Gear Discussion - Some More Portugal: Not Just Kicking the Tires (Tour 18) - 2019 🇵🇹 - CycleBlaze

Gear Discussion

What I brought along and related thoughts

I generally like to mention a few thoughts about some of my gear. This may or may not help someone else planning their own tour some day, but it is really for myself to remind myself what to sort out for the next tour without starting out from scratch. Did I like that tool I brought? Was I happy to save the weight of leaving the umbrella at home? Should I have bothered to change the brake cables before I left? Brent, read this and learn!

Dahon Speed TR Folding Bike

Of course, this is a big one. I was going to bring the Cannondale which I had been upgrading and working on all winter. Of course, with concerns about my strained calf and possibly needing buses or trains, at the last minute I decided on the folder.

As I have mentioned, as petty as it may seem, I like to look at my bike and enjoy what I see. At times, I think this folder is goofy looking and when I compare it directly with my Cannondale CAAD 4 frame bike or my brand new Salsa Vaya, there is no question... I don't want to use it. With this being said, with this being my third loaded tour on this bike, it kind of grows on me. To the point that I am happy with it and it performs just fine. Just in case, I did change the front brake cable in Faro the day before starting just to make sure. Otherwise, with parts upgraded over time at home, and with a new paint job and DIY decals last summer, it was fine. In fact, it worked really well. Would I have preferred the Cannondale or Salsa? Yes. Would I have stressed over that? Yes. Was the Dahon the right choice? Yes.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tires

When I bought the bike there were Schwalbe tires but they were a slick tire and I replaced them with Schwalbe Kojak tires. Both of these sets were worn on the sidewall. Yes, the Kojak were a really light tire, but I had to do something. Knowing how difficult it is to change tires on smaller rims, I chose my tried and true Marathon Plus. Shortly afterwards, I realized I wished I had chosen the Marathon Supreme, which is lighter but still has a kevlar belt. Oh well, at a price of about $35 per tire, I would live with what I had bought. Don't get me wrong - I have these on my Salsa as well, and I know I should get somewhere in the range of 5000+ km on them before they start to wear out.

With only three days to go, I have to say they have been tires. They turn. I know I have ridden over glass unintentionally, and there have been no flats at all. This is a good thing - I cannot remember the last time I changed a tire due to a flat. Many years. To the point that I would find it very discouraging if it did happen. I think I remember how!

Arkel EX-R Panniers & Tail-Rider

Since discovering Arkel more than ten years ago, I have stuck with this Canadian company ever since. Not only are they amazing to deal with, but their panniers are the best. Strong. Durable. Cleverly-designed. Attractive. Excellent attachment system to the rack. I would say the most positive attachment system out there - I would say it would be almost impossible for the bags to shake off of the bike. Fillings in your teeth would jar loose before the bags would fall off.

I have a few models of their panniers but the ones I prefer are these Expedition models. They are the right size for how I travel and they appeal to my vanity - they are black with a red highlight which matches all of my cycling gear. Furthermore, I have sown on some Canadian flag patches to adorn the sides of the bags just to make sure people know where I am from.

The Tailrider is my 'newest' acquisition from Arkel, though I have had it for quite a few years now. It is a bag to be mounted on the top of a rear rack. I use it to carry my essentials. My tablet, camera, passport, sunglasses, and anything else I need in a quick grab. It attaches with long velcro straps so is very securely attached to the rack, too.

Garmin eTrex 30 GPS

I learn more about using this device on every tour I make. I suppose I have had it about a decade now, but when I am at home, I know where I am and where I am going so it sits in my desk collecting dust. On this trip, like others, I downloaded some gpx tracks from online, in this case for Eurovelo 1. In the past I found that the gps would, indeed, send me on cycle friendly routes, but not necessarily where I really wanted to go. On this trip, the tracks were where I wanted to go. What was I to do?

To answer that question, how about learn how to use my gps a bit more? On the first day out of Faro, I thought I knew what I was doing in following the track, but in no time at all, the track was not visible on the gps and I was rolling along busy roads. So, the next day, out of Albufeira, I kept a very close eye on the track. It was so simple. The roads were visible on the screen like normal, but the pink line indicated the track I had downloaded. The difference between following this track and my normal use was that there would be no reminders to turn here or there - I would have to watch the screen at every intersection to see which route was the pink line. It might sound tricky, but wasn't really. In a city it took more checking, but in the countryside, it was generally simple. A few times when I didn't pay attention, I went astray, but it was easy to get back on track either by re-tracing the route or veering back toward the pink line and following it again.

Now that I had figured this out, I was able to follow the official Eurovelo 1 route. This is a good thing because it is not marked AT ALL. This should be clearly marked on the Eurovelo website - get a gps and download the tracks otherwise it is impossible to follow. And they are great routes, very worthy of following. They make European traffic disappear.

Canon Digicam and Samsung Tablet

I purposely left out the exact model numbers or names of these items. It does not really matter. Back in 2003 on my cross-Europe tour I had a much earlier-generation digicam, and it was the same idea... amazing to have along. Most people will bring their phones with them, but I don't have one, so my tablet takes the place of a phone. I do use it for some photos, in case I want to upload while on tour. I can phone home almost for free using my VOIP phone account, or for free with Alexa drop-in. I can book hotels or check my reservations online, and of course, seeing as every hotel now has wifi, I can keep in contact with home, emails and news. Indispensable.

On this tour, I almost left my digicam at home, but am glad I brought it along. It is small yet has quite a big optical zoom on it which the tablet does not have. Thus, more flexibility with photo opportunities. I find I often take photos with both and keep the best of all. Hey, I'm on holidays and have the time to do multi-photo ops!

Take-A-Look Mirror

I am seeing more and more of these on tours. They are a little mirror on a wire that attaches to the arm of your sunglasses. In my case, I have one on both arms of the glasses. When I cycle along, a slight twitch of the head gives me a full and steady view of what is behind me, in terms of vehicles approaching. They are unobtrusive, light and indispensable. In the past, I used mirrors attached to the bars one way or the other but they bounced around and gave distorted, thus useless views. If you don't have some, get some. You don't cycle with sunglasses, you say? If you don't cycle with eye protection of some sort, what's wrong with you?!

Rate this entry's writing Heart 3
Comment on this entry Comment 0