After working on my last uni assignment in the morning and painfully dragging my essay to a state of roughly 90% completion I headed into the garage for a little tinkering time with my Thorn Sherpa, Ramotswe (aka Remmy). For those of you that don’t know Ramotswe is the ‘traditionally built’, dependable and lovable lady detective found in Alexander McCall Smiths’ book series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency set in Botswana, Africa. The books are a great read, the characters are fascinating and at times very funny, the descriptions of Botswana and Africa told through Ramotswe, as she sits drinking bush tea under the shade of an Acacia tree, by McCall Smith is beautiful and honest. The stories explore the dark shadows that loom over a developing country in the grip of Aids, witchcraft and crime but also many more light-hearted cases for the detective Mma Ramotswe to solve. McCall Smith does a fantastic job of describing the tremendous natural beauty of Africa and her people and I have wanted, more than ever, to visit Africa and specifically Botswana after reading those books.
Mma Precious Ramotswe as she is, of course, properly known is a dependable, reliable and robust woman of great integrity and that is why I chose to name my touring bike, the Thorn Sherpa, after her. I hope that’s not just wishful thinking!
So, anyway, out in the garage and finally free from my computer, I set to work changing the tyres to my ‘European Touring Tyres of Choice’ the Continental Travel Contacts, swapping out my cassette for a shiny new SRAM PG970 with a nice 34 tooth granny low gear for hauling my worldly possessions up and over mountains and installing a new chain; an SRAM PC991. With the bike ready to go I’ve now got to turn my attention to packing my panniers and all the rest of the gear that I’m taking – I must admit at this stage I don’t know if everything I have in mind to take will actually fit on to the bike so a rehearsal loading of the gear will be my next task – fingers crossed!
p.s – rim tape is one of the most vital parts of your bike that you typically never see, it fits between your innertube and wheel and protects the tube from the ends of your spokes where they join the rim of your wheel, if you have no tape, or bad tape, it may lead to many punctures. I’ve used Schwalbe rim tape for a few thousand miles now and although it’s discoloured it’s held together perfectly and protected by tubes from any sharp spoke ends – good rim tape is truly an essential investment and is perhaps the cheapest way to reduce the threat of punctures.