Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hannah and Chris Join the Gang!

Today you readers at home have the pleasure of special GUEST bloggers! You may be scrolling through the photos and asking yourselves, "who are these new people and what are those bikes? Have Tam and Danny been joined by professional bikepackers with loads of corporate sponsors?"
Our names are Hannah and Chris. Don't be intimidated by our superior skill and high-end cycling equipment. We're just normal people, like you. You see, Chris, Danny, and Tamara used to work together at High Trails in Southern California. Hannah is Chris's lady friend.

Chris and Hannah were WWOOFing in Pucon, Chile and knew Danny and Tam were planning to come through on their journey at some point. The only problem was that neither party had reliable internet, so communication was difficult. On a Saturday afternoon, after an unexpected change of plans, we happened to check our Facebook messages around 8 pm. Lo and behold, Danny and Tamara had gotten into town on Friday and were planning to leave the next morning, as they had not heard from us! We quickly sent out a message and ran to meet them at the library where there was celebratory fist pumping, loud noises, and hugging.
We all made our way up to our WOOFer cabin and had a sleepover and, in the morning, a pancake breakfast. After spending 12 hours with these two, it was decided: we were joining their biker gang.
Danny and Tamara's response was simple and affirmative: "Let's find you some bikes!"

This set into motion the events of the next two and a half days, transforming our lives completely. Plane tickets were cancelled, excess gear, clothing and musical instruments sent home. We found used rental bikes at a shop in town - in fact the only two reasonably priced and functioning bikes in Pucon that fit us perfectly. Danny and Tam immediately got to work swapping out a fork and brakes on Hannah's bike and searching every bike shop for the proper parts we needed to literally get rolling. Meanwhile, Chris and Hannah went out on a mission to buy a tent, sleeping mats, bike shorts, bike racks, straps, helmets, and hose clamps.

It was a mad rush to find all of the materials in a tourist town on a Sunday. We needed one more day because Chris's bike was going to need some professional help (and a new fork and rear hub) from the only decent bike shop in town. By the end of Monday, both Chris and Hannah had complete touring set ups with their backpacks strapped to a bike rack and other bits of gear hose-clamped around the bike. The best addition would have to be the frame bags made of webbing that Danny and Tam engineered. Sunday morning we had decided to commit to this mission, and Monday afternoon we were rolling out of town.

We are completely incapable of building bikes and maintaining them on the road. We barely speak Spanish. We have little to offer in terms of route planning and decision making. We are in considerably worse shape then these two ultra bikers. Sometimes we don't know why they agreed to letting us join them, but we are so grateful. Until we improve in some of these categories, we will be compensating with singing, jokes and cookies.
Chris and I were already traveling with loose plans and minimal things. We were both so surprised how liberating it was to abruptly change what little plans we had and reduce our possessions even further. We both had a few apprehensions about making this large change in pace of life and fully diving into the unknown. Those, however, were greatly outweighed by the excitement we felt about the journey and the trust we had in our experienced bikepacking guides. It was a great lesson for us to remember to say 'yes' to once in a lifetime opportunities and to drop attachment to ideas or things that weren't serving us. Viva la bici!!

As pictures come up, look for special mods to our aging Treks, like the amazing camel belly (patent pending) hydration system linking the frame bottle to thirsty rider with Tam's DIY ingenuity!

All the best,
Hannah and Chris

Chris, the Blue Bandit, and his steed, GreenGo

GreenGo and his stylish shades

A happy Hannah with her fantastic bikepacking setup

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