I’m reprising a short tour I did a few years ago, riding the Prairie Spirit Trail from Iola to Ottawa, the Flint Hills Nature Trail from Ottawa to Council Grove, and then pavement and gravel back to Iola via Emporia. In all, it’ll be about 250 miles over four days, with plans to camp at Pomona Lake, Council Grove Lake, and Burlington’s Drake Park. Here’s the map for what I’m calling the Spirit Hills Tour:
Four of us are planning to ride, with Doug and Jay in for a partial tour, and Kimberly and myself planning to ride it all.
Once again, I’m riding my Retrospec Amok (same bike I’ve ridden on my past few tours). I keep thinking that I probably ought to upgrade to something better at some point, but the bike just works. It fits me well, and I like the way it rides.
My setup this time around is not much different than last year: Ortlieb Back-Roller Classics on a rear rack, and a Wald 137 Basket is up front, on a Sunlite GoldTec Front Rack, with a Jandd Large Frame Pack in the triangle.
I’m still running my Alps Mystique 1.5 tent, with a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol sleeping pad, an REI Travel Sack Sleeping Bag, and a Magellan Camp Pillow.
With two full water bottles, the bike plus gear weighs around 60 pounds.
The right pannier holds tent, sleeping bag, pillow, and small miscellanea, while the left pannier holds clothing food, electronics, and more small miscellanea. The sleeping pad rides on the rear rack. A small seat pack holds a tube and tools. The frame bag holds pump, snacks, sunscreen and such. The basket holds a 6-pack sized soft cooler (for food, plus cell phone) on the left, with space for a drink and whatever on the right.
I just love the basket. It’s so practical and flexible. It can hold a variety of stuff, either inside the cooler, inside the basket, or strapped onto the outside of the basket. Especially on hot summer tours, having a drink in a styrofoam cup is so nice. I’m hunting for a better solution, but for now, I use an old washcloth beneath the cup (to keep the basket from damaging the styrofoam) and a bungee cord to hold it in place.
New for this tour, I’m running Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 700×35 tires. I’d prefer something a bit wider and more supple, but Mondial’s have a reputation for ruggedness, and the Flint Hills Nature Trail has a reputation for goathead thorns, so these tires feel prudent.