3000 MILES DOWN THE PAN-AMERICAN HIGHWAY

WHAT WE'VE BROKEN, SENT BACK, LOST, AND LOVED

173 days ago we left Julie’s moms house in Alabama. We now find ourselves in the central highlands of Mexico, just shy of the 3000 mile mark. At this point I would say that we have our equipment and clothes figured out for the next 10000 miles or so. We know what works for us, and what we can live without.

Our gear gets pretty beaten up thanks to all the extreme elements they are exposed to. I thought I’d share we you the items which have broken, sent home in the first 3000 miles, and the equipment we love and can’t live without on a day to day bases. It will be interesting to see which equipment makes it to the very bottom of Argentina in a working condition.

LOVE

Sony RX100 IV
This is the ultimate in travel cameras (In 2015), a pocket size little powerhouse with a one inch sensor that punches out great quality photos and top notch video, and up to 4k. I love the flip up and over ‘selfie’ screen, combine that with the fast f1.8 lens, impressive face detection focus, and you have yourself a impressive vlogging camera. But it’s not without its little quirks, the menu is a little tough and confusing to navigate, and I wouldn’t push the ISO over 1600 because you start to lose quality pretty quickly.

Snow Peak Titanium French Press & Porlex Mini Coffee grinder
There’s nothing more satisfying then drinking freshly brewed coffee in the great outdoors. This French Press is super lightweight and is my one luxury item on the trip. The Porlex Mini coffee grinder not only looks great but also does a impressive job grinding the beans. The grinder can be set from coarse to fine to fit with different brewing methods. I have an in depth review here.

Klean Kanteen Insulated Water Bottles – 20oz
We have 3 Insulated stainless steel bottles on the bike each with there own names. The grey one is called the communist bottle, pink is called the party bottle and the blue one is called, well… Sam’s bottle. On extremely hot days in the desert, these 20oz (600ml) keep the water ice cold for the whole day. Fill them with coffee or soup and they will keep the liquid piping hot for at least 6 hours. After 3000 miles they have had there fair share of knocks and dents, but they are still performing like they day we got them.

Horse Carbon Steel Camping Knife
When I was leaving Brooklyn I promised myself a treat, a reminder of the good times spent in that borough. Horse Cycles makes some of the finest bikes in the US, they also happen to make some beautiful looking knives. My knife has been one of the handiest tools on the trip so far. It’s been used for just about everything from repairs, cooking, and crafting skewers out of twigs for marshmallows over the fire. After 3000 miles its still razor sharp as hell.

Keen Newports Sandals
I’m not going to win any style awards at London fashion week with these puppies, however, I’ve never been the most fashion conscious person in the world. I find these sandals super comfortable and have lived in them pretty much every day since we left Alabama. I find these great for touring in, especially in hot environments. I’ve always had a problem with hot feet so these cool me down a plenty. They are super stiff and have excellent toe and heal protection so great for on and off the bike, i’ve even used them hiking.

Gates Carbon Drive Belt System
At this point of the journey we would be thinking about replacing our first set of chains on the tandem, but not with the Gates Belt system. Gates Belt’s last for 10000km before they need replacing. I can’t find any faults with them, clean, silent and lightweight. They are a bit pricey but when you factor in buying new chains over the same lifespan as one belt, there’s not much difference in the price. The only thing I found with the belts is if they get contaminated with dirt and dust they can be a bit noisy. However this is easy to combat, I find a squirt of water and a quick rub on the belt teeth gets them back to running silent.

Jones Bars Loop & Bend Bars
I think Julie agrees, these bars rock! They are super comfortable on long days in the saddle. I have the 710 loop bars on the front and Julie has the 710 bend on the back. Review of the Loop bar can be found here

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SENT HOME

Canon 5D Mark iii + Canon L 35mm F1.4 – 50mm F1.2
I had bought this camera especially for the trip, but the first day of Texas Hill Country sealed its fate. As soon as the front wheel hit the first steep incline I knew we had to drop some more weight on the bike, and the Canon was the heaviest thing we were carrying. I had dropped a lot of money on this camera so with a very heavy heart, we packed it up and shipped it back to Julie’s moms. Sent back after 1029 miles

