Earlier this year, I finally had the opportunity to cross a big ride off my bucket list. After years of thinking about it, I finally decided to hop on my bike and ride from Cleveland to Cincinnati on the Ohio to Erie Trail. Since I didn’t have a ton of free time to complete the journey, I decided the best method of attack would be light weight “credit card touring.” Meaning I would carry everything I needed, but would bust out the plastic when it came time to find a spot to sleep and for breakfasts and dinners. That didn’t mean that I wasn’t carrying any gear though. In fact, I still had to carry a lot of gear – and used almost everything at some point in the journey.
Since we have access to a lot of different gear to test, I was able to hand pick what I consider to be some of the best gear around. With the exception of a pair of sunglasses that have since imploded and a set of rain gear that I (fortunately) didn’t need until the very last day, I’d happily use the exact same set up if I were to do it again.
With highs in the mid 70’s and lows in the 50’s, I had nearly perfect weather for the ride. But there was a chance of severe storms throughout the whole three day trip so I needed to be prepared without overloading myself with clothing. I’m OK with washing some gear in the sink to reuse it on the trip, but I didn’t want to wear the same thing every day so I ended up with two complete kits and three pairs of socks – I wanted my fee to be happy for the 120 mile days.
The chamois on the Pactimo and Rapha bibs were excellent, offering all day comfort which was key. While I love the Pactimo jersey, the pockets were pretty small compared to those on the Rapha jersey. Because of that, it was much easier to ride and grab things out of the Rapha jersey, not to mention offering more room for snacks.
I brought a combination of DeFeet and Swiftwick socks, but if I had three pairs of the DeFeet Levitator Lite, I would use this sock exclusively – it’s by far one of my favorites for road use. I also love the Pactimo Zero-Weight base layers, so I brought a sleeveless and short sleeve version along.
- Pactimo Summit Strike Bib
- Pactimo Summit Jersey
- Rapha Pro Team Bib Shorts II
- Rapha Pro Team Training Jersey
- Pactimo Zero-Weight baselayer – sleeveless & short sleeve
- DeFeet Levitator Lite & unknown model socks
- Swiftwick Performance Socks
On my feet were my Lake CX331 road shoes which have been through the wringer over the years, but are still among my favorites. For footwear off the bike, I wanted the lightest, most compact option that I could find – that was also the cheapest. Seeing as how these would be strapped to the outside of my saddle bag, I wanted something I wouldn’t be upset about losing (it’s happened once before). To that end, I headed to Old Navy and searched their clearance section for a pair of ugly, but very cheap flip flops at $2.99 for the pair. They’re super light, and do the job. Obviously, it helped that it was warm enough for flip flops.
I also brought along one set of street clothes with a t-shirt and a very light pair of Pearl Izumi Versa shorts. It’s nice to get out of your riding clothes at the end of the day, and these offered comfort with very little weight and space.
On my head, I wore a POC Ventral Spin helmet. This helmet is very well ventilated, and if it provided any aero benefit at all, I figured it would be welcome on a long solo ride. Underneath I wore my go-to SweatHawg helmet liner or cycling cap.
- Lake CX331 Road Shoes
- Cheap Old Navy flip flops
- Pearl Izumi Versa Shorts
- Bikerumor T-Shirt
- SweatHawg helmet liner and cycling cap
- POC Ventral Spin Helmet
- Smith sunglasses (RIP)
Rain/Cool weather Kit
Originally, the forecast called for a 50% chance of torrential rain and thunderstorms. As such, I felt that I needed to be prepared for some very long, very wet rides. Fortunately, the storms held off just north of my route and with the exception of the last day, the weather was beautiful. I did end up using the Gore C7 ShakeDry Stretch jacket and the Rapha arm and leg warmers on a cool morning, but other than that all of my wet gear stayed in the bag except for an hour on the final leg. I ended up bringing knee warmers in addition to leg warmers since the leg warmers are the Pactimo Storm+ which offer impressive protection from rain and spray while still remaining highly breathable.
- Gore C7 ShakeDry Stretch jacket
- Pearl Izumi Barrier cap
- Velotoze latex shoe covers
- Velotoze waterproof gloves
- Pactimo Storm+ leg warmers
- Rapha Merino arm and knee warmers
Being a short guy on a small bike, I don’t have a lot of room on any frame typically for bags + bottles. So for this trip, I opted to carry most of my gear in a Blackburn Outpost Elite Seat Pack. The bag has a rigid attachment to the saddle rails so any sway is kept to a minimum, and I really like how the straps from the cradle buckle into the dry bag. This keeps everything cinched down very well, and it’s still easy to access the contents when on the road.
The Why PR doesn’t have top tube mounts for bags, and I wanted to use the Silca Capsule TT bag since it is the slimmest that I have. A lot of top tube bags tend to rub on my knees, so I didn’t want to have to deal with that for hundreds of miles. To make it work, I used a Wolf Tooth Components B-RAD Strap Base which worked pretty well. The Silca Capsule TT is pretty long, so to keep the end flush with the top tube, I just threw on a fat zip tie. This set up worked surprisingly well – not quite as secure as a true bolt-on mount, but more secure than most strap-on bags.
- Blackburn Outpost Elite Seat Pack
- Silda Capsule TT top tube bag
- WTC B-RAD Strap Base adapter
My tools and spares were kept nice and low in what would have been wasted space under my bottle cages. I wanted to be prepared, but with the lightest kit possible so I brought along a Birzman Diversity 17 multi-tool (which I like because of the long bits, chaintool, integrated tire levers, and more), Wolf Tooth Pack Pliers with two chain links, a Blackburn Plugger Tubeless repair kit, a Birzman Velocity Road pump, and an SKS digital tire gauge (when you’re testing tires and wheels, you have to know what pressures you’re actually running). All of this fit nicely into the B-RAD Mini including a spare Tubolito S-Tubo Road tube and Flix Kit.
