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bike for Africa - please help me!

Old 01-04-07, 12:55 PM
  #201  
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Originally Posted by jibi
She sometimes uses, like Josie Drew, a poncho to go to the toilet at the side of the road, squats inside like a peruvian woman.
I've never bothered with a poncho.
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Old 01-04-07, 02:44 PM
  #202  
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First of all, I don't think it's wise to go to Africa.

I think, an entry level mountain bike from one of the major manufacturers is the way to go.
They are rugged enough right out of the box to tour on.
I like the Specialized Hardrock, $390. There is a cheaper Hardrock XC for $330 but it's not much cheaper. The money saved is not worth it.
The frame is beautiful, well made, and incredibly strong. It will endure mountain biking so it will endure touring.
The Hardrock has 36 spoke wheels which is unusual. A 36 spoke 26" wheel is mighty strong.
It also has as low gearing as you can get on a production bike. 42/32/22 chainrings and 11-32 8 speed cassette.

Buying a used bike can end up costing you more than a new bike. You're a novice to bicycles and you wouldn't know what to look out for. When you buy new everything is new. In a bike shop you can try different sizes back to back and get the size that feels best to you. You have a warranty and the bike shop will assist you with no charge during the break in period.

Normally I wouldn't recommend a bike with a front suspension fork. It adds weight and complication and really isn't necessary. But it's hard to find a mountain bike without one.
Fortunately, there are front racks designed to work with them. The chainstays on a mountain bike are short so you'll need to find a long rear rack to avoid heel contact. An Xtracycle might be a good alternative.
It would cost a little more than racks and panniers but they say it softens the ride somewhat.
You would have no trouble carrying all the gear you need on an Xtracycle. People have done around the world tours with Xtracycles.
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Old 01-04-07, 04:29 PM
  #203  
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Flic already has a bike, the important thing now is to determine whether or not she's thought about how she'll deal with periods and peeing by the roadside.
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Old 01-04-07, 04:35 PM
  #204  
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Originally Posted by amaferanga
Flic already has a bike, the important thing now is to determine whether or not she's thought about how she'll deal with periods and peeing by the roadside.
Inappropriate.
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Old 01-04-07, 05:13 PM
  #205  
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Merely pointing out just how ridiculous this thread has become.
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Old 01-04-07, 07:15 PM
  #206  
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There are supermarkets in every city in Africa selling just about any product you could imagine, including feminine products. Shoprite is the largest retailer in the continent and they cover most of the Southern Africa up to Zambia. In East Africa there are many Indian traders who import anything you could imagine for the foreign NGO workers, volunteers and missionaries.

It would be rare that a cycle traveler would spend more than a week to ten days away from a minor or major city with good services including internet access.
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Old 01-04-07, 07:27 PM
  #207  
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Merely pointing out just how ridiculous this thread has become.
I disagree. Toilet issues are the things that keeps many from traveling to foreign countries by bicycle.

Thanks Machka for bringing up the subject.
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Old 01-05-07, 02:56 AM
  #208  
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The subject of the thread was (and still is) "bike for Africa", not "toilet issues in Africa". The toilet issues was brought up by certain people who are clutching at straws in an attempt to persuade the OP from not going.

This thread is becoming somewhat confused.
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Old 01-05-07, 03:43 AM
  #209  
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This thread has turned into a helpful advise thread for a very naive and overly optimistic young lady. She should be very thankful for the practical advise given by those with experience on issues she hasn't even thought of.
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Old 01-05-07, 04:09 AM
  #210  
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Originally Posted by Ziemas
This thread has turned into a helpful advise thread for a very naive and overly optimistic young lady. She should be very thankful for the practical advise given by those with experience with issues she hasn't even thought of.
I kinda feel as if you're not really giving me much credit dude... A lot of whats being brought up, whilst definitely interesting and relevant, are issues I have considored...
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Old 01-05-07, 04:25 AM
  #211  
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Originally Posted by Flic
I kinda feel as if you're not really giving me much credit dude... A lot of whats being brought up, whilst definitely interesting and relevant, are issues I have considored...
I've been following this thread from the beginning, and honestly you've shown some real naivety. I'm sure I showed the same naivety before I traveled the world; don't take it as a personal attack, take it as the voice of experience. Good luck.
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Old 01-05-07, 06:19 AM
  #212  
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Originally Posted by GeoKrpan
First of all, I don't think it's wise to go to Africa.

