14degrees off the beaten track
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February 17th, 2007 | categorizilation: all categories,highlights,Turkey

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The 14degrees team is a new team. It is an ultra-light, ultra slick team. It has gone through some fairly major reforms over the past few days, along with a decent dose of sightseeing.I have replaced the cables and cable housings on the bike, cleaned the chain, and the big news is that I have removed the lowrider luggage carrier, along with the two panniers that used to hang off it.

I don’t know how on earth I managed to have enough stuff to fit into six separate bags, but I have done a major clean up, and now fit all my gear into only two and a half bags.

I have sent my tent home, replaced by a bivy bag. I have thrown out my water filter, some tools, the spare tyres, and have chopped my first aid kit in half.

Box of gear sent home (Istanbul, Turkey)

I doubt if my luggage is now much more than 15kgs. I look forward to the slicker cycling.

I have also gotten rid of the facial fluff. I must have saved at least 30 grams there.

The original plan was to keep the fluff until England, but I had put up with it for 200 days, and that was quite enough. Going, going, gone!


Going Going Going Going

Gone, in Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is an impressive place.

Hagia Sophia Museum, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia Museum, Istanbul, Turkey Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Tofa's car? (Istanbul, Turkey)

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    Permanent Link     Comments (24)

Comment by Mark S. — February 18, 2007 @ 11:19 am | post a comment

Thanks for a another round of updates, Rob. The animation was especially fun. It's interesting to see what you've decided to slim down as well.

I was just thinking about buying a water filter for bicycle touring, but maybe I should skip it…

After following your daily updates and reading "Moods of Future Joys", I've started to plan a bicycle adventure of my own for this summer.

My wife and I have made tentative plans to ride around Lake Michigan in July (in the range of 1,000 miles). We had a warm up last year when we took a week long bike tour as part of our honeymoon.

Comment by Rob Thomson — February 18, 2007 @ 11:33 am | post a comment

Mark S, if I were riding in the States, I would not be carrying a water filter. How often will you go more than a day without somewhere with at least an outside water tap?

If I were to travel in China or other 'dodgy water' countries again, I would consider the Steri-Pen ultra violet water sterilizer. At 250g (inc. batteries), it is about 400g lighter than the mammoth Katadyn Combi water filter I had.

Comment by James Welle — February 18, 2007 @ 4:23 pm | post a comment

Congratulations on the shaving Rob! If Sarah has her way, mine will be gone soon too. Check back for some more potentially interesting facial hair photos during the cutting…

Comment by Cousin Tim — February 18, 2007 @ 5:23 pm | post a comment

I'm not suprised that over the last 200 days you've been slowly losing bits of your kit so now it all fits into two nad a half bags now.

Comment by Chris J — February 18, 2007 @ 10:20 pm | post a comment

Hi Rob,

Looks like you have gone on a bit of a "diet" there in Istanbul. Just hope you don't want any of that stuff back later, as it may be difficult to come by. I will trust that you know exactly what you are doing after more than 200 days on the road.

Comment by Mum — February 18, 2007 @ 10:26 pm | post a comment

Do you know what you've actually got less of – apart from weight and the hair? Are you now planning to stay in hostels or hoping that the weather is warm enough for just a bivy bag? You will have to change part of the title from 12000km in 200 days to "12000km in however long it takes"

Comment by Dad — February 18, 2007 @ 10:38 pm | post a comment

I would have thought that the spare tyres would have been useful Rob? Have you finished with all the rough roads?

Chris is in Christchurch tomorrow so we are looking forward to catching up with him. We are not sure when he is heading back to Canada.

Comment by Rob Thomson — February 18, 2007 @ 11:27 pm | post a comment

Dad, my reasoning for getting rid of some of the spares is that from here on in, there should be more well stocked bicycle shops around the place. If a tyre gets majorly damaged (fairly seldom), then I could hitch to the nearest big town and get what I need.

