Friday, June 27, 2008

Ex-Officio Boxer Briefs


I normally wouldn't post about my underwear on this blog, but I've come across some really nice cyclist friendly boxers that I figured some folks might appreciate a head's up on. For the most part I don't wear padded bike shorts any longer. On my DF bikes I use comfortable saddles and don't feel the need to pad my butt. This is nice as I can wear street clothes and not feel like I have a diaper on. Of course this means that what you wear next to your skin becomes really important down there. I own several different brands of synthetic boxers and for general use they all perform about the same. For cycling, however, these Ex-Officio Boxer Briefs really stand out because there are no seams in the crotch/saddle contact zone. No seams mean less chance of irritation and that puts a smile on your face if you are a cyclist...=-)

I've owned 3 pairs of these boxers for the past 3 years+ and they have held up well from regular use. I expect I'll still be using them in 3 more years. Extended cycle touring might be a worst case scenario for them so if you are going on a year+ tour you might get less lifespan from them. They don't hold odors much - which doesn't mean they won't get stinky, but they'll clean up nicely in the sink at your motel or if you wash them in a stream at camp. They are very lightweight, wick moisture well and will dry uberfast after washing. If you wanted to go super light on tour you could easily just take one pair and wash them every evening.

They are not cheap [$25USD], but for the quality and durability I've experienced the price is not out of line.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wed Night Coffee Ride

We had another fun Wed Night Coffee Ride. I finally got to meet Eddy [SungHun] & Mirye - two Bike Friday riders from Korea. They have some sweet rides!...=-) Lots of fun was had including an EPIC flat tire fixing session along the mosquito infested shores of the Glenmore Reservoir. I never knew I could deal with a flat so quickly...=-)

If you'd like to see some pics from the ride click here.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Trangia Stove 4 Month Review

Read my intial impressions here.

I've been using a Trangia alcohol burner for all my camping trips this Spring. I've never tried alochol as a camp stove fuel in the past so I was intrigued with the idea. Having used this Trangia burner for several trips now I thought I'd share the pros and cons of this type of stove.

The pros:
  • Alcohol is a safe fuel. It doesn't explode and it's easy to handle. This was a nice feature when allowing novice camp stove users to cook on the stove. You don't have to worry too much that things will end in tears!
  • This is a quiet clean stove that was pleasant to use. Unlike some pressurized white gas stoves you can barely hear the Trangia when it's at full tilt. This allows you to enjoy the natural sounds of your camp site and have a quiet conversation with you friends.
  • The stove was foolproof and really it's almost impossible to see how it would fail to work. There are almost no moving parts and so very little that can go wrong.
  • The cost of the burner and pot stand was less than $30 compared to over $100 for many pressurized liquid fuel stoves. As long as you don't loose the stove it should keep working for your whole camping career.
  • Assuming you aren't carrying fuel for a long trip the stove is quite lightweight. Not as super light as some of those DIY pop can stoves, but much more durable. I tried a production titanium Vargo alcohol stove this year at home briefly [then returned it], but it was hard to use and didn't simmer at all.

The Cons:
  • Alcohol doesn't generate as much heat as naphtha when it burns so you end up going through quite a bit of it. I kept underestimating how much we'd need and was worried we'd run out of fuel. For short trips or car camping trips this isn't a huge problem as long as you plan wisely and take enough with you. On longer remote trips this may be an issue as you'd have to carry a lot of fuel on your bike.
  • You can't see the flame or really hear it when it's burning which can result in the odd burn or singed arm!
  • On our recent bike tour we stopped at an outdoor store to buy more fuel, but they only sold naphtha and gas canisters. We did find alcohol at a gas station [fuel line anti-freeze], but we had to buy several small bottles at an exorbitant price.
  • You can simmer with the supplied simmer ring, but it's a bit of a pain to use.
I'm glad I tried out the Trangia and it will definitely stay in my arsenal for trips where I'll be driving and can bring loads of fuel or short trips where running out isn't an issue. The dependability is nice and I like the fact it's fairly safe for just about anyone to use. For longer trips, particularly remote ones, I'll use a pressurized multi-fuel stove that sips fuel slowly, simmers well and is easy to find fuel at camping stores or gas stations.

Getting my tour on...

A tour is born...

