Here are a bunch of figures and facts about our bicycle tour. They may or may not be of interest to you, but they are offered here in an effort to quantify whatever is quantifiable about such an adventure. For sure the experience is mostly subjective, but still, it may be useful to us, or perhaps others to record some of the following details.
Susan's fully loaded bike (bike, rack, all gear, bags, and water): 24.4kg (~53.8lbs)
Number of flat tires: 1 (presta valve stem failed when filling tire)
Mechanical issues: 2
1. Broken spoke required replacement - due to derailer hanger getting slightly bent in transit to Europe and resulting in dropping chain off top of cassette and damaging the spokes.
2. cracked rack eyelet required welding to repair - due to lower rack screw vibrating out and rack/ pannier load stressing upper driveside seat stay eyelet. Repair was done in 30 minutes while we waited and cost ~$15. After 1000 miles the repair is still fine and shows no signs of wear or stress.
Total distance ridden: 3338km (2074miles)
Number of days riding: 54 days
Average distance riding per day: ~62km (38.5 miles)
Longest day of riding: 125km (78 miles)
Shortest day of loaded touring: 13km (8 miles)
Length of trip: 76 days
Number of days in Italy: 54 (9 days on Sardinia)
Number of days in Croatia: 12
Number of days in Slovenia: 6
Number of days in Austria: 4
Number of days camping: 22
Number of days staying with Warm Showers hosts: 8
Number of days staying in Milan with Antonio (friend): 6
Number of days staying in Hostels, B & B's, or hotels: 40 (far more than we anticipated, with all of the inclement weather we set the habit early of getting a room when it was raining and kept with it as the wet spring in Europe unrolled. Initially we also rode trains more often when it was raining, while later we either rode in the rain, sat out a day, or strategically timed our riding with breaks in the weather.)
We identified the following gear as being especially useful, valuable, or indispensible for our tour:
- Koki waterproof backpack. This is a simple roll-top sack style backpack that easilly compressed down and was used as a rear rack bag secured to Darryl's Ortleib panniers with a simple bungee cord. In it I carried necessaries for riding, as well as lunches. It also worked great as a daypack for off bike adventures or city explorations and was great for carrying groceries after shopping.
- Revelate Designs Tangle Frame Bag. This half frame bag was used in place of a handle bar bag or front panniers. We have been experimenting with alternative ways to carry gear and lighten up our load at the same time. While we ended up carrying more weight than we had hoped (or ultimately needed) we found that we could easily carry all we needed for self supported (including cooking and camping capabilities) using only rear panniers and rack bags. The obvious downside is one of balance, which the frame bag did not fully effectively address. If we could find smaller, waterproof, lightweight panniers (something around 1000 liter capacity) I might be tempted to use them paired with Ortleib front-roller bags (used as rear panniers). From our experience extra space is almost always filled and results in heavy loads. For our purposes 35-40 liters capacity (combined or with just rear panniers) gives us plenty of space (half of this capacity is used for tent, stove, pots, pans, fuel, first aid, repair, tools, etc, the other half fits my clothing and personal belongings)
- We used our Apple iPad mini extensively. Of course we used it for all manner of web-based media and communications, but we also used it as a navigational tool (using Apple's firmware maps app to get a fix on our location and identify roads, routes, and distances. It's worth noting that Apple's map data wasn't always comprehensive or accurate. It served us pretty well, but often did not show smaller roads, and on a few occasions led us to roads that no longer connect requiring us to turn back and find another way around.) We were also able to upload photos from our digital camera to the iPad via an Apple card reader. We did all of our blog posting on the iPad as well (using Blogger's app, which works ok but is not as easy or powerful as using the regular web based portal. Still, the iPad was a great tool and it fit perfectly in the zippered pouch side of the Tangle frame bag making it easy to access. We paid extra for the cellular enabled version which was of course very expensive to use overseas ($25 for 100mb which was automatically renewing (dangerous!). We kept Cellular data turned off except for those times when we needed to access web for info like directions or contact info. The real benefit was that even with the cellular data turned off we could get real time GPS positioning on map apps, this proved invaluable for navigating and route finding.
- Lightweight tent (Big Agnes Slater 2+) was great if not a bit compact. This ~3 llbs tent was big enough to be comfortable, but then again we never had to spend time in it when we were not sleeping (remember we either rode in the rain, or stayed in hotels when it was stormy, we didn't sit out storms in the tent on this trip). A larger tent would allow for space to spread out a bit and hang out if need be, but then again a larger tent could easilly way twice as much.
- Lightweight sleeping bags (REI: Sub-Kilo for Susan (she likes having extra warmth in her bag) and REI: Halo 40 degree F rating for Darryl) worked great. We used silk sleep liners as well to add comfort, keep bags cleaner, and add a small amount of added warmth and flexibility for the few nights it was actually hot out.
- Cascade Designs Neo lite air sleeping pads (very small, pretty lite, and comfy (we both ended up with small, slow leaks, which from my experience is not unprecedented, but in the past I have always been able to patch such holes). We had a repair kit but due to the small size were unable to locate and repair the leaks. This meant that after 6 hours of sleeping or so I started to feel my shoulders and hips on the ground and would need to roll off the pad and blow it back up - not conducive to an uninterrupted night of rest.
- Footwear. Susan opted for a rubber soled "road bike" riding shoe and Keen style shoe-sandals for her walk about footwear. I purchased Pearlizumi X-Alp "mountain bike"shoes with solid cross-trainer type soles that I wore on and off the bike for walking. I brought flip flops for casual wear in camp and hotels, but rarely wore them when walking around towns or other sites. We both used SPD style pedals and cleats. Susan's solution allowed for a more substantial off bike shoe to wear when not riding, but on balance was a bit heavier than my solution, which was pretty streamlined. At times I became tired of wearing the biking shoes around town, and even though they were all black, they were a bit sleek looking for town shoes. For the most part they were comfortable and provided enough support for hiking, even on steep and uneven surfaces. Bigger issue for me was ensuring that I didn't wipe out when the metal SPD cleat skidded off cobblestones, or slippery rock or cobblestone surfaces (several close calls but no full wipeouts)
- Clothing. If you want to go light, and are willing to hand wash a few times a week we found that 2 of most clothing pieces was sufficient (T-shirts, underwear, riding jerseys, riding shorts). The exceptions being one each of: pants, shorts, lightweight fleece jacket, rain top and bottom). Three pair of socks was good, and I brought along a pair of compression socks that Susan's brother Michael gave me, on the longer days or days when we pushed hard I enjoyed wearing them after our ride and while sleeping.
- Wool T-Shirts, long underwear zip-neck, and boxers (Smartwool and Ibex brand) were great, could be worn when off the bike many times before needing a wash, which we often did by hand in a sink at a campground.
|Items we sent back to Milan after our first month of touring, mostly these were multiple items we were not using.|