Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Video update

     Things have been busy on my end, I have been preparing and getting bad news! I'll go into detail later, but the tour is kinda on hold for now, but the good news is when i can leave I am ready to go... please check out this youtube video I made showing off my fancy rig. youtube link

Shot on a test ride look closely its about midnight.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Headlight and a handlebar bag!

     Finding how to mount my headlight with a handlebar bag seemed to be quite the task. A few companies had some options that I wasn't really thrilled with. First I looked at the ortlieb accessory mount. At 38 dollars this option puts the headlight above the handlebar bag and probably works great. I however didn't want to spend the money on that if I could find a cheaper alternative. I searched Google for touring bike pictures to get an idea of what other tourers were doing. I kept seeing either no light or the Dynamo lights mounted on the fork crown. I really like the idea of a dynamo hub and some lights and maybe a USB port for charging, but now we're talking the big bucks for something I kinda already had. I lucked out looking at Dynamo light mounts I found Busch & Muller made one that might work and for six bucks it was worth a shot. All of this to say look at my pretty light it's mounted!

Get one of your own! 
Busch and Muller Fork Crown Mount for IXON Speed and other Bike Headlights
Lumia 700 on Busch & Muller fork crown mount.
     The Lumia's bracket needed to be turned around to allow the finger screw to be tightened. Thankfully, NiteRider saw that one coming and hid a little screw so you can use the mounting plate backwards. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Gear, gear, and more gear.

     Well I've got my bike and I can now start the next portion of my journey. Gear! Warning the following gets expensive, real fast. There are alternatives, I did not take them. If you are frugal or have a heart condition please press the browser back button now. Its ok I'll wait...

     HOLY F*CK some gear is outright expensive! I wont discuss prices in this post but WOW. When I set out to collect my gear, I went about it the only way I knew how; I read blogs, Amazon reviews, watched YouTube videos and got some advice from friends. Now that's out of the way lets talk about some of the crap I feel I need to bring! I am going to give a detailed gear-list with some of my thoughts mixed in. 

     I've got my bicycle and my panniers and now I need to decide what I'll need. I've been a camper all my life so some of the picking and choosing was intuitive, for others I had to rely on reviews and since I've yet to live in and abuse this gear I don't yet know how it stacks up. Soon I will be able to report what of the following items I like/hate, want/need and so on! So without further ado:

      The Bike itself is a Surly Disc trucker, (stock build) it is the disc version of the highly acclaimed Long Haul Trucker. For racks I went with Tubas, I have the Tara in the front, and the Logo in the back! It is a great combo and will keep the weight lower and keep the center of gravity low. The saddle is a brooks cambium. Surprising to me the bike did not come with pedals, I may try clipless in the future but for now I'll stick with the bike shop platform pedals. 

Tent without rain-fly.

     The tent I chose was the MSR hubba hubba. It is a lightweight 2 person tent that will accommodate me and my gear inside with plenty of room to spare. I set it up in my living room it took about 10 minutes the first time. I really like how easy they have become to assemble. Gone are the days of pushing the pole through the fabric. MSR and many tent makers of freestanding tents use clips. I am impressed lets see how long they last! 

     For my sleep system I went with a mummy bag; the Marmot plasma 30. Laying in a mummy bag sure is different than the square bags I've used in the past so I will be interested to see if this is the right bag for me. The sleeping pad I acquired is a Therm-a-rest Neo-Air Trekker. I have not slept on it, but I did inflate it and lay on it quite a few times. It does have a crinkly sound like the reviews I read stated, but it's not loud enough to bother me. I plan on getting a silk liner for my bag to use on cooler nights and for use alone on warm nights. 

Fuel shown below fits inside the pot.

My first meal in the kitchen.
     The camping stove I went with, the MSR pocket rocket cookware is from GSI the Pinnacle soloist. The spork in that kit was plastic and flimsy so I got the Snow Peak titanium spork. I have had the chance to use my stove a few times on my front porch and it works great. I cant wait to use it more. 

(Left to Right: NightCore, Brila, MSR)
     It gets dark at night. This next paragraph is going to focus on the many ways I have chosen to illuminate my nights. I, having been camping many times know how shitty frustrating it is to stumble around camp in the dark, especially if you are dispersed camping (we will talk about that in more detail later). On the top of my list is my trusty Nitecore flashlight. It uses an 18650 battery that lasts for quite a long time and has a few brightness levels to choose from. Next in my path to the light... A small lantern for outside the tent. I did not have one and found a really inexpensive little light called the Brila mini lantern from Ultimate Survival Technologies. It is a neat little light and I think it will put out enough for what I need. I had a hard time finding a red LED camp-light that was not very bright. Enter the MSR tent light! When reading the MSR website I stumbled upon the accessories page and lo and behold the light I was searching for! I guess I wasn't googling properly, but man this is a cool little light. The red color lets me see without messing up my night vision so when I fumble with my camera at night I'm not having to adjust to the change in light. 

