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Wanted: Your Stories Of Tricky & Creative Bike Touring Moments

October 29th, 2010 8 comments


Our first Australian punctureFor the last few months, we’ve been working on a book chock full of handy hints and tips for bicycle touring.

It includes ideas for dealing with bike breakdowns, maintaining the gear we all carry (tents, sleeping mats, stoves…) and ways to deal with the challenges of daily life on the road.

We’re almost done writing, and now we’d like your help.

Have you experienced a moment where you had to think creatively? If so, share it and you might win a copy of our new book!

Your story might tell about when your bike broke in the middle of nowhere and you had to do a field repair. Maybe there was a problem with another part of your gear, like a leak in your tent or a stove that wouldn’t work. It might be similar to the ones recently shared on our Facebook page.

“I pushed a tyre well beyond its design life during the Great Bike Ride.
To make it last once the threads were showing, I glued puncture repair
patches over the tread and got a crucial few hundred more miles out of it.”
- Vin Cox

“We were in Tanzania when the spring on my front brake broke.
In a small town, under a shade tree we found a young guy working on bikes.
When we asked, do you have this part he said, ‘No’. Then he said, ‘But I can make
it!’ He took a spoke and bent/twisted it to match the broken spring and installed it.
I rode all the way to Cape Town, South Africa before having it changed.”
- Cat and Pat Patterson

The stories you tell might cover mechanical challenges or parts of your daily routine, like finding water and a place or sleep or dealing with the extra and often overwhelming attention travelling by bicycle attracts in some countries.

We’d love to hear your experiences, and include them in our book for other cyclists to learn from.

If you have a good tale, write it down and email it to us!

It doesn’t have to be long (500 words is plenty). If we use your story, we’ll give you a free copy of the finished eBook.

Dreaming of a Bike Tour? see our Survival Guide
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7 Responses to “Wanted: Your Stories Of Tricky & Creative Bike Touring Moments”

  1. The one-liners above are good appetizers suggesting it will be fine reading coming our way. Do we have own material to contribute? Sadly, no. A life of bore, and TIP-TOP patches aplenty to resolve the minor hassles along the way.

    The biggest adventure was a flat on the outskirts of Cambridge, on rented bikes with no kit…

    • friedel says:

      I’m not sure whether to wish you more adventurous touring or not… maybe you should be very pleased with your quiet life of bike touring ;)

  2. Doug W says:

    It wasn’t during a tour, but I was on a lengthy mountain bike ride in the Moab area of Utah this past spring and my stem kept getting loose. Turns out the star nut inside my steer tube was stripping itself out. Unbeknownst to me after re-tightening the bolt on the stem cap (had to loosen it to retighten the stem bolts), the whole star nut popped out. Without that, there’s no vertical tightness ensuring the stem and spacers — and FORK! — stay on the bike. Gulp.

    Fortunately, the nipple on a large CO2 cartridge fits inside the star nut just about perfectly, and serves as a nice guide for insterting it back into the steer-tube relatively straight. So I grabbed a chunk of sandstone tried to line it up as best I could, and hammered the star nut back into the steer tube using a CO2 cartridge to center it and a rock as my hammer.

    Was able to ride the last 12 miles of trail and made it out without having to hike.

  3. This is a bit like Dougs story in that I wasnt on a tour, but on a day ride whilst in Northern California on a mountainj bike trip in the early 90′s. I’d met some guys on top of Grasshopper peak and we were all chomping at the thought of a really long downhill ride after a tough trail ride to get here.
    Less than a mile down, there was a huge bang from the rear of my bike, just after a hairpin. I could hearfeel the wheel slapping around from side to side, and stopped pretty quickly. The tube had blown at speed due to the heat in the rims!!!! and taken the tyre sidewall out over about 6 inches. The knock on had stressed the wheel and 3 spokes had let go. Bugger, was my first thought. i didnt have gaff tape (silly boy) but had some insulating tape, so I removed the tyre and put layers and layers inside the tyre to help the wall and some more on the outside to patch the tyre. A new tube ws put in and the cantilevers taped to the frame stays as the wheel was wobbling all over. With this ‘hodge podge bodge’ I then wired/taped the loose spokes to the good ones and ‘corrected’ the wheelto run as true as I could I then rode (very gently) down to where I was being picked up. Those were really long miles, I can tell you, but it worked and the wheel was rebuilt the next day by a local bike shop. :-)

  4. friedel says:

    Thanks for sharing guys. I hope I am never in either situation!

  5. I spent a week riding solo in Northern Arizona this September. When I got to a little desert town called Wilhoit, the temps were hitting the triple digits. Given the principles of Murphy’s Law and the touring cyclist, today was the day for a 12-mile ride, fully loaded, on fresh asphalt so new it was actually steaming. Toasty.

    By the time I was out of the roadwork zone, the tread of my rando tires were completely encased in warm and gravelly goo. I’m a novice bike tourer, and I really did not know then, or even now, how anyone is supposed to deal with fresh tar. It was certainly flexible, but, let’s face it, the daily desert temperature of Arizona can basically melt wood. It gets cool in the desert at night. Would that tar harden up, and turn my bike into Fred Flintstone’s car? Hmm. Probably bad, I thought. I was also in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Hmm. Also bad.