.
what is wrong with Africa?
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Old 01-05-07, 08:21 AM
  #213  
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Originally Posted by amaferanga
The subject of the thread was (and still is) "bike for Africa", not "toilet issues in Africa". The toilet issues was brought up by certain people who are clutching at straws in an attempt to persuade the OP from not going.

This thread is becoming somewhat confused.
sorry mate

I think it was me that mentioned the toilet under poncho thing. and I certainly do not wish to stop flic.
Adventures are intrinsically dangerous no matter where. back in '79 I was close to Afghanistan when the Russians invaded, I never got to India: but one day I will.

I have had friends die, rock climbing 100 yrds from home, carbon-monoxide poison in a cheap hostel in France, one murdered in Equador ( Jan 9th 2006, Jenny Pope), to name but a few.

But I would never try to stop anyone getting out there and living. I may have worries as to certain aspects of the adventure but you can never plan for everything
Back in '79 I was close to Afghanistan when the Russians invaded, I never got to India: but one day I will.

george
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Old 01-05-07, 10:25 AM
  #214  
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I wasn't referring to you George - in fact you may remember encouraging me elsewhere to go for a mini-adventure so I know your type
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Old 01-05-07, 11:09 AM
  #215  
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My type:-

Like a Klingon

"Today is a good day to die",

Either that or don't bother going out on the roads.

Amaferanga: did you read the report about those other guys who did your epic winter mountain tour?

They bottled out in the dark and got a bus

george
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Old 01-05-07, 06:22 PM
  #216  
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Originally Posted by amaferanga
The subject of the thread was (and still is) "bike for Africa", not "toilet issues in Africa". The toilet issues was brought up by certain people who are clutching at straws in an attempt to persuade the OP from not going.

This thread is becoming somewhat confused.
You're not embarrassed by the subject matter of "toilet issues" are you???

Contrary to what you might believe, I'm not "clutching at straws in an attempt to persuade the OP from" going ..... instead I am bringing up some very real, down-to-earth issues which female cycle-tourists have to deal with. You probably haven't got the first clue about such things, of course, because you are a man (a single man, I'm guessing). But the period issue is a BIG one for female cycle-tourists .... and especially female cycle-tourists who do extended tours, like the 8 month one Flic is planning.

We women have to decide what sorts of sanitary supplies to carry - there are lots of options out there, but some are probably better than others, especially when faced with conditions where there might potentially be a lack of public toilet facilities, and especially when faced with having to cycle during our periods. As it happens, Fic hasn't got any cycling experience, and so would be unfamiliar with some of the issues. For example, some pads are a bad idea because they are too bulky and would chafe. Tampons are generally fine, but their strings can be a bit annoying sometimes if you get them in the wrong place. I am unfamiliar with the cups people have mentioned, but it is possible they might be a good option.

There's also the issue of carrying supplies. They aren't heavy, but depending on the choices made, if you're going to carry a couple month's worth, they can potentially take up a lot of room.

Then there's the issue of the pain. Flic might not have a problem with that, but some of us female cycle-tourists go through a lot of pain during our periods, and riding a bicycle is one of the least attractive ideas on earth during the heavy days. If Flic has issues like that she'll have to think about pain killers. Some countries have issues with the drugs you bring in ... for example, several things I can think of off hand which are legal in the US are banned in Canada. It's possible Flic's pain killer of choice might be banned in other countries. She might want to make herself aware of the actual ingredients in her pain killer of choice and see if she can find something similar in the various countries she travels through.

