Test Ride #1 Day 2: Carlsbad to San Diego

Light rain on and off all night and on the ride. We’ve been rained on plenty of times, but we kicked ourselves this time because we intentionally did not bring some of our dry bags because the forecast said 0% chance of rain. Lesson learned: be prepared. ? A few electronics and part of our sleeping bags got wet, but should be no long term damage.

We could not find any camp stove fuel for our ultralight stove; we tried three places across the street but they only had large 16 oz. Canisters for Coleman stoves. I know we can get the ones we need at REI, and I’m hoping we can find some when we get to Lisbon as well. 

So no coffee at camp, but we stopped at Leucadia Donuts for a chocolate glazed and a coffee. 

The ride back was tedious. Slow going due to the added weight, wet due to the rain, and boring because it’s a route we have ridden hundreds of times. We are also feeling a bit out of shape; these two days took it out of us! But we know from experience that after a couple days of the new normal of bike touring, it’s all good. Overall, we have returned home re-energized for our tour and committed to keep up our training!

When I got home, I weighed myself and then weighed myself holding my bike fully loaded. The bike and gear came out to 22kg or about 48 lbs. Not too bad, I think…

Test Ride #1 Day 1: San Diego to South Carlsbad State Beach

Left around 10:30 this morning taking familiar roads. The bikes are riding excellently fully loaded. Absolutely no issues at all. Very impressed with the Specialized bags and bikes for touring. Very quick to load and unload gear and rock solid. Bikes handled well with all the weight. It’s nice having a little wiggle room to grow into in my bags, though I hope I don’t get lazy and fill them with stuff I don’t need…

Stopped at Coffee Cycle and chatted with the awesome owner of this custom built espresso bike cart about touring and bike camping. Phenomenal coffee and cappuccino and a fascinating dude. Had a nice lunch at Board & Brew in Del Mar.

New ZPacks two-person tent was incredibly simple to setup; it can be staked or setup freestanding. We choose freestanding because of the hard packed dirt ground here. I spent 5 minutes looking for some rings I dropped but otherwise it was up in 5 minutes. It’s very cozy inside; it will take us some getting used to after having our own space. 

Quick takeout dinner at Pollo Loco across the street while watching the sunset over the Pacific. Gorgeous day. Hoping to see the lunar eclipse tonight around 10:30pm!

Test Ride #1

Tomorrow Steve and I will go on our first fully-loaded test run with our bikes all geared out as if we were on our ride around the world. We’re only going 30 miles to a campground nearby, but we’ll treat our ride as if we were 10,000 miles from home. The goal is to test out our new gear and see how it performs.

Before our last tour, we did 4 test runs, and each one was invaluable to figuring out what works and what doesn’t. We made tweaks after each ride that we were very thankful for when we were actually on tour.

The picture above is an approximation of what my bike will look like fully packed. I’m still in the process of actually packing all the bags, and I’ve ordered one more frame bag that won’t get here until after Christmas.

I’m curious to learn:

  • How does the bike handle fully loaded? It’s more weight than we had on our summer tour (more tools and warmer clothes mostly), but still a pretty lightweight setup.
  • How will we like our new 2-person tent? I think it’ll be a huge improvement vs. having two separate tents because we can share on the weight and setup time. It also has freestanding poles so can be put up even when there isn’t stakeable ground.
  • How will the new underseat bag work out? It’s a much more legitimate system compared to my improvised set of Velcro straps on the last tour, and it holds a lot more and is waterproof so I think I’ll love it.
  • Similarly, how well does the handlebar stabilizer work? It’s also much more robust than my series of straps and bags from this summer, so it should save us lots of time, even if it’s a bit heavier.
  • I got a larger frame bag, and I’m hoping I can still get the water bottles out easily.
  • How difficult will it be to make coffee in the morning with our ultralight stove?

We’ll post afterwards (maybe during) to let you know how it went!

Downsizing and Preparation

Although we’ve been enjoying our time off since leaving our jobs in preparation for this trip, we’ve also been getting a lot done. With having to downsize from two households worth of stuff to what we can fit on a bicycle, there’s quite a lot we have to work on. Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far. There’s still a lot to do, but we feel like we are on top of it now.


  • Flew out and visited both of our families
  • Met up with a bunch of friends and planned some time to meet up with as many as possible
  • Planned a going away party in February


  • Donated a ton of clothes, kitchen items, etc. to local charities and friends
  • Donated all of our Christmas decorations to friends and family
  • Sold/donated all of our books to a local used bookstore
  • Sold a whole bunch of stuff on eBay that we won’t be taking (my saxophone, iPad, etc.)
  • Sold some of our furniture that we don’t use often using OfferUp
  • Found friends who will adopt my kitties, booked a flight to fly them to Dallas


