Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bicycle Camping Success!

Well, last weeks bicycle camping was a rounding success.  My 2 companions complained of sore posteriors afterwords, but all in all, it was tremendous fun.

We were getting close to the campsite as the sun was setting.

My companions and I on a bridge.

Our camp was set up in a short amount of time. We stopped for food first, so had to set up in twilight.

 The morning after. Getting some breakfast and getting ready to head out.

I can hardly wait for the next trip!

This one was a total ride of about 30 miles.  Next time we're going to go a bit further. Maybe we'll take a week and take a ride to Oklahoma.

Friday, October 9, 2015

New Bike Day! (kinda)

So, I took the Jamis to the local bike store to have it appraised, and get a list of suggested maintenance.  The bike shop said that in it's present condition, the bike wasn't worth $100, and the list of suggested repairs was over $200. Add to that the price to replace the damaged parts I mentioned earlier, and it quickly became a money pit.

They recommended a new shifter (the old one was so worn it wouldn't shift reliably), chain, cassette, tires and cables.  They also suggested a new stem, new saddle and new bars due to damage.

So, I ended up getting a new-to-me bike.

It's a mid-2000's (2006 I think) Specialized Allez Pro.  Picked it up for $600.

 I can't believe how fast it is.  So easy to pedal, even in the higher gears.  I am going to take it out for a quick ride (20-30 miles) and see how it goes.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The new front rack has arrived.

Well, the new front rack has arrived, and I am somewhat disappointed with it.  The mounting clamps that are designed to hold it to the fork are too large, and as you can see from the photos I had to shim it a bit.  I shimmed each side with a slice of sponge.  I'll get the knife out and clean it up a bit, but ugh.  What a PITA.  Secondly, it seems a bit too large for my panniers. They slide back and forth on the top bar, and the bottom bar is too far down for the lower clip to attach.  I think I'm going to have to do some creative bungee cord work to secure them. (again, sorry for the glare.  One day I will learn to use a camera properly.)

I also got a handlebar bag from Ibera.  It's much larger than I expected, and that's not a bad thing.  Looks like it will hold much of my ready-access equipment and goodies (Cameras, snacks, sunblock, etc.)

Lastly, I'm considering a new (to me) bicycle.  My neighbor has a Jamis Aurora that he wants to trade for my Rock Island Armory .45 pistol.  I'm unsure about the trade.  The bike has seen better days. It has some serious road rash, like maybe it fell off someone's car rack as they were going down the highway.  The crank, front fender, handlebars, stem and saddle all have serious road rash. 

The pistol is currently worth more than the bicycle cost when it was new, but I haven't shot it in years, and I would ride the bicycle a couple times a week. He doesn't ride the bike, but would give the pistol the attention that it deserves.

Decisions, decisions. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hey, Shimano!

This isn't supposed to happen, is it?

I was doing a bit of cross-country riding, and suddenly BAM! The rear wheel stopped turning because half of the rear derailleur got bound up in the spokes.

Lucky for me I had a spare.

Bicycle camping is fun.

So, last Friday, I and a neighbor got on our bicycles and rode 20 miles to Erwin Park, in McKinney, TX.  The trip took about 2.5 hours because of a strong headwind the entire time - the hills didn't help much either. It was nearly dark when we arrived, so I hurriedly set up my tent and took this picture. Sorry for the glare, I'm not adept with a camera.
The flash certainly didn't help the picture turn out, but the camp turned out wonderful, with a few minor exceptions.  First was that neither of us brought any sort of fire-making equipment, and the other was when a couple of McKinney officers decided to pull over a number of vehicles right out front of the campsite at 1:30 in the morning. They had all their flashing lights going, and everyone was talking far too loud. 
We resolved the fire issue in about 5 minutes by cycling around the park and asking people we met. Thanks to the nice people in the pickup truck that gave us a lighter. It meant that we were able to have a warm dinner and a warm breakfast. We just had to wait patiently for the second issue to resolve itself. I snapped a pic for the time stamp.  My eyes were too bleary to see well.

