The numbuhs, the dollahs, the figgers…

How long were you gone??

  • 112 total days
    • 80 ride days
    • 32 ‘off’ days


Where did you stay??

  • 5 days in a hostel
  • 22 days with family/friends
  • 65 days camping
  • 10 days with warmshowers host
  • 19 days in a motel

How much did it cost??

  • $6407 total including normal bills (health insurance, cell phone, car registration, etc)
    • $57 per day (ave)


How far did you travel??

  • 4523 miles
    • 56 miles per day (ave)


How much did you climb??

  • 166,846 vertical feet
    • 2086 feet per day (ave)


If you don’t like reading much, you can stop reading right now!

The following are some general thoughts from before, during and shortly after this tour.


I took WAY too much clothing on this tour.  I had predicted (in error) that the northern segments would require at least one heavy layer.  I was very wrong… to the point that my Bike For Bibles friends got a good laugh out of it.  I needed my heavy layer for one day on this tour:  Tioga Pass (and that could have been avoided by delaying my attempt by a couple of days while the cold front passed)

I found that most experienced touring cyclists and my own revelation was  that two on-bike outfits and one off-bike outfit is just right for my timing and route.  While wearing one outfit, the other dries on the back of the bike.  Both my REI rain jacket and my Frogg Togg rain pants failed miserably under heavy rain load with steep climbing.  Nothing is perfect, but the thing that saved the day was my $5 emergency flimsy plastic poncho.  I will be replacing my rain gear with simple cheap plastic poncho and pants.

I was very happy with my cleated cycling sandals (SPD) and will continue to tour as such.  I didn’t need to, but carried a single pair of wool socks to supplement their lack of warmth, if needed.  I also purchased a $2 pair of flip-flops to use in the public showers.

Interesting note:  I had researched and finally purchased one of those high tech micro-fiber body towels to be used in the shower.  I NEVER used it and found that my single bandanna served multi-purpose as a head band, wash cloth, and body towel.  Many times, I literally parked my bike and walked directly into the showers, using the supplied soap and my bandanna.  So much simpler.



I started with WAY too much food and found that although I had packed plenty of variety, I preferred a quick stop and a C-store once a day to eat and purchase one of two meals consisting mostly of sandwich meat/cheese and bagels with peanut butter.  Dinners were easily ramen with added canned meat and some sort of tasty beer.  Coffee was reserved as an excuse to compensate for the need to recharge batteries and update blogs… and relax in civilization.


Bike, model/size, add-ons, etc

My ride is a Surly LHT 58cm with Surly Nice front rack and Topeak DX rear rack.  This is WAY overkill, even for the distance/intensity of my tour.  Total weight of my bike was 45 pounds DRY!!  Although, this is a winning solution for world and remote touring, I was riding with folks who were doing thousands of miles on much lighter, less costly setups.  I don’t think I’ll change, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have purchased a simple road bike or cross bike and tour with light racks/bags.

I was extremely happy with my front dyno hub charging system, but it was NOT necessary.  Even with my route which included many miles of remote-ish pavement, I still could have powered all my devices off of main electricity.  I was touring with folks who were hauling even more electronic than me and doing just fine with thoughtful access to mains power.

I added a Greenfield kickstand just before starting and couldn’t have been happier with it’s cost/convenience!

I toured with a flag and probably will not next time around.

I loved my Ortlieb Classic Rollers, but I was carrying too many bags:  Four panniers, a seat pouch, a handlebar bag, and a deck bag.  There is really no need to have a seat pouch and could be consolidated into the deck bag.  I would also redistribute the weight better as my back tire wore considerable faster than the front.

EDIT:  It was brought to my attention (thanks John J) that I neglected to mention the SADDLE issue!  Yes, I almost ended my tour in WY due to classic saddle issues.  Even backing off on the miles and trying to restrict the intensity of the route did nothing to solve the problem.  Switching to a Brooks Flyer saddle allowed me to finish the tour.  It took 400 miles to break-in and then a tightening around 2000 miles later.  I learned that there is NO silver bullet solution to the saddle issue if the route/intensity start to create saddle problems, but the Brooks DOES conform to the area over time.  Later, in DV, the problems started to creep up again as the intensity increased and I sit here now, five days later, still nursing saddle issues.  It’s all a matter of balance, but I would highly recommed the Brooks saddle as a good starting point.



I started with the following electronics:

  • Garmin GPS MAP 62S
  • Bell cycle computer
  • headlamp
  • Kindle
  • PNS Nikon camera
  • iPhone 5
  • iPod nano
  • Surface Pro 2 computer/charger
  • 3000 mAhr cache battery
  • Flashing rear light
  • AA/AAA USB battery charger

Half way through the tour I sent home the GPS, the Kindle and the battery charger.

