rfay's blog

Health, Healthcare, Health Insurance, and Vaccinations for the big ride

People often ask us about health-related issues, so here are some answers.

Health Insurance: Since we are from the US, with an immensely expensive and burdensome healthcare system, we felt that we had to carry health insurance that would cover us there. Although we might be able to cover expenses for most types of events in the other countries of our journey, a single week in a hospital in the US can easily bankrupt anyone. So we carry normal (expensive) major medical, high deductible ($10,000) health insurance that would cover us if we had to go limping home for a major chronic illness or something. But that insurance doesn't cover us outside the US, so if we had a serious accident or something, we could end up without coverage. So we also bought health insurance that covers us outside the US (cheaper by far). Our monthly expenses for health insurance are probably the biggest expense of the trip.

Note that "Trip insurance" is not worth much for a trip of this size, since it is not renewable and typically has pretty serious limitations. It's oriented to people going on vacation, not to people living abroad. What we needed (and most travellers will need) is the type of insurance that expatriates buy. The folks at Global Insurance Net make a specialty of this type of insurance, and we were pleased with their expertise and service.

Health Care: We've been pretty pleased with healthcare everywhere we've been.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Randy switches to a BOB trailer... Advantages and Disadvantages

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On private road to Chiquicara
On private road to Chiquicara (View on flickr)

When we came back to Peru I started riding with a Ibex BOB trailer trailer again instead of using panniers as I have for the last few years. It was kind of a return to my roots, since I used a BOB for our first several rides in 2001-2005. So far, I'm happy to be pulling my old friend Bob again. It feels good on the bike.

You may not know it, but since the BOB was introduced, US touring cyclists have often raged at each other about its advantages and disadvantages. As one who has used both the pannier system (front and back racks with saddlebags attached to them) and the BOB, a single-wheeled bike trailer, I thought I could weigh in on advantages and disadvantages.

  • I think when you ride with the BOB it's more like riding a bike and less like driving a truck, which is how I feel when riding with panniers.
  • The BOB is a bit easier on the bike, since there's one more wheel to spread out the load. The frame of the bike gets almost no strain (and it can get quite a bit going over bumps with the panniers). The rear axle still gets about half the load, but the frame itself gets almost nothing.
  • My kickstand doesn't work any more! In general, it's just harder to manage the bike+bob configuration when you're off the bike. I think it's easier to manage when you're riding, but harder when you're off.

Cyclists before us at the Casa de Ciclistas

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Group pose at Casa de ciclistas as Pius and Stefan leave
Group pose at Casa de ciclistas as Pius and Stefan leave (View on flickr)

People often ask us "Has anyone ever done this before?" or "Are you setting a new Guinness Record?". The answer, of course, is an authoritative NO! We know this, of course, but stopping at the Casa de Ciclistas in Trujillo and looking through the logs makes us really feel humble. We were the 998th entry over 24 years. Plenty of people have been through here! There are slow people and fast, many rides as long as ours, but many much longer. Here are a few links and a few details about some of the folks who have signed their names in the logs at Trujillo.

Hans Stuecke
Hans has been bike touring for 46 years, and has visited at least 193 countries. He really HAS set a Guinness record. I don't think we're going to touch his record anytime soon!
Dominic Gill
Dominic started his ride about the same time as we did, and we actually met him for a few moments in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. But Dominic just finished riding a tandem (most of the time by himself, alone) with gear for himself and a guest, all the way from Alaska to Patagonia. His gear weight was incredible, but his idea was "Take a Seat". He invited anybody who wanted to to come along for a ride for as long as they wanted. He had incredible experiences.

Lucho and the Casa de Ciclistas in Trujillo, Peru

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Lucho with his son Lance - In training
Lucho with his son Lance - In training (View on flickr)

When we came down from the mountains of Peru to the coast we stayed at the fabled Casa de Ciclistas (House of Cyclists) in Trujillo, Peru. Lucho Ramirez started offering his simple house to passing touring cyclists clear back in 1984, and is on the edge of crossing the one thousand mark. One thousand groups of cyclists have signed his journal and stayed there over almost 25 years! One cyclist stayed a year! Many stay far longer than they expect to, often for a week or more. It's a delight to browse through the journals and see famous cyclists that we've either met or heard of who passed this way. Our friends Dick and Els, from Holland, signed the book about 5 years ago. Our friend Andrew signed it just a month or so ago. Our friends Pat and Cat also passed through about 3 years ago.

Many of you have asked us if we're setting some kind of a record or something, and the answer is no, we're really slow, and lots and lots of people have gone farther. Although not all the cyclists who have stopped at Lucho's house were doing rides as big as ours, many were doing rides much bigger. One fellow, Hans Stuecke, has been cycling for 46 years!

Anyway, Lucho provides a tremendously friendly place for cyclists stop, recharge, get their equipment worked on, and generally have a wonderful memory. We left our bikes safely there for our trip home, and came back to find them waiting for us.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

A quick trip home to see our family

Frank Lewis
Frank Lewis (View on flickr)

Dad - Abbott Fay at park near Grand Junction
Dad - Abbott Fay at park near Grand Junction (View on flickr)

We just got back to Peru from a whirlwind trip back to the US. It was great, and exhausting. First, we had to take a 10-hour bus down to the coast from Cajamarca, then an 8-hour bus from Trujillo to the capital of Peru, Lima. Then we flew for ages to Boston, and we arrived in time for the main event that timed our trip: The 80th birthday celebration of Nancy's dad, Frank Lewis. We went to her brother Dan's cabin in New Hampshire and had a delightful celebration.

