After our 10-day bike trip in July, we took some time in August to review our packing list to see how we could reduce our gear weight. Riding uphill for about 30 miles on Aufderheide Drive was a great motivator for looking closely at what was in our panniers to see what could be crossed off the packing list.
On the expense cutback front, the Great Mr. Grumby found an awesome deal through Sprint to lower our mobile phone bill once again. I’m also happy to report that we are on track for our 2017 expenses to come in at least 10% below our 2016 spend. Whoop, whoop!
For those of you who have read the monthly update before, I’m eliminating the redundant introduction. And thanks for coming back to GrumbyLand to check in!
If you’re a first-time visitor check out last month’s post for the summary of our downsizing adventure.
Chaotic Grumbys Learn from Bike Touring Experts
Grumby Packing Chaos
I mentioned last month that we met three seasoned cycling tourists (Keith, Jim, and Holly) when we were on our July bike trip. They had ridden their bikes from Yorktown, VA to Oregon and were a great source of packing list wisdom. We were all getting organized for the next day’s ride at Creekside Campground in Sisters and Mr. Grumby and I had most of our gear spread out on a picnic table. We could hear some chuckling in the background as Jim and Keith observed the Grumby Packing Chaos. They came over, shaking their heads, and said, “You don’t need all that stuff! Just wait until you have to carry it all up a big hill!”
Jim and Keith: Bike Touring Packing Ninjas
After they recovered from the shock of seeing what we were carrying in our 8 panniers, Jim and Keith graciously offered to share their packing wisdom. They showed us the contents of their smaller and fewer bags and gave us some recommendations for how we could reduce our weight. With just 2 small rear panniers each, they were both set for more comfortable and nimble hill climbing. The absence of front pannier bags was also helpful in strong cross and headwinds. Guys – if you’re reading this, thank you for taking the time to help us learn the tour packing ropes!
Bike Touring Gear: Lightening the Load
What Did We Learn? What Will We Cross Off the Packing List?
Between the 2 of us, Mr. G. and I were hauling about 90 pounds, not including the weight of our steel frame bikes. What we learned from Jim, Keith, and the 30-mile climb on Aufderheide Drive was that we definitely want to lighten our load. Wherever possible, the items on our packing list will serve multiple purposes. Following are a few items that we’ll remove from our packing list.
I had too many socks. Take only:
- 2 crew
- 1 no-show
- All wool*
Mr. Grumby had too many shirts. He will reduce to:
- Long sleeve: 1 wool*, 1 camp shirt
- Short sleeve: 2 wool* or Capilene
- Jackets: down vest, windbreaker, and rain jacket
* Note that if you do multi-day active travelling or other outdooorsy stuff and have not yet tried merino wool, its natural odor resistance is impressive. Give it a try! We’ve found that what Wool Revolution says about synthetic fibers is absolutely true,
“Most synthetic fibers acutally increase body odor because they create a breeding ground for bacteria. Sweat itself has no odour, but over time bacteria develop and create unpleasant odours.”
- Empty bottles for soapy water and rinse water (just use the cooking pot!)
- Plastic mugs – get two 28oz stackable bowls with lids that can be used for morning oatmeal and produce storage
- Water filter (steripen with extra batteries is sufficient)
- Lights: reduce to 2 headlamps and one dynamo hub light
- All caribiners – they’re heavy and if we end up riding in Alaska sometime we’ll get a couple for hanging food bags
- Extra straps and bungys – keep 1 regular strap, 2 bungy straps, and 2 mini-bungys
- Extra rope: keep one 30ft rope for a clothesline and about 30ft for the tarp
- Multiple soaps for body/dishes/clothes – take only Dr. Bronner Pure Castile Liquid Soap in two 4oz bottles
Enough About Bike Crap – What About the Grumby Money?!
Mr. Grumby’s Excellent Sprint Deal
In January Mr. Grumby switched from Verizon to Ting, reducing his mobile phone bill by about $30/month.
In late June he found out about another good deal through a Clark Howard podcast – a limited-time offer for ONE YEAR FREE through Sprint. Mr. G. seized the opportunity. While not really free, due to taxes, his monthly bill will be about $3. This is a 91% reduction – not too shabby!
We’ll just have to remember to find another plan before the one year is up, because if we don’t the bill will go up to $60/month.
The Sprint limited-time offer is no longer available. But if you’d like to save on your mobile phone expense, you might check out Clark Howard’s Mobile & Electronics page.
Mrs. G’s August Forecast: 2017 Spend 10% Better vs. 2016
Please forgive me while I have a freak-out moment … do we really only have 4 months left in 2017?! This means that the Grand Grumby Get-away is less than 18 months away. As Mr. Grumby would say “Great Googly Moogly!”
OK … thanks. Now, where were we? Oh yes – my 2017 forecast. I predict that this coming winter in Portland will be much milder than last year. And I also think that our expenses are on track to come in at least 10% lower than our 2016 total. The big changes as of the end of August:
- In the $1,000 + range (savings for each category): entertainment, pet expense, housing, and groceries
- $500 – $1,000 savings per category: mobile phone, medical/health, travel, and “other”
- $0 – $499 per category: personal expense and internet
There are also a few places where we’ll spend a bit more this year: charity & giving (yay!!), transportation (getting bikes ready for The Tour) and taxes (BOO!).
Mobile Phone Deals and 2017 Expenses
What great mobile phone deals have you discovered?
Any interesting 2017 expense stories to share?