Our (Hopefully) Trusty Steeds

Our trusty steeds

Julie with our trusty steeds. Hopefully they will get us to Mexico.

What a whirlwind the past week has been. Last Sunday we drove from DC to Ohio and within 36 hours were on a plane to Portland, OR. Once in Portland, we took public transit to a bike shop Julie had researched and with our backpacks and gear at our sides, we went ahead and purchased the core equipment for our next big adventure: Life on a Bike.

We literally showed up at the bike shop with three bags of stuff and said we have around $1500 to spend to get fully outfitted to ride to Mexico. Shawn at the Bike Gallery at first said it may not be possible to get quality gear to confidently get us the 2500 miles to Todos Santos, but he was excited by the challenge. We had done some research ourselves on the types of bikes we were looking for and how we’d carry our gear. However, neither of us had ever purchased bikes before and neither of us has seriously ridden before outside of small fun rides. With all these challenges Julie, Shawn, and I went to work.

We first focused on the bikes. I ended up on a 20” Trek 7.3Fx and Julie on a Women’s specific 19” Trek 7.2Fx. We upgraded Julie’s tires to some serious Bontrager triple flat protection tires and kept the stock ones as backups. We also upgraded pedals to the cage type of pedals so we can utilize our pushing and pulling muscles. Otherwise, everything on our steeds are stock parts. All in all, each bike was between $600 and $700 with the parts upgrades.

Our next big focus was on the method for carrying our stuff. We are purposefully trying to be light packers and not carry much. This is a philosophical idea we’ve written about before (a chapter in Julie’s book The Trail Life was devoted to it, “Less is More”) and with this in mind, we ended up purchasing a single trailer to tow behind one of our bikes. It is interchangeable so either of us can be pulling our stuff behind. This fine piece of equipment was around $300 with a discount we got for buying so much.

After the big stuff was settled on we had to finish accessorizing ourselves and the bikes. Julie picked up some new shorts that have the lycra like material on the inside and shorts on the outside along with the extremely important butt pad. We bought sunglasses and helmets. We picked up some tools for repairing flats, broken chains, and an all purpose utility tool. We bought some spare tubes for the tires and blinking lights for the front and back of our bikes as well. All in all, we spent just over $1900 to outfit ourselves. They will get us a tune up before we head out of town and maintenance is free for the first 6 months (not that we’re planning to be around here that long, but it’s still nice to know).

We then proceeded to ride our new bikes out of town and over to Vancouver for a night with friends. Unfortunately, the ride started with a steep hill. I shifted incorrectly and popped my chain off. I put it back on but saw the chain rubbing horribly against a part of the bike I currently do not know the name of. Sadly, after 5 minutes on the bikes, we went back to the bike shop with tails between our legs. Apparently, the force and the shifting mistake caused me to twist something out of place (derailleur?) and consequently, we were rubbing pretty bad. They quickly fixed me up and we were off again.

Close to 2 hours later after heavy traffic, big hills, and a ride across the I-205 bridge/bike path, we made it to Keith and Karla Rinn’s for a relaxing evening with their lovely family. They were great hosts and made some excellent vegetarian fare. And with that, we are now proud bicycle owners. We have a week to practice and get used to the bikes while we ride around Portland and Vancouver visiting friends and finalizing our travel plans for the first big leg of the adventure down to Mexico.

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