Saturday, 8 May 2010

Bike talk

Rich has toured all over North America and gave me some good advice for when I start.

I was planning to start in the Florida Keys and cycle up but he said Southern Florida is the worse place for cycling he's ever been to. All the oldest people in America go there to retire. People that can hardly walk or see over the steering wheel are driving huge cars around. Bumping into each other and causing carnage. So I think I'll start a little higher up. In fact I'll just skip the deep south all-together.

The other bit of advice he gave was for the bike. I was planning to go for just rear panniers but he says that's the mistake most people make. It's better to have front panniers with a 40-60 weight distribution. He said a trailer is safer because drivers are a bit more wary and give you more room, and the bike handling is better. It's a little slower than carrying your weight on the bike, but then I could go for thinner tyres - 25mm rather than 28mm - which would compensate a bit.

It will also be a lot faster loading and unloading with a trailer. Packing up 5 bags on the bike, ensuring the weight is distributed evenly, and strapping on the travel guitar is going to be a drag, so the trailer is looking like the winner. A downside would be carrying it all upstairs in some people's house, taking a train or flying, but 5 different panniers would also be a drag.

My Dad has ordered me a Bob Jackson frame in England which they'd even heard of here in Canada. One of the guys in the shop has one, so that makes me feel good about it. I was going to go for a Kona with disc breaks, better for the mountains - but the build quality will be better with a Jackson. I'll be ready for when I got to England in the summer and I'll get it all set up, ready for New Zealand in January.

The plan is still to ride there in their summer (it's English so it's easier for me to book and more suitable audiences). I don't fancy Australia so will go on to Hawaii for a few weeks (I'll have a round-the-world ticket, which is cheaper than just out and back to New Zealand) and then across to the warmer part of the states, heading up gradually as it gets warmer and then down again as it gets colder. And always with the prevailing winds so I get blown along and can go further in a day. Migratory touring.

Then perhaps in 2012 I'll do the same thing but do Europe after New Zealand instead of America (I could do both in the same year but it's better to fly as little as possible and take more time over it. America is better to start because of the language and it's all one country, so I can get a 3G contract without fussing over finding wifi).

It sounds a long way off but in my mind I'm already there. All this driving is so stale. Cycling is a joy. You really breathe the place and see the back roads rather than the interstate. The real countryside. And feel so much more alive after a lot of exercise. It's a drug. I'm running every morning and doing yoga to keep up, but it's a chore when you have to make an effort to do it, rather than a natural part of your day.

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