As we approach the four week mark of this trip let’s recap on what to improve on for next time:
A bit more storage to carry more food. This can be done with a handlebar feed bag or a jerrycan bag, pretty much just taking advantage of all possible real estate on the bike. Food is what consumes most of your finances and takes up most of the room in your bags, so there is always more room needed for more food.
More water. I met some Swedish folks who cycled across the desert, and had a gallon of water in each of their front panniers just to be safe, although they did mention water at a gas station or store was readily available in less than a days ride intervals. This makes me wonder if a camelback is best, where I can easily also store bulky lightweight things like a sleeping pad or sleeping bag, or if more storage for water on the bike is best. Probably the latter.
Less clothes. I wore one cycling kit and brought a second kit. If it rained, it would be smart to change into the second kit if the first is wet. I also brought shorts, a shirt, pants, leg and arm warmers. On cold days I just wore the pants instead of the leg warmers, and only in the morning on the coldest day for twenty minutes before warming up. Unless I am expecting temperatures below 45 for the entire trip, I wouldn’t bring an overlayer top (like the vest I packed) nor an overlayer for my legs (like the leg warmers).
On the topic of clothes, this may be a bit nitpicky, but I have always been a fan of merino wool for its anti microbial properties and temperature regulating qualities even when wet, there is debate about which brands purchase their product from smaller flock, where farmers tend to be more careful and regulated during the shearing process as opposed to large industrial flocks. If it’s an ethical manufacturer, no animal is harmed in the process. My merino jersey can be worn under a jacket in 30 degree weather and feel warm, and dissipate heat so as to not absorb sweat and remain dry. This same jersey/jacket combination can be worn in 55 degree weather and still feel just cool enough where you are not overheating. This universal use helps eliminate the need for mid layers and base layers and different outer layers for different temperatures. The zipper did break, unfortunately, on this trip, so I’m now forced to use my synthetic jersey which is not as efficient in staying dry and keeping me warm, even in 80 degree weather, a bit of cool wind on a sweaty, wet, synthetic jersey will make you freeze.
Efficiency of packing. This will come with more storage space; ideally, tools will be separated from clothes in case a repair in the middle of the road leaves you with dirty hand so as to not get grease all over your sleeping clothes. Clothes and tools separate from food, and separate from shelter.
Frame and fork with greater tire clearance. I think I’d like something that allows for 40 mm tires, which will allow me to explore more trails comfortably.
Time. I can only explore more if I have more time. I was actually planning on arriving in Fort Lauderdale on December 1 when I left NYC; since then, I’ve stayed extra nights exploring cities and towns which has pushed my date back to December 14. That’s two weeks slower than anticipated! That, in the end, is a huge factor in enjoying your travels, not just giving yourself extra padding to make changes, but also being flexible to allow for changes to happen as they come.