A key component of a 2,100-mile bike ride is, of course, the bike. I thought a lot about building a bike just for this ride. But in the end, at least for now, I’ve decided to stick with my current bike: Ibis Ripley LS (ver.2). It’s a full-suspension mountain bike. Which means at least two things: First, it has more suspension than I probably need for most of the ride; second, carrying gear on the bike is severely compromised. There just aren’t that many places on the frame to mount bike bags.
The first problem is simple. I can lock out the suspension if I don’t need it. As for storage, I opted for Door Number Three, and plan to haul along a Burley Coho XC trailer.
I have no idea how well this combination will work. The problem with suspension is that it’s hydraulic, which means if something goes wrong with it (I blow a seal on the shock, or the tubing gets punctured), it’s a huge problem. And the problem with a trailer is that it enables you to bring too much stuff. But that’s what shakedown rides are for. I’m hoping some test runs will help me pare down to essentials. My plan is to start small (one- and two-day trips), load everything in the world I think I’ll need, then learn by experience how that feels to haul around, and by extension, what I can do to lighten that load.
I’ve still got over a year until the ride date. And while I don’t plan to camp much when the weather turns cold, that’s still a lot of time to tweak the setup. And time enough to switch up to a hardtail bike and bike bags if this rig isn’t functional.