Over the past nine months I’ve walked hundreds and hundreds of miles on foot. Traveling by bike is great, but walking is surely second best.
When I’m not on my bicycle, I do my best to dress like a “normal person” and blend in with the people around me. The image below shows what I typically look like when I’m off the bike and exploring the local area on foot.
I wear a hat almost all the time. As soon as I step off the bike and remove my helmet, my hat instantly goes on. I wear a hat to cover up my bad helmet hair and to keep the sun out of my eyes. The hat you see in the image above was purchased at a campground called “Thousand Trails/Naco.” It is a private timeshare-type campground that my family belongs to in the United States.
My mother bought this shirt for me a few years ago from our local Sam’s Club. It surely cost no more than $10 USD, yet it has outlasted shirts that cost three times as much. This particular shirt received no comments until I arrived in Greece when British people suddenly started coming up to me and asking me if I was a rugby player. “No,” I had to explain. “It’s just a T-shirt.”
Before leaving for Europe in December of 2008, I had not worn a wrist watch in years. My last watch had broken some 7-8 years prior and I had never bothered to get a new one. Like many people nowadays, when I’m back home and living my “normal life” I typically just use my cell phone to tell the time. But when I started planning for my travels in Europe I knew I would be leaving my cell phone at home (because it wouldn’t work in Europe) and that I would need to finally get a new watch. The one you see here is a men’s black DKNY wrist watch. No alarm. No light. No fancy features. But it tells the time and it is water resistant.
4. Road ID
On my other wrist is a Road I.D.. This is an item I’ve talked about a lot here at Bicycle Touring Pro, but it’s worth mentioning again. The Road I.D. is basically a bracelet with my name and emergency contact information engraved into it. I wear it all the time in case something were to happen to me and the local authorities needed to contact my family. My Road I.D. has my name on it, the names and phone numbers of my family members, my medical history, and the year I was born. For me, traveling alone, this is an incredibly important piece of gear. It’s cheap, easy to wear, and even kinda stylish.
5. Laptop Bag
I’ve never brought a laptop bag with me on any of my previous bike tours, but for this particular tour (9 months in Europe) I brought along a Lone Peak BP-500 Briefcase Pannier… and I’m sure glad I did. I’ve used this bag every single day. When I was on the bike the bag slid inside one of my rear Ortlieb panniers and when I was on foot, it was my main way of carrying things with me as I strolled around on foot. I used the bag on almost a daily basis to carry my wallet, money, camera(s), passport, external hard drive, book, journal, water bottle, and sometimes even my jacket.
I only brought one pair of shorts with me on this 9-month trip through Europe. The pair I selected is a pair of camouflage gray Fox Racing mountain bike shorts. I chose to wear these shorts because I could ride my bike in them and walk around in them without instantly being branded as a cyclist. Unfortunately, after 6 months of wearing the same pair of shorts, day after day, I wore a large hole in the right side of the shorts where my laptop bag hangs down and rubs up against the clothe there. I’ve since mended the hole with needle and thread and sewn on a large red and white patch I bought in Turkey for 1.50 Euros. Hopefully the patchwork holds until I make it home and can purchase a new pair of shorts.
Before leaving for Europe I picked up a pair of gray Pearl Izumi touring socks. The material is very similar to that of any other specially made cycling sock, but the length of the sock, as you can see in the photo above, is a bit longer. I really like the color and style of the sock, but I wish the material were just a tiny bit more durable. I wore a hole through the rear ankle of the left sock many months ago and have been forced to wear another small black anklet sock over the touring sock so that I don’t get blisters when I walk or ride.
To say that I’m impressed with my shoes would be more than just an understatement. The shoes you see above were purchased at my local Nike outlet for just $29.00 USD and they’re still going strong. I decided to bring this particular pair of shoes with me on my trip to Europe because they were lightweight and water resistant. I never expected them to last the entire nine month… and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to them once this trip is over.