Saturday, June 29, 2013


I came across this wonderful video in my researching; T minus 4 days until departure.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Light and Power

In keeping with the mission of this blog promoting how fun and awesome bikes are;  the expressed intention of the upcoming bike tour is to demonstrate the advantages of bicycle travel.  One aspect of traveling by bicycle is that peddle power doesn't burn petrol on the journey from point A to B and onto C;  all the while enabling more intimate interactions with the landscape.  
It's hard to hug a tree from inside your car, or smell the rain coming over the next hill with the AC on.

Admittedly, burning the 1000's of gallons of jet fuel necessary for airline travel abroad is not necessarily "ecoconscious", but much can be done to minimize one's overall carbon impact and use of resources through the small choices made in day to day life.  

Bikes can viably substitute many typical methods of transportation, from getting groceries, to hauling firewood; under certain circumstances rendering the American icons of the SUV and truck unnecessary.  

With this goal of a low carbon impact trip, all the electronics necessary for the upcoming adventure will be 100% human powered, including lights, GPS, camera, and blogging.  
Don't want to miss those perfect post card pictures along the journey. 

This requires a few pieces of specialized equipment: dynamo generator hub, dynamo compatible lighting, and USB power source for GPS, phone, and camera charging.   There are a handful of products available to accommodate this.  

For an excellent write up on all the various dynamo USB charging/ battery-pack options I highly recommend jumping over to CyclingAbout and reading what Alex has to say.

One home-gown option is the Revolution from Bright Bike Labs.
It is great in it's simplicity, weight, price, and waterproofness. Additionally, this nice little device is designed and built by a couple cycle geeks and fellow fat-bikers from Cambridge Mass.  

 Weights only 38 grams, and fully charged my phone in it's inaugural ride two nights ago.

One caveat of the Revolution, is it only transmits power as the hub generates it, and has no battery storage.   Once you add a front light and an external battery pack, the full kit isn't too bad for self sufficient power source and ability to store energy for use at a later time. 

Monica's bike will likely be equipped with this little gizmo, the aptly named Bank Light from the Sheng Li corporation of Taiwan,  it is an all-in-one LED dynamo head lamp, power-bank consisting of 3 rechargeable AA batteries, and a USB charging adapter that allows you to charge other devices.
This  is still the beta-testing stage

The best feature of this option, in my opinion, is the unit's ability to be easily detached from the bike mount and function as a hand held flash light! Will likely come in handy for setting up camp.

 Not exceptionally heavy. 

The rigors of the next month will show how well these products actually function in the real world. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Zip-Tie water bottle cage mounts

The bikes are pretty well sorted for the up coming tour of Iceland and the Camino De Santiago in Spain, save for places to keep our water.   

My initial inkling was to just keep bottles in the frame-bags and have a camel back set up with the MSR dromedary, but then I look to this guy for some inspiration in ingenuity. 

  Fork legs on a bike make a great spot for mounting additional supplies, when you run out of room elsewhere on a bike and helps to better to distribute weight; especially when you have a tendency to over pack. 

Many rigid bikes for snow, gravel, dirt, or touring are now coming equipped with fork brazons for front racks, water bottles, the aluminum Salsa's Everything Cage, or the new stainless steel Manything Cage from King Cage

Having broken two aluminum Everything Cages, over the past two winters,  I would highly recommend avoiding the Salsa product and putting your money into the stronger, lighter, and hand-made Manything Cage from Andrews.  

Great for large amounts of water, sleeping essentials, 

or beer. 

   Wanting to keep things light, and not needing large volume carrying capacity, standard sized water bottle cages will suffice for my purposes.  Upon inspection of my various cages at hand, the plastic  Velocity Bottle Trap looks perfect for a light-weight DIY fork mount.

The backside of the Bottle Trap is slightly concave perfectly suited for strapping snugly to a rounded fork leg, but the design of the Bottle Trap is to "hug" the water bottle from all sides effectively limiting options to  lace any straps or zip ties through the cage,  due to the close tolerance necessary to hold a water bottle in place. 

Fortunately there is a recessed area for the typical mounting hardware allowing an area for a zip ties to pass without interfering with the functional design of the Bottle Trap, but you have to drill the holes first.

Best to begin by Dremeling small holes,  which can then be elongated to accommodate the width of a  wide strong zip tie.

Took a total of 5 minutes to drill-out 4 cages. 

Weighing the options:
Specialized aluminum cage with bolts: 50 grams even.

