bikepacking & long distance cycling
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Contributers Words and photographs Jeroen Dijkstra, Alexander Dunlop, Harold Lanters, Jonathan KB, Willem Megens, Jurriaan Vis Photographs René Adelerhof, Ayal Barkai, Robert Krügel, Giovanni Toldo (cover photo), Elfi Thoonen, Rudi Verhagen Illustrations Luc Kickken Translations and proofreading Hanneke Bergsma
© 2016, ViaVelo Magazine Copyright remains with the publisher. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of the publisher.
Photo Stephan van Raay
Editing and layout Stephan van Raay
Editor’s comment Welcome to the fourth edition of ViaVelo Magazine. After a successfull first year with enthousiastic contributers and lots of happy readers we start this year’s first issue in two languages. To all the Dutch: you’ve got the wrong one, dummy! Enough with the numbers, let’s talk cycling.
Stephan van Raay
Photo Stephan van Raay Foto Laurens van Raay
Contents 6 Pacing by the Bloemenkamp Boys 8 The Places We Ride 20 Meeting the Willy Snatcher 40 Cairngorm 50 Himalayas in five images 64 Bilou Mountain 84 Bikepacking weekend with my daughter
Reviews 88 Full Windsor The Nutter multi tool 92 Odlo Vlaanderen cycling kit
PACING BY THE BLOEMENKAMP BOYS Words and photography by Jeroen Dijkstra
During my training sessions there are no broad shoulders of Joop van Zijlaard to tug behind. And there is no team car to keep me out of the wind in front of me either. But sometimes, when I’m in luck, I run into one of the Bloemenkamp boys. Time to tag along! There are no signs for faster or slower. Just full power as long as the road allows me. Worrying about a couple of mud splashes is out of the question. When they avoid a group of school kids and hit the verge of the road I get the full blast. But it’s worth it. Think about it: Joop Zijlaard’s back or a shouting team captain is nothing compared to a roaring New Holland tractor. Jerome
L A P CE E H
E D RI
Photo by RenĂŠ Adelerhof Lage Vuursche, Utrecht, The Netherlands BMC Granfondo GF02 Disc @radeler
Photo by Giovanni Toldo 10
Dolomites mountains, in front of the Pale di San Martino, Trentino, Italy
@giovannitoldo viaVelo magazine
Photo by Jan Harald Finstad 12
Bodo, Norway, inside the arctic circle
Photo by Ayal Barkai
Saharonim stream, Ramon crater, Israel
Photo by Robert Kr端gel
Singltrek pod Smrkem, Czech Republic
Photo by lovelo.at 18
On the heart shaped road, Austrian-Slovenian border, Ĺ piÄ?nik municipality.
www.lovelo.at viaVelo magazine
I NG TH T E E
S N ATC
Words and photography by Jonathan KB
â€œI got bored of work and wanted to go on adventure. I found one pretty easily ...â€? Jonathan is born and raised in Londen. With no experience of cycle touring or camping he took off to discover the world by bike. At present he has cycled over 20,000 kilometers. This is his story about Kyrgyzstan.
jkbsbikeride.com @jkbs.bike.ride jkbsbikeride
etween Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan there is a long 20 kilometers of noman’s-land. Unsuprisingly there’s not much going on in there but one family, it turned out, had a tea house right in the middle. It was getting late in the day when I exited Tajikistan and I was over the moon to find some civilisation. After struggling through the recent nights’ tempertatures way below freezing I was still desperate to avoid a night in my tent so I asked if I could stay the night there. It was fortunate that I could – despite the amount I’d already descended it had still snowed during the night and the morning was freezing. It was a little strange to have slept in between two countries (I’d been stamped out of Tajikistan the day before) but my first ever stateless sleep was as good as any! I arrived at the lonely Kyrgyz border and greeted the guards who looked both cold and bored. There didn’t seem to be more than a couple of staff around, but there probably didn’t need to be – I hadn’t seen a single car on the road that morning. My passport was flicked through and I was stamped in – the first country since Armenia that I haven’t needed a visa for. Kyrgyzstan I like you already!