    I leaned the bike against a boulder, then scouted around the edge of the road, digging around in the broken glass and roadkill. I finally salvaged some spiral strands of thin wire out of the sand. I have no idea where that wire came from: a metal scrubbing brush? The bristles from some sort of road sweeping machine? Whatever. I twisted the wire strands around each other. Standing in the blistering sun, I balanced a wheel between my knees, and rolled my makeshift scraper up and down the tire, ripping out the biggest chunks of tar and rock.

    The only witnesses to my work were a couple of buzzards circling overhead. I think I decreased at least some percentage of the rolling resistance by doing this. Time was getting on, so I bumped along the remaining miles to the next town, Pleasant Valley. Here I found a gas station, with a bench outside under a blissfully shaded awning. For the next hour, I sat on that bench, scraping out the tire crap piece by piece until each one was clean enough to show some tread. To finish up, I used a broom that was leaning against a drink machine to sweep up before I left. Didn’t want the local posse to hunt me down for criminal tire cleaning.

    I did made it to Phoenix as planned, boxed up and flew home. My goal now is to wash out the remaining tire crap over the winter. I live in rain drenched Seattle so this probably won’t be difficult.

    Still I wonder: how are you supposed to deal with fresh Arizonan road tar when it’s 101 degrees?

  6. Shane says:

    Great topic! :) And LP wont let me publish for some reason so I”ll spam you here instead….

    I think the biggest worry and worst thing to overcome when travelling alone is getting ill. This happened to me while cycling through NW Thailand, I’m not sure a link will survive my website’s facelift next week so I’ll just copy paste the story:)

    +The day of hell !!+

    +This was supposed to be the day of hell because it would be the hardest day cycling of the whole trip, a day which most people who do this trip skip, this wasn’t my intention but things worked out different. Respect by the way to people who have completed this stage…..+

    +So there I was enjoying my view, my second pad thai with fresh vegitables still filling my belly enjoying my last beer with a beautiful sunset…….+

    +……..then the night of the thousand shits started. All hell broke loose and it wasn’t pretty. Pucking, shitting and every 30 minutes watching my one and only toilet roll getting smaller (and town is 1.5km away). And just to make it really fun I had a huge fever and it was freezing in the room (I ended up wearing all the cloths I have with me).+

    +By morning things weren’ t looking much better ( and two of my three underpants had sacrificed themselves to the struggle). The last thing I needed with the nearest hospital 120km away was for this to get worse. So I made the brave decision to get the bus to Mae Sariang while I still had the strengh to make the journey. So with a handful of tablets I was able to put a cork in it so to speak. I had to wait 2 hours for the bus in the sun and then 2 hours in the bus, I was sick but the pills did their work in the other department.+

    +So now I have a very expensive hotel (20 euro:) ) with a very nice bathroom and lots of toilet roll. ” And now we wait” . At least now if things get worse the hospital is 5 minutes away. So now I have to sit back and gather strengh before the next stage. Yesterday I had nothing to eat and couldn’t keep any water down(and its 30 degree’s here). Today I’ve managed 2 litres of water and a small pancake, so there’s hope yet.+

    +21 jan : Still in Mae Sariang+

    +Not much improvement here, slowly learning to live with my ring of fire.+
    +22 jan : Still in Mae Sariang+

    +Just as well Thailand is a country where you can get a good hotel for 20 euros a night…..+

    +Yet another restless night running to the bathroom, though this time most of them were just false alarms and I just needed to bottom burp (still not doing that with confidence).+

    +For the first time in a few days I was hungry when I woke up which is a good sign. I started the day with 4 slices of toast, now time for some real eating.+

    +Had a little cycle around town but was dead afterwards so I guess im going to need a couple of day to get back up to strengh (and the clock is ticking). Its a shame that the next stage in 100km with 1800m of climbing, not the easiest day to start with, so I’ll have to wait untill I’m ready. If the worst comes to the worst I can skip the last couple of days after Pai, the roads are alot more busy then anyway, but hopefully I can get going again by saturday or sunday then I should still be able to finish the whole route.+

    +And now its just a case of enjoying my book the nice weather and hope I can eat enough in the next couple of days.+
    +22 jan : update+

    +The early euphoria was brought to an abrupt end this afternoon when the gates of hell once again flooded open……shit …….not ….again….shit….&%$%##($$+

    +So I decided it was time to take a trip to the hospital, not a decision to be taken lightly in Thailand. In most big cities you have the choice of a private hospital and a public hosptial, and at the private ones you get first class vip treatment.+

    +However I’m not in a big city I’m in Mae Sariang where the only choice it the public hospital. But after 2 hours hanging around being proded and probed then moved from one counter to the next and being request to take a stool sample with a very small pot and a toothpick, I finally got to see what was supposed to be a doctor I guess( must of been at least 20 years old).+

    +Ten minutes later and 4 euro poorer I was outside with a bag full of medicine. So once again we sit and wait. Im just pleased they didn’t want to stick any needles in me.+
    +But hey just another couple of days and I’ll once again be fit as a fiddle and racing up those mountains again, I still have plenty of time…..well sort of.+
    +24th Jan : Mae Sariang – Khun yuam 99km+

    +Fortified with an english breakfast with extra toast and a pot of tea I was ready to give it a go. It was good to be in the sadle again, but at the first climb my worries where confirmed, all my strengh, power and reserves had in the last 5 days all been donated to the Mae Sariang sewage system. It was going to be a long day…………….+

    The morale of the story is dont start the day without a full english breakfast and a pot of tea:)

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