What to Pack for the Ride
Here are a couple items that may not seem obviouis at first, but...
You should bring at least two masks with you. (Why? Because you know that over a multi-day trip you're gong to lose one, and you don't want to spend your vacation hunting down a replacement mask in the middle of nowhere!)
No helmet/no ride/no exceptions.
If we see you riding without a helmet we'll warn you once.
Oh yeah, and while we’re being mean, no earphones, blaring radios, or cell phones while you’re pedaling either.
If you break these rules we will kick you off the ride and everyone will laugh at you when you’re not looking. No refunds.
Bring TWO water bottles with you or you will dehydrate and die. Have a nice day! If you prefer to carry a Camelback or similar hydration pack that's fine, but NO ONE should be out on the trail with just one water bottle.
EVERYONE should have these items with them at all times while pedaling:
A cell phone
A bicycle tire patch kit
TWO inner tubes that fit your bike
A small tire pump
A way to get the tire off the rim. (That means either some inexpensive tire irons, or some super-human massively strong hands!)
Even if you don't know how to use this stuff, someone else will. ALL bikes can get a flat tire. If you get a flat and you have this gear with you, you can be back on the road in about 10 minutes. If you don't have this stuff it can take HOURS (or longer!)
You need less camping gear than you're thinking of! All you really need:
• Sleeping bag
• Pad to go under your sleeping bag
Optional: Folding camping chair
If you don't have this stuff, don't worry! You can rent it online right .
Hot showers are available. (Not always, and not every moment you want one, but...) Don't forget soap and shampoo, packed in a ziplock bag so it won't leak on your other gear.
You can wear your bike clothes all the time if you wish, but you may want something simple to change into when you reach the campground for the evening. Your call. Nothing too fancy -- we're camping! If you have shoes with cleats that are hard to walk in (like mine!) you may want a pair of sneakers, flip-flops, or sandals to wear around the campground. Remember that even in the summer it can get a little cool in the evening.
As far as cycling clothes, it's up to you. Personally this is what I like to bring, but do it your way!
• 2 pairs of cycling shorts
• 2 short-sleeve jerseys
• One long-sleeve jersey
• One pair of tights (in case we get weird unseasonably cold weather!)
• Two pairs of cycling socks
• Bike shoes
• Windbreaker or rain jacket.
NOW... having said all of that, we will be riding (mostly) hybrid bikes for moderate distances. If you are happier wearing regular street clothes to ride in it's OK with me! (I prefer bike clothes, ESPECIALLY padded bike shorts, but to each their own!)
You need at least two separate pieces of luggage.
We will transport your bike and camping gear from NYC in our truck. But don't forget that most of you will be taking the train to Pittsburgh and then staying in a hotel the first night. You need to bring a separate small bag on the train with these items:
• Bike clothes, shoes, and helmet to put on in the morning.
• Your bike water bottles (so you can fill them in the hotel before you hit the road!)
• A ridiculous amount of unhealthy snacks for the train
You will NOT be able to get hold of your camping gear that first morning. (It will be packed in the truck and you really don't need it until you finish the ride for the day). When you wake up in the hotel just put on your bike clothes, put whatever you wore on the train into your small bag to hand to us, and you're ready to go! Please oh please-y please do NOT ask us to try to find your bag full of camping gear inside the truck when you wake up in Pittsburgh. ("Oh don't worry -- my bag is the BLACK one" ... you know; right next to the 45 other black bags....)
I use the alarm in my phone. BUT... if you are planning on charging your phone overnight, it might not be next to you while you sleep! FYI. One strategy -- recharge your phone as soon as you get to camp, then take it with you in your tent when it's time to sleep.
Tires and Tubes
EVERY bike gets a flat some time. As mentioned, you should have two spare inner tubes WITH YOU everyday on the bike. I would carry another two tubes in your luggage just in case.
IF you are riding an odd-size wheel (folding bike, recumbent, 650...) you know who you are. You should bring an extra TIRE as well -- we won't be anywhere near a place to buy one. You can keep it in your luggage just in case.
Highly unnecessary. We always see someone pedaling with a 20-pound chain on their bike. This doesn't mean that you should leave your bike unattended; it does mean that you can usually get a trustworthy friend to watch your bike for you while you duck in somewhere for two minutes. I think that the campgrounds are pretty safe at night and I do not lock up my own bike, but if you're worried you can always put it in the truck overnight.
Bring some, for lunch and emergencies.
• All of your charging cables. (No; we do not have an extra charger for a 1998 Blackberry, and we don't know where to get one in the woods!)
• Insect repellent
• Ear plugs (the person in the next tent might snore!) AND... we are on a rail trail, and the train really does still run nearby. It can come roaring through in the middle of the night and it is LOUD. Personally I think it's kinda cool. (I used to live near the train station in Flagstaff and I would hear the freight trains late at night...)