Da Silva touring bikes; steel frame; Shimano LX components; Schwalb Marathon tires, 2.0”; Shimano SPD pedals
The bikes were great, we had no problems with them at all, our eventual breakdown had more to do with a bad mechanic than anything else. The only change we would have made were the SPD pedals. It was rare that we were on a stretch of road where they were really usable: on dirt or in traffic it just felt safer being able to get our feet out quickly, and Dave had a few falls from not being able to. Luckily we had the pedals that can flip between SPD and normal, and so we weren’t too lost when it didn’t work out.
Six .80 liter water bottles
2 MSR dromedaries, one 10 liter , one 6 liter
Two large Ortlieb bags for the back rack
Two smaller Ortlieb bags for the front rack
One large Ortlieb rack-pack
One Ortlieb handle-bar bag
Tubus rear bike racks
Front racks as well – Dave’s is an Old Man Mountain that rides high; Anna’s is Tubus that rides low
Anna was frustrated at times that her rack would get caught in ruts along the way and drag in the dirt, and Dave felt that the combination of high-riding rack and drop handle bars made for a less stable ride. We switched racks in South Africa and were both much happier after that.
Repair kit (patches, spare tubes, spare tread, allen wrenches, spare spokes, break cables, gear cables, White Lightening chain lubricant, a heap of extra screws and chain links and an extra chain for each bike – we switch chains every 1000 km or so).
There were two EXTREMELY IMPORTANT bits of repair gear that we didn’t have with us: a chain whip and a cassette removal tool. Because we didn’t have them, we had to let a local mechanic replace a broken rear spoke, using a hammer and screwdriver to get the cassette off. This broke a piece inside the wheel that was subsequently replaced by a professional mechanic in a flashy South African bike shop who reassembled the hub incorrectly. Because of that, Dave’s hub broke in northern Mozambique, where repairing it was impossible and we had to bus and train the last stretch of our trip. The moral of the story? Bring a chain whip and a cassette removal tool!
MSR Huba Huba 2/3 person tent –
We love this tent, but it wore out in a year. on several occasions we left it pitched in the sun for extended periods, and well, the African sun eats tents for breakfast. We had to replace it as tears and holes decimated the fly.
MSR International cook stove with one fuel bottle
This stove is fantastic, just make sure to use it with unleaded gas rather than kerosene, and make sure to take the stove maintenance kit along, it is infinitely useful.
Marmot 0° Sleeping Bags
Lightweight Cocoon sleeping sheets
Thermarest Sleeping Pads
MSR Pots & pans
Spice kit (essential since the food we find to cook tends to be pretty much the same every day…)
Ortlieb collapsible water basin ( brush and soap)
12 small rainproof stuff sacks (useful to keep your stuff in order)
2 pair biking shorts
1 pair of cycling pants
1 pair of comfortable linen pants (cyclable)
1 pair of solid Swedish-made outdoor pants
1 long-sleeve merino wool t-shirt
3 short-sleeves merino wool t-shirts
1 long-sleeve warm wool shirt
1 long-sleeve cotton shirt
1 dress-top ensemble made by Tanzanian tailor
1 long-sleeve down jacket (replacing the fleece, extra light weight)
1 sun hat
1 winter hat
1 pair of mittens
1 pair of legwarmers
1 pair of sandals
1 pair of closed shoes
2 pairs biking shorts
1 pair longer shorts to wear over the cycling shorts
We eventually just went for baggy bike shorts with lycra liners. The baggy shorts are a bit more socially acceptable in Africa than tight bike shorts would be.
3 Ice-breaker merino wool t-shirts for cycling
We love Ice Breakers! They are light weight, they keep you cool in the heat, warm in the cold, and they really honestly truly do not smell. The only problem is that if you use them the way we do, they don’t last very long. After four months we had to get rid of the first one, it had more holes than shirt. We presume this comes from the sun since most holes appeared on the back. The 200-weight shirts lasted longer. We replaced them with synthetic shirts we found along the way and came to appreciate Ice Breakers more every day. Since returning to the US, we discovered that Ice Breakers now make a whole line of very stylish cycling shirts and shorts; if we were leaving today, this is what we would take with us, no doubt.
1 light weight polypro shirt
1 non-biking shirt
Zip-off Shorts / Pants
1 pair super comfortable pants (these died sadly in Kampala and have been replaced by a less comfortable pair of cargo pants bought in Kigali)
Winter leggings for cold days
1 pair Shimano SPD shoes
We could have just gone for normal shoes: it was rare that the roads were good enough and the traffic light enough that we were comfortable using the clip-on pedals, and then the shoes are impractical for just about anything but biking.
1 pair sandals
Canon Rebel Digital SLR Camera
Sony point and shoot camera
2 Amazon Kindles
Our first Kindles died after four weeks on the road – not impressive at all. They were covered by warranty though and were replaced and we got them back in August 2010. Since then they have become indispensable to us. We each have seventy or so books on them, and we add to our collection as need and interest dictate. And all of this in something so light and small we can stick it in a stuff sack and forget about it. We were skeptical at first, but we can’t fight it anymore – for this kind of traveling, the Kindle is ideal.
ASUS EEE netbook computer
It’s small, it’s cheap, we assumed it wouldn’t last five days on the road. But oh how wrong we were. We’ve had this guy for almost two years now, we’ve used it in every sort of climate, in all kinds of conditions, and it is still running just as well as the day we bought it, the battery still lasts an astonishing ten hours on one charge. We’re sure it’ll die sometime soon, but that seems reasonable at this point, it has served us well.
2 Sony mp3 players
Cell phone with international calling plan and local SIM cards we buy along the way (very cheap, very useful)
1 Solio solar charger which handles the MP3 and (when we had them) the kindles
1 Freeloader solar panel which handles the cell phone and cameras
This was a total piece of junk, it never charged from the sun and we had to charge it from the computer. The only nice thing about this charger is that it comes with a universal camera battery charger that we can use with our other solar panel, or even charging from a wall outlet. That saves us a bit of space, but for the rest of the charger? It makes a nice coaster…
And… Probably a lot of stuff we’re forgetting… But this should give an idea of the essentials!