Words and photos by Antonio Gallardo (@quetaladro)
Just as the wheel repeats its rotation with each pedal stroke, I too have found my cycle: travel, enjoy, return to the city, live an anti-sabbatical year, save, and start planning again. I will always look for the next opportunity to travel.
It has been seven years since – by chance – I made my first bike trip along the West Coast of the United States. That was the beginning of many more to come. Some of my journeys include: Central Europe (2014), Rome to Istanbul (2017), and of course Mexico. Currently, I’m on a long trip around Asia, including Iran, the Pamir Mountains, India, Myanmar, and Thailand. I’ve also crossed the Philippines, took a plane to South Korea, and rode from Seoul to Tokyo.
I’ve always liked sports, but cycling was another thing: it was a way of life, a means of transport. When I started commuting and getting involved with bicycle parts and customization, I discovered that bike touring was my thing.
I don’t have any favourite destination, as all places are wonderful and unique. I’ve learned that it’s more about the people – the culture – than the kilometres. I believe the key to always being amazed and enjoying your day is to keep your expectations low and your plans loose. Life will always reveal fascinating corners and coincidences.
When I’m not travelling I’m based in Mexico City, developing graphic and editorial design and photography projects. Now, my focus is on writing. I never took it so seriously, but I’m trying to keep a diary and express the real emotion of my adventures. It is really hard! After all, my plan is to make a book when I go back. I decided not bringing a computer, I travel only with my mobile (where I edit photos and write journal updates) and my beloved Fuji fixed lens camera. That’s all I need.
Bike touring still isn’t that popular in Mexico, even though it’s a glorious and vast country to explore. Take the Baja Peninsula: it’s full of cyclists from around the world. Also, a good number of foreigners cross it traveling from Alaska to Patagonia.
I suppose I want to be an inspiration for everyone to see that all it takes to travel and have a perfect day is a bike loaded with food, beer, and good company. You can always camp wherever the night catches you.
I got this steel frame five years ago. I’ve always liked the Velo Orange concept: a mix between classic aesthetics and functional components (and affordable at the same time). I’ve used this bike for most of my journeys, even though I’ve changed and improved the setup each trip. After a small accident I had to make a welding modification on the seat tube. Instead of matching the colour, I decided to remove all paint and keep this raw/rust finish with a clear coating.
On my first long trip back in 2012 (I didn’t know a lot about bikes back then), I travelled for three months on an eight-speed Raleigh from the 1970s, carrying only a Carradice saddlebag and a front basket. I loved that simplicity, and in a way I’ve tried to keep it in all of my journeys since. But for long trips (like the one I’m doing right now) the panniers are kind of necessary, so I’m using only a pair on the front. I would like to travel lighter but it’s hard for a yearlong trip considering the weather variations (I have experienced -20°C in the Pamir Mountains and 40°C in Thailand).
- Frame Velo Orange Campeur (57cm)
- Rims Velocity Dyad
- Hubs Shimano XT
- Tires Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour 700x40mm
- Handlebar Salsa Cowchipper (46cm)
- Crankset Velo Orange w/ Wolf Tooth 38T
- Cassette Shimano CS-M8000 11-46T
- Derailleur Shimano RD-M8000
- Brakes Shimano XTR V-Brakes
- Brake Levers / Shifters Gevenalle / Gevenalle GX
- Saddle Brooks Swift
- Front Bag Ortlieb Sport-Packer
- Rear Bag Carradice Longflap
- Handlebar Bag Brooks Isle of Skye
- Racks Surly (front), Tubus Logo (rear)
Back in my home country of Mexico, before starting this adventure; my friend, welder and local mechanic, Marco Antonio, helped me add several mounting bolts to both racks. With this system of multiple cages and a front basket, I can easily access all my food and kitchenware. I don’t like mixing my fuel stove or the frying pan with my clothes.
The 1×11 drivetrain has been working pretty well (I only remember two or three times I really had to push the bike). And the 42mm tires provide enough versatility for the dirt roads and the pavement. They’re still in good shape after 12,000 km.
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