Northern Tier Ride Prep: What’s In the Bag?

One of the most frequently asked questions about riding coast to coast is, “What’s in the bag?”  So here goes:


Tom’s Panniers (38 pounds)

Rear right:

  • REI Co-op Half Dome 2 man tent
  • G4Free camp chair

Rear left:

  • Kelty down sleeping bag
  • REI Air Rail 1.5 sleeping pad

Front left:

  • The “kitchen”, includes 2 mugs, 2 bowls, 2 sporks, coffee filter, spatula, cutting board, knife, MSR pan, MSR whisperlite stove with wind shield, soap, scour square, pan grabber, P-38 can opener, lighter
  • 1 liter fuel can
  • Flask

Front right:

  • Clothing bag including 3 jerseys, 2 cycling shorts, Chacos sandals, 2 pair socks, 1 pair Smart Wool socks, stocking cap, gloves, fleece, rain jacket, cycling leggings, arm sleeves, cycling shoes, convertible pants, shorts, 2 short sleeve t-shirts, 1 long sleeve t-shirt, 2 underwear, baseball cap, head buff
  • Bath bag includes camp towel, tooth brush, tooth paste, dental floss, shampoo, liquid soap, deodorant, razor, shaving cream

Handlebar bag:

  • Electronics bag including chargers for phone, Garmin 1000 GPS, portable charger, shuffle, charging cord for front and rear bike light
  • Sunglasses case
  • Bike lock
  • Tire pump
  • Rag with chain lube
  • Head lamp
  • Suntan lotion, chap stick, bug juice
  • Duct tape, bungee cords
  • Snacks
  • Passport

Strapped on back between rear panniers:

  • Tent poles wrapped in tarp

Seat bag:

  • Multi tool
  • 2 spare tubes
  • 2 CO2 cartridges
  • Tire levers
  • Patch kit


Cycling shoes

Cycling gloves

Water bottles – 3

Front rechargeable light

Rear rechargeable light


And the second most frequently asked question regarding bags is: Why is Tom carrying twice as many bags as Deb?  Answer? Because if Deb carries equal weight she won’t get to Maine until two weeks after Tom.



Deb’s Panniers (24 pounds)

Rear right:

  • Cycling clothing bag including 1 short sleeve jersey, 2 sleeveless jerseys, 2 bike underwear, 2 shorts, arm sleeves, cycling leggings, 2 pairs cycle socks, 1 pair Smart Wool socks, bright orange cycle vest
  • Camp clothes bag including 1 sleeveless shirt, 2 short sleeve T-shirts, 1 long sleeve T-shirt, black running shorts, khaki convertible shorts/pants, pink anorak, Marmot raincoat, 2 underwear, 2 jog bras,  1 extra bandana, gloves, stocking cap
  • Food bag

Rear left:

  • Kelty down sleeping bag
  • REI Air Rail 1.5 sleeping pad
  • North Face fleece
  • Solar lantern
  • Bathroom bag including hair brush, toothbrush/paste, floss, soap/shampoo combo, moisturizer, wet wipes, razor, deodorant
  • 2 gallon water bucket (I never go camping without it. Serves as a laundry bucket, ice chest, dish pan, etc.) #BestGadgetEver
  • Camp towel
  • ACA route maps

Handlebar bag:

  • Bandana
  • Waterless soap
  • Chap stick
  • Sunscreen
  • Electronics bag (iphone charger, portable charger, shuffle, shuffle charger)
  • Headlamp
  • Ball cap
  • First aid mini kit
  • Snacks
  • Passport

Strapped between the panniers:

  • G4Free camp chair
  • Chacos sandals 

Seat bag:

  • 2 spare tubes
  • Patch kit
  • Tire levers
  • 2 CO2 canisters
  • Spare cyclometer battery


Cycling shoes

Cycling gloves

Water bottles – 2

Rear rechargeable light


We had three consecutive riding days with no rain, snow or sleet. #shocker

Twenty five miles on Friday and back to back 50’s on Saturday and Sunday, fully loaded.  Northern Tier, we’re coming for you!

Below is our weekend riding recap video.  As you’ll see, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.





