Freelance from the tent

For more than two years of my work in the office, I had a huge number of interesting tasks, which were sometimes even too interesting and dragged on worse than slot machines and computer games. Many people look forward to every Friday with impatience and trepidation, and they long for the Sunday evening in anticipation of the next Monday. In my case, I didn’t have to be especially afraid of Mondays, since I did what I liked, and it was very nice to realize that I chose a profession that I liked.

But no matter how interesting the programmer’s work is, sooner or later it will inevitably turn into a routine. Due to the interesting nature of the tasks, the eight-hour daily work day passed almost imperceptibly and flashed over two years in the office after the university, as if two weeks. Beware of skipping another 10 years of my life, I decided that something needed to be changed. In parallel with my main job, I sometimes freelanced to expand the technology stack and make a little extra money, so the idea came up for some time to completely switch to freelance, travel the world and work from different cities. At the same time, I wanted to visit as many countries as possible, and not just visit cities and famous sights “for show”, but rather to learn more about the culture of each country, the way of life and features of the local population, to see how, for example,

Googling the forums, I found out that the average speed of a cyclist is 20-25 km per hour, and that even an untrained person can freely ride about 100 kilometers a day. The figure is very impressive! At times faster than hiking, but slowly enough to fully enjoy the delights of roads and countries. Unfortunately, the last time I talked with the great one was about 10 years ago, in the village of my grandmother, so before buying this unit I had a couple of weeks to study modern cycling realities and technical achievements. The choice fell on a used Trek four-year-old bike, which I bought at one of the online auctions, as it turned out, from one programmer, about 3 times cheaper than the new counterpart. The great man turned out to be in rather good condition: apparently, the work did not often allow his former owner to ride.

The first trip was a trip around the suburbs of Kiev with my friend about 70 kilometers long. There was practically no fatigue at the end of the day, but the pain at the fifth point after that trip was difficult to describe in words. It was obvious that before the long trip more practice was needed, so I started riding a bike at least 3 times a week: once or twice for work and 2-3 times as a short evening or morning walk.

A month after the first train, it was decided to try a longer distance, and I invited all my friends who were great to organize a tent bike trip from Kiev to Lviv. About eight people agreed, but at the time of launch, there were two of us left: me and the guy, Seryozha, who bought a bicycle with me, a month ago. About a hundred kilometers from Kiev, a friend of Seryozha from his city joined us. The trip was very successful. We traveled 560 km to Lviv in 4 days, spent the night mainly in a headscarf, and cooked food at the stake. At the same time, by the end of the bike day, we usually did not feel completely killed, as happens on foot bike trips. Sometimes there was only a slight fatigue. After this campaign, the idea of ​​pokatushek on a bike across Europe no longer seemed so unrealistic. Preparations for the journey began.

I planned to go to Europe with a tent, cook food on the burner, sometimes stay with friends, and, in extreme cases, in hostels. In most cases it was supposed to work from the field, forest, tent, beach and other places not very adapted for this, so it was necessary to solve the issue of electricity and the Internet.

So, electricity. Since I had to ride a bike, it would be nice to use the rolling energy. Initially, I thought to use the dynamos that were well known from childhood, which were used to power bicycle lights. Unfortunately, it turned out that the speakers during operation make a very unpleasant sound, which certainly will not let you enjoy the beauties of a foreign country and eat up to 30% (!) Of the cyclist's efficiency. A little googling, I found that the dynamos were replaced by the so-called dynamo hubs: bicycle hubs for the front wheel, which generate electricity when rolling. Unlike bottle dynamos, modern dynamo models hardly create any tangible drag and sound when driving. Unfortunately, only very entry-level models were sold in Ukrainian bike shops at a price 4-5 times higher, than in European stores. Therefore, I ordered a high-quality dynamo Shimano DH-T675 in one German online store.



The parcel went about 3 days to Ukraine and crossed the Ukrainian border for 2 weeks. Also, it was necessary to solve the issue of recharging gadgets on rest days and have some kind of backup power source, so I decided to look towards solar panels. As it turned out, in Ukrainian stores prices for more or less sane solar panels, which are really capable of at least something to charge, started from 150 euros. A little googling, I found a wonderful Aliexpress website where you could buy a lot of all sorts of stuff from China. A 10 watt solar battery cost a ridiculous $ 20 on this site.



To my surprise, unlike Germany, the package from China arrived in 6 days. The battery turned out to be very high quality. A phone with a battery of 1,100 milliamps was charged in the bright sun in about an hour and a half. Charging took place even in cloudy weather. In addition, the battery had a very convenient shape of the book, which made it possible to mount it on a bicycle bag and recharge gadgets even while driving. In addition to power sources, it was necessary somewhere to accumulate the electricity received. The choice fell on the external power bank Xiaomi Power Bank with a capacity of 16000mAh. I decided to order one from China, the second, for safety, I took the original in Ukraine. The Chinese battery is less fortunate than the solar battery. Its capacity and weight were about one and a half times less than that of the original.



Dynamo bus gave out alternating current with a voltage significantly higher than the voltage in the USB output of the computer. In addition, the voltage changed depending on the speed of the bicycle. Therefore, it was necessary to acquire a device that would transform the alternating current into direct current and stabilize the output voltage. My friend Igor helped me in this, who was a good friend of electrical engineering and gathered me this miracle .

Thus, the dynamo plugged in to Igor’s hand-made interface, which was connected to a USB hub, from which the phone was already powered, which is used as a navigator, portable speaker and external battery. A solar battery was mounted on top of the bicycle bag, which charged the second power bank. Everything worked like a clock.





As a working computer, especially for the trip, I purchased a ten-inch tablet with a Lenovo miix 2 docking station. It turned out to be an average workhorse with full Windows 8, eight hours of battery life, and this was one of the few ten-inch tablets that could be charged by USB .



At first, I decided the Internet issue by buying a SIM card from the international operator goodline. For 1 dollar per day, I get 20 megabytes of high-grade Internet per day in any country in Europe. As expected, 20 megabytes was disastrously small, so I used Goodline only in extreme cases.

In some countries, I bought a SIM card of a local operator, in some there was enough public Wi-Fi (for example, in Switzerland there was free access to Wi-Fi in almost every cafe and at every railway station).

I usually start driving around 5-6 in the morning, and finish around 9 in the evening. In the afternoon I make 2-3 work breaks for 2-3 hours. In rainy and very hot weather, sometimes I work for 4-5 hours in a row. Due to the fact that I live mainly in a tent, with friends and couchsurfing, and I cook food on the burner, with such employment it turns out to earn 2-3 times more than I spend.

At the time of this writing, I have been in a continuous bike ride for about two months now. During this time, I managed to visit 8 countries, drive 5,282 kilometers and get a huge pile of emotions. In general, the impressions so far are only positive. Productivity in nature is much greater, procrastination is much less. After working 3-4 hours in a field, in a forest, on the seashore, under a canopy during rain, from a tent, you feel more relaxed rather than tired of work, and the variety of working conditions and places practically does not turn work into a routine.

And lastly, a few working photos:










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