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    What should I carry while riding Cycle Oregon?
    As to a first aid kit, use your own judgment, based on the experience you gain this season. C.O. has fully-equipped ambulances (usually 3, plus supervisor) on the road each day, in addition to the half dozen sag wagons, and another 2 to 4 staff cars have first aid kits. I do not believe you need to over load on this item. Just take what you would like to have that you think some fully-equipped ambulance and backup, fully stocked motor home will not carry.

Curt Coleman

Hydration: You need at least two 20 oz. water bottles. Some bikes don't have room for two full size bottles and you need to find a place for the second one. Hydration systems such as Camelbaks are wonderful.

Rox Heath

Ok.. here's my question. how much stuff do you have to carry with you on the bike?.. Do you have to have panniers and stuff? If you can stuff a jacket and leg warmers and arm warmers into an under-the-seat pack.. would that be enough?

There is support every how many miles???? so.. you can fill up with water?.. so 2 water bottles would be enough?.. and pockets for food?.. and maybe a little pack belt?

I just want to know if I need to go out and add all kinds of packs onto my bike?

I usually go out and ride 50 - 60 miles without carrying anything but water or Gatorade and Clif bars... Of course I know what the weather will be like so I can prepare for that. Maybe put extra clothes in.

I like to travel light. .. My own weight is sufficient to carry.

So what's the opinion..?


It depends on the morning weather report, which is printed in the Cycle Oregonian AM edition! There's food and drink about every 10-15 miles, more often when it's really hot or hard riding, so you don't have to carry much unless bad weather is forecast. You do leave camp early when it's coolish, but you can drop excess clothes off on a van later. But on CO X some folks dropped off their stuff at lunch and froze going over the pass. So it depends. Pay attention and some days go light, some heavier. Don't go adding panniers and dead weight. Two bottles are bare minimum when it's hot, hence all the talk of backpack hydration systems. You can affix clothes to saddle pack or waist. See you out there!

Amy Ream

I'm kind of an on-road minimalist, too. I carry only a medium sized underseat pack with tubes & tools. Everything else I layer on in the morning and stuff in my jersey pockets. The only real change I make for CO is that I carry my little Olympus in a jersey pocket.

If things warm up to the point where I'm uncomfortable before I get to a drop zone, my pockets start looking pretty lumpy, but that's temporary.

The "drop zones" are a very nice feature... started on CO IX, I think. You pack up your warm stuff at a stop, mark the bag, and drop it into a numbered box. Remember your box number for when you pick up the bag that evening in camp.

If you can do 50+ miles without extra cubic inches of space, you should be able to handle CO just fine.

Two large water bottles have worked just fine for me... just keep topping them off at every opportunity you get. Last year on day 2 was the only time I found myself running completely dry before the next stop, but that was close enough at hand that there was no panic.

Scott Saulsbury

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There's all kinds of answers to this one - we usually pack fairly heavy with a bike trunk and a handle bar bag (bike trunk is mostly empty - a few tools, small first aid kit). This bag is mostly for clothing which we don't like to tie around our waists. Personal preference. The front bag contains snacks from the last rest stop and a camera and small items so we don't want to have to dig through the clothes we have shed to find.

Things you must carry (according to CO and/or Oregon's laws):
headlight and rear reflector
if you leave camp before sunrise or are riding after dark
minimum of two 20 oz. water bottles or equivalent hydration - You can always ask for emergency water from a sag car if you use more than 40 oz., but CO is very good about having water stops when you need them.
spare inner tube (or 2 if your tires are different)
ID and cash

Other things that can sure be nice:
patch kit and tools needed to change a tire
tire pump
small rag or wipes to clean the grease off your hands
tools - if anything commonly needs maintenance on your bike carry the necessary tools (I use an Allen wrench set a lot)
sunblock, very small tube
chapstick with sunblock if you need it
first aid kit, very small
camera and film, batteries????
TP or kleenex - small amount for emergencies
cycle computer
rider tourbook - photo copy and carry the relevant day's map and elevations
Swiss army knife - very small (just comes in handy)
small plastic bag (empty - also very handy for hauling messy food to snack on)
extra clothes - everything from gloves to raincoats - this will change each day and some days it seems like you are forever adding and subtracting layers
water bottle or cup - if you use a hydration system a very lightweight plastic bottle to spray water all over yourself (and others) can be handy. You may want to fill it part way and carry it while riding for those "between water stop" cool-offs. Another method is to use a lightweight cup at the water stops.

The minimum you usually see is a bike jersey with pockets, under-seat pack, and either 2 water bottles bike-mounted or a hydration system.

There are also a great many riders with either a bike trunk or a single pannier. Handlebar bags show up a lot, too.

Choose whatever makes you feel most secure and comfortable.

Rox Heath

Ok.. Here's my answer.

