My bike was a classic, a 1950’s Raleigh ‘Silver Dawn’ English-style three-speed. I’d bought it second-hand 12 years earlier. When I was growing up I’d to ride it every day to school, three miles each way, up and down some steep hills.
Fabricated from heavy -gauge steel and welded together, it was a sturdy workhorse. I’d taken it apart, cleaned it thoroughly and adjusted the rear brakes and gears. Perfect for the rough terrain I was expecting. Fabricated lightweight baggage racks from some old lawn furniture and spare bits and pieces. For some odd reason – to reduce weight, I guess – I took off the front brakes, a move that would come back to haunt me later.
I figured I’d be riding over some rough roads so I packed accordingly. Had most of the tools lying around…Vice-grips, big screwdriver, crescent wrench and a small C-clamp for repairs.
Needed to buy a few spare parts. Spokes, tubes, patches, ball-bearings, brake shoes, grease, chain links & a tire pump. I’d be well-prepared if anything broke or wore out.
Plus my dive gear: mask, fins, snorkel, dive knife, gloves and booties. I was hoping to hit some reefs.
Built a custom crate to the the exact dimensions of my gear. Well-seasoned white pine for the frame and particle board to keep weight to a minimum. Total weight clocked in at 50 kg. Perfect!
That would take care of the bike stuff. Still had a backpack to fill up. Decided to take my old Alpine Design rigid frame back pack. It was pretty sturdy, if well-worn. I’d carry it as I hitch-hiked to Miami. Once I got to Mexico I would lash the pack onto the rear rack. I had another, smaller canvas pack that I could tie to the handlebars.
Packed a few more supplies. Duct tape, hose-clamps, needle-nose pliers, nylon cord and epoxy glue. I’d be able to repair any equipment mishap.
I had minimal camping gear: a 1lb Eddie Bauer down bag, tarp, skeeter net and ensolite pad. Plus a 22″ machete, file, whet stones, 3-in-1 oil, Puma jackknife, spoon, fork, watch and sunglasses. 300 halazone water purification tablets and 720 matches.
Not many clothes. a few shirts, one pair of long pants, shorts, a towel and a raincoat. I figured I could buy stuff along the way as needed. Plus I was wearing a pair of sturdy Sperry Docksiders.
A few fun things: a B-flat blues harp, frisbee and some shark’s teeth to trade.
Brought a 35mm camera and film. The film got lost and I traded the camera for dope in Jamaica. So no photos, sorry. I shoulda been more diligent. Oh well, the words will have to suffice 45 years later!
Most importantly I bought two 150-page 9½”x6” ‘Permacover’ spiral notebooks to keep a daily journal. I figured the trip would be interesting so I might as well take notes. Took along 17 pens.
In addition to the two blank notebooks, I carried a large-scale 1975 AAA ‘Map of Mexico and Central America‘, the National Geographic ‘Map of Mesoamerica‘ and some brochures with tourist-type maps. Brought along my hardcover edition of Morley’s ‘Ancient Maya’ and Peter Matheison’s ‘Far Tortuga’ in paperback. Plus a ‘Spanish Made Easy’ text book and a Spanish-English dictionary. I’d study Morley more closely when I was there.
Had $850 in American Express Traveller’s Cheques and about $50 in cash. I’d change any left over Dollars into Pesos at Miami International after I bought my ticket and Tourist Card. Plus my newly-issued passport.
I was all set.