I cycled over to the far end of the control zone but found the exit gate closed. Confused, I went back to the first guards to ask where I should go – thinking I’d missed another check point. With a clear mime he showed that I was just supposed to let myself out the other end, so I went across again, removed the padlock from the large gate and let myself into the country. The ride down from the mountains was sublime – wide plains welcomed me to Kyrgyzstan but it was the views looking backwards that really gave me goosebumps. The range from which I’d descended was a white wall jutting out from the fields at their feet. I was going to stop in Sary Tash for the night to try and recover a little but all I wanted to do was reach Osh – the first proper town in more than a fortnight and only a couple of days away from me. I was buzzing about being in another new and beautiful country but the mountains, cold and illness had really worn me out. I decided to push on, the quicker the better I figured. The only bad thing was that I had to climb a big pass straight after Sary Tash. Nothing in altitude compared to where I’d been recently, but the mountain passes in Kyrgyzstan are nasty. Straight up and straight down workouts.
Looking backwards as I headed for Sary Tash.
Descending from the second pass before Osh.
I camped on the other side. Finally I’d descended enough to be comfortable at night back in my tent (I hoped). It was still freezing – but at least I could sleep! In the morning I was woken up by wild horses running around my tent as I cooked my porridge. It was nice to camp next to trees again – I haven’t seen many of them recently! Slowly the landscape became greener and people began to appear selling fruit and veg from their gardens. Hallelujah! I’ve missed fruit so much. Up in the Pamirs it was just potatoes and fatty meat soup. I bought a kilo of delicious apples from the first seller I saw – the bag cost about 30p. Eventually I rolled into Osh. Words can’t describe how happy I was to be in a town again. Clean clothes, proper coffee, supermarkets – and best of all, restaurants serving western food! I love exploring local food in the countries I travel but a) everything in Central Asia seems to make me sick and b) I’m really bored of the dishes they do here. I went out for dinner with some other cyclists – ate a burger, checked my emails and had an espresso. Cost me about £2.00. I would have paid a tenner for that!
First campsite in Kyrgyzstan.
Making new friends over a shot (or two) of vodka.
The roadside was busy so I had to have a little patience finding a good campsite. There were lots of villages around and almost all the land was being farmed on. I thought I found a perfect spot up on a ledge above the road but as I started looking for a flat bit of land some locals called out to me. I looked down the other side and saw a bunch of Kyrgyz standing around a car, parked at the side of a dirt road. It was
Voila, the weirdest photo of my trip: a fat Kyrgyz woman squeezing my balls. Never a dull moment.
pretty clear what was going on – a good old fashioned piss up in a field. As you do… I was called over (of course – they were pretty excited about having ‘found’ a tourist) and I was given a monster glass of vodka. They were all battered. I normally try and avoid drunk groups – I like a drink but they normally just become a pain in the arse after 5 minutes and pissed people
Eventually I got away – but not before the ‘willy snatcher’ had her way with me for a photo.
seem unable to comprehend that I can’t speak every language under the sun. But on this occasion I was surprised to find a mixed group of men and women for once and I was curious to see what one of their ‘vodka sessions’ would look like.
strangest picture from my tour so far. They stumbled back into the car and went to the shop to get more vodka. I’d promised to stay put but as soon as they were out of sight I made a quick getaway and camped around the corner.
I’ve drunk so much vodka in the ex-Soviet countries I’ve cycled through – but always with men. These women were a real curveball to what I was used to seeing in a largely conservative and Muslim part of the world. They came straight over to put arms around me and pose for photos. Then they got a little more cheeky – I didn’t quite get it but the words ‘sex’ pointing at me and them and motioning to get in the car. Then they started rubbing their fingers together and saying ‘dengi’ (Russian for money) and ‘skolka’ (how much). I think you’d have to pay me a lot for that pleasure…
The next morning the road began to weave into the mountains. I ate by a tunnel and watched with amusement as a herd of horses were marched down the road by some shepherds. All day I passed herds of cows, sheep and horses being driven down from the mountains. Winter is coming and the nomadic herders are moving down for the season.
