2,500km and three months in and it seems like a good time to assess the merits of some of our gear.

Our bikes (which are currently enjoying a well deserved rest on the balcony of our rented Budapest apartment) and accessories have stood up extraordinarily well to the test of long distance daily use over all kinds of surfaces, laden down with us and all of our gear. Barring countless punctures on the trailers and a few minor adjustments to gears, brakes and the like, the bikes have been no trouble at all. We got most of our cycling stuff in Cloughjordan Cycles and they certainly know their stuff when it comes to touring gear.

In particular, the following stand out:
Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires - as puncture proof as they claim, only 1 puncture thus far and that was due to me cycling over a fishing hook in Brittany.... if only we had them for the trailers too
Brooks B17 saddle - a wonderfully comfortable leather saddle, well worth the price tag and the breaking in period
Ortlieb bags - be it a handlebar bag, pannier or trailer rack-pack, all of which we have, we've found Ortlieb bags to be completely waterproof and incredibly durable
Cycle Star handlebar mirrors - we didn't have them when we left, but wouldn't feel safe cycling without them now
Chariot Cougar - a fantastic child's trailer-cum-buggy that Luca can spend hours in and be comfortable, safe and entertained as it has plenty of room for his toys. It also rolls along behind the bike well

Marmot sleeping bags - wonderfully comfortable and cosy, we look forward to getting into them each night we're camping
Thermarest camping chairs - they're not heavy but they're an awkward shape and we really don't use them that often. When we do, they're very comfortable but they're a hassle to root out and assemble, so we probably wouldn't bother with these again
MSR mealkits - contain pretty much all you need to eat a meal when camping
After watching a pair of German cyclists setting up their tent and then cooking a meal - an exercise in orderliness and exactitude! - we were inspired to buy two things.....
1) A proper bottle opener. The Leatherman corkscrew just isn't long enough and occasionally breaks the cork. A nuisance when endeavouring to open a nice bottle of claret!
2) A camping mallet. One might think it a ridiculously heavy and bulky item to carry on a bike, but it has been well worth it. Cursing at dry, hard ground and bent pegs are a thing of the past. Thank you German cyclists!

Having said all that, we haven't been camping much lately, as it's been too cold at night to brave a tent with a two year old, so we've been lugging all the camping gear around needlessly. Tales from other cyclists we've met along the route, of dogs sniffing around their tents and freezing conditions haven't exactly made us miss camping! Not camping has put strain on our finances though, which is why we're having to consider a reroute. But, as the missus said, more on that anon.


At October 29, 2010 at 9:27 PM Anonymous said...

Great advise on gear Phil -I never knew that punctures can be cut down to such an extent .The cycle mirrors also are a brilliant idea. I live on a busy lane and I think that these will help me get out and about .
The weather is closing in on us here in England too -dark mornings and an early evenings.
Good luck in Transylvania - keep your necks covered and beware of an apparently charming Count D....especially after dark!
Lots of love Niamh xx

At October 31, 2010 at 11:35 AM Anonymous said...

Happy Hallowe'en to Luca! Mwwaah ha ha ha haaa!
I'm looking at your photos and reading all about your adventures when I REALLY should be working. It's making me very wishful, sitting here at my desk surrounded by curriculum documents! Enjoy the last episode of this leg and we look forward to seeing you all next weekend!
Auntie Lynn & Uncle Bear xx

At May 15, 2011 at 9:51 AM Unknown said...

Fantastic, you have my full admiration, and I am going to do it!!



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