Touring on a T-Bone

Am I the only person who does this?

Last year I rode coast to coast on the T-Bone. Here is a picture of the bike as it was set up then.

TouringWithTBone (286K)

I have the tent strapped under the main tube. The small panniers under the seat are hung from a special rack I had custom made. Everything I need fits in the panniers, which includes food, cooking gear, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, camera, cell phone, and laptop computer I use to create bike trip updates. The top of the rack between the rear panniers is empty and available for short term supplies like Gatorade bottles, a 2 1/2 gallon water jug for crossing deserts, and layers of clothes I shed as the day warms up.

I started by doing some weekend camping trips to test stuff out.

SnakeheadPond (62K)

This is from my first overnight trip, to Cedarville State Park. The goal here was to see if my scheme to strap the tent under the main tube would work. It does just fine. It helps to wrap a small bungee around the front strap to keep the chain from rubbing on the tent. But the tent is very stable, and it keeps the weight low and centered.

The tent is a Sierra Designs Lookout CD, which is a 3-4 season convertable tent that sleeps 2-3 people. It weighs 9 lbs packed with ground cloth, spare stakes, and a plastic mallet. It's bulletproof and very cozy, if a bit heavy.

In the background is the notorious home of the "Frankenfish", the Northern Snakeheads, which were discovered in this humble pond in Crofton, MD. This picture is from September 2002, about two weeks before the pond was poisoned to eradicate the snakeheads. Note the election signs. There were TV crews filming this pond every day for weeks.

This picture is a close-up of the custom rack for the front panniers.

midrack (46K)

It's a bit of a science project, but it works. The panniers hang from what was once the center brace on a front low-rider rack. There are tubes around the seat stays with bolts welded to them, you screw the main support rod to them. The front support is a piece of steel that rests on top of the chain stays. The piece of aluminum strip in the middle has no structural function, it just holds the bottoms of the panniers apart.

One downside to this setup is the front panniers hang much lower than my body, and they add noticable wind resistance.

For my current ride, I have a new tent. I tore a big hole in my wonderful Sierra Designs tent during RAGBRAI. The new tent is a Eureka EX02 single-wall. It's probably not a cozy in the bitter cold as the old one, but it's five pounds lighter and way smaller. It's so small, I can fit it, and a Thermarest pad, and my sleeping bag in a stuff sack the same size as my old tent. So all that is now under the main tube. Since I'm not bringing cooking gear this time, I can lose the mid-ship panniers and replace them with a trunk rack.

Tour2004Setup (338K)