Eventually I got away – but not before the ‘willy snatcher’ had her way with me for a photo. I tried to be a good sport when she went in for the grab but despite it being the closest female action I’ve had in a while I can’t say it was anything but very uncomfortable. And so, let me present the
I camped beside a picturesque river while a storm passed at night. A deep grey hung over the mountains the next day as I climbed higher and higher. Suddenly it was warm enough for a swim in the river and an evening of clothes washing. I neatly tied up some ropes to dry my clothes only for it to piss it down with rain all night. Once I was over the pass I could roll down to lake Toktogul, but first I had some more drinking to do. I’d paused for a wee and a
Every bit as cold as it looks, believe me.
car pulled in next to me. Before I’d even finished peeing the guys had hoped out with a bottle of vodka. I let out an inward sigh and put on a brave smile while they poured a round of shots for all. As if this has become such a normal occasion to me now! It’s a strange world. Or rather – there are some strange countries in this world. From what I could gather these guys were on a road trip to lake Karakol, stopping at every scenic view point to get out, take some selfies and drink some vodka. It was about midday and they were already pissed (Kyrgyzstan has a lot of view points). I humoured them for a couple of shots and then continued my descent to the lake. I didn’t get very far before the same car over took me again and pulled over. I tried not to stop but they jumped out and desperately flagged me down. The bottle of vodka was out again and so was a new guy who hadn’t been in the car 5 minutes ago. I have no idea where he came from, but he was clearly upset about not having had a toast with the Englush cyclist so we were both poured a drink. From there I had to start climbing towards the next big pass at over 3,000 meters. The ride was gorgeous – the road hugging tight to a fast flowing river whilst trees hung over
the sides dropping yellow and red autumn leaves. The day that I was wanted to conquer the pass was horrible. I woke up in the rain, waited a while to see if it would stop but then decided to get on it with it or I’d never make it over the top. The worst part was the dogs. My canine enemies have been fairly well behaved the last few countries but in Kyrgyzstan they’re nothing but trouble. Bee-keepers’ farms lined the side of the road and all of them had a feisty guard dog that would come running out snapping at my ankles. One bee-keeper walked over to me with his brolly up to give me a bottle of honey. He pointed to my chest and did a ‘makes you strong’ gesture. It’s gonna take me a while to get through all that…When you need them the most, the good people turn up. After a few hours I reached the altitude where rain turned to snow. I was soaked through (my waterproofs aren’t that waterproof) and freezing. I didn’t want to change clothes so that I’d have something dry to sleep in and more importantly – I didn’t have time to stop, I needed to get down the other side so I could camp on the plateau. But things got worse at the top. On the other side of the pass there was a strong headwind blowing the heavy snow
The ‘tunnel of death’.
Basically it’s just a horrendous 2.5 kilometers tunnel.
straight into my face. I couldn’t see a thing – my eyes were stinging and my front was turning white as the snow settled on my clothes and bags. I tried to descend out of the snow line as quick as possible but my body was starting to shake from the cold. It wasn’t fun at – one of those awful days that I try not to remember. Eventually I reached a junction where there were some cafes . The owner looked pretty unimpressed when I brought puddles of water in with me but I didn’t care – I was desperate for some warm tea and some shelter. I looked out the window – light was starting to fade and it was still snowing. I did not want to camp at all. I asked the lady if perhaps there was any spare room for me to sleep inside. It took her a minute to work out what I was saying but when she did she smiled and motioned for me to follow her. At the end of the cafe was a truckers sleeping dorm! A warm(ish) room with clean bedding and mattresses. Amazing! It felt like nothing short of a miracle. There I was – wet, shaking from cold and totally miserable and suddenly I had somewhere warm to sleep just a corridor away from a cafe with hot soup. I didn’t even ask how much it cost – I would have paid anything. In the morning I had a big breakfast and when I paid for that and my night’s
accommodation it came to £4.50 – not bad really! I cycled along the plateau the next day. I’m sure it was gorgeous but low cloud was hanging over the mountains so I couldn’t see that much. I passed lots of circular dark patches on the ground where yurts had been pitched over summer. Everyone has migrated down to lower ground now, along with all the animals I’d been passing on my way up. There was one more pass to cross before I could descened to Bishkek. It was a typically ruffless climb – sharp switchbacks bought me up into the snowline straight under the jagged peaks. The pass was a slightly disappointing one: the top was a tunnel cutting through the top of the mountain. It was time for – drum roll please – the ‘tunnel of death’! I’d heard a few cyclists refer to it as this, so it’s clearly a ‘thing’. Basically it’s just a horrendous 2.5 kilometers tunnel. Not the longest in the world, but one of the most unappealing – full of potholes and uneven road, barely any lighting, no ventilation and horrible chemicals in the air. A cyclist died in there a couple of years ago and so most people hitch a ride through. The Brits I’d met a few days ago told me they’d tried to cycle through but the guard had stopped them and make them get a lift –