If she does struggle with pain issues, she will have to be aware that as that time approaches, she might need to find a place to stay for a few days so she doesn't have to ride her bicycle.

And then there's the shorts issue. Flic mentioned that she might only bring one pair of shorts. Most women I know just let the padding in the shorts take care of the period issue on light days, and then wash the shorts out at the end of the day. That's generally the most comfortable option. But if Flic is going to do that, I'd strongly recommend carrying two pair of cycling shorts.

There's a lot to think about when you're a woman!

And just to add to it all, we women get asked about these things on our tours. When I toured Australia, I was pulled aside several times ... usually by older women ... and was asked how I was handling the "female aspect" of touring. We women are very open about such things, and it is entirely conceivable that Flic will also be asked about it.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about ... the period issue, and issues about other bodily functions are all normal and natural things. It's just that when a person embarks on a tour, especially a longer tour, these topics come up into common discussions whereas they may usually be avoided or hidden.
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Old 01-05-07, 07:56 PM
  #217  
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Originally Posted by Mzungu
what is wrong with Africa?
I've heard great things about Africa, but considering the massive "shouldn't do it" advice, Africa must be an even more exciting place than I thought, and this 200+ post thread has certainly roused my curiosity about the continent to new heights. I must go there some time.

If the OP is still reading this thread, I want to wish you a good trip, and will follow your website with great interest.

As for the stuff bag on rear rack set-up, I have used it and it works for me. If space is tight, I have lashed tent and sleeping bag and similar stuff bag objects to other parts of the bike with success, freeing up some valuable space inside the stuff bag. I've never tried carrying the amount of water required for this trip, though.
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Old 01-05-07, 08:10 PM
  #218  
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Originally Posted by amaferanga
Merely pointing out just how ridiculous this thread has become.
You have shown yourself to be (a) chauvinistic and (b) totally unaware of the realities of cycling in mixed groups.

I hope your information and advice on other matters has a little more substance than your posts regarding this issue. If you could actually read between the lines, you would see that various people here, while not endorsing how Flic has planned for this adventure, are actually offering some very substantiral and important advice, based on their extensive experience.

And Flic... had you *really* thought about this subject... I noticed you dodged specifically saying you had in your last post. You would be better allaying *our* concerns rather than admonishing someone yourself.

Take it from me and others... you need to be totally honest with what you say and do (that is, with yourself), because deluding yourself will not get you the advice you may need (even though you may not want it).
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Old 01-06-07, 12:10 AM
  #219  
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Rowan: Am I reading this wrongly, or are you suggesting I wasn't being truthful when I said I had considored many of these issues? I wasn't admonishing Ziemas, I was just saying that a lot of the comments being tossed around are relating to concepts which I have thought about. Its not like I havn't travelled before for extended periods, I'm used to dealing with going to the toilet when there isn't one (I lived in a car for 6 months...) and as for my period, well I'd already looked through older posts on this forum... I had decided that I'd use applicator tampons, making sure to correctly allign the string, and like a few people have said, just use my shorts on light days, or maybe just a liner. Pain isn't an issue for me, and if for some reason I do want a break, then I'll take one. I'm not on any sort of strict scedule... I didn't know I had to go into the details of my thinking, I thought saying I'd thought about it would be enough... I'm not trying to be rude, its just I don't think I'm deluding myself...

amerferanga... like he's a pretty cool dude, and he's cycled in Africa before...

And Zommaz... thanks loads for you wellwishes :-)
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Old 01-06-07, 02:12 AM
  #220  
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Hey Flic!

It's not like you've toured on a bicycle before, either.

