Field trip results

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I came back yesterday at noon from the first test with all the equipment. As expected, the weather was a bit crappy, but quite ok (cloudy, no chance of meatballs, little rain). I’m still sick, probably due to the mounting stress, but I survived ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t go very far though, but I’m happy to have maintained an average speed above 19km/h, or 12m/h. That was unexpected.

Adding the trailer, with almost all of the equipment (missing a couple kilos only) was the main test. The trailer itself is already 6 kilos, and the equipment about 12, by the last count. That’s a lot of weight to drag on the road ! I was quite apprehensive of the result in this area.ย The first couple hours were tiring for sure, and I could definitely feel I had to put in more power to progress. But I was able to make it through the few slopes I encountered, by changing gear often enough. Then, after this initial period, it was much easier. On the second day, I was accustomed to the trailer and its weight, and the increased effort it was requiring at all times. However, I’m not ashamed to say I will walk up the bigger slopes ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Another point on the trailer is, as I’ve read everywhere, you forget about it while biking. It doesn’t affect the bike handling, the air resistance, or the balance. These were the main points that made me go against the panniers. It also doesn’t change the width of the bike, and you can go through the same places.

I had already tested the bike a bit the previous day, but this time I logged 120kms / 80 miles in a couple of days, and I went through all kinds of roads, including a forrest path and a busy, albeit large, road. I have a few quirks to correct by going back to the shop, especially on the gears switch, but it’s going quite comfortably. The butterfly handlebar also needs some getting used to, as it’s much lower than the handle on my previous bike. I sold said bike yesterday afternoon, and using it again was feeling like riding a wooden horse toy ! This new bike is definitelyย higher quality.

A point I didn’t expect to encounter is that the U-lock is almost useless outside of a city. I need to have the bike close to a thin post to use it. Trees don’t fit that description. So, I guess I’ll have to carry the older chain I have on top of the lock. Maybe I’ll get a newer one in the states.

Another point I tested was of course camping ! I have done no camping in the last 25 years, and boy did it evolve ! Here I am setting up the tent :

As far as I can remember, setting up a tent in the 80s was a pain, it was complex, and very long. Now you can do it, very quietly, in less than 10 minutes, without even thinking about it. Well I still have to progress though, as I’ve put the tarp cover upside down, and probably didn’t fasten it correctly. Still, the tent was up, and I was able to sleep in it ๐Ÿ™‚

Putting everything back in the trailer is a bit longer, of course. It took me about one hour to roll everything back into place, in no hurry. It can probably be reduced to half an hour, maybe.

But mostly, I was happy to ride in this field test, as I was finally going from point A to point B – even if the next day I was coming back to point A ! It was more interesting to push forward, even getting lost along the way, rather than going around in a circle ๐Ÿ™‚

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Packing roundup

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It’s been almost a week now since my accident, and that’s one week without any cycling at all :p That will hurt my weekly average a lot ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m supposed to get my repaired bike end of this week, or early next week. I’m also waiting for the final bike, which will come very late… But more on that one later.

So, no biking as of late. In the meantime, I’m checking my packing list. Almost everything is accounted for at this time, apart from the bike, the trailer or panniers, spare parts, security stuff, food & cleanliness items, & payment methods.

All of the rest is already quite a lot of stuff !

stuff_roundupHere I have all the camping equipment on the right, clothes in front, electronics & maps on the lower right, and tools & first aid kit on top right. In terms of volume it’s already quite a lot. And it ends up just a bit below 12 kilos. That’s including the clothes I’ll be wearing, which I did not count in the previous post on the subject, but also missing some critical elements, notably a few liters of water.

So, at this stage, three weeks before departure, I’m still not completely decided about going with trailers or panniers. I’m edging towards a trailer. Once I get my bike back, I’ll go back to the shops who carry one and decide there. That’s a major weight on top of the current one. But to me the pros of the trailer outweigh the pros of the panniers.

Spare parts, I’ll decide once I take a couple classes on bike maintenance. But I need a bike for that ๐Ÿ™‚ There are a few classes around here, once or twice a week.

Security stuff will also be a huge weight. I’ve found very nice & strong (and expensive) U locks, but they’re above a kilo each.

Food & soap and all, I’ll buy when I start. It should also be a huge weight with at least 3 liters of water.

