…as this would be an altogether different kind of trip without one. I initially had the thought that I would simply hop on my road bike–the kind with turned down handlebars and skinny tires–and start riding.
“You could do that,” the smiling guy at my LBS (the occasionally pejorative bicycle forum term for Local Bike Shop) said. “You could do it on a tricycle,” he then added, to make sure I didn’t fail to catch his drift.
“Gotcha,” I said back.
At which point he introduced me to the term, touring bike, which I had somehow missed out on all these years, and which looks like a road bike to the hopelessly uninformed, but isn’t. Touring bikes, my LBS guy explained to me, have heavy steel (not aluminum, or carbon) frames, a longer wheel base, fatter (slightly) tires, more spokes (some of them have more spokes–some of them don’t–touring bikes, as a genre, are complicated), and attachment points for the front and rear racks. Which you need for the panniers (saddlebags). Which is a word I still can’t say without immediately feeling the need to apologize, but which you pretty much have to have because they hold all your shit.
“My bike doesn’t have attachment points?” I asked.
“You really haven’t done your homework on this, have you,” was his smiling reply.
Many sleepless nights later, I was hooked me up with the gold standard and bees’ knees of touring bikes, pictured above–the Surly (what a great name) Long Haul Trucker (what an even better name).
My Trucker is the disc brake version, which I had never heard of, but which my smiling LBS guy assured me is better than traditional rim brakes, but which also means it says Disc Trucker on the top tube where it should say Long Haul Trucker. This is a mistake, of course, and I immediately had him order a set of Long Haul Trucker decals, so I could swap them out. Only my LBS guy, who had not done his homework, ordered the wrong decals, and now can’t seem to order the right ones, or they’re back-ordered, or something. All of which was discovered after I had already scraped off one of the decals. Which is just as well, as it will give me and the Subway guy in Lolo, Montana something to talk about.