Cutting into the gorge below. 36
apparently because they had no mask… Who carries a mask!? I’ve cycled every kilometer so far and I don’t want to spoil that record unless I have to. In my direction I’d be going downhill, so when I reached the tunnel I stopped to put on my gear and go for it. My Ikea high-vis jacket came out the bag, I turned on my powerful headtourch and pulled my buff up over half my face. A guard did come out, but he didn’t ask anything beyond where I was from. I’ve done plenty of un-enjoyable tunnels around the world but this one was the worst by far – it was scary. I kept my eyes glued to the small patch in front of me illuminated by my torch and held on tight. The noise inside was deafening – huge machine roars trying to ventilate the tunnel drowned out the cars but still the air was foul inside. When I finally reached light I was desperate to breath in some clean oxygen once again. Once through, I remembered I needed to tighten my brakes. They were barely working and I’d been putting off adjusting them, but now I really needed them for this descent in the snow. I opened my bag for my multi-tool, but it was nowhere to be found. Uh oh… I tried to remember where I last used it – I’d had it out when I was drinking with those local guys. Shit –
a few shots of vodka and everything goes out the window. I tried to cycle down but the brakes wouldn’t even bring me to a stop. It was way too dangerous to try and ride down. I was now in a sticky situation – light would soon fade and I was too high to camp. I could hitch a ride down but that was the last thing I wanted to do (especially after riding through the tunnel!) I went through every sharp object in my bags looking for something that would catch in the disk brake adjuster. Finally the scissor part of my fake swiss-army knife caught and I could just tighten them enough to get me down alive – hurray! The descent was insane – cutting down the mountain and into a narrow gorge. The next day I pushed off and continued free-rolling down along the river with my eyes on my speedometer, eager to see how far I’d get without pushing. Including the last part of yesterday, I managed 45km of descending without pedaling which was a new record. Down in the valley I was in for a surprise, suddenly there were Russians everywhere! There’s no confusion between a Russian and a Kyrgyz person, and here there were white people all over the place. I’d reached Bishkek. Finally! Here I had just one job to fulfill – obtain a Chinese visa. «
Looking back to the mountains (and feeling pleased to be out of them).
CAIRNGORM Words and photography by Alexander Dunlop
My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here, My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer; Chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe, My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go. Robert Burns
ver since my childhood I visit Scotland for (wild) camping, hiking, going to pubs and more. I canâ€™t even remember how many times I went. But I never took my bike with me. I paid my last visit in 2011 and now itâ€™s time to go back. After some great mountain bike adventures in England and Wales I decided to take the bike with me this time. The goal was to start in Aviemore and ride the Cairngorms loop (www.cairngormsloop. net). I took a flight from Weeze to Edinburgh
and went on by train to Aviemore. After a successful journey - taking the train across the Highlands is highly recommended - I found out that Ryanair bent my bike frame during some incautious loading. Luckily the guys at BothyBikes - also recommended - took good care of it. Which brings me back to the plan: riding a nice loop through the Cairngorms and staying the night in bothies. Bothies are small, relatively comfortable cabins in the remote parts of Scotland and
Wales. They vary from wooden portacabins to old farmhouses with a toilet, a wood stove and beds. Bothies are a guarantee for a good conversation around a camp fire and camaraderie in outdoor sports you donâ€™t see that often. Around halfway I stayed at Bob Scottâ€™s Bothy. When I entered after three hours of very cold headwind the wood stove was already lit with new coals. Instant bliss. Later on I went chopping wood at Ruigh Aiteachain to heat the stove and dry my
shoes and bike gear. Something the group entering later that night really appreciated. Especially the heat, the damping Sealskinz socks not so much I guess. We shared whisky and red wine and told stories. I took my tent just in case but in the end I stayed in bothies every night. Riding through lovely valleys with beautiful gravel tracks. Then swearing when my front wheel disappeared up to its axle into the mud. Or when the track was nothing more than a long puddle just a little over pedal
height. But enough twisty single-track in the sun as well. Hike-a-bike through freezing rivers, it was only May after all, and lazy gravel descents. The original plan was to ride the full Cairngorms loop. But after talking to some locals about the extreme rainfall I decided not to. This decision seemed a bit rash afterwards. But I still got to do plenty of mountain passes and technical ascents and descents after all. When I was back in Aviemore I cycled for a couple of days and hiked in Rothiemurchus Forest. Undoubtedlya worthwhile ending to this trip. Scotland is magical to me. With its right to roam, bothies and unpredictable weather itâ€™s a go to place for cyclists and outdoor lovers. Maybe the Highland Trail next year? First I will have to find someone crazy enough to tag along.