Then we flew to Denver and got to see Randy's kids, Elisheba and Mark, and drove to Grand Junction, Colorado to see Randy's parents. We got to walk with them and see their new home at the Atrium living center in Grand Junction - they have a beautiful cottage, complete with even more space than they had before, a garage, and a meal a day at the nice facility next door. Very good setup.

Then we drove back to Denver and had a get-together with friends which was an absolute delight. Several friends came to say hello, and even one set of bike tourists we'd never met, Nick and Dave, two impressive young men who are about to set off from Denver on their way to Panama. Thanks to all of you who came and who couldn't for your friendship!  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Lucho y la Casa de Ciclistas en Trujillo, Peru

Lucho with his son Lance - In training
Lucho with his son Lance - In training (View on flickr)
Lucho con Lance – en entrenamiento

Cuando bajamos de las montañas de Perú para la costa, nos quedamos en la legendaria Casa de Ciclistas en Trujillo, Perú. Lucho Ramirez empezó ofrecer su modesta casa para ciclistas viajeros ya en 1984, y él está a un paso de completar la marca de mil huéspedes. ¡Mil grupos de ciclistas firmaron su diario y se quedaron allá a lo largo de 25 años! ¡Un ciclista se quedó un año! Muchos se quedaron por bien más tiempo del que esperaban, frecuentemente por una semana o más. Es un encanto hojear las páginas del diario y ver ciclistas famosos que nosotros conocemos u oímos decir que pasaron por aquí. Nuestros amigos Dick y Els, de Holanda, firmaron el libro cerca de 5 años atrás. Nuestro amigo Andrew lo firmó hay solamente un mes y poco. Nuestros amigos Pat y Cat también pasaron por aquí cerca de 3 años atrás.

Muchos de ustedes nos preguntaron si estábamos intentando quebrar alguno récord o cosa parecida, y la respuesta es no, vamos realmente bien despacio, y muchas y muchas personas fueron más lejos. Aunque ni todos los ciclistas que pararon en la casa de Lucho estuviesen haciendo viajes grandes como nuestra, muchos estaban haciendo muy mayores. Un compañero, Hans Stuecke, ¡ha pedaleado por 46 años!  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Bike Maintenance Log

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Several of you bike touring people have asked us about bike maintenance and the problems we've had, so we decided to put together a log.

July 2006: Cassiar Highway. Broken spoke and wobbly wheel on Randy's drive side of rear wheel. We broke the Hyper-Cracker tool (that takes the cassette off) in a hailstorm trying to use it. Took us 300 miles to get to a place with a tool to take it off, but we made it.

September 2006: New tires in Victoria, BC.

October 2006: California: Spoke nipple broke through rim on Randy's rear wheel. Got a new wheel built, hoping for the best.

January 2007: New bottom bracket for Randy's bike. New drive train, cables, housing, tires (Continental TravelContact), touring handlebars, many other things before starting out. We also had to buy a replacement set of Old Man Mountain racks for Randy's bike because the 5000 miles of the trip so far had created big abrasions in the (aluminum) racks. Old Man Mountain gave us the new racks at cost.

February 2007: Randy's new rear wheel (from California) failed in Tucson. It was a fancy downhill rim, too. We'll never use another Mavic rim of any type for bike touring.

April 2007: Randy gave up on the fancy Brooks saddle (never did get comfortable) and got a new one, Terry touring saddle that seems to be OK.

May 2007: New chains and cassettes on Oaxaca, Mexico.

January 2008: New chains in Guatemala.

January 2008: Nancy's seatpost clamp failed in Honduras.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Saludos desde el Perú

Mudholes everywhere, climbing up from Namballe to San Ignacio
Mudholes everywhere, climbing up from Namballe to San Ignacio (View on flickr)

They master riding early in this part of Peru
They master riding early in this part of Peru (View on flickr)

Saludos a todos nuestros amigos que hablan el castellano! Cruzamos la frontera del Ecuador al Perú el sábado y quisimos mandar una nota. Estamos bién y continuando al sur.

Teníamos muchas experiencias buenas en Ecuador, incluso un viaje a las Islas Galápagos y mas de 1200 kilómetros de viaje por bicicleta. Estaba bién duro todo. Las cuestas son verdaderas cuestas, muy pendientes, y tuvimos varios dias de camino de tierra. Pero, como siempre, serán los días mas duros que vamos a recordar más, con toda esa belleza. Las vistas fueron astombrosas y esperamos que nuestras fotos muestren bién lo que veíamos pasando por estas montañas.

Entramos al Ecuador desde Colombia en Tulcán y de pronto experimentamos un nivel mucho mas bajo de tensión sobre la seguridad. Aunque Colombia está seguro y no tuvimos ningún problema allí, siempre nos dábamos cuenta de su historia y la situación actual. (Esperamos que ustedes oyeron las noticias que 15 de los rehenes mas importantes de las FARC ya están libres!) Ecuador estaba tranquilo y seguro en casi todas partes. Al menos de Quito (una ciudad grande, con los problemas de grandes ciudades) no pensamos ni poquito en asuntos de seguridad - todo fue tranquilo.

Viajando hacia Quito (y mas tarde saliendo de Quito) la Panamericana tenía demasiado tráfico y se hizo molestante.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

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