Tripod – Joby SLR Zoom
Far too small and impractical to use on a daily bases. I found myself getting extremely frustrated with the lack of height and then having to scope out something to wrap the legs around just to get the camera off the ground. You would think something called a SLR Zoom could hold an SLR firmly, no, I found the head to be very unstable and it kept moving. Sent back after 1029 miles

Tripod – Benro A168
This was our main tripod but found it to be overkill for the Sony RX100VI. We would have kept it if we were using the Canon still. We upgraded/downgraded to a Davis & Sanford Quick Connect Tripod Connex. Sent back after 3000 miles

Kindle – Julie
Julie enjoys using the Kindle app on her iPhone, so it made perfect sense to send this one back to her mother. Sent back after 155 miles

Keen Newports (Ladies)
As a fashion guru that she is, Julie couldn’t bare to wear these ugly sandals any longer, they were also giving her ‘hotspots’ on her feet as they weren’t quite as stiff as mine. Sent back after 822 miles

Terry’s Liberator Saddle
There was nothing liberating about this saddle. Julie cycled from Alabama to Louisiana before her butt couldn’t take anymore pain. She was in so much pain we eventually swapped it out for my Brooks B17. I’m now riding with a new Brooks B17 which still hasn’t broken in after 2000 miles. Sent back after 482 miles.

Men’s Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra
Not waterproof, not wind protection, no good. I had good experience with previous versions, but these let me down. My feet were cold, wet and not happy for most of Eastern Texas. The only plus point was they were extremely stiff, so they were comfortable on the bike. Sent back after 822 miles

BROKE

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JBL Clip – Bluetooth Speaker
After a week into the tour I noticed the speaker wasn’t holding its charge anymore, we were lucky to get 1 hour out of it by the time we got to Jackson, Mississippi – Lasted 222 miles

Skull Candy Shrapnel Bluetooth Speaker
We desperately needed tunes to sing along to, so in Jackson, Mississippi. I went down to the local Walmart and purchased a new speaker. It was supposed to be waterproof, but after a good few Texas downpours it was all over for this speaker –Lasted 128 miles.


Cane Creek Thudbuster
My fault, Julie asked me to adjust her saddle, in doing so I tightened the bolt up a bit too much and managed to snap the barrel nut. Lasted 317 miles before getting new barrel nut, all good now.

Specialized  Propero Helmets (men and women’s)
Both mine and Julie’s helmet snapped in exactly the same spot, along the front center of the helmet, since there’s no point and is dangerous to use a broken helmet we ditched them after 2700 miles.

Schwalbe Mondial Tire 26 x 2.0
After months and months of research on the perfect tire, I picked the Mondial tire because of all the rave reviews, but after 2300 miles the rear tire failed by having a rip in the sidewall. If we didn’t have a thumping great hole in the side I reckon we could have squeezed another 1000 miles out of it. Lasted 2300 miles.

Kindle Paper White
Broken, but still working. It now has a crack in the screen from were Julie accidentally head butted it. Technically my fault it’s broken as I scared her. (See Vlog 002 – The part about the ghost bat)

Pearl Izumi Men’s ELITE In-R-Cool Shorts
One out of my two pairs has worn out in the crotch area. I can only hope they last to Mexico City where I can pick a new pair up, otherwise it could get embarrassing and a little windy down below. Holding on at 3000 miles.

LOST

Rapha Long Sleeve Brevet Jersey
Left in a motel room. Luckily the kind owner of the motel mailed it to Julie’s mom’s house, who then forwarded it on to us. Technically not lost.

REI Merino Wool Socks
Left in a porter potty in Big Bend National Park. Don’t ask.

Bicycle Fingerless Gloves
Sneaking out of an RV park early one morning so we didn’t have to pay the $10 camping fee, I remembered I had left my brand new $30 gloves on a park bench table. Karma is a bitch sometimes.

Buckshot Bluetooth Speaker
Finally we found a speaker which worked. This little thing pumped out the tunes for 16 hours before needing a charge. However, some little sticky fingered thief stole it when the bike was parked in a hotel conference hall were a Catholic school was having a religious seminar.

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