The following is from my first blog post for my upcoming northern California bike tour starting this Saturday. You can follow the trip via the blog for those interested, http://mtbmaven.vox.com. As many know I am an avid cyclist, both on and off road. Over the past few years my riding has migrated from weekend warrior to more endurance oriented. I enjoy really long days on the bike (sometimes 14 hours at a time) with lots of elevation gain. Since childhood I have also been an avid backpacker; starting in the Boy Scouts and continuing today with mountaineering trips in the Sierra with friends. For years I have been interested in the idea of combining these two passions by doing a fully self supported bicycle tour. I have read Barbara Savage's Miles from Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure and Colin Angus's Beyond the Horizon: The First Human-Powered Expedition to Circle the Globe. These books laid the foundation for this interest. This summer all the stars fell into alignment. A long time group of riding buddies were all interested in doing a tour this summer and my personal schedule freed up for one week in August. The group includes Nick Fizette, Mike Miller, Scott Miller (no relationship), and Mat Birnbaum. We contemplated a few different routes: San Francisco to Los Angeles, Portland to Crescent City, and Crescent City to San Francisco. The Portland to Crescent City was the preferred route but the logistics and costs eliminated this route. The San Francisco to LA route was the cheapest and easiest to plan but the route was not as interesting and was more crowded. We landed on the Crescent City (CA/OR border basically) to San Francisco route. Our route will basically follow a combination of the Adventure Cycling Association Pacific Coast Route Section 3 and Bicycling The Pacific Coast . I mapped out the routes on RideWithGPS a while back, see link for routes. The routes have changes a bit but might still be interesting to look at. We will depart Pasadena on Friday, August 6, 2010 and drive to Crescent City in my vehicle with all our gear and four bikes on a four bike Sportworks hitch rack. Mat will be meeting us in Crescent City. We begin our approximately 460 mile, 9 day tour on Saturday, August 7 and arrive in San Francisco on Sunday, August 15. My awesome parents are turning the trip into a little vacation for themselves by shuttling my vehicle from Crescent City to San Francisco over the following week. All the stars have aligned for this trip. The non-biker readers might want to stop reading here. The Bike and Gear: For this trip I will be using my everyday, do everything, bike. I ride a custom, steel, DeSalvo, which was handmade in Ashland, OR in 2008 by Mike DeSalvo. The bike has brazons for front and rear racks. Unfortunately I did not have the bike built around long reach or canti brakes and did not have fender brazons added. Foolish on my part but I am working round it. The bike was designed to be comfortable for all day rides and as a "sport tourer." The drivetrain is all Shimano Ultegra with a compact crank and the new SRAM Apex 11x32 cassette. I use (and love) a Selle An-Atomica leather saddle, which was handmade in Wisconsin. I installed an aero bar for the trip, not for the aero advantages necessarily but more for the additional riding position. I will not be using my Garmin Edge GPS unit on the trip, which usually accompanies me on every bike ride. The battery life is about 6-7 hours these days and I just do not want to deal with charging the thing every day. I will be using my normal Look Keo pedals and riding shoes rather than switching to a mountain pedal and shoe. My bike fit is very sensitive to change and I do not want to do a ride of this length and have bio-mechanical issues. This will make walking a bit more difficult but it will be worth the trade off. I will keep a pair of sandals handy if we need to walk more than a few minutes. The bike is normally set up with a lightweight wheelset suited to my normal riding style. I use a Reynolds Alta Race wheelset with a 38mm deep rim with 20 radial spokes in front and 24 radial non-driveside and two cross driveside spokes. These wheels have been great but are way to delicate for the trip. I purchased a very budget conscious Shimano 105 based wheelset with a 38mm deep rim with 32 straight gauge spokes and brass nipples. The wheels are heavier for sure but will provide an extra level of security while on the trip. Lastly I will be rolling with 25mm Continental Grand Prix 4000 tires. For racks I will be using a Tubus Tara front rack and a Bagman rear rack. The Bagman attaches to my saddle rails and supports a bag that attaches to my saddle. For panniers I will be using a pair of Ortlieb Front Roller Classics, in front obviously. I will also be using a Carradace Nelson Longflap saddlebag. This is a ducted cotton bag handmade in England. Finally I will be using an Acron Boxy Rando Bag attached to the bike with a Velo Orange Decaleur. The Acorn bag is handmade in Gardena, CA by a husband and wife company. In the front panniers I will carry small volume/high weight items: pot, stove, fuel, clothes, food, water purification, and various other items. In the saddlebag I will carry large volume/low weight items: sleeping bag, sleeping pad, extra silnylon tarp. Attached to the outside of the saddlebag is my tent. For most a tent is not a lightweight item, for me it is a 23 oz silnylon Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo with carbon fiber pole (handmade in Beaverton, OR). See full pack list for more details (Opens a PDF) For riding entertainment I have my helmet wired with headphones and an iPod Shuffle 4th Gen. I use a product called Slipstream, which position the headphones in the direction of my ears so I can hear the music without the headphones in my ears. I am a big fan of audiobooks while riding. I have lined up a nice collection of four audiobooks for the trip: Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life by Robert Reich Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie Chang Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (back up book in case I don't enjoy one of the earlier books) I will be updating my blog with my Motorola Cliq phone with Android OS by sending emails to my Vox account. My hope is this will minimize my need for long amounts of time on the internet with the phone. For photography I will be taking my DSLR Cannon 40D with Tamron 17x55 lens. I would prefer to take my much smaller and lighter Cannon S90 but my wife needs the camera while I am away. The three pound camera will ride in my Arcon handlebar bag for easy access.