I’ve meant to write for a few weeks now on a few additions to the bike and my general kit which have made a world of difference in my physical comfort and ease of navigation in Europe.
First off, I replaced the saddle that came stock with the bike. It was far too soft for extended riding – I felt like after about an hour I’d be sitting directly on the saddle pan – and it didn’t feel like it bounced back during rest intervals. The new saddle is a Touratech Touring Seat, which is far more comfortable for extended travel. I’ve had some long days since this purchase, and they’ve been far more comfortable than previous big days riding with the stock seat.
Next: Gore-Tex gloves. I had been riding with years-old leather gloves – ostensibly water-resistant, but such resistance seemed to have gone by with the passing of time. I bought a pair of BMW Pro Summer Gloves. Now I’ve got Gore-Tex covering me from the neck down, which has been a real blessing considering how much rain I’ve seen since arriving in Europe. I wish the comfortable temperature range was a little wider on them – I end up wearing thin polypro liners when the weather gets below about 15°C / 60°F, and start to get a little clammy above 25°C / 77°F, as my internal heat overwhelms the breathability of the membrane. Still, they’ve made the wet weather I’ve seen so far much more manageable.
Finally, navigation. I love paper maps, and my intention was to rely on them – along with the GPS on my phone – for getting around. After getting all turned around a number of times in my first few days in Germany and Belgium, I gave in and purchased a Garmin Zumo 660. Given my fondness for sticking to secondary roads – and the very many twists and turns which result from this preference in the path from A to B – having the ability to punch in an endpoint, set a few preferences for route selection and then just rely on the route laid out before me has been a real boon to my enjoyment. There has been far less time spent in frustration on the side of the road, trying to figure out where I am and how to get to my destination. The Zumo has proven most useful in the turn-by-turn specifics needed to find the houses / hotels / hostels where I’ve laid my head for the night.
These have been three most welcome additions to my traveling kit. In a future post (or series), I intend to lay out my full kit now that things have settled out for me.