Thursday 31 December 2009

My bikes

Here's the lowdown on the bikes I'll be riding on my trip. I say bikes because I'll be using two very different machines depending on the terrain (and because I can't afford to buy a specialised touring bicycle).

The first is a 2009 Giant Defy 1 road bike. I plan to ride this on stages 1 and 3, as they run almost entirely on tarmac road surfaces.

My Giant Defy 1 road bike, with Mount Ještěd just about visible in the background

And the second is my 2007 Author Vision mountain bike (Author is a popular Czech brand). I'll be riding this on all the other stages, as the climbs there will get too brutal and the surfaces too rough for a road machine.

Me (in slippers!?) and my Author Vision, packed and ready to head off to Berlin, May 2009

Both bikes will be kitted out for credit-card (i.e. lightweight) touring. Wikipedia defines this, rather amusingly, as the kind of travel where "a rider carries a minimum of equipment and a lot of money". In the extreme case, as described in this Guardian article, you carry practically nothing at all and buy everything you need along the way. I can't get away with such a purist approach, as I'll be travelling through some remote areas, and mainly at weekends, when the shops are often shut in the Czech Republic. So, I'll be taking a change of clothes and other basic kit in a set of rear panniers and I'll be staying overnight at guesthouses.

The Vision has been my companion on several previous trips, so I know I can depend on it. The Defy, though, is untried and untested as a tourer. However, it has a relatively upright riding position (for a road bike) as well as mounts for a rear luggage rack and mudguards, so I'm fairly confident it's up to the task. And its light weight and narrow tyres should allow me to make brisk progress.

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