Back in April our resident South African/American expat Kendall went for a wee pedal around the Apple Isle, from Hobart to Devonport. It was his first loaded tour and he covered around 800km in 11 days on his recently-purchased Jamis Renegade Expat. We caught up with him recently and had a chat about the experience.
“It was obscene the amount I got honked at by cars,” he says. “I wasn’t even on main roads most of the time.” This is indeed unfortunate, but looking at the photo below, we can see why. Kendall was regaled in full Velo branded lycra for the trip, and while we admire his commitment to Velo Cycles, touring in full lycra will inevitably invite mirth from motorists.
Most of the experience was positive though: “This was the first time I had carried luggage on my bike, and it was a bit scary at first. It’s dramatically different to what I was used to. I thought the bike would break. But it didn’t, and I got accustomed to it pretty quickly. It felt really balanced and the steering was good.”
Kendall carried everything-including a tent and sleeping bag-in two rear panniers, a frame bag and a handlebar bag. “It worked really well. Everything fitted in the bags and I tied the tent to the top of the rear rack. I was carrying too many clothes though. I threw out some socks and underwear along the way.”
What, just scattered across the road like a trail of breadcrumbs?
“No, I threw them in the bin.”
Are you sure you just couldn’t be bothered washing them?
“I was carrying too many socks and undies.”
OK, moving on. How did the bike go on the unsealed roads?
“It felt great on gravel roads, that’s what it’s good at. The steering always felt like it was under control, and you could throw the bike around and you knew it would take it.” With a steel frame, 32 spoke wheels, wide tyres and a front through axle, on paper the Expat makes a great, sturdy gravel bike. It seems that this is the case in the real world too.
“The gravel roads were my favourite part. You’re away from traffic, and you feel like you’re going faster than on a sealed road, even if you’re not. And those roads take you through the more remote places. It’s crazy being out where there’s no people, no places to buy food, and to know that it’s just me and my bike. That my bike will get me through this.”
Tasmania’s a pretty lumpy place. What was the biggest hill you climbed?
“There was one day when I spent all day going uphill and about an hour going down. The downhill is so exhilarating, but the uphill feels like it’s never going to end. You think every crest will be the last one, but then there’s another one after that. There’s always another one. I learned to have no expectations, just to be in the moment. While I was going up I was trying to figure out if it was worth it. Is it worth climbing all that way just to go down again? But it definitely was.”
Were the gear ratios adequate to get you up easily? (The Expat runs a 50/34 up front and a 12-30 10 speed cassette)
“It’s fine for unloaded or lightly loaded riding, but for what I was doing it would have been nice to have some easier gears. I’m thinking of putting a bigger cassette and a long cage derailleur on the back. It’s pretty easy to do.”
What were the Taswegians like?
“I met some really lovely people, but also some really grumpy ones. One guy kicked me out of a campsite. He was like “what are you doing here?” and I said “just looking for some trees to hang my hammock,” and he said “we don’t want you round here.”
Another guy gave me a bottle of home-made port. I don’t like port that much but it was really good and it kept me warm one night.”
What was the worst thing about the trip?
“Having cold toes at night and not being able to sleep. I needed warmer socks.”
So you had too many socks but none that were warm enough?
And what was the best thing?
“Seeing the ocean at the end. Knowing that you’ve made it.”