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Air Friday - 17
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Overall Experience Rating:
Date: December 1, 1999
Posted by: Karen Gilligan
Email: mkgilligan@aol.com
Highly Recommend Mallorca Spain, not Sintra Portugal

In the one year we have owned our AirFriday's, Gerhard and I have traveled with them twice to Mallorca, Spain, once to San Francisco, and once to the area outside of Lisbon, Portugal referred to as Sintra and Cascais. We can't imagine a better way to travel and explore the world (except maybe on a sailboat).

About AirFriday: Already, we are the glowing braggers of our purchase decision. Using cycle racing nomenclature, we are Cat IV riders (meaning a strong interest in high performance cycling, but without highly-developed skills or stamina). As such we find the AirFridays to be every bit as good in serving us as our more standard performance road bikes. The only exception for me is the feeling of less control when traveling at high speed down the steep switch backs of Mallorca or the Berkeley Hills. I suspect this has something to do with the balance on the smaller wheels.

After our first attempts at building up, then breaking down the bikes... requiring much patience and at least a mild passion in gear know-how... we are aficionados of the process. It takes us more or less 30 minutes to either disassemble and pack, or re-assemble the bikes. We each have the different luggage choice and both seem to require the same amount of effort to pack.

While Gerhard continues to believe in the benefits of his stow aboard approach, I find it to be cumbersome and a nuisance to drag around the soft-sided luggage and separate wheel pack. The airline staff has been increasing the penetration of the evil eye when they see us board with the bulky gear.

I find it much more peaceful, liberating, and worth the risk of lost luggage, to use the hard case and travel with it in the belly of the plane. I did run into an incident at the airport where I was late for a weekend getaway to Seattle and found that the airline would not service me because there was not the required half hour before departure to load the hard cased bike on the plane. With great disappointment, I had to give up the weekend trip. If I had the soft case then.... Both types of luggage do an equal job of protecting the equipment from damage.

Even though I experienced a few scuff marks on my frame from poor packing my first trip, we otherwise have experienced no damage to the equipment. The only ongoing challenge once the bike is assembled is the relative constant adjusting to our derailleurs. I don't know whether it is our rather novice knowledge of adjustment techniques, or simply the fate of a bike which must be dis-assembled then re-assembled.

About Mallorca: excellent for seasoned road cruisers. While the roads are the typical narrow roads of Europe, and without shoulders, we found them to be in good condition and well-maintained. The motorists are accustomed to sharing the roads with cyclists, except for the rather large group of visiting tourists. It is not unusual to receive the occasional "Corsa, Corsa" encouraging cry from a passing car. There are many cyclists on the roads or in the cafes to befriend. The roads are hilly and steep on many parts of the island, with very flat areas elsewhere. Once could spend a couple of weeks of 30 mile rides exploring the island.

About the Lisbon, Portugal area: We stayed in Sintra and attempted to sightsee by bike. We found the roads to be in poor shape (narrow, pot holes, rough surfaces, sand) and the motorists to be annoyed by our slower progress. In addition the frequent traffic jams with the exhaust fumes and slow progress made for relatively unpleasant cycling. The nice thing about the area is the number of destinations within relatively short distances. We traveled by car further away from Lisbon, wondering if cycling might be more enjoyable away from the madding crowd. Our conclusion is that the cycling would be a pleasure, but the destinations would be less compelling (no cozy inns, desirable restaurants, interesting historical sights or shopping within cycling distance). Maybe it takes a local to know better.

About San Francisco Area: Cyclers' heaven. You haven't cycled unless you have done so here!

Happy riding!

Overall Experience Rating:
Date: November 30, 1999
Posted by: Snne Byard
Email: abyard@earthlink.net
Woman traveling alone in Europe/Colorado trailer tour

Just a brief summary to say that traveling with my AirFriday in Italy (September/October) for a one-month series of tours was a snap (hopping on trains, packing up and moving on, dealing with airlines).

I went to the David Phinney-Connie Carpenter Bike Camp in Tuscany first. Got some weird looks from the racer types but the bike gained respect as the Camp wore on. Next several weeks I traveled into the Veneto and Dolomite foothill regions on my own and with La Corsa Tours. Again some weird looks but the bike drew admiration and respect as the days wore on and its climbing, descending and flat-out capacities proved just as good as all the regular sized ti and racing bikes. I had thought that perhaps it would be squirrelly on the steep fast descents but it rides them like silk.

I had to take several trains to get to different destinations and a few taxis. No problem, unlike traveling before alone or with my husband and our full-sized bike boxes; I could hop any train without having to rush to the bike car, search out a special bike train or have my bike shipped on a separate train. When I had to, I could change trains and platforms within minutes. No searching for a station wagon taxi to transport the bike box and no frustrating searching about in oversized luggage at the airport. Naturally, no charge.

In August, my husband and I took a shake-down one-week tour out of Aspen and over several passes with our AirFridays, trailers attached. We unexpectedly enjoyed the much "cleaner" sleeker look than when we ride loaded with panniers. Some people didn't realize we were touring. For example, two elderly ladies in the Redstone Campground asked us: "Are those trailers your computers?" So cute! Anyway, after touring self-contained for years and making an effort to keep our loads tight, compact and neat, we still felt like we got a better reception from those individuals who used to look a bit askance at our loaded bikes. Also, we enjoyed the simplicity of not digging around in four panniers to find out stuff. We used large, zippered, see-through comforter bags inside. One for riding stuff, one for the other stuff. We learned to pull out a raincoat or store a jacket in the trailers without dismounting (just stand over the bike backwards, flip the clips and open the lid.)

Descending was not a problem and we were hauling down Independence Pass corners. We have Sachs triples and low gearing for the steep passes which give us the advantage we need when pulling a trailer and came in handy when confronted with 19% (!!!!) extended grades in the Italian Dolomite foothills (steep, double digit grades are not that rare on European backroads).

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