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I want to compare ideas about touring with a MTB frame. I read somewhere MTB's are good for touring because they are built tough, the oversized tubes now commonly used add stiffness to the frame, making the added weight of gear more stable.

My setup is not about going as fast as I can, it is about durable and comfortable and functional, in that order. I average 50 miles a day with 150 pounds (68 kg) of gear. When I get to Key West I will have been riding 18 months, 10,000 miles (16,000 km). After sightseeing in Key West, I will hunt for a sail boat to work on, get passage to Europe, tour Europe, Southeast Asia, and the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Improving and improvising are survival skills. Got any ideas? Free and cheap are in my budget. ;) I can spend more time than money.

What I have is a 15 year old Specialized Rockhopper with an XtraCycle FreeRadical Cargo Classic with wideloaders. My saddle is a Spiderflex. I use small 'apehanger' or 'angelbar' handlebars so I can sit upright. I also use a backpack equipped with a Camelbak hydration system. the backpack has my essentials in it - wallet, cellphone, laptop, (epilepsy) meds and paperwork.

I am told the cromoly Rockhopper frame was very popular for touring and it was in my size AND I got it in trade for a Gary Fisher Tassajara that was too small for me. The Rockhopper has performed flawlessly so far - it still works. ;) I keep up with maintenance. The bike, with a U-lock weighs 30 pounds.

I got the Xtracycle used, it needed braising repairs. I love the fact I can carry 200 pounds of equipment (so they say). I was using old laptop bags, now I am using a pair of military style duffel bags "pickle bags". My kitchen is a plastic milk crate strapped on with bungie cords on top of the skateboard looking piece of wood on the Xtracycle. The Xtracycle weighs 30 pounds.

The Spiderflex bike seat was expensive but... it bears most of my weight comfortably. I tried many standard seats. The skinny, minimalist seats were not comfortable for me. More cushioning was better but there was never ENOUGH cushioning. Wider, longer seats were better because I could shift to another part of my butt that was not sore yet, or at least not AS sore yet. I wanted an 'ergonomic' bike seat.

I tried the Spiderflex seat and immediately got relief, with a sore butt. My sore spots were not in the same place as this new kind of seat. But, what about in the long haul? It turns out, after reading the instructions in the box and on their website, I needed to sit upright. That's where the raised handlebars come in. My hands, while I am riding, are in a natural, effortless, non-weight bearing position. No more sore handds, arms or shoulders! I have ridden 8,000 miles, 50 miles a day so far. I love it.

The seat frame has larger sized stainless steel rods than most seats and the rods are welded together. The frame is not going to break. The cushioning is shaped to cradle my sit bones. "Ischial tuberosities are a pain in the butt!" The seat frame is longer than standard allowing greater potential to sit further back on the bike. But, even this is not a perfect solution. It is MORE comfortable but I still have to take a break every hour or so.

All good, I am encouraged to stretch and break the habit of getting into a daze from the road. Time to take a look around; smile at the cars passing by, see the trees swaying in the breeze, the sunlight sparkling and dancing through the leaves, shadow and light. Time to appreciate the mysteries of a woman's walk, amazing how y'all do that. :)

My other gear includes bike tools and inner tubes, one tire, all season 3 man tent (3 man? I think not!), nylon hammock, mosquito net, tarp, synthetic sleeping bag, self inflating sleeping pad, bike shoes, running shoes, slip-on sandals (for midnight calls of nature while camping out), toiletries (Dr. Bronners liquid soap is soap/shampoo/dish washing/clothes washing), food (peanut butter, cheese and honey on one each corn and wheat tortillas are half my diet), dual fuel camp stove with fuel, 2 quart pot (I removed the handle to reduce size), butter knife and oriental soup spoon, spices and olive oil, (food bank canned hand outs are most of the rest of my food options), clothing treasures from thrift stores (knit silk shirt, cargo pant and cargo short (one each), sweat pants (for long underwear and pants both), wool socks and nylon dress socks (worn at the same time, nylon inside), synthetic underwear (can wash them in a bathroom sink and wear wet, dries quickly), wool sweater, lightweight windbreaker jacket, baseball caps in warm, topless and regular options (they are sun visors, rain visors and block out oncoming headlights).

My bike tools, other than standard, are; something I bought from Sears that fits between my small ratchet wrench and my collection of hex bits screw driver ends, small vise grip pliers, large and small adjustable crescent wrenches and a utility knife with replaceable blades. Why is it I can not find allen key hex bits in metric sizes? Is it because I am in the USA?

Did I forget to mention something? I bet but, after writing all this, my brains are fried. Got any advice or ideas?
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