  • Planned our route in detail with turn-by-turn GPS routes and notes about where to stop and what to see as well as expected temperatures and lodging options (camping, hostels, WarmShowers, CouchSurfing, hotels, etc.)
  • Met up with friends and family who have traveled (or lived) in the countries we are visiting to get tips for what to see what where to ride
  • Researched visa requirements for all countries we will be visiting (the only one we need to apply for ahead of time is India, and the EU’s Schengen visa is the most restrictive due to the size of the EU)
  • Researched health insurance options and decided that BlueShield’s emergency international coverage should be sufficient, switched Steve to this
  • Booked our flight to Lisbon, Portugal, and booked our first few nights at a hostel
  • Scanned all physical documents and stored them in the cloud so I can access them from my phone if needed
  • Switched to a good travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees and good travel benefits (Chase Sapphire)


  • Continuing to cycle to maintain our fitness (though we haven’t been very good at this)
  • Booked a wilderness first aid class (from REI) so we can both be prepared in case we have an accident in the boonies
  • Planned a fully-loaded test run next week to a local campground to test out our new gear
  • Met with our doctors and got a checkup, necessary vaccinations, emergency antibiotics, and two years of refills authorized for medication we take regularly
  • Wrote a short description of who we are and what we’re doing and translated it into dozens of languages for the countries we are planning to travel to (using Google Translate as well as friends who speak those languages)


  • Finalized and purchased a list of equipment and clothing that we’ll bring. Most we already had, but we picked up:
    • Warmer lightweight clothes
    • New bike shoes that look like regular tennis shoes
    • Water filter system and purification tablets
    • International power/USB adapter
    • Waterproof passport holder
  • Bought new bikes that are more suitable for touring, sold Steve’s previous bike
  • Switched to LG Nexus 5x phones with Google Project Fi international phone service
  • Switched from Garmin to Wahoo ELEMNT bike computer, which allows better on-the-go route planning

The Illusion of Choice


You are, like everyone else, subject to the illusion of choice. We spend a lot of time “choosing” to be, think, or do “A or B”, when in fact the choice is already made by the options presented by others… Democrat or Republican. Vanilla, chocolate, caramel, or strawberry. McDonald’s, Burger King, or Hodad’s. Shy or outgoing. Walk or Don’t Walk. Go to work or quit. Happy or sad. Like or don’t like. Even toothpaste: Total, Fresh, White, Sensitive, Foam, Gel, Paste. You think those are the only options, but they are only the ones that others think they can benefit by offering you. There is an infinite array of options between, beyond, and orthogonal to the options presented to you by business, society, government, and even your own mind. Don’t choose. Create something new.

Our (Rough) Itinerary

I will try to keep this updated as we go, but please contact us to get the most accurate dates.

Many of our friends have asked us for our itinerary so they can meet us abroad. We think it would be absolutely fantastic to meet as many of our friends as possible during our bike travels! What better way to keep in touch with you all.

Keep in mind, however, that our tour is quite open-ended. Days may get rained out, we may need to have unexpected repairs, perhaps we’ll find new routes to take and things to see, or maybe even hop on a train to skip some areas. So, if you’d like to try to meet up with us, it’s best if your plans are somewhat flexible, and even better if you have some kind of transportation option to meet us where ever we may be (hopefully not too far off the itinerary!).

So here it goes:

Europe 2017

  • March 6-10: Lisbon, Portugal
  • March 18-20: Seville, Spain
  • March 28: Granada, Spain
  • April 2-3: Valencia, Spain (possibly ferry to Ibiza)
  • April 6-10: Barcelona, Spain
  • April 16-18: Marseilles, France (possibly take train to Paris)
  • April 23: Cinque Terre, Italy
  • April 25: Pisa, Italy
  • April 26-27: Florence, Italy
  • April 29-May 1: Venice, Italy
  • May 8: Zagreb, Croatia (this is a maybe)
  • May 11-13: Split, Croatia
  • May 14-16: Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • May 16-21: Budva, Montenegro
  • May 23-24: Tirana, Albania
  • May 27: Corfu Island, Greece
  • May 31-June 2: Patras, Greece
  • June 8-June 16: Athens, Greece (plus island hopping likely to Mykanos, Santorini, and Rhodes)
  • June 17-22: Fethiye, Turkey (and surrounding coastline)
  • July 1-3: Izmir, Turkey
  • July 12-16: Istanbul, Turkey
  • July 21: Varna, Bulgaria
  • July 24-?? Bucharest, Romania (we may stop here a while to wait for our EU/Schengen visa to reset, or we may alter our route through Ukraine, Serbia, or elsewhere)
  • August 22-24: Budapest, Hungary (Schengen visa should have reset around now)
  • August 25-27: Bratislava, Slovakia
  • August 28-29: Vienna, Austria
  • September 2-3: Prague, Czech Republic
  • September 6-25: Berlin, Germany (this is the stopping point for our European portion)

Asia 2017-2018

  • September 25-October 1: New Delhi, India
  • October 2-4: Agra, India (Taj Mahal)
  • October 21-24: Mumbai / Bombay, India
  • October 30: Goa, India
  • November 1-9: Kerala, India
  • November 19-22: Chennai, India
  • December 11-15: Kolkata, India
  • December 22: Sylhet, Bangladesh
  • January 3-10, 2018: Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
  • January 18-20: Yangon, Myanmar
  • January 30-February 1: Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • February 3: Chiang Rai, Thailand
  • February 9-10: Luang Prabang, Laos
  • February 15-20: Vientiane, Laos
  • more to come…