D Day

Today’s the day.

Bike box worked out to 110 dimensional inches and 65 pounds. Allowed 126″ and 75 pounds. Contains bike (35 pounds), tent, sleeping bag, empty panniers and some other bike stuff. I left the tires at 100 psi. The baggage compartment is pressurized so we’ll see what happens.

My box looks much better than the one in the photo. Funny thing is that the box is 72″ long . . . 6 feet. It’s a humongo box. I cut the height down, but I wanted the bike to arrive Paris intact with racks and fenders ready to ride . . . just put on the front wheel, pedals, handlebars, seat and luggage and ride . . . a 15 minute assemble, not 2 hours while cops with assault rifles and other miscreants are circling the scene and me full of coffee and needing to pee. Besides, the sight of an open tool bag at CDG, Aerogare 2 makes the cops nervous.

Anyway, driving to Phoenix later today, parking my truck, spending the night then getting up at 3 AM, checking in at Sky Harbor at 4 and flying at 6AM Tuesday. Weather Channel predicts drizzling rain for our arrival in Paris. Yay fenders! However, the weather looks to be improving after our 3 days in Paris as we head south to the sun.Image

Bringing Brutus…

boxedbikeI’ve been getting questions about shipping my bike as a piece of luggage. No couplers. No special bike case. Arriving Paris, leaving Lisbon. I’d have to get special case stored for 5 weeks then shipped to me at the end. I just use a regular bike box from a local shop and toss it upon arrival. I’m allowed 70 pounds and 126 dimensional inches for the box. The bike costs $150 each way as excess baggage. Everything else (clothing, tools, camping gear, tent, everything) goes in a humongo suitcase purchased at Goodwill for cheap and tossed on arrival. I get one piece of luggage plus a carry on and a handbag free. I use the biggest bike box I can find that requires the least amount of reassembly at CDG.

I say “tossed” but actually gets recycled. The janitors at CDG in Paris are happy to latch on to the box which they can sell to a departing cyclist and the groovy old suitcase they can use on a trip home to their family in Africa. Cool, huh?

I don’t rent a bike because I like to ride my own bike. It suits me and my needs better than a rental. It fits. I like my gearing selection. Love my Brooks saddle. My bike bags fit my racks, etc. Besides, it’s a Coconino. If you do a supported trip where somebody carries your luggage and deals with all your details, that’s a different story, but I like being independent, self supported and sourcing my own adventure. That’s part of the fun. Your results may vary.

Insurance from injury and poorly aimed pee…

raytwoTidying up the pre-trip details now. 12 days until departure on 5 week unsupported bicycle adventure in France, Spain and Portugal. This morning purchased two items. The first, reflective tent strings. Have gotten tired of getting up in the middle of the night, stepping on a tent peg, tripping over a cord or worse . . . peeing on my foot. $20, but will save a wet foot.

The next, and more important item, lining up some health insurance while traveling abroad. Luckily I have an American Express card that I almost never use. I keep the card just because it comes in so darn handy when travelling. It’s a bare bones policy for the 5 weeks for only $34. It covers hospital, medical, dental and the biggie . . . evacuation to my home planet just in case. The nice thing, and I don’t want to sound like a commercial here, is that AMEX has a number I can call when I’m laying in a hospital bed with a broken leg or whatever. They go into action and make all the arrangements. Love that service.

Next time . . . packing up the bike for the flight.

Cosmic Ray
Flagstaff, AZ

More from Cosmic Ray…

Here I am getting 2 weeks short on a five week bike trip to France, Spain
and Portugal. Getting pretty jacked now. Been riding all winter in the cold
and wind. Feeling strong and healthy. Ducks in a row. Poop in a group. Now
just tend to a few details and I’ll be ready to fly.

On my morning ride hammering into the southwest wind thinking about Lance
Armstrong. He beat CANCER! Then he beat every other cyclist in the world on
a level playing field to win The Tour seven times. He demanded things of
himself every minute of the day and the same from his team. They’d be
sitting on their asses around the training table eating their cornflakes for
breakfast when the phone would ring. Lance would call from the top of a
mountain out in the wind and rain asking WTF. That’s what it took to win.
Yeah, he took the dope. So has every other rider to win the TDF for the past
100 years. Pisses me off that everyone is judging him to be some sort of
pariah on the sport. He took the dope. He won. That’s what was demanded at
the top echelon . . . just like, football, basketball, baseball and on and
on. He just had the bad luck to come along when the sport decided to clean
itself up.

Ok, down off my soapbox. Now to select some new tires for my ride. Fatties
for the rough stuff, the pave, the cobbles? High pressure and thread count
for the road? Now looking for just the right tire and spending time on
Weather Underground looking at wind speed and direction for my ride. And
what drugs should I pack? Caffeine and ibuprofen for me. What’s your poison?

Free Lance!

Cosmic Ray
Flagstaff, AZRay in The Rockies

Another one from “The Cosmic Ray”

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Bike touring frequently makes for some strange and wonderful bedfellows. Do you ever wonder if you adventure abroad, will you be alone among strangers? Will you sleep in an anonymous hotel, a noisy youth hostel or in your little tent on the cold, cold ground. No worries. Technology to the rescue. 

Surely you travel with an iPad, smart phone or similar device. There is a website called www.warmshowers.org. No, it’s not a sleezy porn site. It works likecouchsurfing.org or similar hosting sites, only it’s for touring cyclists only. You join on-line and offer a spot in you house for a weary cyclist to lay his head while on a cross country adventure. In return, he does the same for you when you’re that stranger in a strange land. 

A quick glance at what’s available in Paris, France (where I’ll arrive in a few weeks) for example and a Google map pops up with over 100 flags around the city. Zoom in, click on one and it reveals the name, location and profile of a real, bike friendly person interested in putting me and Elson up for a night or three . . . a fellow friendly cyclist, in Paris, France . . . for free!!!

Now I have a place to sleep when I arrive as well as a guide to the cool hotspots, restaurants, bikeways of Paris and a new friend on the other side of the planet. If it works out, fine. If not, on to the next. However, bike people are almost universally cool. Anyone who travels under their own power appreciates others who do as well. That’s how it works . . . comrades in arms, er, uh, legs, so to speak.

This week I hosted a wonderful couple from Antwerp, Belgium during their around the world ride and en route to Grand Canyon. They spent two nights in my unheated vintage Airstream parked in my back yard in Flagstaff.  Brrrr!  See the photo. Look at their happy, bike wandering faces. As you can imagine, a great time was had by us new fast friends . . . no longer strangers. Do you want to know more about them and see some awesome photos of their travels? They have a website.  www.guitarbiking.com  Check it out.

Ray Brutti
Flagstaff, AZ