Riding buddy and ‘associate expeditioning cyclist’ David, of Painted Roads.. otherwise known as Painted Roads Dave, PRD or ‘purd’ for short, is in country at the moment so we caught up for some riding up on Dartmoor the last couple of days. I like riding with Dave.. unlike when I’m alone or with certain other riding buddies the emphasis tends to lean more towards riding between café and pub in a mellow fashion rather than bashing out loads of miles at high speed. Both are good but given the fabulous weather and the nature of the backroads in the area which welcome exploring in a fashion of “I wonder what’s down this way.. perhaps there’s a pub” the former was highly appropriate. With that in mind I left the lycra at home instead opting for favourite well-worn(out) wool jersey and baggies and took my Salsa Casseroll along. Dave showed up with his Salsa Vaya so it was very much a salsa-flavoured couple of days.
Conversation as you can imagine leaned very much towards the two-wheeled flavour of things.. expeditions past and future.. bikes and gear.. and, ermm.. not a lot else as I recall :-)
Dave’s Vaya is a lovely machine, it reminded me of a niggling gap in my current quiver of bikes.. I have my Casseroll for light road touring and my utterly brilliant but ‘a serious lump of metal’ 11 yr old Nomad mk1 for the heavy duty stuff.. but nothing in between. It’s relevant because of a journey I’m planning this fall. The plan until a couple of weeks ago was to head back to Bolivia and northern Argentina for 10 or 11 weeks or so but a couple of things happened that mean I think I’ll do that next year instead – a) I’ve found myself with substantially more work to do than I originally planned for (not an entirely negative thing ;-) and, b) a friend of mine I was hoping to link up with for sharing the fun now has to fly back to New Zealand for a shoulder op after suffering an accident riding in Colombia. So instead I think I’ll save some wedge and just get a cheap flight to Istanbul and spend 5 or 6 weeks or so seeing how far east I can get. Interesting riding by all accounts and exactly the type of ride the Vaya is suited to.. able to carry a camping load on not too extreme dirt but speedy on the asphalt. My Nomad is always going to be first choice for places like the backroads of the Andes or Himalaya.. and of course would be fine in Turkey too, but sometimes it’s necessary to have an excuse to think about a new machine. There is a slightly sinking feeling in my bank account that says the stainless version of the Vaya frame with S&S couplings might even happen… That option has the benefit that I could run it as a singlespeed, or even better.. a fixed gear monster-cross for days when I’m feeling particularly perverse.. which happens… often.. :-)
Painted Roads by the way is doing really well, the business is quite unique and the popularity is growing purely by word of mouth – which is far and away the best means of promotion of course. The new Yunnan tour launched about a month ago is fully booked already which is just ace so it may run twice next year. Check it out here: http://www.paintedroads.com/tours/China-Yunnan-Adventure