My big bicycle adventure on the Sultan’s trail from Vienna to Istanbul is still two month away, but given other trips in the meantime, best not to leave key preparations to the last-minute. Most importantly I need a touring bike (my old one is probably still chained up in Canary Wharf) and a bit of cycling outfit as well as repair and safety gear. So I was off to Totnes, Devon.
Totnes is right in the southwest of england, not too far from Exeter. I found a decent hybrid/touring bike on ebay with the caveat to pick it up down here. The chap selling the bike, as his father told me, is currently travelling in New Zealand. Good deal overall. Just the 5 Ortlieb panniers would have set me back the same amount that I got all-in. Well, i needed a few extras which the ‘hot pursuit bike shop‘ in town happily supplied. All sorted apart from the pre-tour overhaul i will do in london (chain, sprocket, etc).
Since the handover was quick and my nightbus not on for a few hours I took the bike for a little spin. First stop at pub for beer and sandwich (which i had to defend from rather aggressive seagull). From there you pass through fields in all their lovely colours, little villages with mostly ancient stone cottages and cosy pubs that invite you for a stop. Very pretty and enjoyable. Fitness levels on the other hand need a lot of work. I hope the Elbe canoeing and more so the hike on the Scottish National trail preceding the bike journey will get me up to speed.
I didn’t leave it too late to get back to town in order to dismantle the bike still in daylight. Taking off wheels and mud-guards and a bike bag were necessary to travel on the bus. Hanging out in Totnes while and after packing up the bike and waiting for the bus turned out rather full of conversations… Covering all topics with older and younger folks alike. Hopefully the way to Istanbul will turn out similar.