As the long 4 day weekend approaches [Canada Day is Tuesday 1 July] I had the cunning idea of riding the Icefield's Parkway as a warm up for the Dempster Highway. It will be busy with tourists, but most of my day will be riding so I will only have to deal with the throngs when I need to find a place to sleep and at the odd rest/food stop. I called the Park Office to inquire about campsites and was told there were no reservations for camp spots on the Parkway. Naturally I asked what I was supposed to do if I rolled into camp in the evening and there were no spots available. I got the stock reply...I was to moved down the road until I found a free camp site. Clearly that won't be happening! It's a bit surprisng that Park Officials aren't more sensitive to human powered visitors, but I guess we are so overwhelming rare there isn't much demand to accommodate us.

I did manage to reserve my first night's camp spot online since it is near Jasper and at the north end of the Parkway. I was a bit shocked that a single backpacking tent spot with no services cost $38 [$49 if you have a 24' RV with full hook ups!], but what can you do? At least my first night of tour won't be a commando raid style adventure....=-)

I think I'll ride my Long Haul Trucker this weekend. It would probably be wise to ride my Thorn Sherpa in a full shake down tour as that will be the bike I'm going to take to the arctic, but I don't have any other tours on the books this summer that I'm planning on using the LHT for and we rode the Icefield's Parkway together a couple years ago so it has sentimental value to me. You know you have too many touring bikes when you have to go out of your way to make sure you get them all out on tour each year...lol...oh well I can think of worse problems to have!

As with all my trips this one is starting with a pile of gear in a corner of my living room. The pile will grow until I have almost everything together at which point I'll get out my panniers and pack them. I know it's been a good summer when I've never quite got all my gear put away from the last trip before I need to start thinking about the next one...=-) I was cleaning up my camping pots & utensils from my SoCal trip today and realized there was no point putting them away.

I haven't been on the Icefield's Parkway during the peak of tourist season. I'm expecting a bit of a circus, but I have to admit I enjoy the stupid questions and amazed looks of the tour bus crowd when I roll up the top of a heinous mountain pass on my bike. Hopefully some RV campers will be sufficiently impressed to lavish an icy cold beer on me in the campground...=-) No matter what happens the stunning scenery and lack of cell coverage will be ample reward for cranking up the steep inclines.

Riding the Sherpa on a tour closer to home makes loads of sense. I'd feel awfully silly if I have a major snafu on the Dempster Highway that I could have dealt with easily with a LBS close at hand. So I'm thinking I'll get the Sherpa out for a 2 day 1 night mini tour in the next week or two. That way I still get to use the LHT on a tour that is ideal for it and I can log a few more touring miles this summer.

I've been feeling rather sheepish as brevets reports keep rolling into my inbox and I've only been out on my rando bent twice [including a 200K brevet]. However as the summer creeps along I can't help, but notice that I'm making up for my lack of rando action with quite a lot of bike touring. I'm on pace to do 6 tours this year - possibly 7 if I get down to Costa Rica in December. Not bad when you consider that I did zero bike tours in 2007 - nada, zip - the big "0". That's making me feel better. I'm not a total bike slug. I'm just torn between some different 2 wheeled pursuits...=-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ortlieb Recumbent Panniers

As with all things Ortlieb - waterproof and bombproof as well as highly functional.

I don't have any details yet, but I'm sure they'll be loads of press on these babies once they hit the street.

The photos came from this German site.

Square Wheels?




Inuvik Packing List


This is my first draft for a packing list for my Dempster Highway tour that is fast approaching. I'm a bit torn between going minimalist and adding a few comfort items. As is my usual practice I won't know exactly what I am taking until I lay out all the trip gear on my living room floor and start to pack it. Depending on how it all comes together I may make some drastic decsions to keep the load in check.

Thorn Sherpa
  • Fenders
  • Marathon XR 26 x 2.0"
  • Bike computer
  • BMX pedals
  • ESGE kickstand
  • Tubus Cargo rear rack
  • Surly Nice front rack
  • Ortlieb Bike Packer front & rear panniers
  • Ortlieb handlebar bag
  • Mirror
  • Bell
  • Water bottle cages + bottles x 2
  • 2l water bottle cage x 1
  • bike lock
Spare Parts/Tools
  • Marathon XR 26 x 1.75 folding tire [existing]
  • Spare brake cable x 1
  • Spare shift cable x 1
  • Patch kit x 3
  • Tire levers x 3
  • Tire boot x 2
  • Spare tubes x 4
  • Bike multi-tool [w/ chain tool]
  • Leatherman
  • 8mm box wrench
  • Fibre-fix spokes x 2
  • Spare spokes x 6
  • Mini-cassette tool
  • Chain lube
  • Rags
  • Zip ties
  • Mini-duct tape

