Words and photos by Timothé Girard (@atlasducycle)
Hi, I’m Timothé. I’m 24 years old, and I grew up with my parents and my two little brothers in the Chartreuse Mountains, which are well known for a liquor made by monks. These mountains were a great playground when I was younger. I spent a lot of time skiing and hiking, and they’re where my love for outdoor activities started.
I left my mountains for the first time and went to study in Clermont-Ferrand in the center of France, and then to Reunion Island, where I discovered other mountains. I am currently in the South of France in Montpellier for my master’s degree in architecture. I am particularly interested in the agricultural problems in the surrounding rural areas.
Since I arrived in Montpellier, I have developed a special relationship with the bicycle; it has become a philosophy of life. I remember that my parents gave me some books which made me want to go bike touring. I really like Grant Petersen’s “Just Ride” and the Rough-Stuff Fellowship’s photographic archives. These books are part of my biking experience.
I use my bike daily. During the week, I work as a courier in a local cooperative called Les Coursiers Montpelliérains (@coursiersmtp). On weekends, I like to have a good time, and I never miss an opportunity to ride to discover the landscapes around the city, alone or with friends. But what I like most about the bike is being able to travel for several days and discover new landscapes and regions. I just came back from a two-month cycling tour in the Alps and the Massif Central with my Peugeot.
In September 2021, I discovered this 1995 MTB during my move between the Alps and Montpellier. It had been sleeping at the bottom of a garage since 2000. Its owner had used it a few times but wanted to get rid of it, for 50 euros,so I bought it. All the original parts were in good condition except the well-worn tires. I love to modify the geometry of the bikes I recover, and my modifications are mainly done on the front of the bike to make it both elegant and comfortable to ride.
This 1995 Peugeot Explorer 200 was restored for my two-months trip through a quarter of France. I wanted it to be able to ride everywhere, on the roads or climbing mountain peaks like Mont Ventoux or on trails and paths like the GTMC. I wanted it to be comfortable so that I could last two months without problems. Many parts of the bike are secondhand, and some were bought new via the site “cyclorandonnée,” such as the Surly luggage rack and Brooks B17 saddle).
- Frame/Fork 1995 Peugeot Explorer 200
- Rims Rigida 26 x 1.75
- Hubs Shimano STX HB-MC31-CH
- Tires Schawlbe Big Ben 26 x 2.1
- Handlebars Nitto Albatross 25.4
- Crankset Shimano Hyperdrive C
- Cassette Shimano Acera CS-HG41 – 7 speed
- Derailleur Shimano STX
- Brakes Shimano STX
- Shifter(s) Shimano STX 7/3 speed
- Saddle Brooks B17
- Seatpost Selcof
- Stem Nitto MT-10-80 25.4
- Front bags Carradice Nelson / Ortlieb
- Rear bags Carradice Camper longflap
- Accessory bags Sea to summit
- Other accessories Zefal HPX pump, Carradice Bagman Standard Saddlebag Support
I removed the MTB handlebars and replaced them with touring bars and a higher stem. My posture on the bike changed as a result, allowing me to contemplate the landscapes on the road. I equipped it with great racks in the front and back, which allowed me to carry everything for my life for two months. For the more technical parts, especially the derailleur and the cassette, I called Cycle et Recycle, a bike restoration store that uses second-hand parts found in Montpellier. Once the bike was assembled, I did the math. The total assembly, including the purchase price of the bike, cost me 576 euros, which was perfect for my student budget.
Traveling with this bike was emotionally rich and full of adventure because unexpected events inevitably occurred. The biggest mechanical problem encountered during my 1,700 kilometres of travel was repairing the front rack attachment, which broke in the middle of the Massif Central. Flat tires were also part of the trip, but overall, the bike held up well!
My post-trip time is now dedicated to finishing the drawings and illustrations of my trip, and I hope to share them here with you soon! I’m also looking forward to riding La Bonne Mère Cyclo Classic at the beginning of September, organized by Dynamo Cycle Repairs (@dynamocyclerepairs), an event that brings together old vintage bikes to ride from Aix-en-Provence to Marseille.
You can see more from Timothé on Instagram @atlasducycle.
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