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Getting closer!

Written on: Saturday February 6th, 2010

A journal entry from: Vi ar helt ute och cyklar!

Joakim:

Hello there! The time since the last blog entry has been very exciting and fairly intense in all honesty. The other day, Sarah grabbed pen and paper and ripped out an A4 for each country we are passing through. On these, she wrote down a few points that we were to fill in about trespassing laws, what we want to see, laws about camping, insurance and much more. Sounds like a good idea, huh? To have quickly accessible information about all the countries we are visiting can come in handy any day, I can imagine. This seemed to be an easy task to fill in to begin with but after a couple of sheets, it turned out that finding all the information actually took some time. So doing this has taken up quite some time but just the other day - we finished! It was a big weight lifted of my shoulders. Firstly because it was such a big task and secondly because finishing this meant finishing the last big thing (apart from Sarahs bike - I'll get to that in a second) we have to do before we go. It's mainly smaller preparations to be done after this!

 

We've learnt in our relationship, that Sarah is the more structured when it comes to things like this. Before we start something, Sarah will sit down and write a list of what needs to be done and then do it, thing by thing. Where as for me, I would just start with the first thing that comes to mind and then hope that I will remember everything as I go along. I know, deep down inside, that I love Sarahs way of doing this. It is so much safer to know what needs to be done when we are dealing with so much and so important things. It has though, knocked down my mood a slight bit when we've decided to prepare our work with a list or so. I must admit though, that it is quite nice when preparations like lists or sheets are finished and you know that you have useful information quickly accessible.

 

I did promise to give some information about Sarahs bicycle, so here's the situation. Both Sarah and I bought our bicycles roughly at the same time. We've been buying things for them and things have been going alright up till some time ago. Sarah has realised that, even with the seatpost at it's lowest position, the bike is too big for her. She is far away from reaching the ground with her feet when she is sitting on the saddle and that's no good. First of all, she basically have to perform an acrobatic maneuver to get on or off the bike and this is everytime she has to stop for red lights, to consult a map or whatever it might be. Secondly for security reasons... Her center of gravity is very high and she can not at all support her balance with the feet. We've been thinking about going as far as starting cutting in the frame of the bike to lower it but after some thinking, we decided that she need's a new bike. Sarahs dad has been incredibly helpful and got a hold of two used bikes, one from Sarahs mum that she doesn't use and one that he found. But none of them suited our purposes though. There has been alot of discussing back and fort about diffrent things about what she is going to ride but everything eventually came back to that we needed to get a new bike. So, we went back to our trusted source Ebay!

 

We found what we thought was the perfect quite quickly! We had to wait for some 8 days before the auction came to an end though. After following the progress for a few days, the auction was unexpectedly cancelled without any buyer! We were both very upset because we really thought that that would have been the perfect bike. Whilst recovering from this sudden shock, we stumbled upon a new find! A somewhat expensive, but really nice looking bicycle. It wasn't an auction so we knew that we would get it if we decided to buy it. So £110 and two days later, Sarah was unwrapping her new bike in the front room! And wow! She now has a brand new bike that seems to be specifically built for her and this trip! Perfect! I have been very happy with my bike all along so now we finally both have terrific bikes that we are happy with. We have also been struggling with a front pannier rack - it wouldn't fit on neither mine or Sarahs old bike. But luck shone upon us once again - it did fit perfectly on Sarahs new bike. Everything seemed to work out and problem after problem was just solved in front of our eyes. We do now have all of our panniers attached to our bikes and basically all equipment is on there too!

 

We have been discussing security of our bikes quite alot. Beginning with good locks is a good start but during this trip - our bicycles will be our lives so we felt that we needed more. Again, I will mention Ebay (this is getting embarrassing)! We found bicycle alarms with motion detectors and a low price tag. We bought a pair with the hope that we could sleep a little bit sounder. They arrived shortly after we ordered them but we didn't really touch them for some time. But yesterday, I sat down in the garage with one of the alarms and a short notice with some basic instructions. I wanted to try it out properly, and my ears had to suffer from this! I expected that I was disturbing everybody in the whole house but when I asked Sarah about it, she said that they didn't hear a thing... (That's how good I am at judging sound levels!) I was however very very pleased! It worked great and I tried to "steal my own bike" but couldn't do it without triggering the alarm. Sarahs alarm will be mounted tomorrow and I will feel much better with those on than without them!

 

 The GPS will be shipped on monday (from my dad - thank you again!) so with that sorted too, it's even less to worry about. It really feels like we are on top of things again. Even if we still have things to do, it really feels like all the big and really important stuff are out of the way. A lovely feeling indeed! I guess that we have to remember to keep working though. Getting lazy and overly confident would not be a good thing...

Sarah:
 A week ago my worries about the trip were stopping me sleeping, everything was going wrong. I'd thought we'd let ourselves in for something we're simply not prepared for. But over the past week as Joakim said we've been arranging things in a more systematic manner, (which as he highlighted is a way I need things to be so I can process them properly) now we have these great fact sheets including an exact route, budget, regulations etc. I was finding it hard to see everything coming together with the uncertainty around stealth camping and security of the bicycles. But to try to lift my spirits I read some blogs of fellow bicycle tourers and one caught my eye earlier today, a young couples blog http://journal.goingslowly.com/search/label/Stealth%20Camping
 This along with some advice from hardcore stealth campers has left me rather impatient for the off!
In my attempt to get things organised and under control I have compiled several impressive looking lists of what needs to be done and when. Our to do list is now miniscule, with just a few last minute adjustments to make to the bikes, a couple of spare items and tools to acquire and packing! And as Joakim mentioned above the situation and worries with my bicycle are now over. I have a beautiful brand new bicycle, (which I admit I am chuffed about- and spoiled to have!) with a super 16" frame (I had a 21" before and I am only 5"3) and all the essentials fitted to it, although I am considering getting a basket for the front.

 As I have promised twice now, the next entry will be the kit list and I intend to pack the bikes tomorrow so we can share out the items and see who will be carrying what.
I feel much more comfortable about repairing bicycles after a few sessions in the garage and some tutoring from my dad. At first I knew none of the technical terminology and had zero experience with tools or mechanics but now I feel I can mend most problems with my bicycle fairly quickly. We have invested in a fantastic book with step-by-step repairs just incase but it also includes emergency repairs with items you find at the side of the road such a grass, wood, old cans and string.

 The only other thing to report is my thoughts about what happens after the Europe leg of the trip. After we had worked out our exact route and rest days we learnt that our trip would take roughly 7 months (this is at a very slow pace, stopping frequently for sightseeing) meaning that we would be in Athens (our finishing point) in October-ish. Having (hopefully) spent only 1/3 of our savings so I have been dreaming alot about crossing to Africa or Asia afterwards. Joakim is keen on Africa where as I have fallen in love with the cultures of Asia. I hope we could do a tour of Asia (maybe a year) going through Mongolia, Kazakhstan, China, Japan, SE Asia, India, Middle East and in to Africa afterwards. We also discussed the possibility of studying Swahili language in Kenya or Tanzania which really appeals to me. But these are just pipeline ideas- hopefully they'll come to life in a few months time!


With love,
Sarah xXx

 

From Edor on Feb 19th, 2010

"Again, I will mention Ebay (this is getting embarrassing)" I lol'd :D Great to hear that everything is coming together, good luck guys!

From Ash on May 6th, 2010

Did you leave yet. please let me know as my husband and I did a similar route last year. would love to hear how you got on...