Via Michelin Mobile

Michelin’s European road atlases are now available with the Via Michelin Mobile apps for iOS and Android. Michelin’s road atlases are in my opinion the best road maps for cycling in Europe. Graphically, I prefer Michelin’s relief shading, it allows you to put together great cycling itineraries. Michelin maps highlight (in green) scenic roadways which you should consider riding. Google Maps do not provide this information, and in many cases, the scenic classification also means; safer roads with less traffic. With a WIFI connection, or better yet, with a cellular connection you can have all of Michelin’s road atlases on your smartphone or tablet device. Michelin’s app maps display like it’s printed maps and have adequate resolution with close-up magnification. The app is free, but if you want to use the maps in realtime on the road, you will  need to purchase about 2GB of prepaided data from a local European carrier. Normally, this would cost about 20 Euros with a local European carrier. The Michelin app works similar to Google’s Maps including; GPS pin-pointing your location and purple-colored plotting of your desired routes (see below: Configuring your route and Route overlay). Your routes are automatically logged in a historical panel within the app for easy future retrieval. Your routes can be calculated relative to car, moto, bike, or hiking travel time. Michelin estimates that bike riding Passo di Gavia would take you 3:05, but if you were on a Ducati moto (think crotch-rocket), the same route would only take 1:15 or as I have witnessed: way less at 180 KPH. When you zoom into a desired map location, the app switches to a Google-style flat map, which is detailed enough to show buildings and dock structures. When you zoom out, you can see a nice relief-style map. My biggest complaint with Google Maps on an iPhone is the lack of a relief style map. An Apple rumor is that they are not updating Google Maps and are developing their own mapping technology. The Via Michelin app includes other areas of the world, but the better; visually-descriptive maps seems to be only available in European countries. All you need when riding from Paris to Istanbul.

Self Support Cycle Gear List

I have fine-tuned my gear list for a self-support European touring cycle trip. I usually ride with a small hydration-shaped pack, a rear rack trunk bag, a top tube frame bag and a water cage container. This configuration of bike bags allows for about 10-12 pounds of gear. This gear list includes; a 2-man tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, full bike kit clothing, two sets of non-riding clothing, some electronics, and toiletries. All items are chosen for lightness, compact-abiIity, ease of cleaning and ability to dry quickly. I carry no cooking gear. And remember, if in doubt, don’t bring it, buy it when you need it.

For an updated self support gear list, check out my book Euro Tours.

Cycling bags

  • Bontrager Trunk Deluxe (Trek Interchange System) Note: This model has built-in rain condom, but doesn’t have the drop-down panniers. I think the drop-down model is too much backend weight for a rear rack. The Interchange System makes fastening and removing your trunk bag fast.
  • I have switched to a Jandd Frame Bag, it fits on a 54″ frame. Primarily, it carries my non-riding shoes. I tried a Relevate Frame Bag but it was too big to fit within my 54″ frame triangle.
  • REI Flash Pack (without hydration system) I try to load this pack with no more than two pounds of gear, otherwise, it becomes uncomfortable for long riding days. It is nice to have a small pack along for grocery runs or day hikes.
  • Soma Stash Bottle (fluids or easy access to raincoat) This a good place to store the Sugoi rain jacket, very accessible.

Camping Gear

  • ThermaRest Neo Air Full-length Sleeping Pad. This year I upgraded from a 3/4 to full length for more comfort.
  • Western Mountaineering Highlite sleeping bag (1lb) good to about 35F-40F temperature range
  • 2 man TarpTent Note: that the Cloudburst is very roomy for two people.
  • 6 tent aluminum tent pegs

Bike Clothing

Zero gear preplanning happens
  • Pearlizumi X-Road Shoes (Hybrid: bikeSPD/hike) Because you might want to go hiking some days. Standard road bike shoes are worthless off your bike.
  • Pearlizumi Riding Shorts
  • Sugoi leggings
  • Assos Full Zipper Jersey
  • Catlike Riding Helmet
  • 3 pairs bike socks
  • 1 pair riding gloves
  • Pearlizumi glove liners (optional when colder)
  • Pearlizumi wind vest (optional when warmer)
  • Assos Full Zipper/Sleve Riding Jacket (optional when colder)
  • Sugoi Rain Jacket. I keep this in the Soma Stash bottle, for quick access. This jacket works fine as a breathable wind breaker too.

