Going away on a long trip was a great excuse to update and buy new equipment. We enjoyed putting a lot of thought into what we would bring and what we wouldn’t bring. Travelling fairly lightly was important, but so was having some creature comforts. Pillows and camp chairs are things we might be willing to forego on a shorter trip, but have certainly improved our quality of life being away longer. It’s true, they do add some weight, but we decided it was worth it. And anyway, what we bring for a week is pretty much the same as what we ended up bringing for a longer trip.
Deciding what bike to ride was also a big question. Scott’s fixie is better suited for zipping around town and his road bike for going really fast. Our tandem is an expert at picnics in the parks and sometimes we need some space apart. My beloved green fixie suffered serious mechanical failure shortly before leaving. It would have cost more to repair it than the bike was worth. We decided to get new ones. It wasn’t even a question if we would ride fixed gear. Of course we would. And, we’d get a catchy website name too.
What’s a fixed gear? In its purest form, a fixed gear has one gear and no brakes. There’s no freewheel, which means you have to pedal all the time, even going downhill. It’s also possible to pedal backwards and move backwards, although this is difficult to do. Obviously, none of this makes sense for touring, but by adding two brakes and finding an ingenous way to add a couple of a gears, it works for us.
Going up and down hills can be difficult. On the steepest hills, we sometimes have to walk, but we enjoy the extra time to take in the scenery.
Scott loves everything cycle related and he took great pleasure selecting each and every component for our bikes. I’d been fortunate to ride a stock frame that was seemingly built to fit me, so why not get a bike that was modeled on this one. Vagabonde Cycles is a small frame builder in southern France, mostly specializing in touring frames. A fixed gear touring bike is an odd request, but Patrice was happy to accommodate me. He’d built many singlespeed mountain bikes before, so he understood what I wanted. We spent a whole morning with him taking measurements and adjusting position. Scott wanted something a little different. He was worried about going up hills, so wanted a solution to add an extremely easy gear. A “Schlumpf drive” would give him an extra gear at the push of a button.
We love to talk about all the specifics of our bikes, camping gear and what’s needed for a bike tour, so drop us a line if you have more questions. Also, look at our individual gear pages for a more details.