Photo by Willem Megens
Words Willem Megens Photography Willem Megens, Rudi Verhagen
Ladakh & Zanskar In 2015 Rudi Verhagen and Willem Megens cycle in Northern India for one month. The route roughly goes from Leh through the wide Indus River valley to Kargil, next through the rough Zanskar valley to the famous Manali-Leh road, and then back again to the Indus valley via Lake Tso Moriri. It is a very diverse journey, passing arid plateaus, deep canyons and high roads. Rudi and Willem cycle some 1,200 kilometers and climb almost 19,000 meters.
Go to www.themeeg.nl for the full report.
Lamayuru: Bizarre Moonland On the old road to Lamayuru Monastery we climb some six hundred meters via many hairpins – the ‘Jabeli Bends’. From the highest point, at 3,700 meters, we enjoy a fantastic view of the spectacular surroundings. Beneath us is a bizarre landscape, known locally as ‘Moonland’ – a vast expanse of rock formations created by the erosion of deposits from the bed of the glacial lake that was once here.
Photo by Rudi Verhagen
Fotu La: Gigantic mogul slope From Lamayuru we head onto the Fotu La. This proves to be an easy climb â€“ not steep and well-surfaced. Road workers are even adding another layer of tarmac. The photo is taken just before the summit. From here the landscape looks like a gigantic mogul slope, albeit without snow. On top of the 4,094 meters high pass road we pose with a group of enthusiastic Indian cyclists.
Photo by Willem Megens
Pensi La: Fairytale landscape To get to Padum we have to climb the 4,492 meters high Pensi La, one of the most beautiful pass roads I have ever seen. We enjoy a spectacular view of summits over 6,500 meters as well as the Drang-Drung glacier (see the first photo of this series). The descent includes numerous hairpins and is truly exciting. Next we ride along the river Stod that squeezes itself into a deep gorge, at the end of which a fairytale landscape unfolds.
Photo by Willem Megens
Shingo La: Carrying the bikes In Raru we arrange horses for the hike over the 5,050 meters high Shingo La. These will be carrying our bags for the next few
days. Even in â€˜cheat modeâ€™ the journey is strenuous, particularly during the first day. Not only pushing and carrying the bike as such is a challenge; we also have to be
Photo by Willem Megens
careful, specifically on those parts where a stone avalanche has wiped out the path. We do not want to tumble into the river deep down there.
Morei Plains: Center line marking From the tent village of Pang we climb more than two hundred meters before arriving on the Morei Plains â€“ a vast and dry plateau. The road becomes so wide that it has center line marking. With the help of tail wind we quickly proceed to the Polokonka La, the pass road between Tso Kar and Tso Moriri. Just before sunset we pitch our tent at a height of 4,810 meters â€“ exactly the same altitude as the summit of the Mont Blanc.
Photo by Willem Megens
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In 2010 I decided to go cycling for a year. I took up a 7,000 kilometer trip from South Vietnam to Tibet, across the Himalayas and into India. Somewhere along the way I met a German cyclist named Armin, and together we explored the barren territories of the Chinese province of Yunnan. This is the story of a few days on foot.