Evening Clothing

  • Bison Belt (nylon webbing/Fastex belt buckle) Bison does have a money belt version of this belt.
  • REI Adventure pants, 4 zipped pockets, dries quickly and light weight.
  • Pearlizumi or Nike black nylon stretch pants
  • one dress shirt (optional)
  • long sleeve nylon shirt
  • short sleeve nylon shirt
  • Nylon Baseball Hat
  • Pile Hat helmut liner cap
  • Crocs: Santa Cruz evening shoes; lightweight, packable, comfortable Evolv Cruzers ($75): These are climbing approach shoes. Does everything that the Croc Santa Cruz plus a great climbing tread. These would make much better Via Ferrata shoes than the Crocs.
  • 1 pair high socks
  • 3 synthetic Patagonia underwear
  • MontBell Ultra-Light Down Jacket (7 oz.) Very light and compact able. Perfect for cool mornings or evenings. This is also the down for your pillow case.
  • small toilet bag (you can reduce weight here)
  • ThermaRest Pillow bag
  • REI small or medium backpacking towel
  • nylon bathing suit, quick drying as always.

Small Items

  • Apple iPhone; GSM unlocked, iPhone headphones, & USB Cable/Charger. I highly recommend an unlocked GSM phone, with GPS and Google Maps app.
  • New Trent rechargeable battery (optional) Good at campgrounds without charging plugs or for charging in a tent, and when public outlets are insecure, strangely pronged, or emit unfamiliar voltages.
  • North America to European plug adapter (critical) for charging iPhone or Trent battery
  • Prepaid SIM card of country I am riding in. ($10)
  • 1GB Flash SSD memory stick for photo backups or carrying around digital files.
  • Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS camera & USB Cable iPhone4 camera is my only camera now. (optional)
  • Compact nylon grocery bag, there are pack versions of this too.
  • Lexan Spoon. This is the only kitchen/eating utensil I bring along.
  • waterproof Dry-Pak for camera or iPhone. (optional)
  • Headlight
  • Sunglasses with dark and rose lenses.
  • Folding reading glasses (optional)
  • mini carabiners
  • Passport and credit card. Take pictures of other wallet id cards (health insurance, etc.) and leave cards at home.

Bike Gear

  • Richey Breakaway Bike
  • Continential Gatorskin tires 700/25 especially for the extra weight over the rear wheel
  • Bontrager Rear Rack (Trek Interchange System)
  • Shimano A530 SPD dual platform road touring pedals. SPDs during the rides, flat platform with evening shoes.
  • Rear rack light, nice for dark long tunnels and heavy traffic
  • Knog front light. This light can be easily fastened on any tube area of your frame and is waterproof.
  • Lightweight bike lock. I try to never leave my bike unattended in public.
  • Slime Skabs patches, instead of a tire tube
  • tire levers
  • Presta valve adapter, when you can’t find a good floor pump. This can be used at most gas stations.
  • small bottle of chain lube
  • Spin Doctor mini 4 hex tool (55grams)
  • Blackburn AirStix pump 58 grams
  • pant leg straps with reflector strips to avoid pants shredding
  • One Clean water bottle, type that can be opened and cleaned from the bottom
  • Michelin Road Atlas as iPhone photos or Google Maps with GPS and data capability
  • iPhone Apps: SBB Mobile (Euro trains), Google Translate, FXChange (currencies), iPhone Kindle (books), Google Maps

Revelate Frame Bag

Tangle Frame Bag on a 54 inch frame

Just got my upgraded and longer bike frame bag from Revelate out of Alaska. The good news is that my Cloudburst Tarptent poles fit in this frame bag (as well as the two-man tent). I no longer need to stuff the tent poles out of the top of my hydration-like pack (REI Flash Pack) and I no longer will be carrying anything slashed to my handlebars. This frame pack is much larger and longer than the Jandd frame pack. Check out the Revelate site, plenty of core bikepackers doing their thing world-wide. Eric from Revelate seems like a kewl dude and I like his WordPress site. I just need him as client now for the pro form deals 🙂

FYI… This frame bag will not fit a top tube less than 54″ without a customization request; which I think Eric can do.