Sun dips below the horizon, and treats us to another peaches and cream lightshow. In the golden dusk we look for somewhere to pitch our tents and wood for our fire. Light dwindles and camp is set, methodical and automatic, a well rehearsed set of economical movements unthought but precise, like a sodlier cleaning his gun. Blinfolded by dusk, tent poles are clicked together and pegs placed with little attention.
As the twigs and logs crackle and damp socks slowly steam dry, two tired boys watch the sparks trace skywards, past the canopy of branches and out towards a star studded midnight blue sky. The moon is out, glowing full and cool. Little is said as dinner sizzles, after 15months not much needs to be said now, and the silence is golden. Both ponder the day`s sights and highlights, lost in a train of thought trailing 26,000kms eastwards around the globe.
Increasingly, this ribbon of thought is interrupted with a question… what next? Indeed, what next… what next.
For the moment, we´re just content that for now, we´re two lucky bastards.
At our visit to the KTM factory in Austria we were given a taste of the future of bike travel.
Above is a video of KTM´s revolutionary E bike. Its revolutionary for two reasons. First, unlike most electric bikes I´ve come across, the E Bike is a decent bike in its own right- you can unclip the battery and it will function like a normal bike. Second, its cool- its not a step through with mudguards, pannier racks and a granny basket. Its possibly the most fun you can have with a battery operated gizmo with your clothes on/or off.
I`ll admit that until I tried the E bike I thought electric bikes were naff, and I still think most are. Yes, I´d prefer to think of a future with people propeling themselves from A to B using those little carbohydrate powered engines that god (evolution) gave us. But people are lazy. With electric assistance, it take less effort to go faster. You still have to pedal, you just get more for each stroke. So if you live somewhere hilly, like Ireland, you can pootle about at 20kmph without breaking a sweat even if you`re not the fittest of fiddles.
As I hit 25kmph after three pedal strokes, I could see cities of the future. No cars just happy people zooming about on bikes, electric assisted for the old and unfit, with the wind on their cheeks and smiles on their faces.
For the next few mondays we`ll be posting recipes from the road.
Here’s a simple recipe for desert that can be made on the road. Whether you’re riding in Argetina, Iberia or Iran, pick up some of those juicy oranges, a packet of hard caramels and a pot of cream or yoghurt.
1 packet of Hard caramels
1 packet of ginger nuts biscuits, or any biscuits you can get yourhands on.
Anything sweet crunchy will also work.
Method :peel oranges with a knife, taking care to remove the pith, and cut into rounds.
Put caramels in a plastic bag and crush with the base of a pot/ rock/brick/pump etc.
Add oranges and crushed caramels and leave to sit for three hours or until the caramel is dissolved.
Whip cream- if you’ve no whisk put in a container with a lid, a jam jar is perfect, and shake till stiff.
Serve oranges with whipped cream and ginger nuts crumbled over.
Fixing a puncture is one of the most basic repairs you may need to do your bike and there are many ways to do it, though some methods are definite no, no’s. For example when fixing a puncture in front of a hotel in China, the consierge took my inner tube and started bashing it with a hammer. I just stood there perplexed and waited until he was done, and I wasn’t surprised when his dodgy repair method resulted with the air leaking out as soon as the tube was pumped up.
To fix a puncture you first need to get to the inner tube by taking off the tyre. Opposite the valve, insert a tyre lever between the rim and tyre, then lever off part of the tyre and clip the lever onto the spokes. Do the same with a second lever, an inch or so from the first, and if required, use a third lever. It should now be easy enough to pry the tyre away from the rim and dig out the inner tube.
To find the puncture, pump up the tube and listen out for hissing sounds, or run your hand or face over the tube to feel for the spurting air. If the hole seems to be hiding, submerge the inner tube in a basin of water and keep an eye out for a stream of bubbles, be sure to dry off the tyre after though or the glue won’t stick.
Fixing the actual puncture is where the methods vary, but here’s my preferred method that – like Uncle Ben’s – works every time. Smear a thin layer of glue the inner tube making sure to cover an area bigger than the patch, and also put glue on the patch itself. Leave both aside for about 3 – 5 minutes (depending on air temperature) until the glue is very nearly dry (I’ve left it for 10 minutes before and they still stuck). Now apply the patch to the tube and bobs your uncle, no need to bash it with a hammer or anything. Put the tube back in the tyre, then by using your fingers, push the tyre sidewall over the rim and if necessary, use the levers to get the last stubborn bit of the sidewall over. Pump up the tyre and remark at how much easier it is to pedal with a hard tyre.