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  • Writer's pictureClotaire Mandel

The year in 5 points

Updated: Jan 4

A few things I've seen, read, heard or used this year that stand out.


5 stuff

  • Windy application So useful! And the forecasts are actually pretty good. Amazing app if you want to plan ahead. As well as rain, wind and temperature, you can play with a huge number of factors, even in the free version. Air pollution, UV, low clouds, rain accumulation...

  • Loop hip pack 7L I spent a long time looking for an alternative to what I had. In this case, I wanted a bag that was big enough and completely waterproof, but not too expensive. There aren't many alternatives, and the Bikepacking brands are really expensive. Then I took a look at the world of fly fishing! And I found this 7-litre bag, perfectly watertight, and quite well accessorised. For a fraction of the price of Rockgeist or Restrap

Lil' plus, the underneath pocket for a water bottle, or a bear spray in north America !

  • Black diamond spot 400 lumens I'd wanted to cut back on the weight of my previous lamp. In the end, I ended up with a lamp that was 25 grams lighter than this one, but not nearly as good. The Black D goes up to 400 lumens, and can be adjusted gradually by holding down the button. With both white and red light. The headband is more comfortable, and the battery lasts longer, which is no mean feat, but there's a big technical difference for 25 grams more.

  • Scott explorair light dryo Probably the best I've had in terms of weight/size/efficiency ratio. I'm particularly surprised by the breathability, which makes me wonder whether I should take a windbreaker with me any more. It's really hard to find a rain jacket that suits you. It's as if there's always one factor in the equation that doesn't fit. And for the time being, it's working pretty well.

  • Darn tough socks My new favourite socks (in merino, of course). Just because they're technical doesn't mean they have to be bland and sad. They're beautiful, very, very well made and guaranteed for life! Do you have a problem with them? Just send us an email and without too many questions, we'll send you a pair. This is quite miraculous, and I heard from a guy who had walked the PCT who had received socks in unlikely places on his way, and free of charge.


5 places

  • Korean East Coast A nice surprise. I had no idea what to expect, but when it came to choosing between travelling east or west, the difference in population density as seen on a map made the choice obvious. Empty beaches out of season, free camping on these beaches, sometimes even with facilities (toilets, wifi, water, supermarket...).

  • Alaska I think we all dream, more or less, of hanging out in Alaska. Well, it's done. I'd probably have a few tips to offer about the route to take and the seasons, but on the whole it was really great. The scenery, yes, but I think what will stay with me are two things: the extreme friendliness and generosity of the locals, and the live music in the pubs. Nostalgia!

  • South Taiwan Nice surprise here as well, I had in mind to loop around Taiwan, not really knowing what to expect. The southern tip is really stunning, here you can find best of both world, touristic spots or wild and empty.

  • Hanoi Every time I go back, it's always a pleasure. The city is buzzing, I love that kind of chaos so much. The coffee, the food, the people, I had to go back to Vietnam several times before I fully appreciated the country to be quite honest, but I'm now won over, and Hanoi is a city full of surprises.

  • Melbourne I love it. I really love Australia, and Melbourne is a city like no other. It's easy to escape, both in the city and in the surrounding area. It's got a crazy cultural life, with breweries, coffee roasters, cultural life and the surrounding parks offering a huge choice. What's more, I find the city beautiful and relatively easy to get around by bike and public transport. It's one of my favourite cities in the world. I'll definitely be coming back and, if possible, living there again. 


5 dishes

  • Korean Mandu Korean dumpling, cheap and easy. The easy option at camp !

  • Korean Bibimbap Traditional vegetarian Korean dish, who's made and offered in different manners wherever you go.

  • Taiwanese Dan bing Traditional national brekkie, delish. Cheap and feeling, although I had to eat eggs and sometimes cheese. Addictive !

  • L’eternel Pad Thai, Thailande Pad Thai or, for that matter, anything that's part of the Thai vegetarian menu. Cycling is a bit different, as it's difficult to find this kind of dish in the countryside.

  • Tomato sauce tofu of Tam Coc, Vietnam Strange enough, I've only found this kind of dish in Tam Coc! It must be a tourist thing, but who cares, it's simple, cheap and effective. Besides, I like to sit on a terrace by the roadside, watching the others get on with their business.


5 lessons

  • Taking care of my gear !

We tend to rely on the quality of the equipment and trust it blindly, and I'm the first to do so. But no matter how advanced the technologies that make up all this equipment, you have to take care of it.

You need to understand how the membranes and materials work and how to look after them, so that you can go far and long with them.

The zips, the leather, the waterproof membranes, the bike's transmission... At the price all this costs, it's worth increasing their lifespan.

  • Mix merino wool/synthetic

This year's big lesson: go for the synthetic/merino mix rather than 100% wool.

By doing so, you'll find the perfect compromise, getting the best of both worlds, as well as having gear that lasts much longer.

  • Changing the saddle just if really in need. And not jumping on with a new saddle.

I made the mistake of changing the saddle, for fear of seeing the Brooks B17 fall apart, but it could still have gone a long way. In short, a mistake. Second mistake, changing to a Brooks C17, awful.

All this in the heat and humidity of South-East Asia in the wrong season. I progressed painfully.

A rookie mistake.

  • Reducing flights

Beyond the environmental aspect, it's also always a great source of stress. Finding a box, packing everything correctly, praying that everything arrives without too much damage.

It's also a source of considerable expense when you're trying to keep costs down: finding a hotel close to the airport, getting there. And the same thing on the other side.

I've been on quite a few planes this year, and even if I liked the places I went to, I could have optimised my travel.

  • Never loosing sight of our intentions Whether it's the destination, the way of sharing or the cruising speed, ask yourself the right questions and go back to what really motivates you.


5 films

  • Law of Tehran, from Saeed Roustaee

  • Final cut, from Michel Hazanavicius

  • Yannick, from Quentin Dupieux

  • There is no evil, from Mohammad Rasoulof


5 books

  • The seasons of the ram, Maurice Pons


5 songs

  • Dancing with ghosts, Hania Rani

  • Dos banjos ,Billy strings

  • Boreal forest, Mammal hands

  • The combo Şad Olup Gülmedim-Cemalım, Altın Gün

  • Victory, Trampled by turtles


Year overall winner :

The free refill filter coffee in the US !


Next one net year !


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