60 seconds or so.

That’s all it took for a bold bicycle thief to bound away on Eric’s fully-loaded KOGA.

Those careless 60 seconds in Bolivia will probably turn out to be the most costly moments of my life.

Because when you add it all up, those 60 seconds of distraction tally up to a painful $6,000.

A big, bad shock

Six thousand dollars!  That’s about what we spent in our first 9 months of cycling around South America.

Now, I’ve always been one to preach that bicycle touring is affordable for everyone.  So when Eric ran the figures and claimed that replacing bicycle and gear would run around $6,000, I was catapulted into a state of shock and disbelief.

$6,000 is an enormous sum of money to two itinerant cyclists whose yearly accommodation expenditure in 2010 was just $182.

No way, I thought.

Running the numbers

Turns out, his $6,000 figure is just about right.

Here’s more or less how it breaks down:


Koga World Traveller:                                      $3,000

2 laptop computers:                                          $500

Complete set of Ortlieb Panniers: $450

Spare parts and Tools:                                            $600

Sleeping Bags:                                                             $400

Contact Lenses                                                           $200

Leatherman tool                                                       $100

Medicine/water purification tablets:               $100

Clothing:                                                                       $550

Misc. Electronics                                                      $100


The truth of the matter

Of course there are ways to get back on the road for less than $6,000.  A less robust bike, deals off e-bay, second-hand shops and such.

But the actual value of all the stuff we were lugging around was pretty high.  Fortunately, we never had to fork out $6,000 for those $6,000 worth of goods.

Sponsors set us up with a lot of great gear we could have never otherwise afforded.

And in spite of these tough economic times, a few loyal sponsors are coming through in our post-theft time of need.

Isn’t she beautiful? I’m actually a little envious of Eric’s new bike.

We’re particularly grateful to the fine folks at Koga who are helping us out with a substantial discount on a new Koga Signature World Traveller.

Kogas are expensive .  But they’re worth it.

Eric’s convinced there’s no other bike on the market that can withstand the rigors of almost 100,000 kilometers of world travel.

With Koga’s help, our $6,000 disaster is down to a more reasonable $5,000 mishap.

Help from around the world

And with the financial support of blog readers and friends in the bicycle touring community, we’ve cut our losses to a mere $3,000 blunder.

A huge thank you to all who’ve pitched in to help us out after this unexpected financial setback.

We are truly amazed at the generosity and kindness we’ve experienced and incredibly grateful for the help.

Thanks for the help!

Moving on

Slowly we’re getting back on our feet.  Adjusting to the idea that our circumnavigation of South America won’t come to fruition this time round (but we will catch those countries sooner or later).

12 countries & 21,600 kilometers down, with just 2 countries & 6,000 kilometers to go.  That hurts.  Coming close just doesn’t cut it.

The decision to change course wasn’t an easy one.  We wrangled long and hard with returning to the US or remaining in South America.

All things are possible, but…

I won’t say it would have been impossible to stay in Bolivia and get equipped with a new bicycle and gear.  But hard.  Pretty damn hard.

You probably don’t want to be bored with the details.  But suffice to say there are tricky customs rules and exorbitant shipping costs, coupled with the possibility of less than honest officials who might just hold a high-priced bike hostage.

Wait a minute

You might just be saying to yourself, “Hey, aren’t Eric and Amaya the ones who drone on about how great gear and a fancy bike really aren’t necessary (see Myth Number 3)?”

You may be thinking, “I’m sure they sell bikes, stoves, sleeping bags, contact lenses and computers in Bolivia.”

And they do.   Of course they do.  There are bikes and sleeping bags, contact lenses and camping stoves.  All that stuff’s available in Bolivia.  It’ll cost you, and the quality won’t be the greatest, but if you search hard enough you can get pretty much everything you need for a bike tour.

A change of heart

Let me clarify my thoughts on great gear and fancy bikes.

They’re not necessary in most cases.  But quality gear and a tough touring bike do make a difference.   Especially if  you’re taking on high passes over 5,000 meters and sleeping out in sub-zero temperatures in remote areas.

Call me spoiled, but I’m fond of thick down sleeping bags, multi-fuel stoves that keep on cooking and bikes that don’t bust when you’re climbing some high Andean pass that’s a three days’ walk to the nearest village.

Eric loves his dependable KOGA.  He’s got an unhealthy attachment to his KOGA.