Up till Istanbul, the bicycle shops have all only stocked very cheap Chinese stuff that wouldn't have handled the loaded touring.

I certainly hope I haven't finished with the rough roads! They're the most fun.

Comment by Rob Thomson — February 18, 2007 @ 11:28 pm | post a comment

Cousin Tim, you know me well…

Comment by Rob Thomson — February 18, 2007 @ 11:29 pm | post a comment

Chris J, I have certainly learned a few things on the road, but I still have many things more to learn!

Comment by Rob Thomson — February 18, 2007 @ 11:31 pm | post a comment

Mum, I won't be only sleeping in a bivy bag. I will be sleeping in my sleeping bag inside the bivy bag. It's a bit of a risk, I know (not carrying a tent), but I'm fairly certain that things should work out. If not, I'll be getting a small tent. My old one was just too heavy (3kg!).

Comment by Satoshi — February 19, 2007 @ 2:57 am | post a comment


Well most campsites are closed this time of the year so you will stay overnight out in the wild less frequently – YHA or privately managed backpackers will be the places you will be staying from now on. Also don't hesitate to stay at churches, monastries or other religious places in Mediterranean countries thay might put you up for a small donation. Even if the caravan parks are open you'd pay the same price as a hostel so it's good that you decided to travel light – bye bye heavy overspec tent! Just that make sure you lock up your valuables.

– below is something you can delete after having read it —

I have had chanced to get in touch with shops and individuals in the US who were selling recumbents or frake kits but they all hit the same wall : Americo-Australo-post-nine-eleven restrictions that the bike frames are considered too bit to be shipped from US to OZ by post and only USP would do it charging heaps more. I, therfore look into an option of converting a Dahon Boardwalk D7. It's a li'l folder but the 2007 model's spec is good enough and well-built that I can actually convert it into a folding recumbent that lets me travel by air or by coach etc inside a bag! I looked at importing other folding options such as M5 Ligfietsen's folder (it's not fast, looks like Bike E) and Bike Friday SatRDay – nice but I want a folder not aseparable.

Comment by carl w. — February 19, 2007 @ 6:20 am | post a comment

hahahaha damn that hurts, you should have kept the sanchez moustahe… very village people!

Comment by Ben — February 19, 2007 @ 7:24 am | post a comment

Hi Rob

my parner and I met you waiting to get the ferry to Istanbul and then again post shaving. I easily knocked 20 years off your age, getting rid of the whiskers!

I will email you the photos we took when I have photoshopped them down to a reasonable size. When you get to England let us know, we would be pleased to put you up for a few days, assuming we are not off travelling ourselves!

Comment by Wulff — February 19, 2007 @ 5:12 pm | post a comment

Hi Rob

I've read many bicycle travellogues but yours take the price – sleeping in a tent and heavy cycling in the middle of winter!

Very few can accomplish anything remotely similar.

I'll bet on you are gifted in other fields too.

Comment by Lee — February 19, 2007 @ 6:59 pm | post a comment

Hey Rob,

Just caught up on days 196 – 209. Has been a while. A week ago I submitted my thesis, finally and completely, and then had a birthday on Friday, and now start Bible college tomorrow (Tues 20th). Had a 'Ginger party' – another redhead friend had his birthday on Saturday so we did a combined Ginger party – ginger beer, ginger ale, lots of carrots, gingerbread, gingernuts… Madness.

SO great to see you're still going strong. The Roman monument looked like it belonged in the Narnia movie… awesome.

The 1/2 cup of garlic sounds insane but I would actually believe it'd do some good (though an awful lot of bad in terms of aroma).

What a gift of a spot at Chamkonak. Yes, mental transportation via music and memories and repose is a wonderful thing. Wish I could post over a Groove Armada-Chicane-Robert Miles-Crystal Method-Moby-Sola Rosa-Salmonella Dub-Fat Freddy's Drop special but alas. (Fat Freddy's Drop is something we MUST introduce you to when you get back. One of the finest albums to come out of NZ, in my opinion.)

