Posted by: standing_baba | March 11, 2011

5 DIY Bike Touring Tips (and How Google Killed the Plumber)

The Thursday morning crime scene

“In my mind and in my car
We can’t rewind we’ve gone to far
Video killed the radio star.”

– The Buggles, pop band & one-hit wonder

From the other room I listened without participating in the conversation. “I could do it from up top for 60 reais but the real problem will remain,” began a man I imagined to be forty-ish and balding. “If I take apart the whole apparatus then piece it back together, it’ll be 160.” His salesmanship was practiced; this was not the first time he had sold someone on disaster. Yet I kept my mouth shut.

A pause. She thought about it in silence, crunched the numbers for peace of mind and pieced together ceramic and metal parts. “Thanks for stopping by, I’ll call you later if it continues.” Just as politely as he arrived the plumber left in a hefty toolbelt stroll through the apartment’s only door.

The secret was itching to leave my brain. Craning my head from the bedroom to the kitchen where she sat, I asked, “Do you want me to unclog it?” The yes in her face was explict like a toddler’s hunger.

I took a bucket, filled it to the brim with water, held it head level above the toilet bowl, then all at once poured a direct stream into that dodgy little hole that had interrupted her morning plans. Flush. A perfect whirlpool. The equivalent of US$96 was saved with household items and some cunning.

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The recent plumber incident reminded me of when, days before my flight to South America to begin this bike tour, I was typing “How to change a flat” into Youtube. In fact, I patched my first ever tube on a lonely jungle stretch in Colombia. At the time, my iPod was also loaded with “How to fix a broken chain” and “How to tune a rim” videos for easy roadside reference.

I didn’t know. Now I do.

The wealth of practical information I’ve accumulated during my travels, such as how to unclog toilets without a plunger or avoid international ATM charges, is a part of me.

Having done what we do for so long sometimes we forget life wasn’t always this way. We didn’t arrive to Brazil by magic. Many readers have told me they want to complete a long-distance bike trip, travel outside the comfy confines of a packaged tour, or in general just go see the world. The same statement is usually followed by a “but I can’t because….” Like my friend who automatically called the plumber to fix her broken toilet, these same people are limited by a fear and lack of know-how that stop them from doing great things, living and loving to their true potential for example.

MB&S are here to relay hard news: both fear and lack of know-how are illusions, and poor excuses not to act on an idea you truly believe in.

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TRUE FEAR IS A GIFT.
UNWARRANTED FEAR IS A CURSE.
LEARN HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE.

Gavin de Becker, author & violence-avoider

Fear is real but only as real as we make it. You can’t touch it, you can’t eat it, you can’t take it to the movies, or even prove it exists. A fear defense will not stand up in a court of law. Though fear is a great tool for staying safe, it’s a minor player not the superstar of today’s blog post….

(photo from: renewable energy journal)

“THE TRUE TEST OF CHARACTER IS NOW HOW MUCH WE KNOW HOW TO DO, BUT HOW WE BEHAVE WHEN WE DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.”

– John W. Holt, Jr., author & clever quote maker

When it comes to know-how the internet has changed everything. The plumber is dead. Not knowing something you want to know or not learning a new skill you want to learn is pure laziness in this technological era in which Google, quite literally, brings the world to our fingertips. Use the universe on your desktop to make ideas real, plans actions, and results irrefutable.

As I gear up once again for the bike life and in the collective spirit of getting-off-our-asses I’ve compiled links (in no particular order) to DIY sites that will make bike travel affordable, enjoyable, and most importantly possible, as long as you’re not afraid to ‘go.’

THE HYPERLINKED DIY GOODNESS

1. HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN CAMP STOVE:

As soon as I find someone to buy my MSR Whisperlite International Stove and a cat to eat the Fancy Feast mush from the tin I plan to begin using this incredible weight-saving stove. Don’t forget the windscreen as this little guy is vulernable in even the slightest breeze.

2. HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN PANNIERS:

I’ll be honest: I love Bob more than you can imagine. Our relationship is teetering on bromance because his performance in South America has been nothing short of Stallion. But…a lone bucket pannier will be my less meaty option for city riding in the future. No offense, Bobby boy.

3. HOW TO PACK LIGHT:

An enjoyable, worry-free trip begins with your backpack. This site is the Bible for breaking away from the heavy chains of suitcase travel and the more mentality. I learned about my über-durable MEI Voyageur from this site. If you’re in the market for a pack, look no further. And no I don’t get commisions.

4. HOW TO DO LAUNDRY ANYWHERE:

If a Couchsurfer’s washing machine is unavailable or non-existent, this is how I wash my clothes. Instead of the recommended ALOKSAK and Dr. Bronner’s Soap (which is difficult to find in South America), I use my SealLine 10-Liter Dry Bag and regular laundry detergent.

5. HOW TO PREPARE FOR AND SOLVE ANY BIKE TOUR PROBLEM..


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