Clothing
  • TNF Rain Jacket
  • Rain Pants
  • Gore-tex socks
  • Baseball cap
  • Toque & fleece gloves
  • Shell gloves
  • Ferrata Jacket
  • MEC fleece sweater
  • Long underwear top & bottom
  • Sickle 3/4 pants
  • TNF black long pants
  • REI shorts
  • Ex-Offico boxers x 4
  • MEC Wicking Ts x 4
  • LS – Mtn Hardware shirt
  • Salomon Tech Amphibians
  • Source Sandals
  • Bike gloves
  • Buff [neck gaiter]
  • Bug shirt

Camping
  • Tent [Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2]
    • Body & fly
    • Pegs & guylines
    • Waterproof stuff sack
  • MEC Down Sleeping bag
  • Thermarest

Cooking
  • MSR DragonflyStove
  • Fuel bottles
  • Pot set
  • Spork
  • Spoon
  • Lighter
  • Scrub pad & soap
  • Bowl
  • Mug
  • MSR Water filter
  • MSR Water bag
  • Ortlieb Collapsible basin

Toiletries
  • Toothbrush & paste
  • Floss
  • Tweezers
  • Bio-soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • TP
  • Bag balm
  • Vitamins

Misc
  • Headlamp
  • Sunglasses & cleaning cloth
  • Credit card & bank cards
  • Copy of documents
  • Health insurance card
  • important phone numbers
  • Digi-cam x 1
    • Charger
    • Extra Batteries
    • Extra memory cards
    • Lens Cleaning pen
  • Reflective Safety sash & red blinkie
  • Notebook & pen
  • Accessory cord
  • Ear plugs
  • Bear spray
  • Bear bangers
  • F/A kit
  • Maps
  • Repair kit
  • Ziplock bags
  • Reading books x 2
  • Bug Spray

Food [each way - ship one set to Inuvik]

  • Chocolate bars x 7
  • Oatmeal x 10
  • Granola bars
  • fresh fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Freeze dried dinners x 7
  • tea
  • sugar

Friday, June 13, 2008

Canadian Great Divide Trail

I've been contemplating where I want to ride my bike later in the summer on my bike tour part II. I posted two ideas I was thinking about below. One issue I have with both plans is they involve a lot of driving/flying. Compared to the average Calgarian my life is relatively low on the consumption/energy use scale so I don't worry about this sort of thing too much, but I'm about to drive 5000kms round trip to SoCal and back. Then I'm going to drive another 5000kms+ to the arctic and back. Beyond the environmental impact I'm not really eager to spend more time in a metal box traveling thousands of KMs. The plane is much faster, but the hassle of boxing my bike and traveling to/from the airports at both ends evens things out. So I started pondering trips I can complete with minimal mechanized transport.

I do have the Icefield's Parkway close at hand, but I think I'll save that tour for the September long weekend as the mtns will be mostly tourist free by that point. Then I remembered I bought the Adventure Cycling Canadian Great Divide MTB Map a couple years back and haven't ridden that route yet. Starting at Banff and heading 355kms south to the US border on dirt roads & double track with the odd taste of single track thrown in for good measure. The ride starts at my back door [90mins away by car] and a long dirt tour may be just the thing to get a feel for my Big Dummy's expedition touring potential. I'd probably get a lift to the start and then ride south to the border then ride back and take a detour from the route so I end up in Calgary.

I haven't decided on this option 100%, but so far it has the most appeal of the options at hand.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Coasting

Amigos

Karen & Joel

Dwayne crosses the flooded path...

A tale of two tours...


As July approaches my plan to spend a month cycling in the arctic is under review. My friend Dustin had to bail on riding half the tour with me...=-( So I'll be riding solo. I've also got a project at work that won't be done before my planned departure date of 1 July. As I mentioned below I'm not really stoked about spending huge amounts of time alone at the moment. If you are in the right head space that can be a lot of fun, but if you are not it can be uber lonely. Taking this all into account I've come up with a new plan for my summer bike touring adventures that works better in all respects.

Dempster Highway

This is really the part of my arctic tour that I was excited about. The paved road ride from Whitehorse to the start of the Dempster Highway was just a convenient way to get from Dustin's place in Whitehorse. Now that he isn't going on the trip I'll just start my tour in Dawson City around the middle of July and ride to Inuvik and back on my own. This will shorten the trip while keeping the most remote and interesting section of the tour. I'm going to take my Thorn Sherpa for this trip. I had considered taking the Big Dummy, but now that I'll be going solo I'll pack ultralight and the Sherpa can roll fairly quickly with a light load whereas the Big Dummy would be overkill and much slower.