Northern Tier Ride Prep: Finally

The bags, aka panniers, are loaded and on my bike! Tom will be carrying two front and two back panniers, and I, just two on the back.


What goes in the bags if you want to camp, cook, clean up and keep the top layer of your skin in tact on a 4,000 mile bike trip? Find out next week.

Godspeed to all participants in the Boston Marathon tomorrow. #BostonStrong #Boston2018 #WhereChampionsRun

Northern Tier Ride Prep: 25, 30, 35, 40

If you only ride your bike when it’s warm and sunny in Indy you probably don’t ride your bike very often. Especially when it’s April 8th but it feels like January 74th because winter has overstayed her welcome.

Last Thursday Tom and I made a pact. We going out riding, no matter the weather. Tom’s been spinning and commuting to work but we have only been out once together for a short 20 miler.

It’s not so much strengthening the legs and lungs as it is reintroducing certain body parts to the saddle, especially over multiple days. #ouch

So the last four days… 25, 30, 35 and 40 miles. Today Tom loaded his panniers and we took a spin. #allgood

As for fair weather riding, we didn’t get much of it. Just wind. Lots of wind. And cold. But oh was it nice to be out.

We are stoked to start on June 1!

Northern Tier Ride Prep: Not much ridin’, just runnin’

Here we are just 60 days away from starting our bike ride across the country and we still haven’t been able to squeeze in much outdoor riding. #indyweatherblues

We did however participate in the Carmel Marathon races yesterday with our Back on My Feet team, Tom running the half and I, the full.

Tom and Deb Finish Pic

Tom took six months off running and thought running a half marathon was out of the question. Ever. But dang if he didn’t crank out a speedy half marathon and finished without any knee pain. As for me, it was a flat, fast course and despite the wind, I ran my third fastest marathon. Ever. Something about eliminating gas station roller meat from my diet and including more greens and plant based proteins may have helped.

A lot of people think running is a solo sport. Not necessarily so! Running groups, especially our friends at Back on My Feet are like second families and that’s the way the Carmel Marathon event played out this weekend.  People came out to run, volunteer and cheer for our BoMF team members. Whether it’s your first time running with BoMF in the Carmel races as seen in the video below, or running in the most recent Carmel races as team members, it’s always a reunion of friends.

Soon celebrating seven years in Indy, Back on My Feet is still empowering its members using running as a way to build confidence, accountability, relationships and connect team members to jobs and sustainable housing and for this reason we’re riding this summer to support that purpose. Happy Anniversary to Back on My Feet and congrats to the Carmel Marathon, for currently being ranked 3rd on the “Most Likely to Qualify for Boston” list.

BoMF Carmel Runners 2018 (Photo credit: Liz Navarre)

And guaranteed… if you wear your BoMF shirt in a race, even if you’re in a different city, you’re gonna get some hollars. You’ll get noticed. You’ll get support.

BoMF Team Shirt

Best thing about this weekend though is Tombo is back to running. And we can run together. So there’s that.

But. We have this epic bike adventure coming up in just 60 days. As for the cycling together, I know y’all may not have issues with riding in the snow, but dang with more of it coming tonight, we may wait even a little longer to get out for some long rides together. #onecanonlyhope

Until then we’ll be runnin’ not ridin’.

Northern Tier Ride Prep: FAQs

The biggest question on my mind is, “Will Spring ever get here?”. Yesterday was the official first day of Spring and this morning we woke up to this.

Spring in Indy

As we begin to talk about our little summer adventure with friends and colleagues more questions are popping up. Some we can answer and others are anyone’s best guess. So for those of you who are asking, here goes:

How many total miles will it be? Depending on which route we take around the great lakes, about 4,200 miles.

How long is it going to take? No more than 10 weeks if we take off one day a week.

How many miles a day? We will probably average about 70 miles a day.

What are you going to eat? As many grains, beans and greens as possible and we’ll cook it ourselves on our Whisperlite stove. Fresh veggies and fruit when we can find them and an assortment of oatmeal, energy bars and junk food when Deb can slip it into her bike bag will round out the menu. We were inspired by Angie and Dusty who completed the Northern Tier route a couple years ago.  If you have time check out their vids here. We got to talk to Angie last weekend about her coast to coast trip.

