When I started my Finland trip I had absolutely no knowledge about bike touring, and since postponing is my middle name I started planning about two weeks before takeoff. I bought a 1982 Peugeot road bike, which needed a lot of customisation, since those bike are just not made for touring, but how could I know. My uncle donated me a lot of – slightly overdated – equipment and I was ready to go.
Except for a broken front rack, a dozen of punctures, some broken spokes, and some other minor problems my horse survived the 6500 km trip. The high prices of Scandinavian bike shops where the main motivation for learning everything about bike mechanics last winter. I also realised that it would be a good idea to invest in a solid touring bicycle for my next journey, but by that time I was so emotionally attached to the bike that I just replaced some parts by other antique parts of bikes I’d bought – did I already tell you I don’t like spending money?
But during the second trip everything started going wrong. I wrecked some derailers, broke more spokes than my wheels have, broke some axles, had to replace my crankset after realizing crossing the Pyrenees on a 42-28 chainring-ratio with 40 kg of luggage isn’t a pleasant experience, noticed my rim was broken after replacing 6 spokes and truing my wheel for hours, had 40+ punctures, and much more. I had some weeks that my bike was standing more upside down than on his wheels. But he made it to Istanbul, and yet survived another 10 000 km, although by then he was completely wrecked.
Meeting other cyclists generally starts with a quick smalltalk, followed by a long bike inspection. Only after these rituals the real conversations start. In Istanbul I met many transcontinental cyclist and got sucked into the world of Rohloff speedhubs, USB dynamo chargers and whatnot , with extreme jealousy as result and plans to swap my bike with one of theirs during the night at the hostel. Unfortunately they where all locked. They admitted I’ve got the style-points, but that doesn’t make up for the mechanical disasters I’ve gone through.
Since the smooth European asphalt would be replaced by bumpy dirt-tracks at some point, I had to look for options. Then I found a new assistant: a fine Bob Yak trailer, to reduce the high amount of stress my old warrior was exposed to. I can certainly use the 94 litres of extra storage and riding with it is a pleasure.