I’ve received a lot of questions about the bicycle I’m riding 4,200+ miles across the country. Since it’s my transportation, home, suitcase and workstation for the foreseeable future, I thought it would be best to build it from scratch and get to know every part inside and out in the process. With help from my friends Mark Mondragon and Gin Armstrong, I custom built the bike at the City Bikes warehouse in Adams Morgan, DC. Then we took her apart and shipped her to California, where I’ll be reassembling her in just a few days.

The frame is a classic touring frame – the Surly Long Haul Trucker - which is made of CroMoly steel (sturdier and more supple than carbon or titanium) and has lots of places to attach racks and gear. We replaced the bar-end levers that come standard on the frame with Shimano Tiagra 4503 9-Speed shifter/brake levers, which were described to me by Mondragon as “the difference between driving a Ferrari and a horse cart.” They are also more complicated to repair if they break, but after installing them myself, I feel pretty confident about being able to diagnose problems and adjust them on my own, if need be. Inshallah.

To carry all my gear, we installed front and rear racks for panniers over both tires. Everything I need for the tour will be in those panniers or strapped to the racks (Deuter panniers for the front, Axiom for the back, and Jandd racks, for those interested in the nitty-gritty) including my tent, sleeping bag, clothes, electronics, toiletries, water,  and – most importantly – snacks. I added dual-sided pedals with SPD on one side and a flat platform on the other, which will make  it easy to transition between clipped-in long-distance riding and pedaling around town at each destination. Finally, I replaced the standard Surly saddle with a women’s comp gel saddle, wrapped the handlebars with red leather handgrips and added white star decals to the royal blue frame. If anyone has a problem with America, they can take it up with my bike first. She’s red, white and blue from top to bottom.

There’s just one thing missing, and that’s a name. Got an idea? Tweet your suggestions to me at @jgoldbeck and make sure to use the hashtag #cycle4security.