the simplicity of bike travel

When I’m traveling by bicycle, I’m often struck by how simple it is: everything I need fits into my trailer, and everything in my trailer is something I need. Everything has its place and its purpose; everything has its use. It’s so different from being at home, where all the tempting nooks and crannies and closets seem to ever accumulate “necessary” things despite my best intentions to the contrary.

Bike travel is sort of like a reset button, where I rediscover what it is I actually need.

(hanging out at Tahoe with everything I need:)

So what is it? For this trip, I brought more than normal because with all the elevation changes and distance I was packing for a bunch of different climates, but it was still pretty sparse:

  • my tent, a Big Agnes Copper Spur because it’s super light
  • my down sleeping bag, compressible and warm to 15 degrees F
  • a light sleeping pad. I guess this is not, strictly speaking, a necessity, but I find that it keeps me warmer and more comfortable than just sleeping on the ground
  • an MSR water filter (not always a necessity, but I like it for the freedom it gives me to camp in non-developed places without potable water)
  • a 2-L water bladder (for when it’s going to be a long time between water-refilling opportunities. I don’t always fill it all the way or at all–water is heavy, after all–but it’s nice to have when I need it)
  • clothes: generally a riding pair and a non-riding pair is my preference, but this time I took extras like a sweatshirt, long underwear, arm and leg warmers, a waterproof jacket, and my foot booties for the cold, and I was glad to have had them
  • a lightweight, non-biking pair of shoes, since I like to be clipped in when I ride but not have cleats when I hike
  • food and my Jetboil–generally enough food for a day or two, restocked as I go
  • my journal and a book. And a pen
  • bike supplies: patch kit, an extra tube for my trailer and my bike, lube, rag, multitool. I’m wondering if I should add a spoke wrench into this, since it would have been useful this time around
  • miscellaneous things like my maps, camera, a headlamp, extra batteries, rudimentary first aid, toilet paper, sunscreen, toothpaste/brush, usually some Dr Bronner’s biodegradable soap, pocket knife

And that’s basically it. Everything I need to be self-sufficient while I travel, whether it’s for 4 days or 20 or, I imagine, 200. All conveniently loaded into one Burley Nomad trailer, just as portable as can be. Nice and simple:)

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