Tour Conclusion

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Sep 042008
 
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Some results from 7 days of big dummy touring:

  • Alfine hub: I was surprised using the Alfine hub did not mean any drawback for this trip. I did not miss derailleur shifting at all. Cogs ratio of 34/20 with 160mm crank arm length turned out to be totally sufficient for the uphills we did and also for riding plain roads. Downhills mostly were steep enough to just let it roll along. There were not a lot of slight downhill sections where I had to pedal speeds around 40 km/h constantly, which would be cumbersome with this transmission ratio.
  • Road bikes: two friends of mine with their (carbon) road bikes were going along with me. I cannot tell what made them use road bikes instead of their touring bikes, but this way I was assigned to take over the roll of the brakevan. While there was no problem when going downhill, I obviously was slower at uphills due to weight of the BD, but since I have always been liking uphill rides, I did not matter. Riding flat roads was the worst of it. Most of the time I could not keep up my friends speed, even when following immediately. At least, I enjoyed the BDs riding comfort.
    On the other hand, riding offroad sections or gravel roads with the BD is perfectly safe and relaxed, while road bikes may need to be walked.
  • Bike charger: the bike charger I mentioned in previous posts did a good and reliable job. Output is sufficient to recharge my big PNA device, but power is not sufficient to run it continuously. I had to switch it off completely every now and then (pressing button for 6 sec) to allow recharging. According to manufacturer, the charger must be operated at speeds lower than 50km/h. In fact, I realized it would disengage automatically between 40 km/h and 50km/h. So, I switched on bicycle LED lights when going downhill. This way, the charger kept on working up to probably 60km/h. Obviously, this violates manufacturers specification, just to mention it.
  • Navigation: I used a Medion PNA with GoPAL navigation software. The device was of good use when riding at night (sixth day, routing in complete darkness), when riding long uphills (playing music, showing current altitude reached), routing through towns and in general by always providing current map segment and information about remaining kilometers to do. This device offers special bicycle routing funcionality, but I cannot recommend this, since it tends to create unnecessary slopes and elevation. One can never rely on it when choosing bicycle routing. On the other hand, when choosing motorcycle routing it might take you to some road not being suitable for cycling or probably even prohibited for bicycles. I had nearly ended up at some sort of motorway this way (although reading traffic signs and keeping brain switched on). Also, the gooseneck holder is weak and bent at every downhill slope, even when rolling on tarmac. I won’t use this device again for bicycle trips. It is way to big and takes up to much space at the handle bar, while only providing limited service quality for this kind of usage. I might consider getting some smaller device and installing it in less prominent position somewhere (upper tube?), probably.
  • Baggage: I used big plastic bags to put my stuff into when riding. There was only light baggage of probably 8kg, and this appeared to work quite well. There also was some rain at one day as a proof of concept. Xtracycle nylon mesh and straps have been staying in good condition. Xtracycle rack makes up a good place for drying shirts and trikots while riding. Packing is easy by just stuffing plastic bags and things into the freeloaders, but take care to keep up some basic packing rules. I lost 2 items due to confused plastic bag management.
    It was very convenient being able to store and carry bulky things as like walking boots or just some food gathered on the way. Unlike when using some backpack or several small bags, there is plenty of space for all kinds of things in the freeloaders.
  • Riding quality: Basically I may confirm my previous impression about relaxed BD riding. I got along with reasonable effort and without pain. I did not feel slow, although not being able to compete with road bikes in the long run. I very much appreciated the BDs ability to take any road or trail, no matter about surface quality. For me, this is an important benefit due to the fact that I very much prefer riding small gravel tracks. I am looking forward to my next big dummy tour.

7 Days Trip through Italy – Lombardia

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Aug 272008
 
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  • Day 1: Home – Trainstation (30km) – Train to Steinach/Brenner – Brennero – Trentino / Rovere della Luna
    166 km / 700 m of elevation
  • Day 2: Rovere della Luna – Passo Tonale (1884m) – Vezza d’Oglio
    100 km / 2000 m of elevation
  • Day 3: Vezza d’Oglio – Passo Vivione (1828m) – Breno
    72 km / 1850 m of elevation
  • Day 4: Breno – Passo Croce Domini (1892m) – Passo Ampola
    70 km / 2100 m of elevation
  • Day 5: Passo Ampola – Lago di Garda – Mezzocorona – Train to Brennero – Ellbögen (alte Brennerstraße)
    125 km / 900 m of elevation
  • Day 6: Ellbögen – Zillertal – Gerlos (1550m) – Pfarrwerfen
    220 km / 1700 m of elevation
  • Day 7: Werfenweng – Pass Lueg – Wiestal – Home
    64 km / 700 m of elevation

Images in gallery are in chronological order. Click images for details about the trip.

Lombardia

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Aug 202008
 
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Setting off for Italy with Surly Big Dummy

A water bottle and some small items are still missing.

Tomorrow at 3 o’clock in the morning I will be setting off to Italy for a small slope through Lombardy, although I am not yet finished with a light flue remaining from our latest trip through cold rain. I will cycle 35km to catch some train to Steinach/Brenner and from there at 9:30 a.m. start riding direction Lago di Garda and further on. There is not that much of baggage on the BD it seems, but actually its quite a lot for such a short trip without camping equipment. On the road bike I would have taken by far less load. Also, for the first time I will be using some navigation device on the bicycle, just to see how it works. I will meet friends on the way, but from the fifth day on I am left on my own and will ride back home to Austria without using a train, hopefully. Not yet sure about detailled timing and routing. We will see. Anyway, I am hoping for good weather. It looks a bit wet outside right now.