Packing for … well, everything

Normally, riding from San Francisco to South Lake Tahoe there would be a risk of rain on the first day, but not much after that. This year, they’ve had rain almost every day since early spring. That makes packing much more challenging as not only do I need “ride in the rain” gear, but more “geez, I’m cold” gear than I would have planned. This is in addition to the regular jersey/shorts combos for on-bike days and t-shirt shorts for off-bike times (evenings, days off).

Add to that the need for toiletries, electronic doofers, bike gear of many kinds (lights, Garmin, multi-tool, pedals, helmet, bike shoes, gloves, tubes, chain cleaning stuff [rain, you know]), sleeping on the floor gear (sleeping bag, blow up mattress, pillow), shower towels, portable clothesline . . .

In short, there’s a lot to pack in. We are limited to a bag of 4000 cubic inches, 40lbs. My bag is slightly larger than that, but my mattress and sleeping bag fit inside it — and the bag limitation allows those two items to travel separately, so I figure it’s a wash. We are also allowed a laptop bag which for me is my pink backpack (some of you know it well). I’m also taking a bag that fits on my bike rack, which some of my gear will go into during the ride days. Of course, neither that bag or the panniers are water proof so this could be interesting!

I would have sent some of the bike gear in the box with my bike but the bike had to ship before I was ready to put those things in there (like my shoes and bike tools). BikeFlights told me to allow 2 weeks for the bike to get there. As it turns out, it got there way earlier than planned. Ah well, the best laid plans . . .

So, as I packed, this is what some of it looked like:


This is the base layer, the underneath of my bag. Yes, I’m indulging myself with a pillow (the green thing) and a pump. Sleeping on a mattress makes me CRAVE a pillow. And I physically inflated my mattress every night for 8 weeks last year. Then I came home and read an article about the junk that goes from your lungs/mouth into your mattress and went “ew”. You do see a rolling bar, good for rolling out tight muscles after a ride, and an extension cord. Trust me, the extension cord comes in very handy.


This is the next layer. Three bags complete for the first three riding days. One small bag with an extra set of bike shorts, a jersey, sports bra and socks. We do laundry every 3rd riding day, but I learned last year that extras are nice to have. Another ziploc bag (under the hat) has my offbike clothes, everything from multi-purpose t-shirts to something to wear while working on the build project. The black bag holds my toiletries.


These are the cold weather/wet weather clothes. From left to right – ear covers for my helmet straps, half-leg tights for cold mornings, base layer wool shirt, rain/wind jacket, warm gloves, rain pants, helmet cover. Those are all now in one ziploc bag shoved in with the other bags in the top layer of the bag. [And yes, that is a bedspread with bikes on it and my tiger blanket I’ve had since high school. It works for me]

Part of the challenge of packing is that some things that I would carry in the on-bike bag cannot go in the cabin with me on the plane so I have to make a place for them in the undercarriage bag by switching them with something that normally travels there. Then I have to remember to switch everything later.

The first couple of days are spent trying to get a routine down for getting things out, and ready for the riding day (they start very early in the morning). About the time I get a routine down, we either have an off day or a laundry day – either of which can get me confused. I figure that in about 10 years I’ll have figured out a system that works, but for now, the ziploc bags do fine.

I always triple check the contents of those ziploc bags which is a good thing. Today I discovered that in my ‘off bike’ clothing I had neglected to include any underwear. And while we all know that one goes commando with bike shorts, I at least want the option of wearing some when I’m off the bike.

TMI? Smile and wave . . .


One thought on “Packing for … well, everything

  1. cctrike

    Wow Kelley, you are truly HARD CORE! I’m impressed with you organization.

    Reading and looking at your message brings back that mix of strong feelings related to packing for bike travel. Due to weather, terrain and all those things it’s hard to predict what will be needed, but it looks like you’ve got things figured out pretty well. CONGRATS!




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