The bush by our front door is covered in red blossoms. They just sort of showed up one day, big and bright. There are yellow daffodils in the neighbor’s yard too, and purple and white and pink crocuses. Spring is tip-toeing in to Portland. I am ready. I have had enough of the winter weather, the greyness and the rain. I have also had enough of resting in one place. I want to get on my Brompton and ride off into the distance. But on days when the clouds part and I can see the still-snow-capped hills, I am reminded that we must continue to wait if we want to ride across the north without camping in snow drifts.

We are trying to be patient, but we are eager and excited about our next trip. Our venerable Surlys sit on the sidelines as we delight in our Bromptons. We relocate the Brooks saddles, replace the handlebar grips and migrate our cycling computers. We take the Bromptons with us everywhere, chatting about them with people at coffeeshops and restaurants and the post office. We have begun to realize that it is simply impossible to take these amazing machines anywhere without drawing attention, and we are reveling in the opportunities to dazzle and amaze as we show off the fold.

I am reminded of how it felt, two years ago, when we were just starting to put the pieces together for our first trip. The excitement, the wishing we could leave sooner, the necessity of figuring out small details like how to pack and what pair of pants to bring. This time around, of course, we don’t have to get rid of an apartment full of stuff. Everything that we are borrowing this winter, we can just hand back over to the friends that lent it. Nor do we have to untangle ourselves from jobs and prepare ourselves, mentally, for living on the road. But we do have to figure out how to pack. And, considering the size and load limitations of the Bromptons, this is a rather big part of the puzzle of our next trip.

Half of the puzzle is simple. On the front, we will make use of the Brompton Touring Bag. We’ve been riding around with these for awhile now and love them. They are enormously spacious and attach easily and smartly to the bikes. After considering backpacks and duffels for the back, we are currently leaning toward large saddlebags, which have the advantage of not interfering (as much) with the fold. The question of what will go inside each bag is still unanswered.

Our goal is to carry no more than 40-50 pounds of gear each, including all the technology and tools and food and camping gear. (This will be a circus-like feat for us, as we had nearly 70-80 pounds of gear each at the end of our last trip, having whittled it down from 140 pounds at the start!) We’re researching all the ultralight everything, trying to shave off a few pounds here and there. A new 3-pound tent instead of our current 5-pound one. A cook set that will no longer include our beloved paella pan. We’re becoming even more minimalist on this trip. And we’re excited about the freedom we’ll gain by severely limiting our stuff.

Our goal is to head back out on the road in mid-May. In some ways, it feels like an impossibly long way off, but I know that it will pass quickly and I shouldn’t dilly-dally over renewing my passport and other such details. As we continue to fine-tune our gear and start plotting our route, we’ll post our discoveries and plans here. And I will keep watching for new signs of Spring and the signal that it’s finally time to get back on the road.