Bike Travel. Europe, Asia, America and Beyond!

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Over Planning as Manifestation of Fear

I’ve probably seen hundreds of travel blogs. The  subjects that permeate are gear, preparation and planning.  People love to read about the best portable stoves, tents, bikes, tires, bags, and how to plan your route with GPS on a navigation gadget, like Garmin.

I must confess this process of planning can be quite exciting. Sometimes more exciting than the actual route. Because we overplan and over prepare.

The culture of this industry  is driven by selling gear. And the idea that the best gear would buy you the best experience. So we are in the perpetual search for new gadgets, better navigation, super-light tents and stuff like that.

As a result, we are overloaded. The weight is not even the worst part. (Boy, you gonna carry that weight), the worst part is that you must pack and unpack.

If you have lots of stuff it’s a kill joy. (Try rearranging your furniture in your house every day.)

The less you have the better.

For example, why on earth would you need that special water bottle? Are you crossing the Gobi desert? Then maybe. If you are in any part of habitable world any plastic bottle would do.

Over the years of my bike touring I came to the conclusion that most of the stuff they promote on travel blogs is useless to me. (It might be useful to you, I don’t generalize.)

For example, a cup of freshly-brewed coffee is a popular image on travel sites. How romantic. So they sell you gas and spirit stoves, wind covers, portable grinders, filters, etc, etc. And you carry them in your panniers. Trying to maintain some organization, keeping your things in an orderly way – not mixing up your fuel with cereal bars and stuff like that (which is hard if you must do it every day!)

Coffee in the morning might be a priority for you, so your effort and expense may be justified.

For me, when I get up all I want is water and get going. Packing / unpacking is work. I can’t spend an hour getting my coffee gear ready, boiling water, making the brew, drinking it and washing up.

If you want to enjoy a slow cup of coffee, in addition to your stove and fuel you will also need to carry a chair. Perhaps a folding table. You will need extra time to have it all set up and then break down and pack it up. The logistics becomes insane.

The pictures of coffee mugs  may look  tempting but you won’t have much fun with everything that involves in the process, believe me.

I don’t carry any gas or spirit stoves any more. No kitchens sets.  It saves a lot of time (no need to do your dishes either).

You simply buy local fare like bread, tomatoes, olives, etc. etc. If you’re wild camping it’s usually possible to make a little fire to heat up some water for soup or something like that.

Don’t be afraid of simplicity. It’s the fear that you’re not going to make it that drives the sales of unnecessary stuff. You WILL make it. And you will have more fun without it.

My second gripe with travel blogs is how they want to help you plan every little thing. It’s like  taking your office culture with you. Every day is supposed to be written down with  locations, durations, mealtimes, sightseeings, etc.

The reality is that nothing ever works  as you plan, no matter how well you do your research. Hence frustration and disappointment. And you blame yourself for not doing enough research. So you go back to your favorite blogs to be “better prepared.”

If you are a control freak, buy a guided tour. A cruise. With the day to day schedules, menus, and events.  For me, it’s just ridiculous.

This fall I lost my phone,  GPS and maps due to water exposure. A backpack with some other important stuff was stolen (you never plan for that, do you?)

If you are used to GPS you know how addictive it is. Once it’s gone you feel blind. You have no clue where you are, you lost the skill to get around without the GPS.

As an introvert I always avoided dependency on anybody. But I decided to go ahead anyway.

What happens when you lose your independence is that you start asking for directions. You begin to talk to local people. And it changes everything. Somehow the world is a much better place with other people helping you.

Your bicycle is key. People are always happy to help a cyclist. I had no idea, honestly. It was a discovery for me how much good will is out there.

Once you break the ice of self-isolation, there may be more exciting things to happen to you.

Try losing your GPS maps on purpose and go ahead without a destination or a plan of any kind. Throw away guidebooks, avoid Tourist bureaus.  These are your gods, your masters that tell you what to think and what to do.

Get some organic experience. Que será, será

I guess what I am trying to say is  “… throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
(Mark Twain)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first ride to Mt Tabor after returning from France

As I begin my climb I can’t but stop to take a snap or two of these magnificent colors, especially the fresh green – still fighting back the inevitable winter.
When I reach the top… Did you know that Mark Rothko grew up in Portland Oregon? Perhaps it’s this Portland citiscapes, the horizontal lines of different colors that inspired his famous work.
I should start a new blog, seriously. “People Shooting Film Around the World”.  This young lady was kind enough to allow me to photograph her Polaroid camera. It looked new so I wondered where one would buy film packs since the Polaroid camera stopped making them years ago. (Hint: the IMPOSSIBLE project)
I ride my bike all year round for all purposes. Which includes shopping. Here’s the character of the day.
I see this cute bike and decide to take picture. As some customes walk in (notice the shoe) I realize it’s a Marijuana Store. America is an amazing country. What you can do freely and openly in Oregon, like buy and smoke pot, even grow it, may land you in jail in many other states.
The fall colors of Oregon are perhaps the best in the world

The last ride south of the Loire

1200-roadkill
Roadkill is what cars do. The ultimate killing machine
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Discovering the old Chateau de Res. Whatever is left of it.
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THere used to be a waterway under the chateau. A very smart design, there is a lake nearby. It was easy to connect it to the chateau with a small canal.
1200-tires
I’ve always used the Marathon tires. Even though they are not as fast as the sleek Kojaks, the Marathons are super strong and super reliable.
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One of the last sunny evenings at Journet
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The View Point at Montmorillon
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‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.’

1200-oiling-bromptonThe Brompton must be oiled for the winter. Until the next year it’s going to be stored folded and greased.

The least exciting part of travel

It takes the whole day to travel from LT to Montmorillon (bike), from Montmorillon to Poitiers (TER), from Poitiers to Gare Montparnasse (TGV), from Montparnasse to Gare du Nord (Metro), from Gare du Nord to Charles de Gaulle (RER), from Charles de Gaulle to Hyatt (hotel shuttle). When you step into your room your are already exhausted
The Greta Garbo arrives from LA three hours later than expected. So we have to wait for almost 5 hours until they prepare her for the return flight to Los Angeles
Meanwhile, I notice something new: a praying room for believers, presumably moslem. As it’s next to the “Toilets” I see an Arab man washing his feet in the sink (same sink where you wash your face and hands)
Finally, we are on the way to LA

Hunting is murder

It’s the hunting season in France and it makes me sick. Indigenous people used to hunt for survival. It was hard and dangerous. Not fun. Today people kill for the fun of it. To experience some sort of exaltation over the murder of a defenseless creature.

By definition, such behavior is a mental illness. Every would be hunter should register with a Psychiatrist for a compulsory course of Haloperidol treatment. Because killing for fun is literally sick.

I don’t even understand how it can be fun. The process is so mechanical, it’s not much different from a slaughterhouse. The scared animals are chased by the dogs in the direction of the shooters who kill them as they get closer. It’s execution.

The public never cease to amaze me either.

When a moronic dentist kills Cecil the Lion all America is outraged. The poor idiot has to go underground as he is receiving death threats.

But ask yourself: what’s the difference? Why killing a lion is a crime, but killing other animals, like deer, boars, stags, rabbits, foxes, etc. etc. is just a fine entertainment ?

 

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OK, you stand with a gun where the bike is, and the dogs chase your animals from the little grove the background – right in front of you. So that you could amuse yourself by killing them. Seriously, you need Haloperidol.