Day 322, 16.005 km, Nazaré, Portugal
I was expecting that I would encounter some suffering on this long trip. And I did in few rare occasions where the road disappeared into a muddy path. Or when the top of the hill was further then I liked. But apart from these little moments where I suffered a bit it was clear that – after 11 months on the road and around 16.000 km – my machine suffers more then I do. The regular wear and tear from a bike speeds up with this daily intensive use. If I would list up all the little breakdowns and repairs this would become very long and boring. There are only a little amount of parts that I haven’t touched. Not always a real breakdown, sometimes only bolts shaking loose. Or cables getting a bad connection from the constant moving. Everyday there’s something I could improve. Taking in account that I took a high quality bicycle for this, I can’t imagine how many times I would need to stop with a cheap bike. Structurally the bike keeps going, it’s mostly all the add-ons that fail or at least have a bad day.
It is not the cycling that brings damage, it is the little moments in between. Getting stuck in the mud. Having to turn back on a narrow degrading road. The crashes, luckily all were at low speed or no speed. When I need all my power to keep the bike upside down and manoeuvre the trailer around, then I feel all the forced towing in different directions, and I realise that my machine has a hard time.
While cycling there is nothing to worry, all the forces are in the same direction, and a little bump in the road can easily be taken by the very good tyres. The brakes in combination with the regeneration break can stop me in the downhill. And the motor can help me uphill again. As this motor is able to overheat, I keep an eye on that. It is all just about knowing what is possible and how to manage. On the good roads it is a silent and smooth progression. It is on the -many, many- bad roads that speed goes down, the amount of shocks increase and often makes me shout strong language.
Now it sounds like I’m sitting on the side of the road the whole time, but that is not at all the reality. The bike is structurally flying on, the trailer, that is still a prototype, has done amazingly well, only 2 improvements are on the list. Some trouble with the wheels has been solved and the axle that takes all the weight needs strengthening. This week is only the first time, I’m really stopped, because my freewheel is blocked. Even though I did replace it before trouble started. I can still ride the bike, but the pedals keep turning, so it’s like a fixie, and that’s not a nice way to travel with this amount of luggage.
A very important note is that I like working on it, that the breakdowns are not something that ruin my day, rather something that is part of the trip. So far there has been a solution every time, even when it took some days to overthink one or find the right part.
Of course it can be expected that the bike suffers when carrying 150 kg + myself. But then you see the videos of really loaded bicycle in Asia and Africa, where they move 50 chickens of 4 televisions on 1 old bike. So what am I worrying?