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A lot of comments this year relate to the problems we had with grit and sand and our bikes. I suspect that some of the problems we experienced are due to the fact that our bikes are cheap bikes and therefore use budget components.
1) Put a chain guard on your bike, and avoid puddles. Fun they can be but puddles can cause grit to be splashed up into the chain, and gears. Once mixed with the oil on the chain it gets everywhere and is hard to remove.
2) We ended up buying a chain cleaner in Larvik to get the chains clean without having to remove them. It works very well and was not too expensive. It is also quite light so we will be taking it with us the next trip.
3) Take two spare dérailleur cogs. They weigh virtually nothing and can be replaced quickly should you get problems.
4) I am inclined to take a spare rear cassette with me for the next trip. After problems this year it would be reassuring to be able to replace the cassette during the trip even if only to see if that was causing the problems.
5) Take a set of wheel bearings and cones to match your wheels together with a small pot of bearing grease. The weight is not significant and bearings can be replaced quite quickly when you get used to it.
6) Ortlieb bags are brilliant. We had torrential rain with a gale force wind early in the trip and everything in the bags stayed dry.
7) Good quality pannier racks seem to be worth the money. We found that the bikes felt more surefooted and stiffer after fitting Tubus racks.
8) Although our Berghaus cagoules keep us dry, the outer layer gets wet. Some days it was not possible to get them dried out and they started smelling bad. Also putting them on wet again the following day means you cool down again before you warm up. We have now invested in rain jackets where the outer fabric does not get wet. Hopefully this will solve both problems.
9) Trangia stoves are great, they work well and look like no other cooker on the market. The advantages of the 25 (and I guess the 27) series is that everything packs away nicely and they are very stable on the ground (we use our 25 inside our tent with no obvious problems). We also appreciate the silent operation of the cookers. They are a bit quirky in use but you get used to the way they work. For those of you vehemently anti-alcohol, or going to places where fuel alcohol is unobtainable, the 25 (and 27) series can be fitted with a gas canister adaptor.
10) Although fuel alcohol is, like petrol, poisonous, it is a lot easier to get it off your hands than petrol should you spill some.
11) If you can, pitch your tent on even ground if it looks like rain. Any depression will fill up with water which may not penetrate your groundsheet but will create cold spots. If you have a vestibule outside the inner tent then these puddles make moving around in it rather tricky.
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Page created 21/01/2007. All material is © 2005/6/7 Stanislav Williams