A recumbent is a heavy bike. But while touring for the last weeks, I cared abut the weight less and less. So I think when you go for a longer tour and you are not trying to go as light as possible, a recumbent can be a good choice. Inclines are tougher than with a normal bike, especially when they are very steep. Not only because of the weight but also because of the sitting position. You will get good thigh muscles from the pressing at least. That makes hilly and mountainous terrain a bit more difficult. Also traffic is an issue. I have cycled the recumbent in Norway and Sweden so far. I still think that cars take pretty good care in general here (in Norway more than in Sweden though). And recumbents get extra attention. But on the other hand, it is just not very nice to be close to cars and trucks when being in the low seating position. Having many bike roads is definitely a big plus. But the real advantages are: the extra entertainment, foldability and comfort. On the trip to the Cape, I realized how much attention I attracted with this bike. This is kind of entertainment of course. Especially when traveling alone, this can be a good source of motivation. Many car drivers were greeting and cheering. OK, sometimes this can get a bit annoying when you have a really terrible day, for example. But when asking people for direction or something else, they were extra friendly and liked to chat. The bike is a great ice breaker. Another plus of the Grasshopper recumbent is the foldability. Like that, I never had problems with transport in bus or train. Still the biggest plus, is the comfort and it comes together with the better view on the landscape. When you like to travel in a relaxed way, taking your time and enjoy the scenery, a recumbent is the best choice in my opinion.
I was pretty happy with my gear and there were not many things I didn’t need at all. But some things were not ideal or not really necessary.
- Water filter: I used it only once, so I think I wouldn’t bring it next time. Chloride tables are much lighter and easier to use. And you find good and fresh water almost everywhere in Norway.
- Sleeping bag: I brought a -5 degree sleeping bag with a weight of 1.4 kg. This was much too much! Of course, I couldn’t know that the weather would turn out that warm and it was good to be prepared for the worst.
- Tent: I still like the Ringstind light 2 tent and it worked well, especially during the stormy days. The only problem was the slightly annoying setup with at least 10 tent pegs. So you really needed good ground to set it up. And a bit like the sleeping bag, great tent for the mountains but too much for this tour. It gets very warm in the sun and the ventilation is not so great. However, good to be prepared anyway.
- Gas cooker: For me, gas won over ethanol entirely now. It is faster and cleaner. I didn’t need the spare gas cartridge at all. So I was good for three weeks with a single one. I am not sure how often I used it because when staying at a camp site, you can use their kitchen instead. But I guess, I made about ten to twelve meals with one 250 g cartridge.
I brought 5 pairs of socks and underwear, three sport t-shirts (one thin, one thick and one thin with long sleeves), long and short tight running trousers (perfect for the recumbent), an extra trouser and two more t-shirts for the time off the bike. This was a good amount in the end. It was important to keep track of washing them in time, but no problem. The woolen underwear and shirt were some of the few things I didn’t need at all. That is a good thing of course. It was good to have them, just in case it would have been cold.
The rain gear worked well too. The cheap rain trousers and shoe covers kept wind and rain away. But most important was the jacket. I bought it a couple of months ago (Norrøna “Narvik” Gore Tex jacket) and must say, this one is the best buy in a long time. It doubled as all day jacket and rain gear. It kept me completely dry and protected from the wind even in the worst conditions and when it was getting sweaty, it dried quickly. Only problems were the scratchiness when wearing it over a short sleeve and the tough zippers. But these were minor issues.
Cleat pedals are necessary for long recumbent travels and my Northwave shoes are fine for four years now. But they are bad for walking (like all cleat shoes) and get wet easily. So it was great to have Gore Tex shoes as well (mine were from Meindel). I never had wet feed even when wild camping in wet grass.
As mentioned before, I carried quite a lot of food most of the time. Not really necessary because there were many stores on the way but I like to have a choice what to eat. I got a taste for the Norwegian lomper (soft flat bread, made from potato. A bit like pancakes). They keep fresh for a long time, are compact, easy to handle and taste great with almost anything from canned mackerel to Nugatti. Especially the Nugatti tubes (or anything in a tube actually) are perfect for travelling. For dinner, I tried one of these freeze-dried “Turmat” bags, but I don’t think it is a good idea. Advantages are, that you don’t need to clean a pot because you can eat them from the bag and it doesn’t take long to prepare (just boil water, poor in and wait 5 minutes). But they are very expensive with 80NOK (about 10€; ca. 600 kcal) per bag and the one I had didn’t taste very good. I think it is better to buy dry instant meals in a supermarket for a fraction of the price. For example, pasta with some kind of sauce. They weigh almost nothing, take 5 minutes to cook and then you can add some other things you have with you anyway. Cream cheese and olive oil are always great to have! Half of the time, I just boiled a third of a 500g bag of spaghettini (just 5 minutes cooking time) and added something as a sauce. A can of tomato mackerel, cheese or whatever I had with me. That made a fast, big and usually tasty meal for almost no money.