Words and photography by Harold Lanters
rmin and I are in Cizhong, where French missionaries have not only spread the gospel, but also the knowledge of growing grapes and making wine. Surrounded by vineyards there is a small church with lanterns in its tower that has attracted the attention of some Chinese tourists. We start talking and they tell us about their hike from Dimaluo. When they mention that their guides and mules will go back without travelers, Armin and I look at each other and know that we are thinking the
same thing. The Chinese hikers help us talk to the Tibetan guides, who only speak a Tibetan dialect, and soon enough we have a deal. Weâ€™re going on a three-day hike over a 4,400 meter mountain pass. As we will go cycling again after this short intermezzo we obviously want to take our bikes with us. The guides look at our bikes with disappointment written on their faces, and tell us that they can only go on the mules when taken apart. After
some tinkering and tying knots, the mules are saddled and our bicycles securely fastened. It looks ridiculous to be honest, but weâ€™re good to go. The views are extraordinary. A crystalclear stream in the middle of a totally deserted green valley with high green mountains all around. We walk in a fixed formation; first two mules, then the older guide named Toma, again two mules, the other guide named Sama, then me, and finally Armin. Since there is only one path through the valley there is no need to stay together too closely so I take the liberty to stop every once in a while and just enjoy the breathtaking surroundings. After six hours of walking, and having climbed from 2,000 meters to 3,500 meters, we reach a deserted cabin. The cabin is 3 by 3 meters, with a fireplace in the middle. Armin and I sleep side by side on the wooden boards, and Sama and Toma sleep on the other side of the fire. This promises to be a romantic night! Toma and Sama cut chopsticks and glasses from plastic bottles, and while the food is simmering we drink strong liquor by the fire. After we have finished the liquor
We cut some coffee cups from bottles, while Sama and Toma start the day with moonshine.
we go to sleep. I get the horse blankets, and my air mattress serves me well. I do, however, have to change sides every once in a while because on the one side I have the heat of the smoldering fire, while on the other side I feel the icy wind blowing through the cracks of the cabin. The next day the fire is lit at 7 a.m. Armin is a retired sailor and he needs his coffee in the morning. In order to satisfy his needs he brought a whole pack of instant coffee, that we can all enjoy now. We cut some coffee cups from bottles, while Sama and
Toma start the day with moonshine. We fill our bottles with crystal-clear water from the river. It has been raining last night, and yesterday’s green mountaintops are snowwhite now. The way to the top is beautiful, and it’s not long before we see the first snow. It starts to drizzle, and after a while we walk through the snow. It’s foggy and the path is narrow and slippery and the abyss is long and deep. Once at the top we eat chocolate and cookies and then start descending. Soon enough both the fog and the snow
disappear, and the world looks green again. Another beautiful valley with small streams that flow into a larger stream. Finally we can walk downhill. Armin has a hard time, so one of the guides waits for him while I follow the mules. At a photo stop I lose sight of them, but I still hear the bells of the mules, so I know I am fine. Because trees are being chopped down and rolled down ‘our’ path, the path starts to look like a mud pool. I follow the
path and look for the mule’s hoof prints and turds so I know I am still on the right track. At a junction I hear bells on my left, but the path goes to the right so I decide to follow the path. Finally I see the good old turds again, and in the distance I hear the sound of bells. In a small valley I see saddleless mules so I know I’m almost there, even though I am surprised how quickly Toma unsaddled the mules. When I count them I realize that
the mules I see are actually horses. I am lost and alone. I try the yell that Toma and Sama use to call each other, but no one answers. It is very foggy now and dusk is starting to set in as well. I walk the path back uphill and holler every minute. After a while I hear Armin yell back at me, and it turns out that he and Sama are waiting for me. The three of us finally walk to our place for the night. We sleep in a young farmerâ€™s cabin. The farmer surprises us with honeycombs.
He roasts the honeycombs and whips the white larvae into a pan. The larvae are then fried with yak butter and topped off with ghee. It tastes quite good, like greasy strong liquor with tiny fried shrimp. Then we walk further down to Dimaluo, our final destination. We buy some beers and the four of us toast to the good ending. With this expedition we conquered the Biluo Mountains, experienced some extreme conditions, and we even enjoyed it. ÂŤ
ts in r p n io it d e d limite
g n i l c y C f o The Freedom n by Luc Kickke
op h s / l .n o l e v ia www.v
BIKEPACKING WEEKEND WITH MY DAUGHTER Words and photography by Jurriaan Vis
t the end of the summer holidays I had a good look at the calendar to plan a bikepacking weekend. When will the weather still be any good? Early October when my daughter had a long weekend off looked the most promising. Autumn began and the weather was as often around the end of september. With my daughter, she is seven years old, we discussed what camping site we would go to. The same one as last summer during our earlier bikepacking trip? Or do we pick a new one? We flipped through our camping guide and I found a suitable camping site at 20 kilometers from our home. Lots of animals, 5 kilometers closer to our home than the one from
last summer and the use of a firepit were the most important reasons to go for this one according to my daughter. The week before our planned bikepacking trip the weather forecast looked really promising with temperatures around 20 degrees. Did I pick the right weekend after all? It started to look like it. With 17 degrees and full of enthousiasm we left on Friday. Our way led us to Luilekkerland among others. Once we got to our camping site we were welcomed by a serene calmness alternated with the sound of animals. We had plenty of space, apart from one more tent the camping site was empty. Under a lovely sun we build up our home for the next two days.
