Warmshowers Guest: Regula and Johannes Malin
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We had the pleasure of hosting another touring couple this past weekend from the warmshowers website. Warmshowers is a great community, very similar to couchsurfing, but for touring cyclists. Cara and I always enjoy hosting new people because it gives us a chance to meet wonderful people from all over the globe that have very similar interests to us. Currently, we live in Zhuhai which allows us to meet a very international crowd. It seems to be popular for Europeans to fly to Hong Kong and then travel West all the way back to Europe. Among the others, they travel to Hong Kong due to the name recognition and then head over to our apartment to escape the largest metropolis in the world, without riding through the city too much.
Regula and Johannes are a recently married couple from Austria. We were very interested to hear their story, since they are the first married couple that has passed through our apartment. Normally, the couples that come through might as well be married, but they have not been officially married. Living the “vagabond” or touring cyclist lifestyle doesn’t seem to lend itself so much to long term commitments. However, Regula and Johannes were married this year after touring together in the past and headed out on a 1 year tour soon after tying the knot. Their proposal took place last year on a tour of the Pamir highway in Tajikistan. That location has been mentioned by many of the tourists that we have met, always with extremely high regard. Their first stop was Iceland. To those of us from the US, Iceland always has the allure of the unknown and the beautiful with the Aurora Bourealis and mountains aplenty, however, Regula and Johannes’s friends were questioning them for wanting to head to Iceland. Apparently, many Europeans find Iceland to not be a great destination because it is over trafficked, with 300,000 residents and nearly 4,000,000 tourists every year. They were planning on riding the ring road around Iceland, but after many scary stories about the traffic, they decided to head inland in Iceland to explore the back country roads.
After about a month in Iceland, they headed to the Southwest US where they toured for 3 months seeing and enjoying much of what that area has to offer. They even rode their touring bikes along the mountain biking Mecca, of Moab. After some beautiful touring in desolate areas of the Southwest, they ended in San Francisco for a few weeks before heading over to Hong Kong. Their flight to Hong Kong managed to dent Regula’s fork steerer which meant they couldn’t ride from the airport, instead having to take the taxi. They watched sadly as their budget was blown in the expensive city of Hong Kong staying at a decent hotel and eating out. They were very happy to get their China visa, and head over to Zhuhai to start their tour. They had 3 weeks off the bike and were ready to get started again.
If you are interested in more of their story, check out their blog. It is in German, so I have not read it, but looked through the pictures, and what a wonderful trip it has been so far. We look forward to watching their progress and adventures over the next 6 months.
They rolled up to our house at about 9pm on Friday evening, a late arrival to be sure, but we still had ample time to talk bikes and enjoy the company. They were riding Simplon bikes from their home country of Austria. Along with their bikes they had, what we have pretty much seen with everybody, the gold standard, Ortlieb panniers and Tubus racks. They were riding with hub dynamos for powering their lights. Johannes had a Schmidt hub with Edelux headlight, while Regula was riding with a Shimano XT dynamo hub and Busch and Muller IQ-X headlight. Johannes was talking about riding at night, and that when they ride next to each other he couldn’t even see his headlight because of how bright Regula’s is.
For gearing Johannes had the heavyweight Rohloff 14-speed internally geared hub that many touring cyclists swear by. Regula, however, was not interested in the Rohloff, opting for a Shimano XT drivetrain. She talked about not liking the clunkiness of the Rohloff hub and preferred the flexibility of traditional gears. Johannes had a spectacular chain guard, like none I had ever seen. The entire chain was enclosed inside a plastic guard, so you could not see the chain anywhere. This seemed like an ideal set up to keep it and yourself clean, however it would only be possible with a single chainring and cog setup.
Overall, they had a nice setup for long term traveling. They were opposite of our last guest, Nick, who was going lightweight. Both Regula and Johannes had 4 panniers, a handlebar bag, and a rear rack full of stuff. They were of the opinion, that since we are on a year long tour, they should bring along the comforts of home. They were also camping most of the time and cooking many meals themselves in order to stretch their budget farther.
How they did it:
Most long term travelers quit their jobs and travel until the money runs out and they have to return for work, or they quit and then return after a set amount of time to look for work again. Johannes was able to ask for a year off of work, and the company he works for actually gave it to him! I don’t believe this would be possible in the US, but in Europe it seems more reasonable. They want to be able to retain high quality engineers and keep them happy at the same time. Regula had just finished her schooling, so hadn’t started working yet, so the timing worked out perfect for them to be able to travel for a year and then know they have a house and job to come home to.
We always love having warmshowers guests stay with us, and this was no exception. Johannes and Regula were very nice people and were a pleasure to have around for the short time they stayed. We wish you the best in your travels and we hope to meet again some day. Maybe in Austria 😉
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