The Bike, the Tent and the Stove: What's New - To France the Long Way - CycleBlaze

The Bike, the Tent and the Stove: What's New

I'm not too good at writing a systematic review of equipment, so bear with me as I pass on my subjective experiences using our new folding bikes, tent and stove.

This was our third tour with our Bike Fridays, but the first longer tour where we not only rode them but folded them. We chose the Pocket Llama model, recommended for its versatility. Mainly, we thought a folder would make life easier if we needed to take trains or buses. On this trip we only folded the bikes twice, once so that we could keep them in our hotel room for safety's sake and once for a ride from Paris to Toulouse on the French TGV, which doesn't allow bicycles unless they are folded and packed in bags.

My Bike Friday
Heart 0 Comment 0

In spite of the fact that we had folders, the train ride, or at least the time spent in the station Gare Montparnasse to the moment we sank into our seats, exhausted, was hellish. The bottom line of our experience is: Folded bikes in a bag are extremely awkward pieces of luggage to handle, and don't forget you still have your panniers etc to cope with. It happened to be Saturday, August 1st when the French all set out on holiday and the train station was jam packed. Our reserved seats were located in the carriage at the very end of a seemingly endless train - but I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll save the sordid details for my journal entry of August 1st.

Otherwise, we were very happy with the way the bikes handled and all the attention we got riding them.

Getting ideas for the next bike - with driver
Heart 0 Comment 0

Our previous camping experiences have been marred by trying to sleep in a tent too small for the two of us. Our new tent is an MSR Mutha Hubba, weighs in at 3.8 kg, is easy and fast to set up, can stand without pegs if need be, has plenty of room for two people plus handlebar bags and other miscellanious items, and does well in heavy rain. In my opinion, an excellent tent for its price and weight category.

Heart 0 Comment 0

We didn't use the tent until we were almost in Holland as there were almost no campgrounds on our chosen course. We weren't willing to make great detours as we had carefully planned our route to avoid roads with too much traffic. The few times we did see campgrounds it was too early in the day to stop. Holland and France are much better for camping and we found many opportunities to camp along our route or at places only involving short detours.

I loved the Trangia stove. It's impervious to the wind and is near to impossible to knock over. The latter is important when, for example, you're crawling around on all fours chasing a run-a-way onion. We soon got used to cooking and eating while sitting on the ground. Only twice did we enjoy the luxury of a table at our campsite. For simple meals the alcohol fueled stove certainly cooked hot enough. I even managed to burn the potatoes on one occasion.

Multi-purpose panniers and matching cups and plates
Heart 0 Comment 0

Things like spaghetti with sauce from the shelf, ravioli with pesto, baked beans and sausages were on the evening menu. Not to forget a bottle of wine or cold beer to go along with the meal. Breakfast of tea and muesli was almost always taken standing as it was usually either about to rain or had just stopped raining when we got up in the morning.

Breakfast on the run
Heart 0 Comment 0

The only mishap with the cooking arrangement was rather comical. When we arrived in Berlin I had not yet had occasion to unpack the dry bag containing the stove, the one-liter bottle of alcohol for cooking (meths), my sleeping bag, therma-rest mattress and mini foam-rubber pillow. When I did, just checking that all was well, I discovered an empty fuel bottle and a sleeping bag and everything else saturated with alcohol! I had bought a special fuel bottle with an elaborate safety cap - which I hadn't closed properly. At any rate, it was obvious that the dry bag was absolutely leak proof. I never even got a whiff of the alcohol until I opened the bag.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 0
Comment on this entry Comment 0