Argentina: Mendoza – A phoenix in white, red and black

The uses of a Big Dummy - heading off to buy Sarah's new bike with all of our stuff and us on one bike. Sarah's wondering if she can get Tom to keep this up all the way to Torres del Paine! (Photo S.Tory)
Although it changes the handling a bit, we fitted Sarah's 2 Ortlieb rear panniers and her Porcelain Rocket seat pack onto my OMM front rack. In contrast to other bikes, the problem with the Surly Big Dummy is avoiding the temptation to carry to much stuff - not where to put the bare essentials. In this case a vast carrying capacity proved very useful

We’re back on the move again – by bicycle still, and although I still expect it to be the same old bike every time I look at it, we’re slowly getting used to the new addition to our team.

We got a blur of amazingly helpful emails and blog comment from some expected and some unexpected sources.  It actually helped that people suggested different things as we felt correspondingly conflicted as to the way forward.  The non-biking options (turning this into a hiking/kayaking trip) were ones that I wasn’t really ready for.

The solution, thus far, was to buy a relatively cheap ‘it’ll do’ mountain bike in Mendoza.  This has got us going within a day of our planned departure.  It’s not a patch on the bike it replaces, but we’ve seen people who’ve traversed much greater distances than we will do on much less.

It’s not the ‘definitive’ mountain touring bike  – that would have cost us much more than we paid for this one in shipping alone.  We also didn’t want to have to decide on all the details that fast as we only have until 4th April to get to where we’re going.  The timing factor also meant that we didn’t take a bus to Santiago, Chile to check out the greater choice there.  If we’d had 4-6 months to go, we would have done that.

Another appealing suggestion was to get hold of an old-fashioned local old steel frame and build it up.  We decided that would also take too long – maybe another time…

So, while there are points of argument between Sarah and the bike (fit isn’t perfect, handlebar grips and saddle could be better and for her there are too many words painted on it); it works and it’s even pretty much the same colour as the old one (unintentional).  We’ll likely sell it or give it to the right person before we leave South America.

After a traffic saturated day out of Mendoza we found a finca with some enticing Eucalypt shade. As it was my OMM front rack Sarah was using we started with her stuff stashed on the front of the bike.
After a visit to a ferreteria (ironmonger) for some suitable bolts we swapped the rack to the back, giving the bike better handling and a more 'normal' appearance. The ability to attach the OMM rack to the V-brake mounts means we weren't foiled by a lack of upper pannier rack eyelets.

To our surprise the new bike gets lots of admiring attention – for the first time in the trip more than the Big Dummy!



  1. Great to hear you’re upbeat and back on the road.

    As you well know, people do all kinds of journeys on all kinds of bikes, so as long as it has wheels…

    I just met up with Jamie at the Bike House and went for a wonderful ride with him around Silver. Hoping to meet up with Gary next for a few days of bikepacking here in New Mexico.

    Then, I will head back south – really!

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