Table of Contents    |    Epilogue    |  |    Appendix II

The Daily Grind
A Cyc-o-path Loose in South America
A Motivational Book About Cycle Touring Through South America

A Book by Ranger Bob Bob Lutsky

Appendix I

Planning And Preparations

Just buy a map and a second hand bike and go. Easier said than done and actually you could do that, it would be an adventure, but for me I like to have a little background on where I'm going. The preparation is the easy part, for most people its the going part, that's hard. Once you're on the plane the rest is easy. The first thing I do is decide where I want to go and why, and then read a little about history our version is usually quite different than theirs. What fascinates me about this place and what do I want to learn about it. I think its very important to travel to places to learn about them because their simply is no other way.

The most important aspect of travel is to always keep your mind open to alternatives, new experiences and whatever happens to fall on your path. Each year an apple tree blossoms. The blossoms on the old tree are as beautiful as those on the young tree, however, blossoms only grow on the new wood. Therefore, if the tree does not grow new wood, it will not blossom. For me, traveling is like growing new wood so that I can blossom.

I also like to study geography, what kind of terrain will I cycle through, and what the weather will be like, what's the best time of year to be there etc.. Perhaps the most important consideration is which way does the wind blow. I have gone 5 mph up steep hills but only able to muster 2-3 mph into a strong headwind on level ground. Wind is everything on a bike. I also like to familiarize myself with the local customs and cultural aspects of each country. for example if somebody wants you to come closer to them, say you are walking or cycling down the street, instead of pulling their hand closer to them kind of like waving to themselves they wave goodbye. When someone waves goodbye to you what they really want is for you to stop and come closer to them. Which is important to know because they often want to offer you a beer or a cheetah, (a fermented beverage of the local fruit) or simply just friendly conversation. The more you know in advance the more you recognize and appreciate as you travel.

I suppose it might be a good idea to ensure that your bicycle is in working order, Overhaul everything, new bearings, fresh lube everywhere, a new chain, new tires (plus bring one spare) 2 tubes, 3 is better, 2 patch kits, and a good reliable pump. I travel with a minimum of tools, for just about every town has some kind of bike shop. There are many bicycles in SA. because few people have a car. I carry a crescent wrench, a couple of Allen keys a screw driver and a tooth brush for cleaning the chain. Most of the roads are unpaved and very dusty, cleaning the chain followed by a fresh splash of lubricant is something that should be done frequently. My bicycle is a standard 18 speed Panasonic mountain bike. There's nothing special - it, only cost about $250 and has lasted 10 years and approximately 50,000 miles without any problems. As a matter of fact, if you have a fancy expensive bicycle, it's harder to find parts for it in remote areas. I don't think it's necessary to spend a lot of money for gear and equipment. Save the money for the trip. The life we create is the life we live and thus the life that we will have had. Each new thing we try, each new experience we have adds to who we are. The only way to grow or expand is to go beyond what we already know and are already familiar with.

Another important part of trip planning is adjusting your attitude and expectations and your perception of time. It's also important to find something positive in every situation. The train delay for example, the 11 hours I was stuck in the train station was by no means wasted time. I used the time to study Spanish, talk to people, and observe how patient and understanding the locals were with the situation. The happy traveler is prepared mentally for EVERYTHING to happen in a different way and at a slower pace than it does at home.


I usually where a helmet because I'm often in very remote places. If anything happens, it could be a long time until I reach a hospital. When it comes to life and health, every little bit helps. I also feel safer wearing a helmet to protect myself from stones thrown up by passing trucks that are thrown at great velocities.

Cycling Gloves:

I highly recommend cycling gloves - not only do they cushion the palms of your hands, but if you have a crash, what's the first thing to hit the ground? (unless your not wearing a helmet)

Cycling Shoes:

I tend to wear a light-weight hiking boot rather than specific cycling shoes. There are many great places for hiking and mountain climbing and the cycling shoes tend to be extra baggage. For a second pair of shoes, I wear sandals - either Tevas - or, as I prefer, the $10 fake Tevas. I also wear the sandals for cycling on hot days or rainy days.

Cycling Shorts:

I've met many cyclists who prefer simple nylon shorts - some who even wear jeans for some unknown reason - but I prefer to wear the lycra cycling shorts with the padded shamee in the crotch. I bring two pairs - wear one for two days, wash it and strap it on the back to dry. I also carry a pair of long lycra pants for chilly mornings and evenings. They also provide great insulation when worn under lightweight long pants or inside the sleeping bag on especially cold nights.


