Practice Run

Saturday we loaded up our panniers and headed out for a 30 mile ride. We wanted to see how tour-ready we and our gear are. My new Swift Short Stacks performed well. I did pretty well myself, even hauling the extra weight. In fact, I realized my ANT bike, built for fully self-supported touring, seems to handle best, even a little faster, when loaded. At least it did with the light load I had that day.

The year I got the ANT we went on a self-guided credit card tour. I was so worried about my ability to do the trip, I don’t think I noticed much about the bike’s handling. Since then, I’ve ridden the bike a lot. I’ve commuted on it, ridden for fun, and done two supported tours. It took until this weekend’s ride to appreciate how it’s optimized for touring. Good to know!

The Swift panniers were easy to attach and detach, stayed in place, and in appearance are fun, jaunty and visible. They’re a great design, with one large open pocket with a drawstring closure, a detachable pocket lid and a small zippered side pocket. They hold a lot. There is also an elasticized pouch on each pannier, perfect for carrying a water bottle. That’s an excellent feature if like me you are small and so is your bike. My bike frame can only hold 1 water bottle cage and I am always fussing with ways to carry a second bottle. These panniers take care of that hassle I have yet to find out how the panniers perform in the rain. This test ride was on such a beautiful day. I have a feeling that by the end of the tour I’ll be able to comment on that. Stay tuned.

Tour Time

Riding these past 2 months has been a little tough. It’s been either non- stop rain or incredible heat and humidity since June.  We’ve gotten out there as much as possible and I think we’re ready for our tour, which starts next weekend.  It’s Adventure Cyling’s Lake Champlain inn-to-inn, which starts next weekend. We’ll leave and end up in Burlington VT. This is a pretty low mileage tour, with 218 miles planned. It’s in the foothills of the Adirondacks. We’ll be carrying our own clothes and gear. I expect that the terrain and the light loads we’ll carry will add a bit of challenge.

There are some thing you can do to get ready for a tour.  You can get yourself in shape.  You can make sure you bring the clothes and supplies you’re likely to need, including emergency items like spare tubes, tires and first aid items. You can figure out whether to bring a book or your iPad for that short interval after you lay down and before you fall asleep.

There are some things you can’t do much about though. Like having a tooth go bad right before the trip.  Yup, I did that. Goodbye to tooth #31. Oh,  did I mention my intense fear of dental procedures? The tooth was pulled yesterday.  I’m feeling pretty good today, aided a great deal by Tylenol with codeine. I can now be as active as I want to be now, says the oral surgeon.  No one, least of all me, wants a tooth extracted but this went as well as it could have. So lets turn our thoughts back to the trip.

I’m excited to have a week where my sole purpose is to have fun, to cycle new territory, meet the tour group and try out my new Swift Short Stack  panniers.  By the end of this trip I’ll should have plenty of feedback about them.


New Short Stack Panniers

New Short Stack Panniers

It’s crunch time now as by next Thursday night those panniers need to be packed. This takes a lot of thought as you try to bring exactly what you’ll need and no more. My first tour was our self-lead trip on the Eastern Shore. We stayed in hotels and B&Bs. I brought just one off-bike outfit, a light-weight dress. I figured I’d always have just showered when I put it on. That worked out, other than I got so sick of that dress I wanted to burn it by the end of the trip!