Ride your bike as much as possible and become comfortable with your physical and mental limits.


It will give you the confidence to ride through rain, sleet, snow, 110 temps, cold, wind, etc for many miles and miles. You may not want to, but you'll know you can live comfortably through it.

Gear requirements are minimal. You have three pockets in the back of your jersey. That is enough for a small camera, a rain/wind jacket, light weight gloves, CO XII map, shoe covers and a helmet liner if necessary.

Keep your seat bag filled with one inner tube, patch kit and tire levers. Tire pump should be on your bike somewhere. You can put your ID in your seat bag.

Last year I used a small fanny pack to carry my large camera. My zoom lens and camera body won't fit in my jersey pocket. Other than that, all items were carried in my seat bag or jersey pockets.

All of this assumes that you are riding an upright bike and not a 'bent bike.

I'm not sure why people carry so much stuff. A trunk bag is just that - a trunk. You have to haul it up every hill. 5 to 10 pounds is significant weight.

>From a physics perspective, for me at 170 pounds the extra 10 pounds would be an additional 6% work increase while going uphill. I don't want to have to work the additional 6% going uphill. They are hard enough already.

Make it easy on yourself and know that the CO staff is there to make this a pleasure ride. They are there to support you.

Going light will only add to the enjoyment of the ride.

Bob Mueller

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So you can do some pre-planning...

CO has breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two food sag stops average each day. I just looked at last year's [CO 12] book. Figure out the days mileage and about how many hours that is for you. Are you a hardbody that is going to zip through it or are you going to poke along and stop to gawk at the photo ops or somewhere in between? With the riding style that we (and it sounds like several others) use we average about 10 mph including stops. This means that an 85 mile day takes 8.5 hours and has three food stops (two sag and lunch) in the middle of it. Try a day like this (with hills) and see how often and how much you need to eat and you will know how much you will need to carry away from each sag stop to eat in the intervals.

CO water stops range from about 6 miles apart on up. The 6 mile stretch was on a steep hill. They seem to be mostly geared to how long they think it will take us to cover the terrain. On hot days do not be surprised to find an unscheduled water stop just where you need it. If you run out just give a thumbs down to one of the support vehicles. They all carry water.

Rox Heath

[I and many others need to eat more often than CO has sag stops. This is not hard to accomplish. See also Do I need to bring food and drinks to Cycle Oregon? for more input.]

On the first day of my first Cycle Oregon, I put a nice handlebar bag on my bike with a few things in it. I regretted it almost immediately, and I've never carried anything more than a medium-sized under-the-seat bag since. I carry a screwdriver, a couple of spare tubes (and tire irons), maybe a spare tire, and a frame pump. That's it.

I usually wear warm clothes in the morning, and at the lunch stop (and sometimes at the first rest stop), if the day is warming up, I strip down and give my armwarmers, legwarmers, vests, gloves, hats, &c. to the very nice person who carries your bagged up excess clothes to that evening's campsite. It works out great! Alternatively, I can usually stuff clothes like that in my jersey pockets.

I don't like lots of baggage and weight encumbering the performance of my bike, not to mention lugging it over the mountains. I'd recommend packing as little as possible.


A rack! You have a rack? Next you'll be telling us you have a kickstand, too! I thought I was the only one with a rack, trunk and, yes, a kickstand---the purists I ride with rag me all the time about my rack and kickstand. I just tell 'em to go pound sand. Last February when I was out riding with my brothers on the Borrego Desert guess who had no place to stow their long sleeve jerseys, windbreakers and tights when the pansies finally stripped down to their short sleeve jerseys and shorts? And guess who left her cold weather stuff at home 'cuz she didn't need it anyway? They stuffed their clothing in their back pockets to begin with and finally broke down and stuffed it all in my trunk, along with all three cameras and a bunch of fruit. The wimpy sister became the pack animal that saved the day.

Penny Overdier

Wow, we have kickstands, too! (Also racks, trunks, and front bags). We use them all the time, too.

I noticed last year [CO 12] that a large percentage of the riders had some kind of bike bag (front, trunk, pannier, whatever). You just end up carrying so much stuff it is handy. It can be so cold in the morning that you have to wear extra clothes. I would hate to have to wear it until the gear drop. I am usually very hot by then. And also it is nice to have a windbreaker later in the day when there are big down hills and you have to deal with wind chill. And like you said you need a place for the camera. And what about that extra package or two of chocolate chip cookies? And the souvenir whatsit you found along the route....

Rox Heath

I was wondering if any of the seasoned CO riders out there use a front, rear, trunk, or any bag on the ride?

Thank you,
Stacey "where will I carry my makeup" Gray

Stacey, I have a small handlebar bag on the front of my bike. I have repair stuff and sometimes snacks in there. I've seen no carry-on luggage and large carry-on luggage (Curt, you've got the best luggage!). I think it all depends on how much extra weight you want to drag up those hills!

