced...  (Read 8032 times)

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Offline MojoMom

My husband is going to bike across the US next year -- he's training, working hard, and getting very excited.  I'm thrilled that he is going to mark this off his list! 

Where I need help: how to best support.  We have two small kids under age 4, so I am unable to do it with him.  From those that have done this before, would love some feedback:

1) what's helpful from a support person?  Were occasional visits on the road helpful or distracting?

2) what is the best, most important gear that you took with you?  He's got a great bike, trailer, shoes...but what was the other thing you could not live without (GPS? soft socks at night? care packages from home on the road? cookies?)

3)what was the one piece of hear you were glad you brought (or wished you brought) from home?  Pictures? lightweight laptop? camera?

Many thanks for any help you can offer.


Offline Pat Lamb

What great questions!

I really enjoyed seeing family.  You and he will have to negotiate with the kids; he'll want/need to leave and ride, they'll want to see Daddy.  If he's going west on the TransAm, plan for a couple of days around southwest Virginia or eastern Kentucky, if at all possible.  He'll need to relax and recharge in the mid-Appalachians.

The Most Important Thing, after what you've listed, is the Adventure Cycling map series.  Second is Bag Balm, followed closely by Chamois Butter.  IMHO, of course.  I assume he'll have rain gear, sunscreen, sunglasses, cell phone, ATM card, etc.  For your piece of mind, if you're like my family, frequent (daily preferred) "all's well" messages via cell phone or email will likely be appreciated.  And be patient -- just because it's dark on the east coast doesn't mean there's not two more hours of daylight for him to ride out west.

The Garmin 705 looked/looks intriguing for its combination of yellow pages and location.  There's no other need for a GPS I can think of.  I'd suggest you try to be available for emergency motel look-ups, especially in the west.  When he needs a warm, dry place with a shower, and has 15-20 miles to go, google "motels town state."  Then call for room availability and price, make him a reservation, and text him back.  (He just lost cell coverage right after he called you!)

The Most Important Skill to develop is to figure out where to send packages.  If you can afford overnight or 2-day delivery, that may not be such a big deal.  Guessing how long it'll take a package to arrive, how far he can travel in that time, and meshing that with post office hours is an art form.  Also, try to mail packages the very next day.  It's easy to wait a day or two, but then your package will miss the cyclist.

I was glad I took a netbook and camera.  Crazyguyonabike journal sometimes met the "all's well" requirement, and I felt like I was sharing the trip with parents and siblings.  (My wife demanded frequent telephone calls.)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 02:37:48 pm by pdlamb »

Online staehpj1

The best thing you can do is be very patient and understanding when he is much longer between calling home than he should be.

Treats form home are always appreciated, just don't send heavy stuff that can't be used or eaten fairly quickly.

I agree with Patrick on the AC maps, but didn't take or wish for bag balm, chamois butter, or a netbook.  In fact the biggest thing for me is to keep the load light and skipping the netbook is a part of that.  We thought we started out with a minimal load, but mailed batches of stuff home several times on the TA.  I don't think I was ever sorry I left stuff home, but often wished the load was lighter.  My motto when packing is if in doubt leave it out.

Good advice on sending stuff from home.  We never bothered with two day or next day delivery though.  Try to pick a medium sized town.  That way there is likely to be only one post office and it will have longer hours than the ones in the tiniest towns.  Try to time it so he will be there on a day it is open, but if all else fails he can stop at any PO and arrange for the package to be forwarded to another town.  It is a great way to adjust what is carried to the region you are in.  No point in carrying something you won't need for another 1000 miles when you can have it mailed to you closer to when you will need it.


  • Guest
Someone has to mention the great articles in the How To department at, reprinted from Adventure Cyclist.


Offline MojoMom

Thanks, everyone -- this is really helpful! 

Offline John Nelson

I think it depends on what kind of person your husband is. If he's out to prove his manhood (like most middle-age men), he'll have the pioneer, adventurer, do-it-alone, do-it-without-help mentality. In that case, you might just want to mostly stay out of his way (although a box of cookies in the mail from time to time is never a bad thing). If he's the out-to-see-the-world family man, then he might like more connection with home. If he's going to be staying in motels, he might like a bit of internet research on what's available on the road ahead. He might also like a weather report or construction report for where he's going to ride the next day. If he's the I-don't-want-to-miss-anything type, he might like to know what there is of interest to see along the way in the coming miles.

Offline paddleboy17

Something that you might want to consider is going along with him in a SAG capacity.

If you can afford to do so, why not rendezvous with him each night.  Bring the kids and make this an adventure for the whole family. 

There was a woman on who rode the TransAm from west to east.  She was retiring from the Air Force, so she got a later start than she originally wanted, but her husband and son followed along for three weeks.  Sounds like they had a blast.

So if you cannot tag along for the whole trip, maybe there are sections where you can tag along.


  • Guest
Things Like to have:

1.  A watertight tent

2.  A good flashlight/head lamp

3.  A corkscrew

4.  If our for more than a copule of days, a good book

5.  If it might be cold, warm gloves and a warm hat

6.  A sense of adventure, the expectation that not everything will go as planned and the patience to not get pissed when they don't

7.  A good idea of where I am going ahead of time

Offline johnsondasw

Get him a mirror and make him practice to get used to it.  It's the most important safety item in the kit.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Pat Lamb

Get him a mirror and make him practice to get used to it.  It's the most important safety item in the kit.

Can't agree with this one at all.  A mirror may or may not be useful; I've never used one, and I have crossed the U.S. on a bike.  Mirror more important than a blinky butt for riding in fog, rain, dawn or dusk?  More important than visible clothing?  More important than sunglasses or sunscreen?  More important than good gloves?  More important than a tire pump, or tires that are not worn out?  More important than dependable, working brakes??  I don't think so!

Offline cyclocamping

Heinz Stuck is traveling on his bicycle since 1962 told in an interview that mirror is indeed one of the most important piece of equipment on a bicycle. He added that he doesn't understand why a helmet is required in many part of the world while mirror is not. I agree, a mirror is definitely a great safety gear and is very useful especially when you travel with someone. Of course you can travel without a mirror, just like you can drive a car that doesn't have mirrors - personnaly I would not do it. I even use two mirrors! MojoMom, here is an article that you might find useful: "Bicycle touring with a mirror"
Happy Tailwind "Gear Up and SAVE on the Best Touring Equipment!
Silver Corporate Partner of Adventure Cycling Association -

Online staehpj1

Get him a mirror and make him practice to get used to it.  It's the most important safety item in the kit.
Were talking about an adult here right?  He probably already either is already a mirror user or has decided he doesn't need one.  Personally I don't feel the need for one, but figure it is a personal choice.

Offline John Nelson

Let's not turn yet another thread into a mirror debate. Everything that could possibly be said about mirrors has already been said dozens of times. We'll never agree.

Offline gpshay

If he hasnt run across this list he might be interested in looking at it.

Offline John Nelson

That's a pretty good list gpshay. Although nobody would take all that stuff, each person's subset would be different, so it's a good starting point.