After that it was time to gather some wood and set up the firepit for the evening. You can’t camp without a camp fire! We slept really well during the night and a fresh start in the morning with lots of sunshine promised a lot. Around midday it was time to prepare a delicious lunch and diner. We had a blast, stayed up late and had lots of marshmallows. The next morning we were let down by the weather. There was no sun at all. Quite the opposite of what the forecast had made us believe. An extra sweater
kept us warm. The wet tent wouldn’t dry so we packed it anyway. After a decent breakfast our moods turned around. We took a long walk along a jungle path and prepared for the 20 kilometers back home. On the way back we chatted about our lovely weekend and promised we would go on another bikepacking adventure in 2016. This was our third bikepacking weekend and I think there is nothing better than spending it with my daughter. I can’t wait for spring! «
THE NUTTER Words and photography by Stephan van Raay
n the past I’ve owned – and lost – a couple of bicycle multi tools. The main idea behind these things is mainly the same: all tools packed together like a Swiss Army knife, as small and as light as possible. With The Nutter the British company Full Windsor takes on a completely different approach. It’s a handtool with seperate bits, much like the one you probably have lying around in your garage. And it even comes with a bit extender.
Why? The Nutter has advantages over the traditional multi tool. First of all you have a much better hold due to its ergonomic shape. And because it is longer you have much more leverage – a whole lot more. You can use your entire hand to fasten or loosen. I have removed two rusted cleats from underneath my mountainbike shoes – normally a pain in the butt – with for The Nutter no problem at all.
Bits and pieces Inside the pouch are eight bits: five hex tool bits (3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 mm), a philips head screw bit, a flat head
screw bit and a T25 torx bit. The previously mentioned bit extender is magnetic, as well as the bit opening in the tool itself, so you don’t have to worry about bits falling out when you are standing ankle deep in tall grass. The tool itself has a 15 millimeter box head spanner on the top end, for all you nonquick release riders, and a nylon (!) tyre lever on the other end. On the opposite side of the bit opening is a spoke key, a feature you will have to do without on a lot of other multi tools. Since the bits and tool are all housed together it didn’t take long before I started using the tool off the bike as well. For small chores around the house for example.
Weight Full Windsor states that the tool weighs 110 grams. That’s true, but that would be only the tool by itself. The complete set including the pouch tips the scale at 225 grams. That’s a bit more than the average multi tool (100 – 150 grams). But good news for the weight weenies who want to carry less: two bits can be magnetically housed inside the tool. Put it in your back pocket and leave the rest at home for bigger trips.
Used Material The pouch is made of leather and available in a brown or black version. It has two long velcro straps to hang it from your saddle rails, Brooks saddle, or any tube on your bike. The bits are housed in a stiched
◄ Rolled out. I’ve numbered the bits with a chalk so I can find them easily in the dark (T for torx). ► ‘Ultralight’ setup. Two of the bits magneticaly housed inside te tool. Notice the spoke key on top. ►▼ Real leather. Quality stitching. And the best logo I’ve seen in quite a while. ▼ Notice the little magnet inside.
recycled inner tube – nice touch! Everthing from the metal parts to the pouch is really well made. Full Windsor definitely puts quality first.
that brand new carbon frame with your flimsy folding tool, you roll out The Nutter and intuitivily pick the right bit – Hero Of The Day award guaranteed.
With the seperate bit system and pouch with velcro straps all adjustments take up more time than with the standard cycling tool. Besides that it is a little bit of a struggle to remove the tool from the pouch. Is that a problem? No. You are probably not competing in a race where every second matters – and if so, you would have lost by now anyway.
The Nutter is not the lightest, not the cheapest, not the fastest tool around. But it makes it all up with its ergonomic hold to apply the exact amount of force to adjust about almost anything on your bike. The parts and the pouch are well made and look good, especially when hanging from a Brooks saddle. Oh, did I mention the middle part of The Nutter works as a bottle opener? Let’s see if that works. Cheers!