Wendi Thornton

Well, maybe, I'm a candidate for Team Cycle Nu, but I only carry enough stuff to fit in jersey pockets and a small seat pack...and that includes jacket or vest/arm warmers...tire tools, ID and $$$ and related plastic...if the weather looks promising, I drop off my morning warm stuff at the gear drop...but remember, you can't get it back until the end of the if the weather turns nasty later on and you are still out there, you might regret it...So, if you don't mind the clunkiness and are so inclined, add a trunk or other baggage haulin' device...

Merry Maloney

Many hardcore hardbodies will eschew bags, panniers, etc. as being too heavy. That is OK for them. However, my idea of bike rides centers around long distance touring - not racing, which demands a light weight bike. Not that bike touring wouldn't benefit by minimizing weight - it's just not my style.

I like my "STUFF" handy. When I rode my touring bike CO-4 through CO-11, I had a good sized, expandable rack pack with an external bungie cord for strapping down the morning's clothing which was no longer desirable to wear. In my first years, I also had a bar bag, but found that I did not really need it: Bye Bye Bar Bag.

When I started riding my recumbent, I picked up a 1500 cubic inch bag sold by Bike-E of Corvallis. I REALLY like it. It is large ( a cubic foot is 1728 cubic inches ). I have it mounted right behind my mesh seat back.

As to what I carry - mostly clothing, tools, and edibles.

For my purposes, a rackpack or trunk is a must.

I expect this is a topic which will generate some strong replies - pro & con.

Curt Coleman

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It’s really personal preference. A single rack bag works for some. I use a monster Camelback and a small handlebar bag. Everyone has their personal taste on this. Just know ya gonna be grindin' up some hills and haulin' too many extras can deter from the fun. (This from the man with a full drugstore, a host of "ohmygawd you've got *that*?" extra bike parts, almost a complete wardrobe change, and a mascot in the aforementioned Camelback)

They have a gear drop en route daily for the layers you shed after the morning chill sets in. I never use it preferring to carry my stuff in case I get caught out late. This in fact happened to a whole lot of people on last year's infamous day two [CO 12] who had availed themselves of the gear drop. BRRRRRR...

Think sane, and think about what you'll really need to get thru a day, and then figure what that will fit in and go with it. It’s your vacation after all.

You will see all sorts of configurations. There is no wrong or right here - only what works for you.

Don "but the bags best coordinate with the bike & your outfit" Bolton

Don, you forgot to mention the three spare tubes and the two spare tires ...

I rode my first Cycle Oregon with a largish handlebar bag, and nothing else. This is my favorite combination for bags. The bar bag is big enough for tools, waterproofs (I'm English, remember) camera, minimal first aid supplies, wallet, armwarmers, legwarmers, and a jacket, with still room to spare. There is a map case on top, which nicely holds (photocopies of) the maps from the riders handbook. It also has a shoulder strap, and can be removed form the bike in seconds if you want t o take a walk around town. I even removed my luggage rack from the back of the bike (for the first time in 24 years), but then this was the first time that I had ever been on a supported tour.

The advantage of the handlebar bag is that it distributes weight forward, whereas a rear bag just adds to the already excessive weight on the rear wheel. The only disadvantage is that you can't see the front of your front wheel, so if you are drafting, it is sometimes hard to judge just how close you are. A bar bag does change the feel of the steering, but I would not say that it makes it better or worse, just different. Once you have accommodated to it, it is just fine.

Unfortunately, the configuration of my new bike, which I otherwise love, precludes using that handlebar bag with it. Last year, I used a smaller handlebar bag, and added a rear rack. The rack weighs 1 pound, which is less than many bags. I brought a pannier with me, but never used it. I used a nylon stuff sac, which typically started out the day empty, and gradually filled up with extra clothes. An elastic net holds the stuff sac to the rack, in whatever state of fullness it happens to be. I also used a small seat pack for tools, a balance bar, a light jacket, a knife, and a few dollars for emergencies; this stays on the bike no matter what.

Having the rack along really irks me, but I can't come up with an alternative. I do use a Camelbak, but like to keep it very light--just water and sometimes a cell phone. I tried various kinds of frame packs, but they all interfered with the motion of my body on the bike. In olden days (i.e., the 1970s), the standard bag for day trips was a black cotton duck saddle bag, strapped transversely behind the saddle (with a yellow oilskin cape strapped to the top with toe straps. Remember toestraps?) I still have such a bag, but modern saddles don't have bag loops. Also, it keeps the weight too high up. (For the same reason, a pannier is better than a bag on top of the rack.) The truth is that the old cotton duck saddle bag, plus the mounting hardware, weights more than the light alloy rack, but spending beaucoup dollars on a carbon fiber bike and then adding a rack just feels wrong ;-)

My two cents's worth
Andrew Black

Stacey, I am an old slow recumbent rider, but I would not ride without my full pack on the back of my bike since it is freezing when we start and hot when we quit, so I am peeling clothes all day and I want some place to put them. Plus for stashing food etc, I am dependent on my bag.