Shambhala Music Festival

I'll get back from the arctic and head to British Columbia [by car] for a music festival some good friends are DJing at. It will be nice to car camp in luxury after my bike tour and spend some time dancing/hanging out with my friends.

Bike Tour Part II

After Shambhala I'm going to take off for another bike tour using up the time I would have spent in the arctic had I completed the full tour from Whitehorse to Inuvik and return. I should have 10-14 days in the bank for this tour. I haven't decided 100% on what I'd like to do, but two options I thinking about are:
  • Option 1: fly to Vancouver and ride back to Calgary via HWY #3. This will be a fun & beautiful ride through an area I like a lot. I'd take my Surly LHT and it would be nice to get back on tour with this bike since I'm not riding it that much at home [blame it on my Tikit and Big Dummy!].
  • Option 2: drive down to Eugene, OR and visit Bike Friday HQ then tour along the OR coast and drive home. I'd probably take my LHT for this trip as well, but I might ride my Tikit as that would be appropriate after a visit with the Bike Friday folks.
I'm going to leave the second part of my bike tour plans open. That way I can fine tune what I end up doing depending on how I'm feeling as the summer progresses...=-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chic Photography

I stole this pic from Copenhagen Cycle Chic. I love most of the photos on that site, but this one stands out for me. If you aren't a regular CCC reader you should be...=-)

More Rain...

...it's still raining in Calgary. Of course the forecast calls for the rain to end Friday evening. That just happens to be precisely when I'll be leaving town to spend a week in Southern California. If it starts raining again the day I get back I'll have to start looking for black helicopters!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tamia Nelson's Outside Up North

Tamia Nelson has a great site that documents her bike [Surly LHT] and paddling adventures. That's a combination that is near and dear to my heart!...=-) She is a talented writer with an interesting perspective on human powered transport & recreation.

Splish Splash

It was a really wet weekend in Calgary. Since my Tikit handles the rain so well and keeps me really clean and dry it was pretty much a folder weekend.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Torture Testing the Sherpa

Dwayne volunteered to put my Thorn Sherpa through its paces prior to my up coming tour so that I wouldn't have any surprises on tour. What a friend...=-)

No curb too high to jump.

Can the Tubus Cargo really handle a passenger?

Wednesday Cafe Beano Coffee Ride

We've started a new tradition - every Wednesday night we are meeting at Cafe Beano [16th Ave Sw. & 9th St.] at 7pm for a social coffee ride around town. The speed is casual and acceptable for all riders. You don't need to have an odd bike, but folders, recumbents, cargo bikes and crank forwards are certainly welcome!

Click here to see photos from our first Coffee Ride.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

No-Rando


As you may have noticed there have not been any brevet reports on this blog since the 200K I rode in April. I haven't been riding my Fujin since that brevet either. This has been puzzling me since I love that bike and I really like going out on the highway for long fast road rides. I've spent sometime pondering why, despite wanting to do these sorts of rides, I'm just not making it happen. The answer lies in a simple equation of social interaction. Last year during the rando season I had a GF and was spending lots of time with her. This meant that getting out on the Fujin for a long day on the bike was a nice break from being social and at the end of the ride I knew I could connect with her again and hang out. Being single this spring and working alone at home most of the time - social interactions are at a premium. If I don't make an effort I can easily not see another human being for 24hrs. Under these circumstances when I choose to ride a bike my first priority is to ride with a friend [none of whom want to do any long distance riding] and my second priority is to ride in town where there are other people. The idea of getting on my recumbent and spending 5-8hrs alone on the highway is quite unappealing at the moment.

Reflecting on this the whole situation made a lot of sense to me and frankly I don't feel particularly bad about it. I've managed to get lots of riding in with people I care about and helped motivate some of them to ride more. I'm having lots of fun. I'm just not doing one very specific kind of riding right now, but I know that things change and I'll be back on my bent cruising the highways in the not too distant future. I've also never appreciated how cycling feeds my emotion needs and how I can balance out my social life by choosing the different types of rides I focus on.

The other thing I have learned from this is that to reach my full rando potential clearly I need to be married...LMAO...just kidding!!....=-)

Sunday, June 01, 2008