Picture this instead: another cyclist is standing on the side of the road in need of help. You stop and instead of scratching
The Nutter £ 39.99 (excl. shipping) www.full-windsor.com
VLAANDEREN Words by Stephan van Raay Photography by Elfi Thoonen
hen looking for a new cycling kit you don’t come across the Odlo brand that often, although they do have an interesting and extended line up of bicycle clothing. The moment I could get my hands on a jersey and bib shorts from the new Vlaanderen series I jumped right in. The Vlaanderen series is a special one. At first sight it might look like a regular short sleeve jersey and bib short. It’s not. The Vlaanderen kit is for the ‘in between’ seasons. When it’s too hot for a full thermal winter kit and too cold for your lightweight breathable summer gear. And believe me, those seasons can last forever over here in the Netherlands. Although it’s a matter of personal preference of course, Odlo mentions temperatures between 6 and 16 degrees Celsius. Sounds about right, let’s go!
All-weather bibshort Most bibshorts will do just fine for shorter distances. We need one for long days in the saddle. The first time I tried out the Vlaanderen bib was on a ride of 100 kilometers - not an ultradistance or anything, but long enough to tell something about the comfort. Starting with the ‘Endurance 2’ chamois. It’s thick enough where it’s supposed to be and supports my sit bones enough. Also it didn’t cause any friction or chafing.
▲► The stand-up collar keeps your neck warm. The full zip is covered. ▲▲ The stetchy sleeve hems are covered with minuscule dots on the inside to keep the sleeves in place. ▲ Three standard back pockets and reflective elements for your safety.
In my opinion the top part of bib shorts is the second most important part for a comfortable ride. The Vlaanderen’s black fabric is surprisingly elastic, so once in biking position the suspenders do not pull into your shoulders. And although it’s stretchy, the bib shorts didn’t sag away from the body. The fit is perfect and the difference in comfort between poorer bibs is huge.
I also noticed that the water-repellant fabric did its job according to the rain drops on my upper legs. After some more rain I got wet after all, but far more important, the rain didn’t cool me down, not even in the crotch area. The ride’s average temperature was 7 degrees. The thermal fabric does its job.
It didn’t take long before it started to rain. I was wearing legwarmers underneath and noticed halfway that the leg hems had not moved at all. The blue bands are almost entirely covered with minuscule rubberlike dots to prevent the hems from moving – even with leg warmers on.
Like most cyclist do, I prefer bib shorts over a full length bib tight. But when summer comes to an end, there is a time you have to switch. Long days in the saddle mean a lot of different temperatures and weather conditions. Regular bib shorts become too cold for the freezing mornings and
Thermal shorts – isn’t that strange?
evenings. You can use leg warmers but they do not cover your hips. With the Vlaanderen thermal bib shorts that is much less of a problem. When the sun finally comes out and the temperature starts to rise you take off your legwarmers and voilà, it feels like summer all over again.
Matching jersey The matching jersey uses windstopper technology (Gore) to keep your upper body warm in faul weather. It’s waterrepellant too so you don’t have to take out your rain jacket every now and then when it starts drizzling on and off again. It also protects you from spray coming from the wet surface. The jersey has a full zip in front. I like that. In particular because this Vlaanderen holds somewhere between a regular jersey and a jacket. The zipper is covered to prevent cold wind from blowing through. On top there is the comfortable collar to keep your neck warm and prevent stiffness. The back of the jersey is elongated, such as in a jacket, and stretches out almost to the saddle when on the bike – your ass is covered. Odlo offers matching armwarmers that fit nicely in either one of the three back pockets. Because it gets dark at some point the bib shorts as well as the jersey have reflective elements for your safety.
In conclusion The Odlo Vlaanderen series are perfect for the long periods between cold winters and warm summers. It’s a flexible and comfortable kit for cyclists that want to go out and ride no matter what the weather is going to be like. Add a couple of arm and leg warmers and you are good to go for long days in the saddle. Recommended. Odlo Vlaanderen jersey € 149,95 Odlo Vlaanderen bib shorts € 129,95 www.odlo.com
Tell your fr iends. www.viavelo.nl
ViaVelo Magazine Bikepacking & Long Distance Cycling