Words and photos by Gaëlle Bojko (@biketotheblocks)
Hi, I’m Gaëlle Bojko, a 23-year-old student from France. In 2018-2019, I took a break from my architecture studies to cycle around Europe for a year, attempting some bumpy off-road riding with my skinny tyred 45-kilogram companion.
Since the journey ended in August 2019, I’ve been trying to balance working, studying, and riding to keep a steady mind and not to become overwhelmed by either one of these occupations. I don’t have much time to go on long rides when I’m at school, so I thought that planning a few off-road tours in between courses would be the best way to split my time, concentrating on one activity at a time to fully enjoy my time on the bike.
I’ll happily ride anything that has two wheels and a set of pedals, but only started paying attention to all the bits on bikes about 10 years ago. I spent hours trying to learn about them, but meeting the guys at Bombtrack Bicycle Co. and being able to talk with people whose jobs are bicycles gave me a better understanding of them all.
After a few months on the road with the Bombtrack Arise Tour (with 35mm tyres), I was eager to follow rougher roads and had the chance to ride the Tuscany Trail, the Second City Divide, and some of the Highland Trail 550. It was a bit bumpy, and Audax AL quickly proved to be a much more appropriate companion for rocky tracks. I’m far from being a good rider, but I love to press on the pedals as hard as I can, and the Audax is light, responsive, and efficient enough to be effective on both paved and unpaved surfaces.
I haven’t changed anything on the bike as its build suits me well and seems to be holding up to my rough riding. The Microshift groupset is efficient and sturdy and there are enough braze-ons to easily load it up with gear for multi-day tours. I love bikes but I’m not convinced that having a different bike for every type of riding is sustainable, and I’m after efficiency either, so I really enjoy that this bike can be used as a fast one and as a mule.
- Frame/Fork Bombtrack Audax AL + Carbon Fork
- Rims WTB ST i19
- Hubs Bombtrack Origin
- Tires WTB Venture 47
- Handlebars Bombtrack CX-10
- Headset FSA Orbit C40
- Crankset Bombtrack Lyer 40T
- Crankset Shimano PD-M520 / Blackspire Sub420
- Cassette Microshift CS-HG113 11-46T
- Derailleur Microshift RD-M665M
- Brakes TRP Spyre C
- Shifter(s) Microshift SB M110
- Saddle Bombtrack Comp
- Seatpost Bombtrack Beech
- Stem Bombtrack Roam
- Bags All homemade
I prefer riding a loaded bike more than anything else and had been thinking about making a set of bags for the Audax AL, but didn’t have access to a sewing machine. As my plans to study abroad were being cancelled by the COVID-19 outbreak, I found myself at my parents’ place with the 40-year-old basic Singer machine and some extra time on my hands. It’s not designed to sew layers of Cordura fabric and webbing but performed well enough to put these bags together and make the bike ready for some eagerly awaited off-road adventures this summer.
We shared Gaëlle’s extraordinary story of crossing Siberia’s Lake Baikal in winter earlier this week. In case you missed that one, check it out here. And find more from Gaëlle on Instagram @biketotheblocks.
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