In four days, Ann Parthemore, our American living in Europe, is starting one hell of an epic bike trip. Over 14 days, she plans to average 121km/day, traveling from Germany to Estonia! Her travels will take her through the Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia! Here is the latest update, pulled from her travel blog.

When I dreamed up this trip, I thought I might do it on my old, trusty Merida road bike. But upon further inspection, it did not have the attachment points to add any kind of racks, so my options for bringing gear would be very limited. 

I was very excited to see that Trek offered a line of adventure bikes, the 520, 720, and 920. They are one of the sponsors of the Timex Multisport Team, and I was thankful that they agreed to help me out with purchasing a 720, even though it has nothing to do with triathlon. 

This bike has an aluminum frame and a carbon fork, just like my Merida. But the advantage comes in a few other areas:

1. It is rack ready and it was no problem to install the rear rack. Since it bolts directly to the frame, I am feeling more confident about hitting the cobblestones or poor quality roads.

2. The front bags (the fluro-yellow ones) came with the bike. There are clips on each fork that accommodate the bag holders and you can easily remove the whole thing for regular riding or just the bags for access. They are only rated for about 3lbs each, so I'm planning to fill mine with rain and cold weather gear that I will want to use quickly.

3. It also features disc brakes, which should come in handy on some of the downhills or at sketchy intersections. 

4. My legs are very excited that the cassette is an 11-32. I'm sure the granny gear will feel less granny with all the stuff mounted on there...

5. Comfort-wise, it does have a bit wider tires as well as a handlebar with built in "squishy zones" to reduce the road vibration. I was planning to put some gel pads on the handlebars, but it was unnecessary. 

Other modifications and gear choices that I made:

- The bags on the back are on loan from my friend Tim. So they are more experienced than me. 

- In addition to the back rack, I also added fenders. I really, really want to minimize being wet and grimy for extended periods.

- Instead of road pedals, I am using my mountain bike shoes and pedals so I can actually walk around when I stop for lunch or to check out something cool.

- As I usually do, I will be riding with a front and back blinky light so I am more visible to other drivers. I got some Cateye lights that are ridiculously bright and are USB charging.

Now, time for some thank-yous, since this has been quite the ordeal:

- Trek Bikes for being a great team sponsor, as well as making great products. If you want to check out all the specs on my bike, you can find them here.

- My old bike store, Santa Fe Trails in Leavenworth, Kansas was turbo-fast with ordering the bike, assembling it, testing it, and then mailing it to me. Once I got it, I only had to re-assemble a few things and it was ready to roll. 

- My new bike store, Lifestyle, and the owner, Stefan, has been unbelievably helpful with all things bicycle-related. He ordered the parts I needed and installed and adjusted everything, plus did my bike fitting so I am comfortable for two weeks of riding. If you are a Graf/Vilseck person, this is the bike store you need to go to!

Follow dispatches from Ann's Epic Ride on her blog. Good luck Ann!

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