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Packing your bike

The trick: packing as little as possible. Not always the easiest when you are deciding what to pack. I've adjusted and readjusted the list below multiple times.

During my trip, I ran into a lot of people who wanted to have a chat. At the campsite, a grocery stores, the bakery or while riding. The two most common things those people asked me were: 1) "You are doing this on your own, like no one is with you?" and 2) "Is this, like these few bags, all the stuff you have?"

Both questions got the same answer: Yes... The first one, let's not say too much about that. Because why couldn't a 33 year old girl (yeah, I don't behave like a grownup), do this on her own?! Bad things happen in the world, but being too afraid about the chance of running into those bad things, then you are never going to get off the couch and out of your house. That second question, about how little stuff I was carrying on my trip, well there is more logic and reasoning to that. I summed it up for you in way too many words and pictures.

The bike

In April 2021 I bought a Checkpoint ALR 5 so I could hang out with my friends on the gravel paths. Immediatly I loved it! But I also missed the electric gearing and hated how heavy the bike was. So, while I was still working in the TREK store in Port Melbourne I put a pre-order in for an Checkpoint SL 6. It took till February 2022 to come in, but it turned out to be worth the wait. The RIVAL SRAM 1x drive train works means it has one chainring at the front and 12 sprockets on the cassette. The ability to go up and down the gears with this Di2 system, with just the control of one button on the left lever and one on the right is so damn easy. The battery of the gearing can be taken off the bike to charge and makes that with a spare battery, you'll never end up with a dead Di2. 

I changed the handlebars on the Checkpoint straight away to the Salsa Cowchipper as they are a little bit more flared but with a small drop. Also changed the saddle to a women specific one that TREK doesn't sell anymore, but I am stocking three of them because... Once you have found a saddle you like, you don't want to change.

Before I left Australia for Europe, I had also asked the guys at ParkBikes, my favourite bike shop in Sydney, to change my front chainring. The bike comes with a 40 chainring, but I suck at hills and imagined I would need all the grandma gears I needed for doing steep inclined with a loaded bike. So I put on a 38 chainring and it helped way more with the hills than I would have thought. I literally only had to get off my bike once because I couldn't get up the hill in my entire trip!

At the start of my trip, my tyres were Schwalbe G-One Allround in 40. But they only made it the 1900km to Basel. There I got them changed to 35's of the same tyre. This new front tyre gave in way too quickly after only 300km. It just had a massive hole in it that wouldn't seal (yes, I ran the tyres tubeless the entire trip). So I got a random tyre fro a lovely mechanic in a bike shop in Friedrichshafen (a WTB Riddler). The rear one I got in Basel actually held it together all the way till after Hamburg (~4000km). There it just got a hole that I kept plugging with plugs till I got back to The Netherlands. I couldn't be bother to get another tyre put on. 

This puiece of equipment has the biggest question mark for me. What to do on my next trip?! I need something that rolls fast, but still has some grip on rocky or loose gravel terrain. Guess we'll just keep thinking about this!

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