People have gone into extensive detail on their thinking on this thread as the post count shows... and as I stated before in another post, and whether you accept the advice or not, you might at least indicate to us what progress you have made on them. For example how is the gear acquisition going? Have you packed the stuff yet? Have you worked out how to attach it to your bike? What is the tent? Have you ridden the bike again? What spares have you collected together? Have you taken the front wheel off the bike and put it back on again? Have you collected a bike box and worked out how the bike's going into it?

By the way, I'll see you at Tullamarine... I fly in from LA at 9.30 on 16 January! I'll even help you pack your bike in the bike box if you haven't got one; I am happy to give it to you (a durable Virgin Blue one) and big enough for your MTB. I will be reassembling my bike right there and heading off for the fruit-picking season.
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Old 01-06-07, 04:12 AM
  #221  
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Yeah I know I havn't toured on a bicycle before, I just don't really think it will be that hard...

I know loads of people have contributed heaps, I mean people have been really generous with their time and all, I just didn't think people would be particularly interested in me goin gon and on about all the little details I've been getting up to...

Gear acquisition is going well, I think I've got most of the things I need, just one or two items of clothing I'm thinking about... Yesterday I got a Merino Thermal Top (its 100% wool - like what you suggested today actually) which and a pair of shoes... I thought long and hard about the shoes and ended up just getting a pair of regular shoes, but ones that have pretty stiff soles and are really breathable. I've been looking at a lot of pictures a guy has given me of his trip through Sudan and the roads look really really sandy, they are pushing the bikes a lot, so I decided to just go with regular shoes. I have sort of packed bits and pieces, but I need to sort out all of it before I pack it completely, I havn't really figured how to put it on the bike yet, but I'm thinking probably bungy, or maybe we have pack attachment straps at work which might work, but maybe the bungy would be quicker. Yeah I got the tent, its a 1-man 2-skins, weights 1.8kg... It should be good enough for what I need, there's enough room at the end of it to put my bag in when I'm sleeping, and I could put thw eheels if needs be in the vestibule.

Um riding the bike, now thats an interesting one... not really would be the short answer! I've been being soooo lazy! Well thats not entirely true, I mean I've been working every day and its been mid 30s, and I know that would be good weather to be practising in, but uh yeah... so um clocking up the miles hasn't been going too well... I think I sort of got this false confidence about me when I rode 17km on the first go and it was easy.... yeah yeah I know all of the variables to be taken into account. I do feel sort of shmeful inside...

Spares I have are two tubes, a puncture repair kit which has tyre levers in it, amerferanga said I needed three tyre levers, but then I got told you only need to use them one at a time anyway so two would be enough (?), and I have some chain oil/lubricant stuff, I think its called whiteout or something like that. I was going to get a chain tool and some spare links too and get the bikeshop to show me how to do it.

I tried taking the wheel off the other day (quick release? um....?!) but I couldn't really figure it out (ok now go ahead mock me) I was reading it out of Zimm's and I couldn't tell if I was pulling the right cable, i didn't want to pull it too hard in case it was the wrong part, anyway a mates going to show me how to do it tommorow before work... I havn't got the bike box yet, the bikeshop said I could have one from them for free, so when I take the bike in to get serviced I will get a bike box. Not that theres much point in getting it serviced really, at least not unless I start actually riding it a bit... Oh and is that 9:30 or 21:30?

I put on all my cycling clothes last night and seriously I looked like a cyclist! (felt like a fraud sure, but looked right!).... I'm still just really unsure about the shorts... I read the replies you and Mackha wrote on them, now I don't know what to do about them... I thought I was doing the right thing getting the lycra ones with the bigger chamois thing in them so I could wear other pants over the top... mannnnn theres a lot to think about really. I'm figuring out too how to make my own handlebar bag... cos those things seem to be fairly expensive and all, but I think I've just about got that sorted...