Lucile Whitman

I carry an expandable rear trunk. Since I train with it, I am used to it. Also I like to carry my extra clothing, since you never know when you might need it. You won't need to worry about carrying food on CO, but the extra clothes and the normal tire repair stuff you will need.

Diane Kerns

With our hybrids -

Bob and I always use a front bag and a back trunk.

My front bag has a smaller outside pocket where I store small things like chapstick, Aleve, sun block, bag balm, etc. that I might want to be able to find. The main pocket contains a handkerchief for wiping the sweat off before it runs in my eyes, a camera when I want one, and misc. food items. This means it is partially empty much of the time and easy to get things in and out of. It is situated so that I can use a 1 qt. Ziploc in it and just leave it partly unzipped and grab snacks as I ride. I also bring along a couple of lightweight sandwich bags - one for trash and the other for messy food acquired along the way. I started this after watching Bob stash peanut butter cookies in his bike trunk on top of his jacket! I can also take off my glasses if it gets too rainy and store them in this front bag. It has a map pocket that fits over the top, but I can reach under it to get at the food. I find this bag to be very handy as I ride on the longer rides - mainly a place to toss stuff and retrieve it easily and quickly.

The back bike trunk is the Jannd with all the pockets and the expansion top. Tire patch stuff lives in one side pocket. First aid kit lives in the top (this is something I put together and is slanted toward road rash with larger gauze pads, tape, those little ointment packs from REI, tweezers, etc. - I ride with kids a lot!) I also have a few tools for the stuff that commonly loosens or breaks and a spare tube.

The main part of the bike trunk holds clothes. This means it starts out empty and fills up all day. We do use the gear drop, but always make sure we keep at least our windbreakers (or an extra layer beyond what we are wearing at the gear drop). Towards the end of the day this bag is crammed with clothes. This is why I like to store the other items elsewhere (so I can find them!)

Cycle Oregon assumes that you will be able to haul enough food and water to make it between stops. If you have at least 40 oz. of water you are fine - more is available along the way from the support vehicles. But it is easy to mess up on the food early in the week. Carry stuff from breakfast (such as cereal) or from the day before for the first stretch of road until you hit the first food stop. Get enough there to last you until the next food stop. A great many of us cannot last long enough between snacks to only eat at the food stops. They have food at these that is suitable for transport (although that small plastic bag will widen your choices of transportable items!) It is a good idea to bring a couple of granola bars or those little snack packs of cookies to help you reach the first sag stop on day 1. After that as long as you remember to plan ahead you will have plenty of food (probably too much!)

Similarly, they assume that we should be able to predict what clothing we will need during the day and be able to transport it.

I hope this helps you to inventory your own needs and plan accordingly. Some people pack very light and just breeze through and tough it with no bike bags at all. Some of us carry a lot more and mosey along and enjoy the scenery in comfort.

I have also seen quite a few people use a single back pannier instead of a bike trunk.

Rox Heath

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We like to be prepared for anything so panniers are a must. We've been criticized for carrying them (and a trunk bag) but on CO last year, day 2 when we got to "lunch" late and it started getting cool, people were standing around with hardly anything on, shivering because they had dropped their excess clothes off early in the day, we had ours. And we always have food/drink with us which comes in very handy when rest stops are few and far between. Our goal is not to get into camp first but rather to enjoy ourselves.

Cheryl & Lorren

Last year I used a handlebar bag. It held my camera, snacks, extra clothes, and map. I found it very useful and would not want to ride CO without one.

On day 5 last year, I removed my bag at lunch, since there was a gear drop and there was another hill to climb and everything I needed fit into my jersey pockets. However, I found that I missed not having the map in front of me so I could gauge my progress. I did notice that some riders found great ways to view their map without a bag.

Ron Zahm

Here's "penny's two cents' worth":
Ya have 2,000 riders on the tour, ya get 2,000 answers to the question!

Last year I had my ever-there handle bar bag and started out with an over the rear wheel trunk, the latter quickly got tucked away in the gear hauled by the nice trucks because it was no longer needed after Nanette (thanks to her!) talked me in to buying a super 100 oz. M.U.L.E. Don Bolton's comments re this item are right on the money.

Penny (lucky to live in Colorado) Overdier

Actually the real reason I have all that stuff on my bike is for ballast. It keeps me from accelerating too fast up hill and getting the bends from the sudden change in air pressure. : -)

Bob (optimized for downhill) Heath

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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
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