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Photo by Adam Coppola
In my latest "Fine Tuned" column in this month's Adventure Cyclist, I focused on gravel riding. Gravel roads are where I tend to spend the majority of my time in the saddle, so it's an exciting topic for me. To keep the momentum running, today I'm going to run down some of my favorite gravel tires.
I find it interesting that most cars come standard with three rearview mirrors, but bicycles are sold without any! Perhaps the thought is that bicycles don’t have a reverse gear, so why would you need mirrors for backing up? But seriously, cycle mirrors not only let you see what the cars behind you are doing — if used correctly, they can also enable you influence how the traffic will pass you.
A peculiar looking fork, Salsa's Enabler first caught my eye a few years ago when introduced as their rigid 29er "adventure fork." It has since become the stock fork on their Mukluk line of fat bikes and it is becoming a go-to option for a fatbike frame build. While putting together a fatbike build earlier this winter, I took an opportunity to purchase one and put it to use with my setup. Although I haven't tested it to it's fullest potential for overnight adventures and gear hauling, it has steered wonderfully so far and I have thoroughly enjoyed some of the features of this unique fork.
In the current issue of Adventure Cyclist, I brought up compact frame geometry in my Fine Tuned column. One benefit of compact geometry that I failed to bring up in that article is in the case of fat bikes, where it seems to be heavily favored.
It's Fat Bike February, and with the future of fat bikes so bright, you had best be wearing some shades. When talking about fat bike apparel, there is often a lot of focus on warm layers, and waterproof clothing, however, sunglasses are a pivotal piece of equipment. Whether you're riding through the snow or along a beach, chances are you're going to have a lot of surface area around you reflecting the sunlight back up into your face, intensifying it the sun's effect. This can impair your vision, and believe it or not, squinting does soak up a good amount of energy over the long run, which you would much rather put into pedaling.
According to presenters from QBP this weekend at the second annual Fat Bike Summit, there are around 10,000 fat bikes out in the world today. They expect that number to double in the next twelve months. Where will they be used? What is the future of fatbiking?
We all know that recumbents are becoming increasingly more popular among touring-oriented cyclists. The reasons for this are many.
It's a true story that I'm a huge sucker for limited-edition runs of products. Recently, I caved and snagged a pair of Bont Thor Hushovd signature-edition cycling shoes, and I'm brainstorming another tour for this summer so I can swing by the Adventure Cycling office to snag another Bikelingual bandana, available only to touring cyclists who visit our headquarters.
Riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike route this past summer gave me a whole new appreciation for bottle cages. I began the ride with three different bottle cage models, and by the time I hit the border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico, only one bottle cage survived.
This is the season for bike lights, and if you didn't score a new light over the holidays, there's a good budget friendly, and very useful light from Knog called the Boomer. The brightest LED light currently available from Knog, it throws out a solid 50 lumens. At this power output, you shouldn't expect to turn night time into day, but you can expect a descent spread of light in front of you to be able to see obstacles in the road, even with city and traffic lights dimming its power.
In my column, Fine Tuned, in the latest issue of Adventure Cyclist, I mentioned the difficulties of getting a rack on a fat bike that has 170mm rear dropouts. Here's a testament to how quickly fat bike technology is moving forward: Not long after I submitted my article, Salsa Cycles went ahead and released the new Alternator Rack Wide for their Mukluk fat bike.
The following is a guest post by travel writer and Adventure Cycling member Jeanine Barone:
I glanced back, squinting into the blinding snow, to make sure Bill was still riding behind me, the snow was getting heavier and visibility was much worse than when we had started earlier that day. But there he was, right on my tail with the biggest grin on his face. The riding was wonderfully quiet with a fresh two inches on the ground and piling fast. "This is awesome", I heard him say, as my Surly Nates made fresh tracks. I couldn't help but laugh.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, winter means lots of rain. As a native-born Portlander who has been biking seriously since 1999, I think of myself as a bit of a rain expert. Today I'd like to share my field-tested tips on becoming a happy winter cyclist.
When touring on a capable steed like the Pugsley, the bike is as willing as the rider. I've encountered many interesting dirt tracks on previous tours that seemed beyond the scope of my equipment. With the Pugsley, the bike is almost never the limitation and always agrees to new experiences. Here are some memorable moments from my revelatory fat year.
Having traveled for the last year and making the slow transition from stills to video, I’ve played with more than a few different tripods in search of THE ONE. Depending on how serious/heavy your gear you’ve got a lot of choices. Here are a few different styles of tripods I’ve used over the years to consider.
In some respects, recumbents are superb touring bikes. They’re supremely comfortable and allow you to stay on the road all day. The view from the seat also helps you catch sites that you may miss with your head hung over a set of drop bars. However, some of them do require some unique solutions when it comes to gear and equipment. Here are a few things to get you pointed in the right direction.
With winter knocking on my bike, I decided to asked some local experts about winterizing bike tips, and I also mixed in some random thoughts:
As we roll in to the waning of the warm, I wanted to take the time to review some basic, but often overlooked, elements of shift/pedal technique. These tips should help maximize one's efficiency while minimizing discomfort and mechanical discord.
Whenever I'm putting together a pack list for a tour, before I even start thinking about what I might need, I always grab the pack list from my previous tour to use as an outline. Since all tours are different, there are things that need to be tweaked here and there. For instance, fenders and warm clothes can stay at home on a tour through Baja, Mexico, while they will be a necessity for touring in Alaska.
Bicycle touring is a good time, but it also takes up a good amount of time. While we often fill in the time between tours by heading out on day rides, or weekend overnights, there are a lot of other fun things to do on a bike. Here are some of the activities I've enjoyed over the years to fill in the spaces and stay in shape from one tour to another.
Looking at the faces of bicycle tourists, it seems like it's about a 50/50 split between those who shave and those who don't. For myself, beard growing season happens as soon as the daytime mercury drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, which means I'm shaving on long summer tours. Over the years, I more or less had to make due with soap and water when it came to shaving, since I wasn't about to deal with heavy gel aerosol cans. It was never super comfortable, and I nicked myself a lot, but it was better than itchy stubble.
We get a lot of questions about what kind of training is needed for a bicycle tour, which is a super broad question. How you train for a tour depends on the difficulty and length of the tour, your experience as a rider, your body type, and health conditions to name just a few factors. Regardless, here's some general advice that can be applied to almost any training regiment.