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Photo by Adam Coppola
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.
The Escape Bivvy from Adventure Medical Kits is new for 2012, and it is looking to be a beefed up version of their popular Emergency Bivvy. Intended to provide additional warmth when the unexpected occurs, this bivvy reflects body heat back inwards, but also manages to breath out moisture to cut down on condensation buildup.
It never fails, no matter how iron clad your pack list is, there will always be something you realize you missed, in addition to lot of things you realize you don't really need. For the extra items, you can always ship those back home when you reach a post office, and with the items you forgot, you can usually pick them along they way. One fun thing about touring is that when I say pick thing up along the way, I really mean along the way. Over the years, I've found a lot of odd items laying on or next to the road while riding that I have found useful.
We've had a calm winter overall here in Montana, but this past week acted as a good reminder of what it's like to ride in harsh conditions, specifically heavy winds. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you battle the winds with finesse!
For my last few tours, I have only used rear panniers and a handlebar bag for gear storage, so I've had light duty, or randonneur style bikes on the mind. Just a quick note, when I talk about light touring, or randonneur bikes, the characteristics I'm referring to place us somewhere between road bike geometry and pure touring bike geometry. They would have shorter chainstays than a touring bike, a tall headtube, wide tire clearance, and often only rear rack mounts. Here are a few of the bikes I have really been keying in on as of late.
Bicycle touring and photography seem to go hand and hand, and it makes sense. You get to travel to incredible places at a relatively slow pace, there is plenty of time to kill, and after the tour is over you want to be able to share your experiences with others. Just thinking about our own staff here at Adventure Cycling, there have been some incredible photographers within our own walls over the years including Aaron Teasdale, Tom Robertson, John Sieber, and our co-founder, Greg Siple.
After a foot of snow falls in a couple of days, getting out on the bike is tough going, even on a fat bike! With limited daylight and nasty conditions making it hard to get in the saddle, it's a good time to tackle some more time consuming maintenance projects.
During our bike tours, people have often quipped, "Great that you're doing this trip before you have kids!" -- as if children would put a definite and immediate end to our love of cycling and traveling by bicycle. When I became pregnant in May 2011, I wondered if they were right. Would a growing belly (let alone the arrival of a new human being) put a quick end to my bike touring days?
Sometimes it is the simple things that bring the greatest joy, and that's why Salsa's new Anything Cage is going down as my personal pick for 2011 Touring Product of the Year.
The night is a dark time for cyclists ... and we're not necessarily in the clear during the daytime, either. Overcast days, or roads that are heavily shaded, don't lend themselves to providing great visibility to drivers of cars approaching a rider from behind. For this reason, it's a great idea to outfit yourself with some bright clothing, gear, and/or accessories when you take off for a tour.
Once in a long while the Gods of Cycling just smile down on you and say, "We have made you suffer enough. We have made you ride to work through too many snowstorms and scheduled too many of your biking 'vacations' during record breaking heat waves. To make it up to you, we're going to give you a perfect 15-day bicycling tour through Baja, Mexico and we're going to let you try out a Tout Terrain Silkroad while you're there." For a minute it seems too good to be true, but then you just decide to smile and go with it.
I'm a big believer that you will enjoy your tour a great deal more if you get a strong night of sleep between riding days. If you plan on camping most of the nights on your tour, sleep can sometimes be hard to come by, unless you're among the few fortunate individuals who can sleep anywhere, anytime, under any circumstances. Here are some tips for getting a solid night of sleep on your next tour.