st. Gotthard

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Few words about the bike and equipment. I tried to change the bike as little as possible so that it remains the one that it always has been - I never had a puncture with this bike for example, so even the tyres and tubes were the same as 8 years ago. However I had to make quite some compromises. First, the pedals were old fashioned ones designed to work with straps and are a pain in the a**e to cycle if you don't use this - as I don't. I changed them for cheap plastic ones. Then there were brake pads. They were totally worn and as I intended to live through this year I had to replace them.

Further, the gears were far from appropriate for mountain tour: 2 front rings (52/42) and a freewheel of 11 to 24 teeth. I didn't want to go for larger cogs, but instead got rid of some parts in order to reduce some weight. So I removed the big front ring, front derailleur, shifter and cables, saving 480 g. Stock bolts were too long for single ring and I couldn't get short ones, so I used washers left over from roof repair. I was sceptical if this would work more then for 50 km, however, to my pleasant surprise the ride with one ring turned out to be excellent show of simplicity and enjoyment - apart from climbing hills steeper than 5%. The bike had other deficiencies as play in the rear axle, play in the bottom bracket and bent rear axle, but I couldn't fix this by myself and didn't want someone else's hand to touch it, so I just went with it. Apart from the pedal that fell off on the third day (probably because of the loose BB) I had no problems with the bike.

It was essentially a "credit card tour" - sleeping and eating in hotels. This enabled me to go far below my usual luggage weight - which already is an unbelievable minimum to most of cycle tourers (see the weight page). Beside the cycling clothes and shoes on myself I carried things in jersey pockets, in a small bag on the handlebar and in a bag attached to seat post with bungee cord and supported by bottle cage for added stability. So there were no racks, this also saved me half a kilo.

List of things included: cycling clothes and shoes, long trousers, fleece pullover, rain jacket, underwear, gloves, nylon stockings, tools, digital camera, medical kit, sewing kit, razor and tooth brush, skin ointment, card with riding directions (substitute for a map), ID and credit cards, pencil and paper, spare tube, spare glasses and some plastic bags. Total weight: 2950 g, with water in a bottle at most 3950 g.


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