On The Road, Problems

Day 5: Panniers with holes and Buffaloes that swim?

Last night we discovered that our two front panniers (Ortlieb roller classic rears) have both got a few small 20 cent piece sized holes in them. I thought they were pretty much indestructible, but I’ve been proven wrong. In the evening we removed all the heavy items like the tool bag and spare cables to the second set of smaller bags that sit higher than the front set. The second set of smaller bags is where we have been keeping our laptop computers because the first set of larger bags act as a safety buffer, protecting the computers when I ride into areas that are not as wide as I had expected.

Having removed the heavier items from the front bags they were now full of light and inexpensive stuff. We then placed a small towel in the bottom of each bag, covering the holes with a plastic bag in case it rained today (which it did not). I did consider adjusting the rack (this is the HASE stand/rack you get with the Pino Tour model) since it does have 3 positions and we are on the lowest setting, but thought better of it when I noticed that I would need to remove the whole chain-guide section for the front cranks in order to move the rack up one inch. It’s not that easy and I would expect someone as nontechnical as me to spend 3-4 hours messing around just to get it apart, move it, and finally get it back together again. Maybe a job better suited to when I have a free day. I will let you know how that goes as we will try tomorrow during our day off (well 40km ride) in Mueang Songkhla.

So, the ride today was 104kms. We left late because we only planned 65-75kms for the day but it was longer than my Google maps planning led me to believe. We had a lovely breakfast of chicken and rice at 7:30am (I had serves, why not at only $1.30 each) and we cycled down to the local bicycle shop. We hoped to have them increase the ‘hardness’ of the suspension fork to hopefully stop the front bags hitting the ground (and I didn’t have the giant spanner big enough), but alas, they were already at maximum hardness.

The good news was we showed the mechanics at the bicycle shop the holes in our panniers and one chap, a cyclist himself although he did not work at the shop, spent 15 minutes with us gaff taping the bottoms of the bags and using some old tubes to jerry-rig the panniers to pull them up a little higher. That seemed to do the job as both Natt and I noticed that the bags did not rub on the ground once today after the bicycle tube fix. The bicycle tubes are not the final solution to the front pannier problem but merely a stop gap measure to keep us rolling for the next couple of days. I will need to move the pannier rack up and sort out a more permanent solution when I get a chance.

After this we headed off to the Songkhla Lake, which is saltwater at the mouth (far end from where we cycled today) and freshwater at the other end. We were hoping to see the famous ‘swimming water buffalo’ the area is known for but unfortunately the bathing beauties were not out today. The 10kms on the elevated roadway next to the lake was very pretty and we had an amazing tailwind that sped us along under light clouds that shielded us from the sun.

The remainder of the ride was fine. We didn’t stop anywhere particularly remarkable. Just a few stops for water, ice cream, plus first and second lunch. I can tell you that since we are eating local food we have been spending about $10 to feed two people for breakfast, morning tea, and lunch plus another $5 for water, salty snacks, and carbonated drinks. After 28 days I will post a breakdown of our daily costs as we are recording the details of everything we spend so we can give other cyclists an idea of what to expect.

Tomorrow we will set off at 5:30 am and be in the capital city of Songkhla by 8:30 am where we will visit bicycle shops in town, have second breakfast, and then find some accommodation that will let us check in super early so we can do some washing. I hope to start work on moving the front rack system up that important inch.

Finally, the good news is we have 2 small front Ortlieb panniers in Hua Hin which we’ll be passing through in 3 weeks time. So, we will most likely drop of some more stuff we have not touched and pack down these 2 small panniers. Giving us 2 large ones and 4 small ones in total for the rest of our trip. This is probably what we should have done at the start.

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