Changing Continents

So, with a lot of hand wringing and more than a few tears, we opted for what seems to be the easiest and best solution.

A cheap flight to Florida. Back to the USA.

Back to the land of mind-boggling choice and efficient customer service.

Back to the land of bargain-priced computers and ubiquitous outdoor shops.

Back to the land of plenty where arranging the shipment of a shiny new KOGA is as easy as ringing up UPS.

Plan B

We’re busy organizing new gear and working out Plan B.


Yep, we’re heading north.  All the way to the Arctic Circle.

It’ll be quite a ride.  Get ready for grizzly bears and glaciers, towering mountains and long stretches of tundra.

Sure, Alaska’s not the Andes, but still a pretty good way to get over the heartbreak of our aborted South America circumnavigation.


Can you help?
If you’ve got a little spare cash and would like to send it our way, please do.  We will be eternally grateful. 





A $6,000 mistake: post-theft thoughts on moving on

27 thoughts on “A $6,000 mistake: post-theft thoughts on moving on

  • June 3, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    So sad to know what happened in Bolivia, but so happy to know u didn’t stop!!!! I know you never will do that. My help wasn’t too big but I already donate by paypal a few bucks. I hope it helps a little bit.
    I’m saving some money coz I will start a South American bike tour with a friend next December. Im from Uruguay but living in New Zealand. I wished to catch you guys somewhere in that amazing continent, but with your change of plans, maybe will be in other point of this wonderful world.
    All the best for u guys and wish u a great trip to Alaska!!!

    • June 4, 2011 at 10:52 AM

      Thanks for your support, Danny! Much appreciated. Best of luck with your South America ride. We loved Uruguay and all its warm and friendly people.

  • June 7, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    Donated some $ ( not a lot , sorry, budget!) to help after reading about your bike theft, you have given me lots of inspiration reading about your travels and especially in my birth country ( South Africa ). may I suggest that you load a piece of software called “prey” on your laptop – it will help you find it again if it is stolen and may give you leads to your bike. I’ve been thinking for a while as well about gps tracking for the bike – having an expensive bike stolen is the last thing I need as it is my primary mode of transport and I can certainly empathise with the loss of your Koga. If you ever need a place to pitch your tent/ couch surf on your way around Australia – which I am sure you will get to one day – let me know, we are in Perth.

    • June 8, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      Thanks for the support!

      Installing the free open source Prey tracking software was the very first thing I did after purchasing a new computer.

      Please, all bike travelers, do yourself a favor install this on your laptop now.

      And Antony, hope to meet up in Australia, we’ll head that way sooner or later.

  • June 9, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Hey, Glad to hear your back on two wheels and still going strong,
    If I bump into you on the way down from Alaska you both can have a drink on me.

    go well Brian

  • June 17, 2011 at 11:09 PM

    Hey guys. So sorry to hear about Eric’s bike getting stolen!!!
    We have been following your blog for the last three years and have been inspired by your adventures. We also love your name Amaya and have just called our little daughter (first born) Amaya Sage. She was born on Wednesday 15th of June and as fellow bicycle tourers we hope she will have as many adventures as you have.
    May the wind be always at your backs
    Michael and Shoshanna.

    • July 1, 2011 at 4:21 PM

      Congratulations on the birth of Amaya Sage. I, too, wish her a life filled with adventure and love.

  • September 4, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    I’m really sorry to hear about your Koga being stolen. I’ve had that very same feeling on at least two ocassions before. That sinking feeling really sucks!

    I know Kogas are nice bikes from a totally awesome manufacturer, but I still can’t understand for the life of me, how an aluminum bike gets to be so expensive. If always liked Kogas, I’ve just never been able to afford one.

    Well, at least you got a new Koga and all of your equipment replaced. I wish Eric had had a boomerang or something, so you could have thrown it at the thief, and bopped him on the head with it!

    I really do love you guys for what you’re doing…I wish I had the guts to do it!

    • September 23, 2011 at 2:04 PM

      Thanks, Tom, for the kind comments.

      We love our Kogas. They’re a little costly, but well worth the investment in the end. Mine has made it almost 100,000 kilometers and she’s still going strong.

      We are grateful to the many generous supporters and blog readers who kindly sent us funds to help replace the bike and gear. And the good people at Koga who gave us a great deal on the replacement bike. Thanks everybody!


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