That last part is key. If I was trying to use a standard road tube, I would not have had enough room for everything to fit into the B-RAD Mini. And since space was at a premium, the Tubolito was totally worth it. I took a gamble on bringing just one spare tube and a patch kit, but I only had one Tubolito, and nothing else would fit. I couldn’t tell you the last time I flatted, so I took a chance and it paid off.
Other items along for the ride included a light weight pocket knife, GoPro 7 Black for documenting the trip, a micro cable lock from Master (obviously not high security, just enough for brief moments away from the bike), a Wahoo ROAM with routes loaded from Komoot, and a light set with a rear Axiom Lazerbeam 180 and a Bontrager Ion 100 R front.
- WTC B-RAD Mini roll top bag
- Birzman Diversity 17 multi-tool
- Blackburn Plugger Tubeless repair kit
- Wolf Tooth Pack Pliers with two chain links
- Birzman Velocity pump
- SKS digital tire gauge
- Tubolito S-Tubo Road spare tube
- Tubolito Flix patch kit
- Master Lock micro lock
- Wahoo ROAM with Komoot routes
- Axiom Lazerbeam 180 rear light
- Bontrager Ion 100 R front light
- GoPro Hero 7 Black with tripod base/handle
I needed to keep the few electronics I had topped up each night, so I brought along a few cables and this Michelin Power adapter and battery pack. This isn’t something they sell, but one of those things I picked up over the years but I’ve been surprised how much I use it. The adapter has fittings for most electronics (iPhone, GPS, micro USB), and the spare battery pack is enough for a quick charge.
- Michelin Power Battery pack & adapter
- Bag of charging cables, power brick, spare GoPro battery
When it came to nutrition during the ride, I had a very specific scenario which led me to bring a lot of my ride food from the beginning. For starters, due to my time constraints and dietary restrictions, I did not want to have to waste time on the ride searching for ride food that would work for me. There were plenty of things that I wanted to stop and explore mid-ride, but stores were not among them. Also, as you know, a lot of this food is expensive. I already had a bunch at my disposal back home, so buying more wasn’t something I wanted to do. Since I didn’t want to have to stop for lunch during the rides, this meant I ended up carrying a lot of weight from food alone. I’m not sure I would do it this way again in the future, but this time it worked out with only one resupply stop needed at the Trek Store in Columbus.
To get me through each day, I started with enough Osmo Active Hydration to get me through each day. I’ve found that of all of the hydration drink mixes, Osmo seems to work with my body the best. It seems like I can go all day when drinking it with far less fatigue than other mixes or just water. Honey Stinger Energy Chews are one of my favorites since they’re very easy to eat while riding and they’re delicious. The same goes for their Stinger Waffles which for me, are available in a Gluten Free version. I threw in some Bonk Breaker bars for something more substantial. But to break up the space food with some real food, every long ride I whip up a batch of fresh jerky. Compared to store bought jerky, the stuff I make at home is more tender and has a higher moisture content so it’s much easier to eat while riding and doesn’t immediately zap all the moisture from your stomach. I’ve given it to friends on big rides, and they all seem to agree.
I also brought along a few products which seemed to help with recovery each night. It might be all placebo effect, but the Ryno Power Recovery pills always seem to make me feel a bit better the following day, and then there’s the CBD. I seem to be very sensitive to CBD, but I’ve found that 0.5-1.0mL of the isolate oil placed under my tongue at night helps me sleep a lot better on hard days. It seems to calm down my restless legs, and certainly helps me get to sleep faster. I also really like the CBD Sports Cream. Due to what I assume was a slight change in cleat position before the ride, I ended up with a very sore knee half way through the ride. The cream helped a lot. Maybe it was the other ingredients, maybe it was the CBD. Whatever the case, I’m glad I had it with me. Finally, I brought a few GU Roctane Electrolyte capsules along which saved me on the second to last day which was hotter than expected.
- Osmo Active Hydration
- Honey Stinger Energy Chews
- Honey Stinger GF Waffles
- Bonk Breaker bars
- Homemade Jerky
- Ryno Power Recovery
- GU Roctane electrolyte capsules
- Floyd’s of Leadville CBD Isolate oil & Sport Cream
Spending many hours on a saddle means taking care of your bits. For me, that means the use of a high end chamois cream like The Ritual. I don’t often ride with chamois cream, but on longer road rides I will. I also brought along a small tub of Joshua Tree Cycling Salve. If you’re starting to develop a saddle sore, I find that this stuff really helps to prevent it from getting worse and also seems to help as a preventative measure as well if applied at night. Suncreen and chap stick are an obvious inclusion. Neutrogena Sport Face seems to work well and stays in place for awhile, especially since I sweat like a pig. Finally, the evoc pouch works well for a micro toiletry bag, and I have to bring glasses since I’m blind as a bat without them or my contacts.
- The Ritual chamois cream
- Joshua Tree Cycling Salve
- Neutrogena Sport Face sunscreen
- Hydro Flask chap stick
- evoc pouch with toiletries
Overall, I was very pleased with my choices. With a few exceptions for things that were just in case of emergency, I used everything I brought and wasn’t left wanting for anything along the way. As a result, my bike stayed fairly light and I was able to knock out decent mileage each day.
Got your own favorites for credit card touring? Suggestions for a better set up? Let’s hear it below!