Where are you going to stay? In our tent!  Our maps are super helpful pointing out campgrounds and city parks. Warm Showers and an occasional motel will also round out our deluxe accommodations.

How many people are in your group? Two. Tom and Deb.

What if it rains? We get wet. What if it snows? I’ll def take a pic! What if there is lightening? We’ll ride like he!! and take shelter.

How do you know what roads to take? You’re not putting Deb in charge of directions are you? Peeps knowing Deb and her sense of direction know there’s not a chance of that happening. Fortunately, Adventure Cycling has detailed maps that include distance, elevation, services and points of interest on and off the route.  Tom has the maps downloaded to his Garmin; Deb has the paper maps (but does she know how to use them?)

What are you most looking forward to? Tom: Living a simple life where I need to think only about three questions, 1) where I’m going to sleep tonight, 2) what are we going to eat and 3) how far are we going to ride today. I am also looking forward to seeing more of the country from a bike. Deb: As much as I like routines, I’m so grateful to get a break from them!  And I can’t wait for the physical and mental challenge each day will bring, the scenery and new friends we will meet along the way.

What are you going to miss the most? Tom: Tuesday dinners with my mom, Wednesday family dinners with the kids, cutting grass (yes I actually enjoy cutting grass), my runs, trips to the gym. Deb: Seeing the kids and our littles, family dinners and my routines. I live a charmed life that includes some solid routines like daily Mass, running with my buds, volunteering at the Pantry and visiting my dad and auntie. I’ll miss those. And I’ll especially miss the birth of our third little expected at the end of July. I might have to increase that daily mileage. Watch me try so I can get back sooner.

When you say lift up Saint Vincent de Paul (SVdP) and Back on My Feet (BoMF) in prayer what do you mean? Pretty simple. Every day we will begin by saying prayers for the mission of each organization, the volunteers and folks receiving help from them.


Why 1 John 4:19 on the biz cards? We have a few fave scripture verses, like: Phil 4:13Luke 37-38,  John 10:10, Mark 5:36, Romans 8:28, Psalm 51:10 and 1 Cor 13:13.  But the understanding that Jesus is our teacher of perfect love as exhibited by Him loving humanity first, loving all humanity, loving us without expectation and loving us to the end is a big part of who we strive to be.  That verse? Easy to remember; difficult to live at times. But isn’t that something awesome to shoot for. #purpose

And I have one last question… when is it going to stop snowing?




Northern Tier Ride Prep: No Comparison

Tom and I went out for our first official training ride yesterday. Although it was breezy and 40 degrees the sunshine made it feel ~ So. Much. Warmer. And let me tell ya, there is no comparison to riding indoors on the trainer. Gosh it felt good to ride outdoors even if it was only for an hour.

Not only did we squeeze in our first ride together, we kicked off the day running a 5k race in Fishers calling that our speed work for the week.

Give me outdoors any day. Come on Spring!

Northern Tier Ride Prep: 90 Days Out

Welp, it seems a little silly to have a packing list put together already but we do! We’ve even weighed our bikes with fully loaded panniers. BTW props to our kids for the Ortlieb bags for Christmas.

We’ve learned a lot from skyping with the Lone Rider, aka Vic Andrade, who cycled across the country in 2016, and our running bud Damon Richards who got his kicks cycling Route 66 back in 2014. Our most asked questions? What did you bring that you didn’t use/need? What didn’t you bring that you wish you had?

Mostly all that’s left now is the training. Tom’s been spinning a couple times a week and commuting on his bike to work.  I’ve been on the indoor trainer a few times but not enough. #itsonlymarch

Both of us are running races in Carmel at the end of the month and The Pig in Cincinnati in May so we just keep running and riding. At some point there will be a tipping point when we run less and ride more.

A couple weeks ago the power went out for several hours so we fished out our Whisperlight stove to brew some tea.  Yup, we’re planning on camping and cooking our own meals as much as possible. Welp, Vic and Damon can’t help us there. #onourown