The bike tour I've been planning kicks off this Sunday, August 7. We will be closed most of the week from August 7-13, but there is a good chance that Mark will keep the shop open on Thursday, August 11, and Saturday, August 13. Call 612-727-2565 to check on our hours on those days.
Anyway, here's my Curt Goodrich touring bike. Curt built me this bike several years ago, and I couldn't be happier with it. I wanted something similar to my now-elsewhere Rivendell Atlantis, but I wanted 26" wheels with massive tire clearance and a 1-1/8" threadless steerer for rigidity and for the improved variety of threadless-compatible handlebars, among other reasons. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Surly was soon to release the 26"-wheeled version of the Long Haul Trucker with these characteristics - great minds think alike! But I was caught up in the excitement of a custom frame, and now I'm happy to have a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind ride. Anyway, for those who don't mind the considerable expense and long wait for a custom bike, talk to Curt (or any of the other fine local custom bike guys). Otherwise, for a touring, general all-rounder bike, the LHT is at least as much function, but for a fraction of the price.
Banjo Brothers. For thems that don't know, Banjo Brothers is a Minneapolis-based brand of practical, affordable bicycle bags: seat bags, panniers, bar bags, messenger bags, backpacks, etc. The Banjo bags are economically priced, but the design and construction is great, and customer service, on the rare occasions when you need it, is even better. Here I'm using the Market Panniers on the back and the waterproof panniers on the front. The small top-tube bag is a good place for my phone and camera. The handlebar bag, which has been on my bike for more than a year now, is from Minnehaha Bag Company, which is a canvas/leather line of bags, and a sibling-brand to Banjo Brothers. The Banjo Brothers panniers are generally marketed and regarded as general commuting and grocery-gettin' equipment. If you go on any bicycle touring discussion website, you will quickly discover that you need magical (expensive) equipment for touring. "Touring" is held up as a lofty and extreme pursuit, where only the most elite equipment will result in a pleasant, non-death experience. My stance is that bike touring is a lot like riding a bike, which most of us do every day without the benefit of elite touring equipment. I figure if I can haul heavy groceries and various oddball items day-in and day-out in a Banjo Brothers Market Pannier (or similar), surely it will do for hauling some lightweight camping and cooking gear for a week on a bike tour. What's the worst that can happen?
Given the large number of people who already own and use utilitarian panniers like these from Banjo Brothers, the potential for large numbers of cyclists to enjoy overnight bike touring, with equipment they already own, is huge.