Feng Shui

I’ve been working on my Feng Shui for a minute.  I feel the need to harmonize with my environment as I ride through new landscapes and over ancient earth.  My tricked-out, Feng-shui ride will unite me with the invisible forces of nature that bind the universe, earth and humanity together.  Who knew a simple bike could do all that?  Never underestimate the power of two wheels!

Just to cover all my bases, I’ve got Feng Shui on my side AND She-RA!  Yep, I’m not taking chances here.  I’ll need a little extra support up front or maybe taking up the rear??  I can’t decide.

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She-RA Princes of Power

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Taking a break from the tough job of being a super-hero!

What do you think?

 

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Shake-down Ride

This is definitely the biggest adventure that I’ve ever tried to pull off.  I’ve done four other solo touring rides (Cuba, Spain/Portugal, Banff to Jasper and the Selkirk Loop), but never with this much planning involved.  In fact,  in 2011 when I did the ten day self-supported Selkirk loop, I decided to do it on a Sunday night on my way back from the San Juan Islands.  On Monday, I placed an ad on craigslist for riders to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  Then, I called the Chamber of Commerce in Coeur d’Alene to find out about the availability of camp sights and the feasibility of doing the trip last minute.  On Tuesday morning, I picked up my riders and took off on a ten-day adventure.  Not the case here!

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This trip requires new equipment that needs to be tested before set loose in a foreign land. I don’t want to get there and realize that things aren’t working the way the fine print on the box says they should work.  Oh hecks no!  I want to figure that shit out now before I go.  So over the 4th of July break, I took my rig up to Lopez Is. on the San Juan’s and pretended I was on the big trip.

Things went pretty well, but I did learn that I definitely need to make some changes.  First of all, my front rack won’t work right, so I’ll need to change that.  The panniers hang to high meaning the center of gravity is too high in the front which will make the bike less stable.    I got that rack from the REI garage sale thinking I lucked out in scoring a $20 front rack.  Not the case since I can’t return it – you win some; you lose some.  Maybe I can sell it on craigslist?! ( anyone want a $20 front rack?).

I also learned that my sleeping bag and therma-rest are huge, not to mention my tent.  My tent isn’t going anywhere.  It’s a two man which is decadent because of the extra weight but necessary.  Since that little mofo is going to be my home for many long, cold, wet, lonely months, I want to be able to bring my things in and still have space to sleep.  My therma-rest, on the other hand, can be replaced by a smaller version and my down sleeping bag condensed.

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On of the best things that happened on this ride was that I met Andrew from England who rode from San Diego to Vancouver, Canada.  He is a seasoned long distance tourer and had loads of free advice for me like how to make good coffee (fancy filter),  how to stay organized so that you can find your crap when you need it (like during a sudden rain storm), and how to just chill-lax and have fun!  Cheers to you mate!

I also brought along my tripod, camera and external mic.  I interviewed my friend Linda at the campsite about her recent travels to India.  I wanted to practice setting things up, asking questions and experimenting  with angles and light since my plan is to interview women along the way who are breaking traditional, cultural and personal barriers in their own right.  I have to say Linda was a trooper and gave me lots of good feedback. So glad I decided to schlep all this stuff with me.  Before this adventure, I would have never even considered bringing any technology with me on a trip to the great outdoors.  Are you kidding me?  I get outdoors to escape!  But no, not now.  I’m a changed woman.  A woman on a mission!

 

 

Logistics, Equipment and Companions

Logistics:

Last October, when I first started mastermining this trip, my first step was to research the route (see itinerary), determine the best time of year (reverse seasons), and the feasibility of doing it alone (Yes! Well sort of).  I found all the answers to my many questions on biker blogs like “crazyguyonabike” and the Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum.  I swear bikers are the nicest people.  No competition.  They pay it forward!

Equipment:

After I felt confident about the route and feasibility of the plan (and at the same time totally freaked out!), I started thinking about equipment.  I kept reading about 26in. wheels being the standard in SA.  Of course my old Trek 520 has 700c wheels.  This probably wouldn’t be a problem for most folks, but I don’t know how to fix this shit if it breaks down, and my Trek is ancient (I bought it for $200 about ten years ago).  Finally, I decided to put my old stead down and invest in a new youthful ride (the fate of all bikes!).  I decided on a Surley Long Haul Disc Trucker because by all accounts it seems worthy and, more importantly, I’m just not that into equipment.  I want what works but can’t get all crazy about the minutia (don’t judge!).

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Salar de Uyuni- largest salt flat in the world

After my bike, I researched panniers, racks, lights, stoves, iPads, tripods, cameras, and tires.  Every thing takes time because I want things to be durable but at the same time affordable that means waiting for sales, discounts, gifts, craigslist, buying, taking back and finally deciding.  Like a stove, for example.  I have to consider what kind of fuel I’ll find in the countries I’ll be traveling through.  Chile has white gas but Bolivia most likely doesn’t.  Argentina is very limited in the areas I’ll be in.  Mostly I’ll find only petrol for cars.  This is doable but very hard on your poor little camp stove not to mention your pots and pans.  So, what do I buy that can accommodate all these different needs?  Still pondering the answer to that question!  Water purifiers pose a similar conundrum.  If you get water from mostly rivers and streams you might need a filter.  On the other hand, if you’re getting your water from a tap you don’t have to filter, but you will want to get rid of any viruses it might have.  I should know.  I drank un-purified water in Potosi last time I was there and got typhoid fever.  In the end, when it’s your first time out of the starting gate, there are a lot of little factors to consider if you want to begin on the right peddle.   Getting all crazy with gear is a first for me.  Usually, I start out with whatever is in the back of my closet and go from there!

Companion Wanted:

Sometime around March, I read a very vivid detailed  description of the SW corner of Bolivia where I will be riding during my first month of travel.  Words like remote, desolate, barren, otherworldly, little oxygen, hot days and icy evening, nonexistent signposting and sand surfaces started to play head games with me.  I imagined my skeleton out there next to a bike with a flat tire and empty bottles of water.  Suddenly, I thought it might be nice to have a companion for this leg of the journey until I get my “bike legs” on.

I put an ad on the bike blog, “crazyguyonabike” for a companion for the Salar de Uyuni portion of the ride.  I was happy that people were interested.  I probably got about ten serious replies from people in places like Indonesia, Ireland, Germany, Holland, France and the United States.  At the end of the day, Dana Hansen from Greenbay, WI. decided to answer the call to adventure.  Dana came out to visit me in May so that we could talk in person and decide if it would be a good fit and a feasible idea.  Probably against his better judgement, after going home and pondering it a while, Dana agreed to this zany ride.  Thanks Dana!  I promise you won’t regret it!