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Grand Illinois Tail Bicycle Ride Key Equipment


Equip Bike

Bike $50

This is a variable cost. Spend whatever you feel comfortable with. When I did the ride, the fact that I spent only $50 on a garage sale bike was just another “feat” It had a gel seat cushion. I would strongly recommend against these. They are about $15 and do not offer very much comfort. Go to your local bike shop, explain the kind of riding you do, and they will get you set up with something that will make your trip much more enjoyable. My $50 bike never broke down to the point where I could not ride it, but perhaps a more durable bike would have not been so hard to ride. More on that later.

Tire Pump $15

The amount you spend on a tire pump depends on your level of luxury and the size of you wallet. You can always get a pump that will fill the air in the tires, but you can spend a little more and get one that is lighter weight and has less parts that you can lose. Mine had an air hose that had to be stored separate from the pump. The risk is obvious, misplace that hose and the pump is useless.

Back Bags $65

Check Ebay for these things, then check the online bike shops. Online retailers usually have better return and exchange policies. I found that sometimes even retail stores will compete with the online prices. I was trying to match the cubic inch of My North Face backpack. (about 5100 cubic inches) When my back panniers arrived in the mail, I realized I needed to get ones for the front too. I ended up with about 3400 cubic inches and secured the tent and sleeping bag on top of them with 8" bungees

Front Bags $45

The front bags were smaller but they were made out of a rubberized material. You can always pack your bags with a plastic liner, and probably always should, but the idea of having waterproof bags to begin with, is a pretty nice feature. Hauling the extra weight on your back is one thing,  but a few pounds pedaled is no big deal. You have to watch your overall weight, you don’t want to be lugging a ball and chain. These few extra ounces of rubber might be worth it, if it means having a dry t-shirt to wear after a rainstorm.

Front Rack $15
Back Rack $20

You need racks to attach your bags to the bike. Order ahead, because you might need to make brackets. I was lucky with the “speed master” because it had fender screw holes to use. My new bike doesn’t have these, so I am cutting a sheet metal bracket and drilling holes. I looked at those racks that only attach to your back seat. They look cool. I don't know how much weight those intended to carry, but I'd bet it is less than the carrying capacity you need on a thrubike.

Handle Bag $30

This is great for keeping maps, MP3 player, camera, snack bars, etc. …the kind of things that you want to have an easy access.

Under Seat Pack $8

Bike related tools, patchkit, flat-fix inflator, a great place to keep tools and maintenance items.

Bicycle Computer $15

Get a wired bike computer. The wireless systems usually require a battery in the sending unit, so instead of risking only one battery going bad, you have two. If you want to reduce your risk, mount a second bicycle computer system. (Be careful: you can take redundancy to extremes. It depends on the terrain.)

Patch Kits and Tools $10

I carried a patch kit with me and will do it again. I was lucky in that all through the 585 miles, I never had a flat –knock on wood- update
(ten months after my ride): upon committing that that phrase to paper- I got a flat on Joliet-Morris I&M Canal round trip: 55 miles fine limestone chips. With 40 miles complete I stopped the bike, took off the tire, found the leak, fixed it, and then tried to reapply it. Oops... leak yes, but the tire was damaged too, and I could not put it back on the rim. The bike as “ride-able” on a flat, but not on a rim.

A pressurized flat-fix cartridges might help avoid the possibility of this same debacle happening to you. The five or eight bucks you spend on the cartridge will be well worth it because even if you don’t use it, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you can ride through a flat. I walked for about five miles that day before I accepted a ride from some Hi Energy cyclists from Orland Park for the last ten miles to my home. If that happened on the GIT, 20% or more of my spending rule could be used on hotel and repairs.

Fingerless Riding Gloves $15

This is definitely *not* a piece of optional equipment. After ten days on the bicycle, I had calluses on the palms of both my hands. I cannot imagine what it would have been like without them. Generically they are “sport gloves” and can be also used when you go to the gym and lift weights. Mine were sold as weightlifting gloves with leather on the palms. Don’t skimp here. Get the best you can find. Some have gel palms, get them.



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