3RR’s First Sponsorship: A New Home Courtesy of Big Sky International!

Bicycle touring is an odd thing, in that it requires a certain not-quite-contradictory balance of insane dedication and near utter nihilism. On a fairly standard riding day, I might spend about eight hours huffing and puffing and hauling my 50kg of bike and luggage around, just to wind up stuck on top of a mountain situated between two towns nobody has ever heard of. They certainly aren’t in the guidebooks. I don’t know what sort of sights there will be, if any. I probably won’t be able to talk to the people. I assume there will be food. I definitely won’t be getting a hot bath.

Neither the exertion nor the lack of comforts bothers me that much, though; on the contrary, the fewer comforts I have, the freer I feel. Free not to need anything, to simply be alive, to breathe in the mountain air, to watch the sun rise or set (admittedly, I’m writing this from inside a Bangkok hotel room only marginally bigger than my single bed), to read a book, to listen to a friend play the Ukulele, to not have my first thought upon waking up be about having to do a bunch of things I don’t really want to do.

Of course, there are a few things that I do really need to have in order to achieve this freedom. First off, my bicycle, which allows me to go everywhere for just about free, as long as I’ve got the time to spare. Second, a supply of food and water that will carry me through until my next restocking point, which in this part of the world is never too far away. Obviously, it takes some amount of savings to make this possible – $5,000 is enough if you want to try it for one year, but the more, the better. The third and final thing is a tent.

Oh, tents! As is commonly known, they let you sleep outdoors without getting swarmed by mosquitoes or pelted by the rain. They also keep you warm. You can sleep on a mountaintop, or next to a river, or in a gazebo, or in a field under the stars. A less-touted benefit is that they also let you sleep indoors, or in half-finished buildings, without looking like a hobo. (Not that I’ve got anything against hobos, but a lot of people do. If you pitch a tent in an empty building, you’re an adventurous traveler, if also a strange and desperate one; if you just lie down on the bare floor and go to sleep, you’re a squatter, and probably trespassing.) They let you stay at temples without imposing too much. Or under people’s houses, or on their porches.

Best of all, they give you the freedom to go anywhere you want and not worry about whether or not there will be a hotel.

In a word, they are a key ingredient to making you Independent – a word which, according to my amateur philologist instincts, comes from in (“not”), de (“down”), and Latin pendere (“to hang”). Think of a pendulum on an old grandfather clock, the head swinging back and forth, dangling from that long, brass rod. The head is stuck! It’ll never get out of the goddamn grandfather clock case. Never get to see the world, or live its life to the fullest or do anything remotely interesting.

So, yes, I love tents, because when I have one with me, I don’t have to depend on anything that I don’t have control over. Which is why I’m also happy to report that I’m getting a new one from Big Sky International ! Chris (my new riding partner come October) and I sent their founder/chairman/designer/webguy Bob an email with subject line, “Two Cycle Bums Looking for a Handout,” asking if there weren’t some way for us to get the tents at reduced prices. Bob answered with an email with subject line “Two Cycle Bums Who Found a Handout.” What a guy!

I didn’t really have any problems with my old tent – if you’ve been following me on the blog, you’ll know that I spent 55 nights in it during this last year on the road – but it was pretty bulky (about the size of two 2l coke bottles stacked end-to-end), fairly heavy (5lbs / 2.4kg), and a bit of a hassle to set up. I never even bothered trying to pitch it in the rain, since the inside would’ve been soaked before I could get the rain cover around the outside.

My new tent, on the other hand:

will weigh half as much, meaning a 1.25kg weight savings, close to 4% of my total gear weight. With a footprint of nearly four square meters, it’s just as big as my old tent, and it’s also got the same max height – 107 cm – meaning that I can comfortably stretch inside the tent, or sit up to meditate, blog, or practice on my new Ukulele. The Revolution also has vestibules on either side for shoes, backpacks, and other gear, and four gear pockets inside for flashlights, mp3 players, knives, and dirty socks. And, two candidates for “Best of All:” 1) when disassembling the tent, it’s possible to leave the shell attached to the poles, making it super-quick to pitch and easy to use, even in the rain; and 2) Bob is giving me and Chris special super-short pole segments, so that the tent will pack down to half the size of my old one, meaning that I can move the tent to one of my pannier bags and free up backpack space for more frequently used things, like bananas.

What do Chris and I owe Big Sky in exchange for all this awesomeness? A few sweet pictures every month of us pitching the tent in interesting settings. Which just so happens to be a hobby of mine anyway. Nice!

There’s a long, absurdly detailed list of other features of the Revolution 2p that I didn’t brag about for the sake of brevity on the website at http://www.bigskyinternational.com/SummitShelters/Big_Sky_Revolution_2P_details.htm .

And several other pictures at http://www.bigskyinternational.com/SummitShelters/Big_Sky_Revolution_2P_Porch_pictures.htm .

And, of course, information about other models and products on the main page, http://www.bigskyinternational.com/

The tents have already arrived at Chris’ parents’ place in Arkansas and will be back here in Thailand in under a month. I can’t wait to hit the road with my new digs. Many thanks to Bob and Big Sky for helping to make this fauxbo cyclebum’s dreams come true!

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5 Responses to 3RR’s First Sponsorship: A New Home Courtesy of Big Sky International!

  1. 썌키 says:

    I’ve been petting my tent and letting it snuggle with me in my bed at night, telling it stories of all the great adventures we’re about to have together.

  2. Andy Pekema says:

    I suppose you’re going to toss your old, perfectly good tent into one of the many riverside trash heaps?

    • Michael Roy says:

      I’m gonna make a barge out of perfectly good teak wood, put the tent on that, douse it in kerosene, and shoot it with a flaming arrow. Just to waste a little bit of everything possible.

      …unless you (or somebody you know) are (is) in the market for a new tent? It’s for sale!