This is what Plan A looked like, but more importantly, what did it ride like?
The next morning I packed up all my stuff into four bags, two side panniers, top box and bag across the seat behind me. I put them on the bike, added my camera tank bag as well, checked the bicycle mounts were tight and set off for my shake down ride.
It was awful. I didnít feel very safe. The front was very light and the bike felt unstable. The steering seemed vague and I thought I might do tank slappers were it not for my steering damper.
I rode the road to Toluca for four of five kilometres which included lots of slow bends and one fast straight. I didnít go very quickly at all.
I returned home and took the bicycle and itís frame off the bike. I went for another ride.
It was pure joy in comparison. I had confidence in flicking the bike from side to side in the lovely curves and enjoyed myself immensely. I was not going anywhere with the bicycle in that position.
No wonder I hadnít seen any pictures of bikes in that position on the net.
Back to the drawing board.
Visit www.fowb.co.uk for more stuff.
I'd have to remove the smaller pannier and put the bicycle down the side of the bike.
That gave me two options:
- decide what stuff to leave behind in Valle and continue with only one pannier or
- move the top box back three inches and fit the pannier on the seat behind me.
I spread out all my stuff on Juanís floor. I reorganised it into piles and soon realised the only way to Ďlooseí thirty-one litres was to leave my camping stuff behind. This was my tent, tent poles, pegs, ground sheet and Thermarest mattress.
The space problem was exacerbated by adding stuff for the bike Ė cycling shoes, shorts, helmet and gloves. I needed the shoes as I had SPD pedals. My feet are Ďlockedí to the pedals, which enables me to not only push down but also up, forwards and backwards on the pedals. It makes cycling a lot easier and much more efficient. I also had my cycling shorts which, although they look strange, with a shaped bit of leather around oneís equipment and bum, are so much more comfortable I simply had to take them.
In going through all my stuff to save weight I went through the contents of my first aid kit. It contained six syringes. I didnít even know they were there. Who I was going to inject and with what was a bit of a puzzle. I donít know how to use them anyway so left them behind.
I decided I would leave my camping stuff behind to avoid more welding and weight on the bikes rear sub frame. Itís not exactly really strong anyway. The only problem was that if I went to Cape Town from Santiago or Buenos Aires Iíd need my tent in Africa. Staying in hotels would be far too expensive.
I really liked the eccentricity of taking a bike on a bike but I then started to get worryingly practical. Exactly how often would I use the bike anyway? Iíd also be worried about it getting nicked as it would be uninsured. Border crossings might also be more of a challenge.
The final issue, and why Iíd left this position as the last option, was that I drop my bike about once a month because the seat is so high. This happens when Iím getting on or of it. Iíll put my foot down and discover itís wafting in thin air or slips on an oily patch. If the bikeís leaning over at all thatís it. I jump off and the bike crashes to the ground.
Iím now quite experienced at this and rarely fall over. I try to look as professional as possible and look around to see who was watching. Hopefully, this means they can help me pick it up again.
Unsurprisingly, It wouldnít do my super dooper bicycle frame any good to be squashed by my KTM. Iíd be left with a very expensive piece of modern art.
Reluctantly, I decided to leave my Santa Cruz in Valle, sell it and spend the money travelling. I can always buy another when I get home to the UK.
Perhaps Santa Cruz will make me a nice folding titanium one that will fit across the back of my bike?
Visit www.fowb.co.uk for more details on this and previous trips.
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