SF to NYC 2012


We first made this blog so our friends and family members could follow our first cross-country bike trip in the summer of 2012. You can still check out our trip by scrolling down on the main page and clicking the category “SF to NYC 2012.” Just load and view the older posts to read about our experience biking from San Francisco, CA to New York City via the Western Express, TransAmerica Trail, and Atlantic Coast Trail—unsupported & fully-loaded in 60 days.

Here is a list of gear we brought (we never got around to finishing this list, so it’s a mess):


– Thermarest sleeping pads, we could not go without these.
– Matt used his negative-degree weather rated sleeping bag while I used a down bag rated for ~45 degrees. I was only a cold in the Sierras and near Sargents, CO.
– Sierra Designs tent, I need to check which. We went through two cheapo $20 backpacking tents from Sports Authority before investing in this one a couple years ago.
– Large waterproof tarp! After getting rained on a bunch in the Sierras we bought a very inexpensive, sturdy tarp at a hardware store somewhere in Nevada. We ended up not having to use it as a rain cover, but it did come in handy as an extra footprint for our tent. The tarp rolled up nicely in our tent stuff sack and kept our tent from getting overly soggy in dewy grass.


– MSR WhisperLite International Backpacking stove + 32oz canister of fuel. We cooked and boiled water A LOT. This stove is much more economical than buying individual Brunton fuel canisters (which is what we did on previous, shorter tours), but it takes some practice to use. We weren’t priming our stove very efficiently in the beginning of our trip so we burned through our fuel pretty fast (ha ha), but we soon got the hang of it.
– MSR Stowaway Pot + stainless steel cup with fold-in handles (perfect for boiling water for tea or oatmeal).
– 2 aluminum plates from REI. I think these were $2.50 each. Hands down the best addition to our touring kitchen. We didn’t want to be eating off pot lids and out of the pot for 2 months.
– REI Doppio Stainless Steel Tumbler: best $9.50 I’ve ever over paid in my life. This little thing kept my tea hot on the coldest of nights. Matt used one of those collapsable plastic cups (crappy), and later picked up a classic GSI speckled enamel mug to better enjoy his coffee.
– Plastic drip coffee maker + filters from Ace Hardware
– Silverware: 2 forks, 2 spoons, 1 wimpy knife, 1 Swiss Army knife, and 1 switchblade.- 1 plastic squeeze tube for any jam we bought that came in a glass jar.
– My front pannier was always stocked with tea, chili pepper flakes, and gas station condiments. In addition to groceries/fresh produce, we tried to always keep grain mix, rice, or dried pasta and canned tuna or sardines on us just in case.
– 2 lighters, some matches.
– Sponge cut in half to maximize freshness and a small bottle of dish soap.

living room

– Martin Backpacker travel guitar, a harmonica.
– 2 books we did not read.
– Journal and Adventure Cycling maps
– iPhones, iPods (only used maybe… 3 times?) camera/broken camera, charger, and cables.
– Glow-in-the-dark squishy frisbee that we bought a year before the trip even started, and that we accidently left behind at Bob Scott Summit, NV!


– Dr. Bronner’s soap (don’t know how many bottles we went through or lost).
– All the essentials like toothbrushes, floss, Q-Tips, tampons (yes, what fun they are to change on the road), and mouthwash (we like to live in some luxury).
– many tubes of Burt’s Bees lip balm, countless tubes of Neutrogena sunblock (I’d hate to say it but Walmart is great for restocking on this), contact lens solution (I went through 2 large bottles or so), travel soap “sheets” that didn’t really work.


– a watch with an alarm.
– plastic baggies for everything.
– mosquito repellant, which didn’t seem to help.
– cortisone cream or white flower oil for itchy bites.
– industrial strength pepper spray (3) for Kentucky dogs.
– Platypus 6 liter water storage container — crucial for Utah and convenient for campsites that are far away from the spigot. We lost the cap in Colorado and had to use a shower cap + rubber band after that.


– Lezyne HP Mirco Floor Drive Mini-Pump
– 2 patch kits, 3 or 4 spare tubes to start, and later some emergency tire boots. Tire levers and multi-tools of course.
– 1 helmet mirror and 1 handlebar mirror (both broke somewhere along the trip).
– I carried a spare tire and didn’t have to use it.




  1. Hello Crystal and Matt,
    just got your blog.What a great adventure,enjoy every bit of it .take picture of every meal…will be the next cookbook bestseller!!! I like your comments 😉
    Be safe.didier

  2. Hi! I a so glad you got your stove and I am just now catching up reading your posts, everytime I think I am hot, I think about you two on your bikes! I honestly don’t see how you do it with the heat being so brutal. Your youth and American spirit is fun to follow. I am so glad we met, and got a glimpse of life on the bike trail. If it were not for you guys, I would of never known our street is on the coastal map. I see other bikers coming through and now it makes me wonder what their story is… David says, “keep on keepin on”.

  3. Hi guys!
    Hope you made it safely to Brooklyn. I’m the runner you met on your last day (if it was your last day… that seemed like a stretch.) Thanks for talking to my son. “Life is a daring adventure or nothing” – Helen Keller

    • Hi Mark, it’s good to hear from you! We did make it to Brooklyn the same day we saw you (well, technically the day after, but we didn’t stop riding!). Hope to see you on the TransAm with your son in the near future 🙂

  4. Hey Matt and Crystal! Hi. It’s Aimee. Peter and I camped with you at Johnsons Shut-Ins. I am glad you have a blog so I can catch up with you! Hope all is going well for you. I’ll have to look at your new blog. I love food…my phone number is 245-FOOD.
    I was thinking about the conversation you and I had, Matt, about writing music digitally. I talked to my cousin, Bryan Johanson (the one I mentioned to you. He’s a guitarist, composer, and music dept chair at Portland State; lately he has been really involved with the Oregon Guitar Quartet). He had a lot to say about it. He only uses a computer for email. He writes all his music by hand. It is a process that allows him to slow down. He can hear the music by reading it, and finds it regrettable that in one generation musicians have lost the ability to write and hear music on paper. He also said that the programs get updated and can’t read earlier document formats, and…he had some other objections which I forget.
    best regards

  5. Hi Matt and Crystal,
    It was great meeting you adventurers today !!! I’m the guy on the bus who is in the Hotel Business. What a great adventure you had and more planned. I’ve always felt life is one big adventure and I’m sure you agree !!!
    My daughter Erin and her husband Mike celebrated their first anniversary 3 years ago by landing in Dublin, Ireland and taking off on a 10 day bike tour of Ireland. Not the roughing it like your ride since the tour company had their luggage at tne next Bed and Breakfast they rode to…..still a great way to discover Ireland.
    Hope we stay in touch. You are a happy fun couple and I wish you lots more adventures.
    Mike Hartnett
    Personal email: miryerhart@aol.com

    • Hi Peter! Yes, that’s us and it’s great to hear from you. I’ll shoot you an e-mail, get in touch if you need anything when you’re in San Francisco. C

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