Buying The Gear
 

Adventure Cycling suggests a long laundry list of what to pack.  Most of these things, I did not have.  I had to buy super duper padded shorts, a wind breaker, rain jacket, even socks.  In preparation for the coldness of the Rocky Mountains, I had to buy a bunch of winter gear as well - shoe cover, gloves, layers.

Did I mention I had to buy a touring bike for this trip?  Every reliable soure I talked to 100% suggested a touring bike over a road bike.  One of those reliable sources is my mentor and friend, Dr. Ed.  I met Dr. Ed at his Emergency First Aid for Cyclist presentation.  He was telling his A19 riders about hill repeats.  I couldn't follow his confusing directions so I emailed him a few days later because it seemed like something I could use in my training for the Rocky Mountains.  Ever since then, he's been giving me advice on everything for my trip.

Back to my touring bike.  I came up with a matrix of the components of the different models and makes of touring bikes I could find from the major bicycle makers.  I had a gut feeling i wanted the Cannondale T2000, although it was well above my initial price range.  But you know, I didn't want to scrimp on a machine that was going to take me 4200 miles across country.  In all my life, I haven't put on that many miles on all my bikes combined.  In fact, in all my life, I haven't put on the 1000 miles that I've already ridden this Spring/Summer prior to the trip.  My gut feeling was reassured as Dr. Ed also favors the T2000 over the other bikes.

That was just choosing the bike.  Now it was a matter of ordering/buying it.  I called all the Cannondale dealers around town to see if they had it in stock (no one ever carries touring bikes in their shop because the sales of touring bikes only happen maybe once a year).  Each shop called Cannondale for me to see the availability and production and ship date for the bike.  After that, I had to bargain with each shop to try to get the best deal.  I ended up getting it at Dr. Ed's bike shop of choice, Sheepshead Cycle Shop.  I wouldn't say I got any friends and family discount, but they did match the best deal I was able to negotiate as well as swap out components to better fit my needs like a 24-toothed granny gear and a less wide handlebar.  The bike finally came in giving me only 3 weeks to get used to it.

Next comes the front rack, panniers, computer.  I searched high and low on the Internet for all these items.  Back and forth with questions for Dr. Ed, I finally made a decision on each item.  Just before buying the front rack directly from Jandd, I called all the local dealers to see if they had one in stock.  Thankfully I found one.  I saved on the shipping but paid for it in the markup.  That's okay because getting it fast was my bigger concern.  My start date was quickly creeping up on me and I still don't have all my gear.

I found the CicloSport HAC4 computer that I wanted on Ebay.  But again, tired of trying to get the best deal and more importantly, running out of time to wait for an auction to end that I may not even win, I bought it directly from an Ebay merchant.  I'm quite happy with my decision because it came a quick 2 days later.

The last of my major purchases was my panniers.  Having tried to get them used on Ebay a few times, I gave up and just bought it directly from another Ebay merchant.  There comes a point where my time is not worth the few dollars I could be saving.  Also, a little more expensive and new, to me, is more desirable than a little less expensive and used.  I ended up getting the Ortlieb Sport-Packer Plus for the front and the Bike-Packer Plus for the back.  These finally came today, with only 10 days before my start date.

Now to my spare parts.  I knew I had to buy stuff like a spare tire, tubes, chain lubes, brake and derailleur cables and spokes.  But good God, when it comes down to it, I had no idea that buying each item was so hard.  There are so many different sizes, model and makes for each part.  Again, Dr. Ed comes to my rescue and helps me understand each part and find the one I need.  Phew.

Luckily I was able to save on the camping gear.  After my trial run at camping, my friend, Hai, let me have full access to any/all of his camping gear.  It was like going to REI and getting stuff for free.

Now that I have all my parts, next is installing them...  Oh, Dr. Ed...