Exit Strategy

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May 8th: Ride or bus to Denver, fly to Amsterdam via Keflavik, Iceland; ride all over the place from there.  Much to do until that date.  Which bike to ride?

The Pugsley, in any of its fat, non-fat, or 29″ permutations?– maybe too much bike, but would allow for trail riding in the mountains and exploring the network of GR footpaths in France.  The Velo Orange Campeur?– not enough tire clearance for some of the intended riding, but just right for much of it.  The new Velo Orange ‘Bronco’ dirt tourer?– perhaps perfect, but not quite ready yet.

Which bike to ride?  Lael is almost certainly riding her blue Raleigh 29er, with lightweight bikepacking kit, comfortable handlebars and platform pedals.  She wonders, suspension or rigid fork?  Which tire?  Schwalbe Big Ben or Mondial would be a good candidate for durability and volume and some, but not too much tread.  The Rubena Cityhopper comes in 29×2.0″, at a good price.  There are other options.  Much to do.


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Photo: “Jumping Into Water”, Lael Wilcox; all others Nicholas Carman

23 thoughts on “Exit Strategy

  1. Nicholas,

    I’ll be touring the Netherlands and Belgium with a crazy German guy in the second half of June. Let me know if you’ll be in the area and we can meet up! Also, I’m not sure if you’re planning to do a stopover in Iceland, but I lived there for a year and can give you a lot of tips and maps to my favorite places if so.

    • Lucas, Not planning much in Iceland for now. We may be south of Belgium/Netherlands by that time, as we plan to spend some time in France before riding on. Would love to meet up some time for sure. Keep in touch.


  2. bonjour nicholas, i’m leaving in the Pyrenées Mountains, France, and following your blog since a few months now. i can’t remember how i came across it, maybe from a lazy rando blog link, maybe as i was googling around fat tire bikes in a late night. Anyway, i really appreciate the way you share your daily life on the trail or at temporary homes, as well as the infos, thoughts, opinions regarding bikes. all of that are inspiring to me. So i want you to know that i’ll be happy if i could help you in any way regarding your summer trip. maps/general infos, places to stay, translations etc … just ask if you need !

    • remi,

      Our plan is to ride south from Amsterdam, through Belgium to spend some time in France. Lael and I lived in France several years ago, and enjoyed our time there very much. Riding along canals and voie verte was very peaceful, connecting small villages along the way from our home in St. Malo to the Alps, and back. Nearly, I recall crossing the country living almost entirely on croissant aumonde!

      We plan to do some riding in the Massif Central, and the Alps, and perhaps also the Pyrenees, hopefully along some more rugged trails at times. I would be very happy to meet you at some point, especially if you would like to come riding for a few days.

      Do you have any specific recommendations for unpaved routes in France, in any part of the country? Perhaps long-distance GR routes that are known to be fun on a bike? We look forward to our time in France, once again. Keep in touch.


      • i started to source infos on unpaved “grande traversées”,it’s marked and documented routes and trails for vtt (french acronym for mtb, but more to read as atb, as your atb is our vtc …errr wtf ?) thru -you name it area- including massif central and many others . i think there will be nice way to connect those unpaved portions with the more relaxed voies vertes and canal trails shown there http://af3v.org/CarteAF3V/-Carte-des-grands-itineraires-.html. what i understand is you plan to enter france from belgium and leave it from south east ? otherwise are you ok with french websites reading ? i’ll dig infos next days then post it.
        à bientôt

    • Hmmm, Iceland is only a stopover on my flight to Europe. I may change the ticket to include a few days of riding, but for now we are gunning for the mainland. Planning to ride all over Europe for the summer (and fall).

    • Yes, rigid forks would be sensible, although we’d like to retain the capacity of a real mountain bike. While much of the riding will be on pavement or hardpacked dirt (canal trails, greenway trails), we also expect to find some rougher trails in the Alps, Massif Central, Pyrenees, Corsica, Balkans, and further into Eastern Europe. We’d like to ensure the ability to choose adventures when the opportunities arise. For now, rigid with big tires is the leading idea.

      However, Lael doesn’t need any more load capacity on her bike. She tours with less than 25lbs in the summer: https://gypsybytrade.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/perfect-the-colorado-trail/

  3. You should definitely ride Iceland, regardless of original plans. Much more epic-sounding, plus it would make my sweetie April insanely jealous. 🙂

    I can’t help you much with equipment choices, but just hope that you send postcards no matter where you end up. You know where to find me.

    • Andi, The area around Lake Constance looks amazing. We may have to put it on the list. Thanks for the generous offer. We are still unsure where our route will lead us. Surely, the mountains hold a strong magnetism.


  4. Hi Nicholas,
    As you mentioned Balkans -if you come to Croatia, you’re welcome to stay at our house, we’re on northern Adriatic near Rijeka, And I can show you some fine trails to ride. I love your blog. We’re recreational cyclists just entering the world of bicycle travel, I have a Kona Sutra and an old Slovenian MTB and my wife has a 1953 Peugeot. Cheers,

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