To many options…
I’m feeling a bit confused at the moment. I’m in the luxury position of having way too many options and trying to sort my way through them is giving me a headache!
In less than 2 years I plan to head out for another long distance, long time trip. During and after my little walk, I have met so many other long-distance travelers and heard so many stories that my head reels with ideas and inspiration.
My original plan was always to try cycling this time, at least primarily. I want to combine cycling with some hiking as there are a few trails I would very much like to walk. The Te Araroa being one of the ones on the top of my list.
Being me, I found it difficult to just get or build a conventional long distance touring bike and started trying a few other ideas.
The first was the notion that it would be cool to tour on a Bullitt cargo bike. I have long been fascinated by these cargo bikes, they are definitely the coolest cargo bike available and surely, being able to carry more than enough stuff is compelling.
So I bought and started modifying Steve, the Bullitt bike.
Steve is a very capable travel companion, with maintenance free Gates Carbon Drive and a Rohloff 14 speed rear hub, he is bulletproof!
A short 5 week, 2500 km ride through Finland this summer proved that Steve is ready to take on the world, and I am not even finished with the modifications yet. Still to come is a dynamo front hub that will keep my phone charged and make me more or less completely independent from electricity.
The waterproof, lockable Alu-Box is great (I already knew that from using one on the Mule) and swallows more than everything I need. In fact, the problem with Steve is that it is so easy to carry to much stuff!
This summer’s trip proved the concept and all should have been well and it should have been a matter of trying to decide in which direction to start pedaling…
Enter Mr. Blue, a Surly Ice Cream Truck that I built from the frame up and kitted to survive the apocalypse. Mr.Blue can go places that Steve can just dream about, it is ready to take on whatever I throw at it. It would be so easy to pack it in a box, hop on a plane to Australia and spend a year or so exploring the sandy, desolate outback tracks that criss-cross the country. Finishing up on the east coast and taking a break to hike the Te Araroa before shipping Mr. Blue to South America to explore that continents peaks and desolate roadways.
I have really only tested Mr. Blue on a couple of short trips because I am not sure if I will keep it and I want to keep it as pristine as possible so that I can sell it at a reasonable price.
So I have two very capable touring bikes that are both just odd enough to satisfy my perverse need to do things just a little bit differently but I can’t help thinking about other options (I obviously have too much time on my hands!)
There are a few standard opinions about what constitutes a “good” long-distance touring bike. People have done around the world tours on just about anything, but these are some generally recommended specs:
Simple, sturdy steel frame
No suspension (nothing to break or maintain)
26″ wheels with slightly wider tyres (there are plenty of 28″ bikes out there and the + size tyres in 27.5″ and 29″ are becoming more common as well).
A good range of gears (there is a split here around the reliability of a Rohloff hub, as opposed to the easy repairability of derailleur gears).
Waterproof panniers or possibly a bikepacking system to carry all the gear.
Despite knowing all the stuff above, and having done a few longer bike trips, I keep going back to the crazy idea that I should just pack a minimum of stuff on Molly, the fixed gear Moulton, and roll a dice and pedal off in whatever direction the dice picks.
Molly doesn’t fit any of the specs above, having small, skinny wheels, front and rear suspension and being fixed gear. It would be totally ludicrous to pick it for a long-distance trip, especially if it were to involve some poorer quality roads.
Which is probably why my perverse mind keeps thinking about it!
As if that wasn’t enough, there is always at the back of my mind the notion that I should just keep walking..
Time will tell what happens and in many ways, I am quite happy to let serendipity decide what option remain to me by the time I head out into the world. To help her (I have always seen serendipity as a woman), all three bikes are for sale. They are not cheap, but then they are each very special in their own way, so if you are looking for a traveling companion (or in the case of Molly, possibly the coolest fixie ever) just let me know.
To bike or to walk, that is just one of the questions!