|Equipping a Fully
Self-Contained Cycle Tour
for 99 Cents
I was driving through town one day and spotted a
bright blue Gore-Tex cycling jacket displayed in the
front window of the Veterans Thrift Store. After
stopping to check it out I discovered that It was in
perfect condition and the 99 cent price tag took
away any qualms I had about improper fit. When I
got home and showed Amanda the jacket she
laughed and said,"I know we're desperate, but that
looks ridiculous on you."
I said, "This is it. The first purchase for our big
She looked at me as if I was crazy.
So I snapped a digital photo of the jacket and listed
it on eBay. Seven days later it sold for $75, plus
shipping. A $74 profit. Amanda was intrigued. It
was only the beginning.
That purchase set me on the road to researching
what we would need to make this trip. Scouring the
internet I began to study the specifics of cycle
Of course, I wanted the best equipment but my
overwhelming frugality would not allow such a large
outlay of cash. So I made a long wish list; Katadyn
Pocket water filter, Ortlieb Panniers, MSR Velo Tent,
Koga Miyata, Bruce Gordon, Surly, Burley, Deore
XT; the names began to swirl in my brain.
The next week, in the window of one of the thrift
stores was a 1980s Specialized Rock Hopper Comp
bicycle for $29, this time in my size, or close
enough. I ignored the cheesy neon pink lettering
and bought it.
At barely five-feet tall, Amanda's diminutive stature
made it difficult to find her a second hand bike.
After weeks of searching through all the thrift shops
in town we entered the Salvation Army for the
umpteenth time. One of the employees noticed
Amanda teetering on a bike on the verge of tipping
over the neatly lined row of cycles. As I grabbed her
by the collar he asked, "Hey, you looking for a bike
"Yeah", Amanda said, ready to give up on the
Salvation Army. He motioned for us to follow him
into the back room and walked under the sign that
read, "EMPLOYEES ONLY". Leaning against an old
mattress was the tiniest mountain bike we'd ever
seen. Amanda squealed at the purple, fuchsia and
blue color scheme, and I had to restrain my
excitement at the top-of-the-line components as I
asked, "So, what's the price it?"
"Ah, how about $14.99?" The guy asked.
"Sold", we both said at the same time.
That day we also found a pair women's cycling
shoes and an REI jacket. We bought them too, and
they sold on eBay for nearly $100.
Every Thursday we'd spend an hour strolling along
thrift-shop row. One day I found Performance
waterproof cycling overshoes, another day three
barely used Pearl Izumi jerseys. Amanda's
treasures included a pair of Prana yoga pants, a
Columbia jacket, and a Therm-a-Rest camp
Soon we discovered the real gold mine, our local
flea market at the border with Mexico. Bright and
early on weekend mornings the South Bay Drive-In
transforms itself into an international village of
sellers with piles of treasures offered for a pittance.
Posting these treasures on eBay we watched the
amount of funny-money in our PayPal account grow.
With this profit we would turn around and bid on the
stuff we really needed for the trip. I bought new
Ortlieb front panniers with the money from an Eagle
Creek backpack and Amanda sold a pair of small
Blackbottom thermal pants then used the funds for a
Crank Bros. Multitool. The best, by far, was the
Raleigh touring bicycle I sold for twenty times what I
paid then used that money to snap-up an MSR Velo
Tent on the online auction.
My In-Box was full of emails from eBay luring me to
bid on things I wanted and I began to see the signs
of addiction. I knew I was in trouble when I looked at
Amanda's outfit one day and spoke before thinking,
"We could get more than $75 for those Patagonia
She scowled, "Get away!"
This cycle tour came about by reusing the discarded
items of others. In the end I calculated it all, the
bikes, the clothes, the packs, even the airfare for
this tour through Southeast Asia. All of the items
needed for this trip of a lifetime were purchased
using the money that stemmed from that original 99
cent thrift-shop jacket, giving a whole new meaning
to the word re-cycling.
I am now in rehabilitation for my eBay addiction,
making good progress.
Some of the things Rich sold on eBay.
|Amanda's $14.99 Salvation Army Bicycle
|Rich's $29 Specialized Rockhopper
From The 1980s