Updated 18 Feb 2009

John cycles America

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  Get the Bike right  

Spokes are King!
At this point, Greenville in Florida, I'd cycled 24,910 miles on this bike (the circumference of the earth), all touring with the bike loaded with luggage. The spokes are the real heroes of this story. They had to carry about 24 lbs of luggage, plus the rider. I am 6ft 4in tall and weighed about 240 lbs. So bike+luggage+rider=300 lbs! The whole weight 'hangs' from the spokes, which also have to take shock loads going over potholes. So I chose to use 12 gauge spokes (12 spoke's width = 1 inch) instead of the normal 14 gauge. Each time the wheel goes round, the spoke tension cycles from max to min and back again. A 27" wheel does about 747 revs per mile or 18.6 million revs in 24,910 miles. No wonder the things break occasionally. Why not lash out and treat yourself to the very best. Spares can be stored safely down the saddle tube.
         Mick's, John's, Bob's

GEARS USED (Calif-Florida)
Cogs 30,25,21,18,15,13
Chainwheels 48,38,28
Ratios 99.7 to 25.2

RIDES (miles, Calif-Florida)
Total=3,715 miles

Specify the bike right. (don't hire, use yours)

I had the bike made for me by an engineer backhome in Dorset, England. Its been carfully thought out for someone my size and weight. Front low-loader pannier frames, rear pannier frames, four quick-remove pannier bags. Derailleur: 6 block x 3 chainwheel. Big comfy sprung saddle. Hub brakes front and back. two water bottles. Shoulder bag hanging from bars containing all valuables. Front and rear hub brakes (they were marvellous- hardly wore, never slipped). Computer on bars reading distance, speed and altitude. Cycle lock on backstays. Tyres were by Continental, hard rubber meant 5000+ miles range, so didn't need to carry spares. Carried several spare inners, ready powdered. Big battery powered rear red light. Plastic mudguards. Several spoke reflectors for safety. Tried solid tyres, no good, rolling resistance too high!
Bike security at night. (Yes, she's my wife).
Rain gear. (keep cool).
Getting the bike to the airport. (a co-pilot is useful).

Getting the bike into the aircraft. (Delta supplied proper bike boxes).

What to prepare for. (make sure you can do it in the dark).

When you get a puncture or a broken spoke on the back wheel, this is what you have to do. Remove all luggage. Find tools in plastic bags. Turn bike upside down (a hard surface and flat handle bars are very useful). Unhitch derailleur gear and brake cable. Find and mark puncture. Remove outer and inner tyre. Remove object from outer. Repair inner and let it dry. Reassemble bike and pump up tyres. Then test for straight wheel. For a spoke, remove both ends from wheel, replace with new spoke, rebalance wheel, test for straightness. If you are on the side of a busy road, its raining and dark, you wish you were back at home!

What cause a puncture and what to avoid.
Metal and glass. (everywhere)
The terrible 'Texas Tack' (a seed head).

What to avoid. (he's camping and overloaded)

We met him going the other way. He's got an overloaded bike. Looks like he's camping too. Camping sounds romantic but: too much weight, not enough sleep, security poor, difficult to keep clean, difficult to clean clothes. Imagine removing all this whenever you get a puncture! I met many cycle tourists, in post offices, posting their camping gear home when they got sick of camping.

TOOLS taken

(used a lot)
Tyre pressure gauge
Chain oil
Dirt glove

Adj.spanner 20 mm
Driver, slot, medium
Driver, cross, small

Spoke key, 12 gauge
Allen keys 3,4,5,6mm
Cycle oil
Plastic tyre levers
Puncture repair kit x2
Spare nuts & bolts
Spare nipples 12 gauge x5

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