We thought we would share some updates on how some of our gear is holding up (bikes, tent, humans) along with some encounters with nature and statistics on the trip to date. Overall we are absolutely loving cycling, we are slowly getting fitter with each ride and generally enjoying our newly toned legs.
The only time we were tempted to trade in the bikes was when we spotted a Das Rollende Hotel, a German tour bus company which has been driving these absolutely crazy hotels on wheels all around the world since 1945.
Our tent’s biggest test was when we were awoken by thunderous rain and lightning at 4am and the strange sensation that the floor was floating. It turns out we had set up our tent, without pegs, in a low dust bowl which had turned into a massive swimming pool of mud. Opening the tent fly revealed water halfway up to the zip and several of our possessions, including our now mud soaked shoes, floating off into the night. Basically we panicked, threw everything haphazardly into our panniers and panicked again.
Luckily the duct tape patch covering a hole in the floor held up surprisingly well, preventing water cascading through the floor, however being a five-year-old tent the waterproofing had seen better days. We awoke in the morning in soaked sleeping bags and mattresses and squelching through the mud immediately moved the tent to higher ground. After reclaiming items that had floated off around the camp site, and hanging all our gear out in the sun, we spent a good amount of time rinsing mud off various bits of equipment.
Other than being used as a makeshift life raft, the tent is showing definite signs of wear and tear. The poles are bent from over tightening in strong winds so the tent has lost its dome shape and looks sheepishly lopsided. Two pole holders were also torn off, remedied by the sewing kit. We’re currently in the market for a new ‘home’.
Apart from minor maintenance easily remedied, replacement brake pads and some more chain lube, the bikes have held up exceedingly well. Cosmetically the bikes are a little worse for wear, as we currently don’t have bike stands the bikes are constantly lent against walls, trees and fences which is causing quite a lot of scratches to the frames and panniers.
Amateur Wildlife Spotting
Road signs often pointed to the chance of trying to see if we can outride a bear or a pack of warthogs. Sadly though we are yet to see anything remotely that dangerous but we have seen deer, squirrels, beavers, snakes and poor flattened hedgehogs.
Speaking of roadkill, heading to the Croatian coast we were admiring the bright green lizards scurrying about until one of them scurried straight into the path of Suyin’s front tire.
Suyin 1 – Team Lizard 0.
We have had more luck with bug catching. One great method of seeing them up close is to coat yourself in SPF 50+ sunscreen. This stuff does not rub in and soon you will find yourself covered in a variety of equally surprised bugs stuck to you like human fly paper.
Bird-watching* seems to be a popular past time in Austria with huts dotted throughout the country. My single attempt at Austrian bird-watching was foiled by an enormous wasp-on-steroids which flew straight into my face when I opened the door, causing me to recoil and almost fall backwards off the ladder. Here Suyin captured me completely unaware of what will happen in the next few seconds.
An easier bird watching opportunity was spotting these giant storks perched on top of a power pole. These guys look like they’re from the Jurassic age and hang out in nests built on platforms obviously looking for small children and cats.
Cats have been a constant on our trip, they are absolutely everywhere. We have had two particularly memorable run-ins with cats; firstly my foot was savagely mauled by a young house cat when I attempted to hold him back from stealing my packet of m&ms. The second was when we were riding and a farmer crossed in front of us holding something. The something turned out to be a very dead cat which the farmer proceeded to discus throw off into the bushes. Suyin was understandably traumatized while I was strangely shocked at how well a stiff cat can frisbee.
Scariest Road – A steep and very busy downhill in Plitvice National Park on our way to Camping Korana. With a cliff wall on one side and a cliff face on the other, tour buses one after the other and no shoulder. A few boulders are used as a road barrier and there is not much else to stop you riding straight off the edge.
Biggest Hill – Our toughest climb was two days of tough climbing in the middle of Croatia. I’m sure this would be a walk in the park for an experienced rider however with temperatures above 30°C, the heat reflecting off the highway and trying to keep out of the way of trucks, we were exhausted. Thankfully with uphills there will ultimately be descents.
Biggest Downhill – Heading to the Croatian coast we had around 14kms of extremely steep (12%) downhill dropping down all the way to sea level. It certainly made up for all the hills. It was also at this point we decided to replace the brake pads.
Recorded distance ridden: 2,213km
Longest day: 125km
Max Speed: 50.8 km/ph
Countries visited: 9
Average Daily Foodcost €22/ $32 AUD
Camping (37 nights): €596.47/$870.00 AUD
AirBnB (20 nights): €633.27/$923.70 AUD
Hotels/Hostels (34 nights): €1,549.96/$2,260.80 AUD
Free Accommodation (1 night)
Total Cost 3 Months: €5,348.09/$7,815 AUD
Average Daily Cost: €58.52/$85.36 AUD
We will be taking an overnight ferry to the city of Bari on the east coast of Italy and then heading north-west to Rome. From there we plan to head to the UK.
*We have been informed by one of our German friends that these are actually spotter lookouts for deer hunters.