Table of Contents    |    Appendix I    |  |    Appendix III

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 II

How To Take That First Cycling Trip

If you're not sure how to get started with cycle touring, just start somewhere - go out, get a bike, a few bags - maybe cycle to a friend's house in another town 100 miles away. Plan on camping one night and understand that you can always call someone to come pick you up if you get tired or have any problems. My first cycling trip was in Holland and Belgium - Flat rolling hills - all the towns and villages were no more than 10 miles away. I was able to camp, but always had the option of a hostel bed and breakfast. In Europe its possible to go from restaurant to to restaurant or carry a stove and cook your own food or both. You have the excitement of a foreign land, architecture, history, geography. Holland and Belgium are also one of the safest places to cycle tour not only due to lack of crime but also with the availability of food and water. If you can cycle 25 miles a day, you can easily cycle all of Belgium and Holland in a couple of weeks. Remember with cycle touring, time is your greatest asset - more than money or fancy gear. You will be amazed at how different you will see these countries. You will really see and feel the countryside instead of zipping through it on the train. You'll meet the local people who often take a great interest in you and treat you with respect because you aren't an ordinary tourist. You're a traveler who's really taking the time to appreciate their country and not just the hot popular tourist sites. Before you now it, you will have the fever and you'll be finding yourself cycling up over Peruvian mountain passes or stuck in a Bolivian train station for 18 hours learning Spanish and complaining about the heat and bugs while eating beans and rice.

Before taking on large mountain passes, make sure you have a "granny gear" on your bike. Don't ask where the term came from - use your imagination. The small chain sprocket in the front - count the teeth - 22 or 24 is OK, 26 or 28 is too big. I found myself using the granny gear more than 50% of the time on the unpaved roads in south America. The difference between 2 and 28 teeth is that with 28 teeth you will find yourself walking up hills unless you are incredibly strong and like to abuse your knees. If you do this of course they will get back at you sometime in the future. I recommend good kevlar tires 700c or one an a half inch. You can always buy tires locally in South America for $2-3, but they don't last very long and often only the fat knobby 26x2.10 inches are available. In my opinion the difference 2.10 and 1.5 inch tires is 50 miles/day versus 70 miles/day with the same effort.

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