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

  • May 27, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Just to soften the blow,

    $6000 to replace you gear is alot, you can also look at it another way, Eric has already had his moneys worth out of the old bike (and probibly needed some new parts soon). So now he can cycle the next year or so without any maintenance costs.

    New panniers and other stuff will last another 10 years, and a new set of fresh smelling cloths is sure to be nice.

    $6000 is alot to put out in one go but in “theory” its money you’d spend eventually, just a shame its now and in one go.

    The computers is a shame though, hope you had a external hard drive with backups on the other bike…?…?

    Good luck with your continuing adventure.


    • May 27, 2011 at 3:39 PM

      Good way to look at things. And you’re right, I definitely don’t mind seeing Eric in a new set of clothes.

  • May 27, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Good to hear you are on the “forward path”, and that the bump has been overcome. Keep in mind that money is only money … as they say, “You can tell a lot about a person by the friends they keep.” Clearly you and Eric bring a lot of joy into your friends’ lives, otherwise you would not have received such generous financial support.

    Are you still in Florida?

    Here’s wishing you safe (and theft-free) travels.


    • May 27, 2011 at 3:40 PM

      So right. Money is only money. I like that. Yes, in Florida. Heading out tomorrow.

  • May 27, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    Good to hear you are on the path of rearranging your affairs. Good you are able to shell out the money needed to cover the losses. And as a former burglar victim I am less than surprised at how the small cost add up to one enormous sum. Even petty stuff like underwear and socks cost real money.

    I do not possibly recon my tiniest of paypal shares did really buy me that enormous a name tag on your card? A common first name, I presume… Safe and happy cycling on!

  • May 27, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Glad to hear your end cost is about half of what you expected it to be. Yay for community response to your predicament!

    Kai & I are looking into insurance for our bikes right now and find that most homeowner’s insurance cover theft of bikes and equipment. We can add a rider that covers “accidental” damages as well, like if the bike falls off a cliff or gets lost by an airline, for a very reasonable cost. Just wanted to put that out there for folks who travel and already have homeowner’s insurance, to make sure to check those options out as well. It seems worth it when we’re talking about $3-6,000 worth of gear.

    We look forward to following your Alaska adventures!

    • May 27, 2011 at 7:22 PM

      Home owner insurance is only handy for `home owners`, if your on a long trip with `no fixed abode` most companies wont cover you, or charge $1000 a year…

      Good luck

  • May 27, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Good to see you on the roads again . Don t let the grizzlies eat you , I still hope to meet you a fourth time when you will go south after your Alaska trip , if you don t jump too fast to Asia .
    Apart that , it is my weekly pleasure to read your reports . I would like to have one tenth of your talent and sense of humour

  • May 27, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    As many posters here say money is only money, and you may not understand it now, but I am sure you will, Everything happens for a reason. SO glad to hear how the cycling community and your sponsors pulled together for you.

    So Alaska, interested to hear why to chose Alaska over the original thoughts of SE Asia. So does this mean we actually have a chance to meet up with you guys. We’ll be in Vancouver around the 3rd week of September (based on your pace). Once you hit BC there are so many lovely places we can tell you about, super excited you are headed this way (assuming you are headed south). So interested in the route you plan on choosing. We originally thought we’d ride to Prince Rupert and take the ferry to Port Hardy, so many options!

    • May 31, 2011 at 10:45 PM

      Yes, there’s a good chance we can meet up in Vancouver. Current plan is to cycle to Prudhoe Bay and then head back south to Vancouver or perhaps Seattle and then hop on a plane to Asia.

  • May 28, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    We have 65,000 k on our Cannondale panniers, lined with trash compactor bags, patched and faded to pink by the Australian ozone hole and 5,000 m Tibetan sun. Our Cannondale tandem looks like hell but rides like a dream. (We have never had a sponsor). We still have the same sleeping bag and pads, patches on both; we stuff locally bought clothing inside when in high elevations and cold, then give it away to locals when we descend. So far we’ve never had anything stolen. We would not think about the costs involved if our gear was stolen, but we’d be broken hearted: Zippy, our tandem is, after 65,000 k, family.

    Our’s is an emotional journey. We’re much older (47 and 67) ; we’ve proven old(er) is not necessarily less efficient, less sturdy.

    You are out there doing it, that’s the important thing. Good luck on the next leg of your journey.

    Wish us well in South America over the next few months.

    • June 2, 2011 at 12:01 PM

      Wonderful and inspirational. Let us know when you reach San Martin de Los Andes in Northern Patagonia, you can stay with us.

  • May 30, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    Hi Amaya + Eric,
    very sorry, guys, to have a look in your web and find this news. So sorry. I read the story carefully and even though I never went through this stuff, I can imagine your nightmare and the worst thing: be unable to get rid of the problem in your mind. You did a deep examination of the situation, and you were honest with yourselves. You knew you could keep going, and many other options. So you chose the one that fits with you. Fair enough. Go ahead. You did what you had to do. I send you a hug, friends. Hope that very soon the horizon will be in front of you and the smile inside of you. Good to see that you are rich in friends.
    Please, keep going, keep living life, and leave behind the trash. Somebody told me once, ‘to travel light is not about the baggage you carry, but the baggage you have in your mind’.
    Hope we can meet on the way, guys. I will ride down by the Rockies.
    Wish you the best.

    • June 4, 2011 at 10:54 AM

      Thanks for your warm and understanding message. Would love to meet up with you here in the US.

  • May 31, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    Far out, er, up! Have a wonderful northern summer, and put all this way the hell behind. rb

  • June 2, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    Enjoy Alaska! It is wonderful, the fresh breeze will clear your mind. And it will test the new ride 🙂


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