By the end, my blog design flow:

  • Blog narrative created on the iPhone each night.
  • Photos from iPhone and Nikon were transferred selected, cropped, straightened and downsized in preparation for WIFI every couple of days.
  • When WIFI was available, narrative and photos were uploaded and photo comments were added.

I believe this design flow could be simpler by switching to a tablet computer via cell service which is what most peeps were doing.  I just love having a full on I5 based laptop computer in the Surface Pro 2 though!


Cooking equipment

Halfway through, I swapped out the WhisperLite Intl for a cheap iso-butane based stove from Walmart.  I sacrificed a canister to determine the number of cooks available:  22…. just fine!

I also sent back my entire cook set in favor of a single boiling/eating pot and a simple plastic bowl.  I traded my large insulated coffee cup for a simple plastic cup.



Before I started this tour I was very happy with my cycling ability, both physical and mental.  Touring is MUCH harder.  It’s much more physically demanding and much more mentally taxing.  In addition to managing the physical/mental/food/water daily science experiment, I found it extremely challenging to additionally balance the logistics of route planning, shopping, accommodations, rest/recovery and possible injury management.  All of this was compounded during the huge sections which were cycled ALONE.  The forming of the large travelling side-show which we formed on the PCH made ALL of the above almost insignificant and uncovered pure joy!  I’m certain that a group like we had could never be replicated, but have determined that I would definitely prefer to travel in a group.

So there you have it!  I sure hope that you enjoyed reading what I have typed.  I can say that what I wrote wasn’t even a sliver of the actual experience in terms of actual representation of the highs and the lows, or the rewards, fun, excitement and wealth of stories that come from touring both alone and in a group across various pieces of the Rocky Mountains, British Columbia, Pacific Coast Highway, Sierra Nevadas and The Valley of Death!

I hope maybe you’ll consider doing anything outside of that comfort circle we have all constructed in order to tap into even a small fraction of the magic that thrives just on the other side!


18 thoughts on “The numbuhs, the dollahs, the figgers…

    • What’s next??? Haha…. I’ve got a couple of ideas swirling around, but am currently focusing on cold beer and recovery food! Maybe the DIETER would travel north to join?? lol

  1. Some great stuff in there Russ. I need to go back and figure out all my stats for the trip. Nice little breakdown. I definitely plan to go lighter next time, if I can help it. I’ll probably even forgo the coveted rubber mallet, and just use a rock or my foot to pound the stakes in. And I’ve gotta get a bandana for the next one!

  2. Russ when you mentioned how mentally taxing some of the trip was all I could think about was the terrible shoulder and mega traffic I had to endure around Washington DC. I’m a numbers guy so I enjoyed the post. It was interesting to hear your take on the things you didn’t need. My 2 tours this year was under 1000 miles but 2 different experiences. Thanks for sharing your trip, I enjoyed it very much and as Dieter already mentioned. What’s next?

  3. Sounded like a good learning curve! I am guessing that what killed the budget side was the nights in motels? Look forwards to reading of your next trip!

  4. Sounded like a good learning curve! I guess what killed the budget side was the nights in hotels? Look forwards to reading of your next trip!

    • Thanks Dave! As a noob cycle tourist, I’m not sure I would call the budget ‘killed’ as there was no ‘real’ budget. I simply reported the expenses as they arrived and as you may know, some days when we hear the motel clerk say, “$120” through our hot, tired, beaten down foggy hearing…. we simply PAY!!! LOL You’re right, accomodations is ALWAYS the potentially largest item on the expense sheet. Has this been your experience??

  5. If you plan a trip to the Midwest and Northern MN is part of that plan, make sure to let me know as I will plan to be home and welcome you to stay as long as it takes to recoup before gathering stamina and continuing on. Swimming, fishing, relaxing will be in order here.

  6. Thanks, Russ. I rushed to my iPhone every morning to see where you were, how you were, and what was coming next. Hope to see you soon. And follow your adventures. Now if I were only a novelist . . . .


  7. Great stuff Russ, but I’d be interested in another post with some of the less obvious statistics, things like:
    – total and daily average calories consumed/expended
    – weight lost/regained/lost again/etc.
    – number of rolls of toilet paper used
    – number of discarded shoes observed
    – number of objects thrown at you by passing motorists
    – number of roadkill observed, sorted by state/province and species

  8. Nice blog of your epic ride, Russ. Mark Brueggexxx passed me the link. Did Transcore keep an opening for you or are you still relaxing? I was also mildly surprised an electro-geek would make such a trip without APRS or other forms of ham radio – just sayin’ :O)

    • Good to hear from you Jim! Had to give up many ‘things’ on this trip, Jim and weight/batteries were space/energy hogs. APRS would have been interesting though. Working on the next adventure and hope you’ll following along on that too! Are you still riding??

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