     I haven't really touched much on bike stuff. So here we go! Traveling to remote areas on a bicycle without good equipment and repair items could make or break your trip. I have a few tools I carry with me if you have any suggestions please let me know. I have a patch kit, tire levers, a decent bicycle multi-tool, a special Torx wrench for my disc brakes, frame pump, presta to schrader adaptor, crescent wrench. I will also be carrying a few extra tubes, a temporary spoke for the drive side, disc pads, chain-cleaner and lube, a spare brake cable and a spare gear cable. 

     Stuff I don't have but plan on obtaining; rain jacket and maybe pants, solar charger for my gadgets, travel tripod for my camera, a set of paper maps for the areas I will be traveling. At a later date I will post a list with everything I will be bringing with less commentary :-) 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Second guessing myself and buying a bike.

     When I first started romanticizing the idea of touring by bicycle. My main concerns were what to bring how to bring it and everything in-between. Since I'm a bit of a gear nerd this presented some thought for how I would go about getting my ducks in a row. Since I already had a bicycle and was told I could tour on anything I decided it was time to get some proper panniers the ortliebs I've read so much about. I ordered those and a front rack for my bike I went with old man mountain since my bike had a front shock I was so excited! I learned the company I ordered from was here in town and I could pick them up the day I ordered instead of waiting for them to be shipped! Upon mounting them up I felt my calling! I loaded them up with some 2 liter bottles of coke to simulate the gear I might be brining along on my travels.

I spent many nights riding the deserts behind my house
this night was the worst/best night rain had washed out
the roads a few miles I had to push it.
     My mountain bike had done me well but with some heel rub and the rack and panniers back as far as they could go coupled with the front end not carrying the weight well I started to realize why a lot of folks ride dedicated touring bikes. Now I went from drooling over peoples journeys to drooling over their touring rigs. The two liter coke bottles gave me an idea of what it was like to over pack! An invaluable lesson!

     With a new bike on the mind and keeping it super lightweight I wanted to start from scratch on what I was bringing everything I had before was too heavy and not likely to hold up against daily use and abuse.

     Before I knew it I had decided on a bike I had never ridden based on its high praises. The surly long haul trucker. I read oodles of blogs reviews, this bike was growing on me fast! Somehow I got it stuck in my head that I had to buy this bike before I bought any more gear. I was worried I would be over packing for a bike I wasn't sure if I could fit stuff... if that makes any sense? 

     I went to my local bike store and the owner of the shop offered me with some info about disc brakes and told me he rode the disc trucker, the disc brake version of the long haul trucker. Decisions, decisions, I went for a nice long ride on my mountain bike. I kinda scared myself on the way back I was kinda loaded and went down a steep slope my rim brakes almost didn't stop me. Now I'm thinking oh boy fully loaded tourer and stopping? I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew. The next week I back to my local shop and ordered the disc trucker. I am still not sure I needed it but I sure did want it and after riding it for a while now I can honestly say I love it!
No racks or fenders yet. 
     At this point I want to mention that I am keeping this blog as a journal and not as an instruction manual, there are many alternatives, this is just the route I went. :)

    Ordering a bike was a painful process for me, think opposite of instant gratification. I purchased the bike two months before the winter holidays. When I ordered the bike I ordered racks and fenders. The bike took about a month to get in and built, and the fenders arrived about a month later. So two months and some change and I had my dream bike! It was painful but worth it.
Mounted my GPS to my stem.

My boy is gonna miss me and I am gonna miss him!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hello and welcome!

     Hi my name is Rob, I am a newbie bicycle tourer. In the past year I started riding my bicycle to rehabilitate my ankle from a motorcycle versus deer accident (spoiler alert: the deer won ... for now). As I rode more I wanted to keep riding my bicycle and go further, I would wear a camelbak for hydration and one day I was sick of carrying it and as a photographer I wanted to carry my camera and other things. A search on google for bicycle racks lead me to the word pannier, hit google again, from that one word I found the world of touring. I knew it existed but had no idea how huge it was. I got a inexpensive rack and panniers and began to ride further taking only day trips. On every ride I would day dream about not coming home... camping and doing it all over again. Reading about other peoples journeys quickly became a pastime. I am obsessed! Soon I found forums videos and subreddits. I still cant read/think/eat/sleep enough about it!

My starter bike (the accessories probably cost more than the bike)