Anyway I'm rambling now...
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Old 01-06-07, 04:32 AM
  #222  
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^^^ Why don't you ride to work?
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Old 01-06-07, 05:22 AM
  #223  
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Originally Posted by Ziemas
^^^ Why don't you ride to work?
Yeah I thought about that, but like its been mid 30's celcius ( 90+) and I work in retail so being sweaty and all that isn't really accetable... :-/
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Old 01-06-07, 09:47 AM
  #224  
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Originally Posted by Flic
Yeah I know I havn't toured on a bicycle before, I just don't really think it will be that hard...
It's not.

Originally Posted by Flic
I havn't really figured how to put it on the bike yet, but I'm thinking probably bungy, or maybe we have pack attachment straps at work which might work, but maybe the bungy would be quicker.
Bungies are quicker but I don't know how secure they are. I always see them lying in the road when I'm riding along. I like using nylon straps with buckles that you have to thread the end through. This will allow you to adjust the tension to how tight or loose you need it. Mine are about a metre long and they've only failed me once.

Originally Posted by Flic
Um riding the bike, now thats an interesting one... not really would be the short answer! I've been being soooo lazy! Well thats not entirely true, I mean I've been working every day and its been mid 30s, and I know that would be good weather to be practising in, but uh yeah... so um clocking up the miles hasn't been going too well...
This is the sort of info/revelation that makes all of us naysayers wonder how serious you are about this trip.

Originally Posted by Flic
Spares I have are two tubes, a puncture repair kit which has tyre levers in it, amerferanga said I needed three tyre levers, but then I got told you only need to use them one at a time anyway so two would be enough (?)
Two is more than enough. I don't see why anyone would actually need three unless there's something I've been missing in fixing more than two dozen punctures in my entire lifetime.
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Old 01-06-07, 10:22 AM
  #225  
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Originally Posted by Flic
Um riding the bike, now thats an interesting one... not really would be the short answer! I've been being soooo lazy! Well thats not entirely true, I mean I've been working every day and its been mid 30s, and I know that would be good weather to be practising in, but uh yeah... so um clocking up the miles hasn't been going too well... I think I sort of got this false confidence about me when I rode 17km on the first go and it was easy.... yeah yeah I know all of the variables to be taken into account. I do feel sort of shmeful inside...
You've got a week ....... I'd strongly suggest getting out there and riding every day this week. Unless you ride, you won't know if those shorts will work for you. Also depending on how much you carry, the handling of the bicycle can be very different between when it is unloaded and when it is loaded up with all your supplies. If you don't ride, you also won't know if the bicycle works properly or fits properly. Most cyclists and most LBSs know that the first week or two with a new bicycle is a period of adjustments. During the first month I had Machak, I had him in the shop once or twice a week as we adjusted this and that, and changed this and that, so that he was comfortable.

You've got tire changing stuff, but do you have a multitool with hex keys so you can tighten things on your bicycle? Do you have a pump so that when you get a flat and go to use your tubes and levers you can fill the tubes? Have you practiced changing a tire yet? Of all the bicycle repairs, that should be the one you know how to do best because it is very likely the one you'll be doing most often on your tour. BTW - you don't pull any cables when removing a wheel, you flip the lever and the wheel pops off. Of course the rear wheel, which is the one most likely to get flats, is a bit more complicated than that. When you practice changing a tire, practice on the rear one.

Bungies can be fine, but I'd suggest bringing some extras along. One bungie rarely works if you are planning to strap more than one item to your rack. But you'll discover that when you pack everything on your bicycle and go for some rides this week.

Do you know how to take your bicycle apart so that it will fit in the box? And do you know how to put it back together again when you take it out of the box? You'll have to remove one or both wheels, your handlebars, and your pedals at the very least. Do you have the tools to do that?


I've been cycling for many, many years now and I love cycling. I also really enjoy cycle-touring ...... but in some ways travelling with a bicycle can be a huge pain too. There is a lot more to fuss with than there would be if a person just opted to load their gear into a backpack and start hiking or using alternate transportation.

Will touring on a bicycle be hard? Some hours it will be very easy and enjoyable ...... some hours it will be incredibly difficult.
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