“You always have time for the things you put first.”
Kevin and I invested in good gear to begin this trip: Surly bikes, ortlieb panniers, the famous Brooks b17 saddle, and of course, Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. We both have therm-a-rest sleeping pads, and down sleeping bags which are rated for -15C. Even so, after seventeen months, some of our gear needs to be replaced, especially before we begin the next year of our tour through some of the roughest roads as we follow the Andes through South America.
One of the first questions we are often asked is “how many flats have you gotten this trip?” One, on a different set of tires, which means that throughout the last 11,000km on my Schwalbe Marathon tires, I haven’t had a single puncture. Not one. And neither has Kevin. Though they still have a bit of life left in them, we have decided to replace our tires here in Istanbul in order to start the next leg of our journey with tires which will last us until we get home.
Our tent is another thing we are going to replace since two of the zippers are now broken, and the poles are cracked and hanging on their last legs. That being said, our second hand REI tent has held up superbly, especially considering that it had received more than four years of use before this trip. My mother has graciously sent one of her tents to us here in Istanbul, which will turn into our new home once we reach Buenos Aires! (Thanks mom!!)
Besides our tires, we are also going to replace our chains, break pads, and cables (regular maintenance for any cycle tourist), as well as my handlebars. Though the drop bars have worked well for me, Kevin finally convinced me to change them out for handlebars which will give me more control, especially on mountains dirt roads. I’m going to be replacing them with butterfly handlebars which are specific for touring as they have so many different hand positions.
A few other items which will become part of our gear for this next part of the trip are my keens (can’t believe I ever left without them!), a solar panel (which will let me write more often as I’ll be able to charge my iPad whenever, instead of in random shops along the way), a water pump (which will be better than our current SteriPen in lakes and rivers), a new merino wool t-shirt (as my last one retired a few months ago once there were more holes than fabric), and an ortlieb handlebar bag for Kevin (since he tried to go cheap and buy a non ortlieb/non waterproof one… definitely worth the investment to just buy good gear right off the bat). And a mystery Christmas package from amazon which I’ll tell you about when I open it. (The current running joke is that it’s a monocycle, but I’m pretty sure my brother would object to putting that in his luggage when he brings it for Christmas). Oh, and a watch for Kevin, since as nice as it’s been to be without “time” since his broke six months ago, he has been hinting everyday that he really wants a new one. (He doesn’t know he is getting one, but since he never reads the blog, I get to let you all in on the secret first!!)
So how are we getting all of these things to us here in Istanbul? My brother is bringing a whole lot of it when he comes for Christmas (from my mom, we have been ordering things through her in Oregon), and besides that, we will be ordering a bunch of stuff online to have sent to our wonderful cycling host here in Turkey!