[blogpost for Grinta! cycling magazine]
Already in Bulgaria I noticed the first symptoms. In Turkey it became worse. And in Georgia my whole immune system protested…
Smelly exhausts, raging speed demons and unnecessarily wide roads did not only make my photos less beautiful but also my facial expressions. These were the culprits that manifested my allergy to asphalt.
An allergy that needed to be treated, that was clear. Before purchasing the whole pharmacy, I tried another environment.
My bike and I were looking for hiking trails in Tusheti, a mountain region in Northeast Georgia. Only a minimum of luggage came with me, on the rear of my bike, the rest I left in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital.
After seven days exchanging ordinary roads for hiking trails, amidst all the natural beauty and being stuck only in traffic jam of sheep, my allergy was gone.
It was obvious, I wanted to continue my trip bikepacking. Bike… what? Bikepacking, (offroad) cycling with only a minimum of luggage.
But, could I do that? Could I travel with less luggage? Could I buy a new, lighter bike on which broader tires fit? I not only had the money but also a protesting conscience. ’You already own a decent bike Trien, you’re not going to consume just for consuming?’ spoke the angel on my right shoulder. Meanwhile the devil on the other side added: ‘But you still have 18 more months to cycle, your daily happiness is important too, isn’t it?’.
My good friend Koen searched for an affordable, eligible bike. PDG bikestore from Evergem (Drongen) had one in stock. Patrick, the owner, let me know that I could use the bicycle till Taiwan. ‘You’re most welcome Trien, I like to help people!’ he said.
No, my eardrum wasn’t damaged by the mass of honking impatient drivers. I heard it right… unforgettable words to which one answer fits: ‘Thanks a million Patrick!’.
The search for the proper equipment for my bikepacking adventure could start. Reading reviews and ordering online took many days. Through this I became interested in the bombproof, customized framebags of Rogue Panda Designs. Nick, the owner, an avid cyclist, let me know that he wanted to support my project. A brand new framebag came towards me. ‘Waw, thanks a lot Nick!’
Four months later all that beauty had materialised in Muscat, Omans capital. Ready to roll the many Omani dirt roads. A FxM, Pedal Harder-cap was included as a perk.
And that allergy? Well, that one is history!
More information about my bike, setup and the many helping hands can be found here. My diluted packing list you’ll find here.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Once online, I’d love to answer them.