Payments methods (a credit card and a bit of cash) should be very light on the other hand ๐Ÿ™‚ But that requires a trip to the bank, planned right after mid april, when I’ll have my departure from work signed.

So what am I doing these few days ? Resting from the crash first, I have very nice bruises on both legs, on top of the small brush on the knee. The back of my right calf is almost green :p I’m also gathering boxes for moving my stuff out, and have started packing my comics. Half of them done, 15 boxes already. On top of that, I’m selling some leftover items, like a dvd player, wicker chairs, my old PC that I refurbished from scratch (and was still working flawlessly after three years in the basement – so long, old friend ! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), a lot of cables, etc. Finally, I’m almost done on “google map route”, where I take screenshots along the road I’ll be following. It’ll make a very nice movie, that I should post during the week end.

It’s impressive how much you got to do when you’re not working ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Gift from my team

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It’s been a crazy week. On monday we signed the divorce papers at the notary office with my ex-wife. On tuesday I got to the US embassy to request a visa (I forgot to setup the alarm and woke up only 40 mns before the entry time, but still managed to reach the other side of Paris in time !). On wednesday I signed the departure deal from my work, and sent a goodbye mail to about a hundred people in the company. On thursday we signed the divorce papers at the lawyer’s office. And on friday I had a farewell at the local pub with my former team. Today I also went to the bank to announce all the changes and plan ahead. I plan to rest tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚ (actually no, I’ll start posting the ad for selling the flat)

Parting with a job you’ve had for ten years is quite something, and when I sent the goodbye mail I felt the pressure mounting : that was it, I was gone. The kind answers I received, mostly from old-times colleagues, were heartwarming, and it softened the moment. I’ll probably come back to that along the journey.

So, on friday evening I had a gift card for a sportsware shop from my former team, that was a great gift ! I had already started buying some stuff on my packing list, and I’ve been browsing most if not all bike shops from eastern Paris for a couple of weeks now. So I knew very well what I would buy.

So people, your gift card transformed into a lot of useful stuff : 4 tshirts, a rain pants, a bike cleaning kit, a bike repair kit, pant clips, and mostly a bike computer that will certainly help me ride faster ๐Ÿ™‚ That covers almost all of the “asap” buys that I wanted to do. The rest of the packing list will be bought with two other deadlines : the “go” code, in about a month, when I’ll be sure that I can physically do the ride (I’ll mostly buy a new bike then), and the “camping” code, when I’l start testing camping outside (and of course I’ll be buying all the stuff linked to that + panniers or trailer, still undecided there).

The thanks here go to Julien 1, Julien 2, Marie-Cerise, Boris, Adrien, Salomรฉ, Manou and Fabien ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Packing list 2/3

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This is the second part of the packing list I’ve prepared. This is about camping, which includes sleeping, eating and staying clean ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, the first point I have to mention is that I haven’t been camping for something like 25 years ! I was in my teens back then, and even then, it was stationary camping, on a dedicated camping site for holidays. So, leaving for 5 or 6 months and relying on more-or-less wild camping will be a large part of the challenge ! ๐Ÿ™‚

I also have to get up to speed on the type of material I can find. I’ll be riding during late spring, summer and probably early autumn, so there shouldn’t be an issue with temperatures. As for environment, it should mostly be parks, fields, perhaps a few complete outdoors. With that in mind, I’m looking for an average / low temp sleeping bag. I’ve read here and there that you should find a n+1 tent, so I’ll get a 2-person tent ๐Ÿ™‚

Cooking equipment is pretty basic, finding it should not be an issue. But here again I’ll have to test that live to get used to it ๐Ÿ™‚

As for staying clean… I hope I’ll have access to a shower at least every other day. Beyond that, I don’t know how to do ๐Ÿ™‚ Another big challenge here ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d also like to find a small chair to enjoy the outdoors while reading in front of the setting sun ! ๐Ÿ™‚

Final point here is the food itself. I’ll buy everything when in the US of course. The only question here is the volume and weight, and more precisely how much I’ll eat ๐Ÿ™‚ I will certainly enjoy US diners in the morning ๐Ÿ™‚

How to sleep, how to eat, how to stay clean… All of this I’ll test in april, I will know very quickly if I can overcome these challenges ๐Ÿ™‚