Jona and Franzi from Tales-On-Tyres have been riding their bikes across the Americas for the last 15 months. Half way across the US, they changed from a classic road touring setup to a bikepacking rig. This had a huge impact on how they rode and opened up a whole new network of trails and roads.
Advice on what to carry?
As little as possible. We have started our journey by bike probably as most people do: way too heavy. We prefer to be light when cycling all day. We don’t carry anything we don’t use on a regular basis. Okay, apart from the first aid kit. At first it was hard to throw out a lot of gear but so far we haven’t missed anything. In our opinion: If in doubt, throw it out.
Advice on what to eat?
Uh, we are not creative chefs when cooking on the road. We do eat oatmeal and pasta every single day. Luckily here in South America, eating in restaurants is cheap and so we treat ourselves to a proper meal every now and then. Though the other day, a fellow traveller recommend cooking lentils for a change, so we decided to give them a try. It’s necessary to mention that, that night we camped at over 4500m. We had soaked the lentils for a few hours before we boiled them, after what seemed forever we declared this experiment failed, they did not get cooked at all. That night, we went to bed hungry. At the next shop, we bought pasta again.
We both ride rigid steel Bombtrack Beyond Plus M, with WTB Rangers 3.0 tough (rear) and WTB Bridger 3.0 tough (front) tubeless on 27.5 wheels. Jones H-Bar, Avid BB7 brakes and 1 x 11 drivetrain (30 t chainring, 11 – 42 t cassette).
Thoughts on essential bike equipment?
You need bike and a good portion of excitement to ride it. We still believe that you can get pretty far with any bike and by using what you already have. From there it’s mainly a matter of comfort. A lot of the pricey gear is nice to have but most stuff is not essential. Obviously the lighter and smaller the better, but not being able to afford fancy gear should not hold you back from heading out to pursue your adventure.
For us to change to plus-size bikes and bikepacking in general (more important than changing the bags is cutting down luggage to the essentials) was a game changer. Now we can ride routes which would not have been possible on a classic touring setup, and we love the traction and cushion of the plus size tires when riding a rigid setup.
Water purification method?
We use a Platypus GravityWorks water filter. It’s light, small and it’s been working well. The only downside is that it can take a while for the water to go through sometimes, specially when it’s cold.
Thoughts on essential gear for staying alive?
A good tent and a quality sleeping bag. We think the biggest risk out in the mountains is hypothermia. One time in Ecuador, it was only midday but it had rained all day and both of us were dripping wet and because we were high up in the mountains. It was incredibly cold. We simply decided to stop, pitch the tent and roll up in our sleeping bags to warm up.
A helmet. We both wear helmets all the time. And I have crashed twice, going straight over my handlebars. It’s crazy, but when you fall, time seems to pass in slow motion. You can kind of watch yourself crash. In this moment I’m always concerned about hitting my head. Luckily, I never did but I have always been glad that I did wear that stupid helmet.
Favorite trail/bikepacking recommendations?