King Cage Titanium with bolts: 34 grams

Velocity Bottle Trap with zip ties and pieces of a rubber tube: 44 grams.
(just the Trap weighs in at 32g, only 4 grams more than the King Ti Cage at 28 g)
A bargain at $7 vs $60 for the King

Testing durability of the plastic
Good product.  Passed the stomp test.
Now I know it won't break if a Viking kicks me as I ride by.

Now to mount it:
Wrap a length of old tube around the fork leg to prevent slippage.

Thread two zip ties through the holes, and secure the cage to the fork leg, wrapping the ties around the length of old tube.  
(this was just a mock up for placement, much stronger zip-ties should be used for actual riding)


Also important that your bottle cages match the color of your cable housing!
This color coordination is guaranteed to improve your riding skills and balance.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Surly Fan Boy

Got an unexpected tube in the mail this week from Minnesota.
Inside was a lovely limited edition 3 layer print by Surly's art dude, Andy Wood.
It's beautiful. I love it.
The Intergalactic  Surly Headquarters must have finally gotten wind of my awesomeness.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Traveler's Check maiden voyage

Stayed up until 2:00am finally finished up the Traveler's Check build, if I had finished any sooner we wouldn't be able to test out the dynamo lighting.  Monica was thrilled, "the most beautiful bike I've ever seen" she exclaimed.  She intends to put it through some testing tomorrow at the Kincaid single track MTB trails.

 Tire clearance is tight but sufficient
 XTR rim brakes stop better than  my Avid BB7's!
 All it needs now are some Surly Monkey Nuts so I cam slam the rear tire forward in the dropouts to gain some much needed clearance at the chainstay bends..

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Homer Excursion #1

I have been nursing my shoulder back to health, and was finally feeling up to venturing out of the house. Hitched a ride down to the enchanted hamlet by the sea at the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula for some summer sun drenched fun, a birthday weekend,  and to test my one-armed biking skills on the beaches of Homer and explore the Kachemak Bay coastline.  

Jesse was elated that I brought him some parts to put the finishing touches on his new fat bike, which we have been working on to get built up over the past 8 months.  

 Most difficult part was getting moving, big tires and high bottom bracket make it necessary to jump into the saddle without tipping over; Balancing was hard especially when navigating the rocky coastline at high tide, since we slept through the low-tide.

 Our friends Cycle Logical set us up with 3 Puglsey rentals for the day, and opened up a whole new world stoke for Kari, Seth, and Jensen. 

 They're smiling because they don't know about the knee deep mud we are about to trudge through...

Trying to ride through 6 feet of soft mud from a recent bluff slide, was wishful thinking

So tired that a rock was a welcome pillow for a quick nap on the beach.

After 10 attempts, Seth has perfected river crossings.
About midstream, the ballon-like fat tires begin to float and be carried down stream by the current, necessitating an upstream angle or ferry, keeping the angle of movement 45 degrees to the flow of the current.

Overall, I was able to adequately navigate the beach terrain with one arm, while maintaining a guarded attention to my injured shoulder, but suffered an extremely sore back and bottom as most of my body weight had to be back in the saddle and my torso was twisted at an extreme angle to reach the bars.
On the list before the next bike ride: Nitto Albatross Bars, and a springy saddle to soak up the bumps.

Fish Tacos! Halibut fresh off the boat. 

The next day we woke for an early morning water taxi across the bay with promise of more sun, new beaches to explore, and some rock-climbing, a rarity in a state known for its crumbly unstable volcanic cliffs, what the climber folk call "rotten rock". 

Trip mascot.

As we made our way across the bay, we became inspired to return with skis and snowboards.

This route is called Salty Dog.

Keep calm and Belay on.

The birthday boy.

Setting the route.

 Spent most of my day looking up at people climbing on cliffs, and got a wicked sun burn.
FInally got bored enough, that I convinced them to loan me a harness, "I can totally climb that with one arm, looks like an easy route."  Only took 60 seconds on the wall, for my rational mind to kick in, "Never-mind, this is a bad idea!"

Cover shot for our upcoming limited release CD.

 Corgis make the best adventure dogs,  fearless, loyal, and portable. 

'Real' Alaskans boulder in extra-toughs.

Pirate face.

 Due to the high tide, we were stranded this beach with a few families, with acrobatic children and copious amounts of boxed wine.  After a few dixy cups of Malbec I decided to show off for our new friends. 

Finally made it back to camp once the tide went down, our little camp spot became isolated by high cliffs and dense forest at high tide.

 Birthday donut surprise.

'till next time.
I left Homer vowing to return, with visions of living in a vintage Airstream in the woods, riding my fat bike to work via the beach, and life without the incessant din of traffic, sirens, and the pervasive noise of a city.  Brought back memories of why I moved to a small mountain town 11 years ago, after only 2 years in Boulder.