I am beginning to dismantle Zippy, world touring tandem, in preparation for our next self supported tour, this time South America. Before each tour, I completely dismantle Zippy for three reasons: to find our which parts need replacing so I can order them and fix the worn parts, catch any impending failures of frame, rims or drive-train, and to re-familiarize myself with every part. Since many of the places we tour are hundreds of miles from a proper bike shop, I have to be able to fix pretty much anything. Anyone who owns a tandem will tell you tandems need more attention than single bikes; I might have to rebuild the hub somewhere in the high Andes, or the middle of the Amazon basin, while being munched on by ants and mosquitoes and critters we’ve never seen before.
Some times a variety of events make trains the best choice for long distance cyclists. We no longer have anything to prove by riding every inch of the way across the U.S., or around and across other countries, continents. Been there, done that. We are now travelers, who happen to believe bicycle is the best way to see the world. However, there are other transportation methods that have a place in our hearts. Some of best experiences have been traveling by train.
Long bicycle tours can sometimes lead to what looks like a dead end, like ending up in a Mekong River border crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia. The road forward was a path. In this case it was more practical, and more fun, to travel in a multi-modal manner. The four-hour river boat ride into Cambodia cost us $10 and was filled with images of life on the Mekong we would have missed from the shore.
From supposedly reliable intelligence, Abrams was able to follow the progress of troops and supplies south, and judge where and when the North planned to attack over the border into Vietnam. To paraphrase from A Better War, Lewis Sorley: Troops advanced south in waves 500 to 600, moving at 12.2 kilometers per day, mostly by foot, the trucks saved for supplies and ammunition. We were able to move perhaps 60 Kilometers on the unimproved section, partly because our load was not on our feet, but on our bicycle, and partly because we had no backup supplies; we had to get out of that jungle in short order.