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Sarah’s words at the end of January 2012:

“Fresh from the bike shop, where we have had to buy a new hub for me and a new bottom bracket for Tom, we head to an Outdoors shop. I lean my bike against a pole outside and empty out the frame bag, thinking to myself, If someone nicked my iPod and passport while I was in the shop, that would really suck .

I find a nice water bottle in the shop and ask the girl if I can try it on my bike. I return to the door – and stop, stunned to see the Big Dummy standing in solitary splendour.

I spend several moments just staring. Maybe if I look harder the scene will change. Nope. Just a big empty space. I feel sick.

‘Tom. We have a problem. I’m so sorry’.

In many ways, I feel worse about this for him than for myself. It was the first bike he built up himself from the frame up, using a combination of components from our mountain bikes at home, and carefully selected new ones. He has maintained, nursed and cared for her since Canada, noticing problems before I do, replacing parts as needed. He knows every last nut and bolt on that bike. She was my much loved companion and faithful steed for over 24,000km – but she was Tom’s baby.

What does a cycle tourist do, without a bike? The obvious answer: buy a new one, is difficult to accept while still deeply mourning. Feels a bit like buying a new kitten the day after your cat dies. Or maybe getting married again the day after your husband dies.”

Stripped naked for new parts and some much needed tlc in La Paz, Bolivia.  This is the bicycle that was lost.

Stripped naked for new parts and some much needed tlc in La Paz, Bolivia. This is the bicycle that was lost.

The bicycle-lost was the nearest I could get to Sarah’s geometry with a production hard-tail mountain bike frame.  An overly jacked up fork/front end was a compromise in function to give the best possible fit.  She’s gifted with long legs that can walk and ride for continents, but relatively shorter arms and a neck/upper back that doesn’t tolerate being too stretched out.

Part of the transition from post-loss-stasis towards leaving town on a bike-that-would-do was some advice from Joe Cruz (paraphrasing) – “Get a good enough bike to finish the trip, then buy the bike you’ve always wanted”.  The temporary battering and bruising of identity was soothed by a path forwards.

To those for whom a bicycle is merely a means to a personally-varied end; this investment of such significant meaning will likely seem excessive and ‘stuff-related’.  For those who might think differently – you understand.

One bike to rule them all

This is the phoenix from the flames.  A bicycle that can run 29er mtb wheels (for mtb or road slicks) or soft-stuff friendly fat tyres (Joe has a lot to answer for in providing the inspiration for this desire too).  As much ‘fit and forget’ as possible.

In the 'fat'

In the ‘fat’

and the 'thin' version - mountain bike 29er rims, but with road-bike slicks

and the ‘thin’ version – mountain bike 29er rims, but with road-bike slicks

For the detail-people, have a look here for more information.

The initial round-the-block test ride auto-extended to several laps.  Grins magnified each time.

The initial round-the-block test ride auto-extended to several laps. Grins magnified each time.

In ‘thin’ guise it’s already making Sarah’s bike-life easier with better fit and handling than the old aluminium Haro mtb it replaces.

In Bryn carrying mode - carefully locked

In Bryn carrying mode – carefully locked

Our first proper ‘fat’ outing was this weekend after a taster curtailed by toddler-melting temperatures last weekend.  A mildly abbreviated version of the Waterous Loop got us out of town (finally).

The majority of the trail is dual-track and fire road.  Chatting to Bryn in his prime position was rewarded with relaxed calmness

The majority of the trail is dual-track and fire road. Chatting to Bryn in his prime position was rewarded with relaxed calmness

Some of it was a bit more twisty

Some of it was a bit more twisty – a light cloth for sun and dust protection.

Sleeping upright in the Yepp-mini doesn't work, so I was pulling the Chariot for snooze time.  There's a very satisfying zen to visualisation of twin trailer wheel passage over roots and rocks.  Especially to keep things smooth - suspension (in the trailer) helps.

Sleeping upright in the Yepp-mini doesn’t work, so I was pulling the Chariot for snooze time. There’s a very satisfying zen to visualisation of twin trailer wheel passage over roots and rocks. Especially to keep things smooth – suspension (in the trailer) helps.

Cutting the full 63km loop short as we only had the day.  Finishing the afternoon on the Nanga road - nicely empty

Cutting the full 63km loop short as we only had the day. Finishing the afternoon on the Nanga road – nicely empty

Sarah's well used Porcelain Rocket seat-pack survived the Mendoza loss - and is now well ensconced on the one bike to rule them all :-)

Sarah’s well used Porcelain Rocket seat-pack survived the Mendoza loss – and is now well ensconced on the one bike to rule them all :-)

This brief foray – the beginning of many, many more.

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