Our minds have turned to important, nay essential, matter of selecting and purchasing the bicycles – because if one wants to travel with bicycles, one needs some bicycles … the Husband has just pointed out that the reason people read this blog is probably for insightful observations such as this.
We have of course decided on the Brompton as the ideal beast for the purpose of cyclopolitan traveling but we have also pretty much made the decision to go electric with the Brompton bicycles. I absolutely love the electric pedal-assist motor I had fitted to my Peugeot. It makes such a difference. The difference is mostly in my head because I don’t use use the motor that much, but when I need a bit of a push up a hill or some help with a headwind or I’m not feeling well – it’s there to lend support. This means that all “perhaps I won’t go by bike because ….” excuses disappear.
I’ve told a couple of people we will probably go electric and have received the “that’s cheating” response or “why don’t you just buy a car” response.
The first point is difficult to respond to as you have to go deep into the NZ non-cyclist psychy and challenge some deeply held assumptions … so I’ve written it down here …
I think it’s only possible to cheat if you are taking advantage of someone else, such as cheating in a race – using electric, without telling anyone, to gain advantage and win. I can’t quite understand the cheating comment in the context of simply traveling about. Who or what are we cheating? Is it about the amount of work you put in to get up a hill or the amount of sweating you do? Perhaps if we were wearing Lycra and pretending to be world class athletes in the Tour de France, I could perhaps get a glimmer of where they’re coming from …. we would be pretending to be something we are not (but still not quite ‘cheating’). As an aside, I don’t think anyone would really be fooled by our charade but I understand there are plenty of middle aged folk who think they can pull it off. So … surely then, driving a car would be the biggest ‘cheat’ of all … getting up hills without putting in any effort at all? If anyone out there understands the ‘cheating’ perspective, do please explain in the comments below because I just don’t get it.
The second point is easier to explain. A car just won’t cut it because we would miss so much of the country and culture we are passing through whilst sealed in a metal box. We would also be restricted to highways and unable to explore canal and cycle paths that wind their way through the back ways of Europe. If I wanted to experience acres of bitumen, I have plenty of opportunity (and growing) in NZ. Hell, I have my own 6 lane central city highway right outside my apartment window.
So perhaps just think of the electric bike as a mode of transport in its own right. I’m thinking I might refer to my electric bike and trailer as my ‘rig’ – we can then have ‘handles’ such as rubber ducky and the like! I’ll have to think of a long-haul trucking (bicycling) name for the Husband and myself … there’s probably a website for that sort of thing …
I have also confirmed my suspicions that we are ‘one of our kind’ in the bicycle travel world. I found this video online that clearly identifies the different breeds of people traveling with bicycles and we don’t seem to slot into any category.
Does this mean we are unique, deluded or perhaps that our proposed method of travel simply can’t be done? Watch this space and find out ….
I’m thinking we might be ‘fully loaded self supported bicycle travelers’ (although that sounds way too serious for what we intend) crossed with ‘glampers’ or ‘glampackers’ (apparently meaning campers or backpackers with a few more luxuries). Although we only have a few extra creature comforts such as light weight camp chairs, pillows and proper cutlery rather than sporks. And we are not really self-supported bike travelers – our bikes are electric and folding and we are not circumnavigating Europe at high speed using only pedal power … but we will be carrying everything we need to survive (‘survive’ is a bit on the strong side … and not technically correct because we won’t be carrying a bath and I couldn’t possibly survive without the occasional bath). Perhaps we are ‘traveling cyclopolitans’ – a new breed of bicycle traveller?
I’m also rationalising the websites at the moment as I had somehow ended up with quite a large number of the beasts, which is obviously difficult to manage on the road.
So I am going through a website cleansing process – passing over the reins, moving to a wordpress.com version rather than the self-hosted .org and just plain hitting the delete button where necessary. It’s actually quite hard when you have spent many hours creating and managing these things but I am planning to go minimalist for the trip and just maintain the Cyclopolitan website, Facebook, and Twitter; and the Unity Finesmith Pinterest and YouTube. It still sounds like a lot but believe me it is a serious downsize! It’s been great but Auckland Cycle Chic and Cycling in Auckland are among the casualties – basically, you can’t write about and photograph Auckland cyclists when you are on the other side of the world.
We are selling a bunch of different camera equipment on Trademe at the moment in preparation for the purchase of the perfect compact camera/video kit for traveling. Once acquired, I will be running it through its paces … by hopefully taking some ‘getting ready for the trip’ videos. I shoot and edit videos as part of my job all the time but have not yet launched into videos for my blogging exploits, so I am looking forward to giving that a go. Having watched every available video on bicycle travel (and any other search terms I can think of) I have come to the conclusion that there is a definite gap in the market!