2 cycling shorts
2 T-shirts
1 long lycra pants
1 long lightweight cotton pants
1 pair of walking shorts with lots of pockets (with buttons or Velcro)
1 long sleeve lightweight shirt (button down) For sun and bug protection
1 swimsuit - nylon, easy to dry
2 pairs of cotton underwear
1 wool sweater
1 wool knit hat
1 wide-brim hat with chin strap
4 pairs of socks - 3 light 1 wool
1 pair lightweight hiking boots
1 pair sport sandals
1 pair sunglasses
>15 SPF sunscreen
100% water and wind proof rain jacket with hood and high collar
1 pair nylon water and wind proof rain pants
1 Helmet - standard issue
1 pair cycling gloves
1 pair wool knit gloves that can fit over the cycling gloves
tooth brush
tooth paste (only use a small drop at a time)
1 small towel


Swiss Army Knife
Stove (if you can find a Trangia by MSR which burns on alcohol and is very quiet - most stoves make a lot of noise)
Windscreen for stove
Tea Kettle
2 Pots
Small lightweight Bowl
Film containers for spices (basil, salt, pepper and curry)
Hot Sauce (Ahi)

2 person Tent- must be able to stand 50 mph winds (I have a floorless Megamid)
Lightweight ground-cloth or tarp
3-season sleeping bag- still comfy at 20 degrees Fahrenheit
Small Back Pack (big enough for carrying gear for overnight hikes)
Bicycle - 1 (unless you're really ambitious or paranoid as the case may be)
Handle bars - multi-position
Toe clips
Rear and Front Rack
4 Panniers
Handlebar Bag
Two spare tires
Two spare inner tubes
Two patch kits
Crescent wrench
Allen Keys
Phillips & Flat screwdriver
2- 1.5 litre plastic bottles for water
6 bungy cords
2 spare cables
Spoke wrench
4 spare spokes (although I've never broken a spoke)
Side Rear View Mirrors are Priceless to have
Spare tooth brush to clean the chain
Small bottle of oil or WD40 for lubrication once every two weeks

Always make sure everything works and fits before you start on your trip. I carried a lock for 4 months and never used it so I pitched it. I recommend a very lightweight, cheap combination lock that wraps around the seat post. Always use combinations because it's too easy to lose keys - Remember that South America is SAFE and it's only in North America that you need a big high tech lock.

It's important to try to waterproof everything by putting it in plastic bags or zip locks. I then pack everything into a larger bag such as a heavy duty burlap sack. And last but certainly least, strapped to the front handlebar bag - A Stuffed Mickey Mouse to wave at the oncoming traffic.

Reference Books and Maps:

South American Handbook
Lost Cities of South America
Never Cry Wolf - Farley Mowatt
The Shipping News
Couple of Mystery Novels
Small travel journal
Address Book - very important for the people you meet along the way
Large map of all of South America - 4 Million:1
Map of Patagonia 1 Million:1
Map of Chile 2 Million:1
Map of Peru 4 million:1
Map of Bolivia 4 Million:1
Map of the whole Amazon Basin
Map of Ecuador 1 Milion:1

All of the maps were purchased in the States before leaving however excellent and more up-to-date maps are available in cities throughout South America. It's important to take into account that roads change both seasonally and during extreme weather conditions. In Bolivia I saw people divert a river to pan for gold and this tends to erode sections of mountains because the water is diverted from the river and over the side of a hill which washes out the road in places.

The 1997 AAA map of South America does not include a newly paved road from the northern part of Chile to La Paz Bolivia and the old road that they indicate is not used at all anymore. As a general rule when cycling everything is twice as far as you think, or as the map indicates, and will often take twice as long as you planned.

I highly recommend a good sunscreen and lip balm and spare pare of eyeglasses if you wear them and a copy of the prescription of your lenses. Because of all the dust and difficulty finding water, I strongly don't recommend contact lenses

A good water purification pump system is another highly recommended accessory although I managed with Micropure tablets and drinking bottled water and juices.

ASPIRIN is very important because you will have low grade headaches well above 3500 metres which may be for days at a time.

Depending on the season, I found insect repellent unnecessary with the exception of the amazon jungle or the coastal region of Ecuador.

Any medication you may require should also be brought along with you. Although there are many well stocked pharmacies everywhere, everything is in Spanish and almost no one speaks any English and it would be difficult to ensure you get the right medication. However, you can get strong narcotics such a Morphine over the counter without a prescription. Honestly, for me, I almost never take anything, not even vitamins. If I have a headache, I relax and listen to quiet music or meditate. Eat right, stay fit and physically active, be positive mentally, and you'll be fine. One more thing - always get plenty of rest and take days off. Once a week I'll try to spend the whole day by a lake or a river reflecting on the past week.

My trip motto is "Life is good". Well that's all the stuff that I brought definitely far more than I really needed. Always remember this important point - the lighter you travel the less heavy your bags will be! Funny how that works.

I find people spend a lot of time and money on preparation and good intentions and unfortunately very little on actually doing. I say buy a cheap second hand bike, borrow a couple of panniers and a map and go for it. Spend your time money and effort out on the road instead of preparing for it. My experience is that people get their rewards from buying and acquiring not actually using things, But far be it from me to ever judge another.

Every new experience that you have will allow your life and your world to expand. Do not let the negative criticisms of others dissuade you from experiencing life. "People are like vines - they always want to wrap around your ideas and choke them to death solely to justify their own inadequacy" (Bryce Courtney)

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