Well, we have once again waved our farewell to the Grandparents and departed the island of Rugen ( making it the only place that we have been four times on this journey ). We have been reunited with the rest of our equipment in the south of Germany. If you look at a map of Europe, we are in the right hand bottom bit of Germany, where you could buy some bread in Poland and cheese in the Czech Republic, and then eat it with German beer back at home and only have been gone for an hour.
If you were uncertain where Bohemia was, then this is it, and you sir are a little wiser for now knowing that. We have had some well needed TLC. Me in the shape of a long and sharp needle that put cortisone into my foot. Esther, who had almost a dozen physio sessions on her back. The bikes – ‘ Tapas ‘ and ‘ Sebastian ‘, who have had wheels trued, tyres changed for less old and worn ones that we left here, and some all round sprucing up.
It is quite amazing that now that the bikes have done the sort of distance that would make a car look shabby and unloved, these bikes can look so fresh. This should probably be in the equipment section. But I thought I would let you know about the things we loved this year, and a tip to extend the use of your expensive panniers ( never buy cheap! ).
The first tip was told to me by Chris Cameron of Rose Bud Custom builds in Seattle. He worked for Tubus for a time, and so knows his way around a pannier rack better than most. ” I have put some hockey tape on your racks “, was the first I knew of this trick. I was not that happy with the way he had spoiled the clean line of the bikes so he needed to justify it.
He did, and it is a great idea. The tape is used at all the contact points between bike and pannier. It keeps the horrid rattling to a minimum and reduces the wear. A bag hitting the side of a rack will wear a grove given enough time. The ideal tape is hockey stick cotton tape, but most of the time we have used electrical tape of varying provenance. This is a top tip.
I gave my Rapha bib shorts a good wash and then sent of an email to the company expressing my amazement at how great the two sets look after 10,000Km. You could sell them on eBay as almost new and not be telling too much of a fib. They look as if they may ‘ outlive ‘ my Assos bibs by a factor of four. Yes I know that Rapha are a stupid price but these work.
Less impressive has been my Brooks Pro saddle. It went on at the same time that some nice leather bar tape was wrapped by someone who is both dextrous and practiced in such things. The bar tape has a patina of age the saddle is less happy, and is broken. I am now on a B17 narrow that I had stored here.
We changed to metal drinks bottles for Asia. The best appear to be Kleen Kanteen. Go for the alloy ones not coloured and you can put them in a dish washer, from where they will emerge looking wonderful. This is my first experience with alloy bottles and it has been a revelation. The water still gets hot but it tastes less like week old dog bowl water and encourages you to drink. In cool weather it stays refreshing and as nature intended. Often they were abused with Coke, orange juice, tea and so on, and still scrubbed up just fab.
I could not find a favorable review for the custom cages that these slip into. ” Broke first day “, ” Rubbish and scratched the bottles ” and so on. What on earth are people doing with them? In my opinion they are just fine. I think of review of our Big Agnes tent – ” poorly made, the main poles broke as I was trying it in the shop “. Once again, what are people doing. Have they no dexterity?
There you are then. We are back on the road in the morning. Unless rain is being driven horizontally by a hellish gale, and lashing the window of our room. In which case we may think about it after a second coffee.