A hearty Amen to Chris J – you most certainly are best in-the-know now after 200+ days. And I agree about the tyres and tent. You've survived the lands of starkness with a good amount of hospitality etc available; I'm sure the more abundant lands ahead will provide for your needs if they do arise.

30 grams of hair. Crazy. Very good to see the old Rob back (on the surface at least – I doubt the old Rob will ever be, again, after this. We trust it's an improved version :-)

And a mournful Amen to the stuff about us leaving a legacy of trash and damage. We are disgusted at our predecessors' atrocities in race relations (among other things); I believe we may be equally disgusting in the eyes of our great grandchildren as they learn about our selfishness in consumption and disposal.

But anyway. On a brighter note: orange.


Comment by Em — February 20, 2007 @ 4:14 am | post a comment

Wow, you really were ruthless with your gear, well done!!

So did you enjoy Aya Sofya?? Stunning place isnt it!! I love your photos, my photos didnt turn out that well. Hope you enjoyed your last few days in Istanbul and hope you get to Gallipoli especially Anzac cove & lone pine. It is very touching!

I start my europe trip on friday, first stop paris. :)

Enjoy sleeping under the stars.

Em x

Comment by Jim Gagnepain — February 20, 2007 @ 9:25 am | post a comment

+1 on the Sanchez mustache. That looked cool. Kind of Genghis Khan like!

Comment by malcolm — February 21, 2007 @ 4:53 am | post a comment

you are looking quite fat. watch the diet – maybe a little exercise regime might help you rob. push play for 20 minutes a day.

yes – I am back – soon (but not yet) you will be able to sing the praises of my adventuring on your blog and my blog will get kazillions of hits as a result of such actions. Good to hear you are still at it Rob. How is the cooker? I have been using one like it, but with a simmer option. lots better. ok – more reading of your adventures, and writing of mine in the next few days. God Bless ya bro

Comment by neil — February 21, 2007 @ 5:48 am | post a comment

Great to "see" you again, you were on the road to resembling a YETI! and congrats on getting to Istanbul.

Just be sure that if you do end up bivvying, that you keep out of the wind.

Keep on pedalin.


PS. U should hear from our friend Joe R, re Switz. let me know if you don't.

Comment by william — February 21, 2007 @ 6:14 pm | post a comment

I reckon 'Going, going, gone' together with the series of de-bearding photos would be a great title and cover for your upcoming book!

Comment by Satoshi — February 22, 2007 @ 3:53 am | post a comment


OK your long-ish stay in Istanbul suggests that you are immensely enjoying a first real city since you left er, somehwere in China?

Turkish bath, Turkish food and belly dancers eh? nice nice nice you can wash all your clothes and replace worn undies and socks with new ones too!

After two and half month of wait I finally received a front boom (that telescopic tube the crackset and front derailleur are held) from Quebec. I won this bit on e-bay back in early December. It's from a recumbent shop (apparently they are into production of trikes these days, mine could well be a trike part). If you do search on e-bay (US site) type recumbent you will find bits and pieces they make, I am sure some people buy components to build a whole trike. I only got the telescopic boom as it can be used on various typed of bent bikes in the future. Now I am sourcing a Dahon.

Comment by Rob Thomson — February 24, 2007 @ 4:08 am | post a comment

Malcolm, you live. Jolly good. The cooker is indestructible. I had considered sending it back home during my luggage reduction craze and replacing it with a baked bean can hobie stove, but it's all good. Still running it on petrol. Sooty as, but cheap. A simmer control would be good tho. You need a microscope and nerves of steel to get the thing going right. Even then it spits and splutters. But no worries.

Comment by Rob Thomson — February 24, 2007 @ 4:13 am | post a comment

Wulff, in the words of Mark Twain, all it takes is 'ignorance and confidence'. http://14degrees.org/en/?p=92

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