Pactimo Ambassador, Hannah, met Florian, a 21 year old Austrian cyclist - he plans to ride around the world
By Hannah Spencer, Pactimo Ambassador
Me and my housemate, Jake, both work at our local bike shop, Cycle Heaven, and while I had the day off, he was in the workshop, where he met an Austrian cycle tourist named Florian. Florian had set off from Austria only 15 days ago with a heavily loaded bike and his guitar with the aim of cycling round the world. He had already cycled across Europe to Calais, caught the ferry to Dover and quickly worked his way up the UK to York on his way to Edinburgh, where he had a plane to catch to Toronto 6 days after we met him. From there, he aimed to cycle across Canada to Vancouver and then all the way down North and South America to Argentina.
However, just 200k into his journey, shortly before he made it to Paris, the bag support on his front pannier somehow snapped off, causing his pannier to jump into his wheel. This resulted in 8 spokes breaking and one of the clips on his Ortleib pannier snapped off. Fortunately, he managed to get help to repair his wheel, but since Paris, he had been riding with his pannier awkwardly tied on to his remaining rack with a piece of string he held to keep the bag from hitting the wheel. He tried every bike shop he saw but quickly realised a new rack would cost over £100 and nowhere stocked replacement clips for his bag.
I met Jake after work that day for a training evening and he introduced me to Florian, as he had kindly offered for him to stay on our spare bed overnight. Unfortunately, we were unable to help him at Cycle Heaven but we agreed to help him bodge his rack a bit better with the tools in our garage. He rode back to our house with his pannier in one hand (I think he'd been riding like this quite a lot!) and we took a closer look at his bike. I quickly realised the broken rack was identical to the rack that came free on my touring bike and since I had no front panniers to go on it and no plans to do any heavy touring in the near future, I agreed to give him my rack! We then headed to another local bike shop, Bicis y mas, the following morning to find a replacement clip.
Unfortunately, they didn't stock the clip either and on closer inspection, they realised he had re-spoked his wheel all wrong and it was dangerously at risk of breaking again. They kindly offered to rebuild his wheel and while we were waiting, they agreed to lend us a bike and I took him on a tour of the centre of York. We had a great time riding round the local parks, sight seeing and even feeding some squirrels by hand at one point! I realised Florian was the same age as me (21) and despite the language barrier, we got on really well. I discovered he'd mostly been riding solo so far and his only map was an old GPS that only showed the main roads in Europe. This meant he'd been missing out on the beautiful countryside lanes and even had some scary encounters on British motorways!
He was planning to head further north to Middlesborough, so once his wheel was finished and we had secured his pannier to the new rack with cable ties, I agreed to lead him out of York onto a lovely road that would take him all the way through the North York Moors. We rode together for 15 miles or so before I had to turn back to prepare for an exam the following day (I totally would have spent all day with him if I didn't have work to do!).
After my encounter with Florian, I decided to tell my fellow Pactimo brand ambassadors about the experience. Since there are ambassadors all over the US, I thought it would be great for them to follow his progress on his blog and help him out on his journey through America. Since he is only young and has a tight budget, he really appreciates all the help he can get, and it would be great for people to help show him round their local areas to avoid more highway mishaps! I loved spending time with Florian, learning about his experiences so far and showing him my favourite local roads. He even contacted me the following day to let me know that his sponsors were willing to send me a new rack! Which they did!
Florian writes his blog on a Facebook page called "Globalbikeadventure", so check it out and give him a like if you're interested- he made it to Toronto and is now on his way across Canada!