I rolled out of bed around 8am and he crawled out of his tent soon after. We had a nice breakfast of warm oatmeal and Dr. Pepper, packed up our things and headed home shortly afterwards.

The trip home was much faster, helped partly by a nice tailwind. It took about an hour and a half.

I learned that I need to distribute my weight better on my bicycle so I have purchased 2 more panniers and a front rack. Having all the weight over the rear wheel made the bike handle quite a bit different than I was expecting. Also, I will be adding upright bar ends to my handlebars.  I want the extra hand positions to avoid fatigue. I"ll write about these items when they arrive.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Camp stove has arrived

My Esbit 5 piece camp stove arrived.  I washed it, filled it with fuel and boiled some water.  I was a bit surprised how fast it went through fuel, but it boiled water just fine, and cooled down quickly afterwards.
I filled it up and fired it up a second time to make some instant mashed potatoes and some tea, which it did a fine job of. We'll see how I use it on the upcoming trip. I was thinking I might pop some green beans and some cheese in a Ziploc bag, and mix that in with the potatoes. Sounds decent for dinner, yeah?  Oatmeal and tea for breakfast? I can see that I might have to learn a few new recipes.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Finally settled on a date and a site.

I got a text from the neighbor letting  me know that one of the local bicycle parks allows for overnight camping. In a couple of weeks, we'll be loading up and taking off. Right after labor day weekend ends and the overnight temperatures drop a bit.

I repacked my bags a few times, and was able to get my tent and bedding into a single 22 liter pannier.  Yes, really.  Everything except the tent poles. So far, I'm really impressed with these Ibera PakRaks

That leaves the other pannier free for cooking/kitchen stuffs and a couple changes of clothes. The site has a fire ring, so I might even try to bring a hatchet and some good scotch. I have plenty of storage.

Friday, August 28, 2015

I survived the yard.

The overnight stay in the yard was a success. I did not die, and my gear worked. I do need a bigger backup battery, but the good one I have left was able to charge my phone by morning.

I'm heading out on another 4 hour ride soon, this time with a full load of gear and water. If I survive that, I will be ready for the next step: learning to feed myself from a tiny camp stove.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Backyard camping.

So, I have spent today doing fairly normal activities. An hour on the bike, using gps and Bluetooth and all that.  Tonight, I am recharging my devices via backup batteries. One of my backups has failed is what I have learned so far. We'll see how much reserve power I have left in the morning.

Since I am running off batteries anyway, I will be sleeping in the yard, testing the tent, the pad and the bag. Since there is 0 chance of rain, I will be sleeping with the fly off.

Good thing that I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow afternoon .

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Set up the new tent in the yard.

So, I set up the 12 Survivors Shire 2 in the yard to get a good look at it. It looks pretty nice.

Here is is without the rain fly:

 And With:

I should have taken the extra time to pull the fly taught, but I got the basic idea. There certainly appears to be enough room under that fly for my gear.

Monday, August 24, 2015

New pedals are installed!

...And I find them quite nice.  I'm still getting the spring adjustment dialed in, but I put 3 hours on them today, and they were so much nicer than my previous ones.

Also, I rode with extra weight today too.  Here's a pick of my loadout for the trip. One pannier held my tent, the other held my sleeping bag and sleeping pad. I carried a quart of water in each pannier as well.  The trunk bag had a bunch of locks and cables, just for the additional weight.
I'm certain that I have room for a small camping stove, fuel, food for an overnight stay, and a change of clothes.

The panniers are Ibera 22l bags, the trunk is a PakRak Quick Release, and the rear rack is an Ibera Touring Carrier Plus.

So far it feels capable of taking anything I throw at it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

New pedals!

Ordered some new pedals for the Nishiki.  They should be in some time today.

My current pedals have clips on one side and platforms on the other, and they're a PITA.  When you unclip, the pedal goes to it's default position, which is platform up, and so I always have to look down to clip in.

So, new Shimano PD-M520's.  I'm excited just thinking about it.

Also coming in today's shipment are my tent, a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag.  I'll do my best to document them appropriately later on, but here's the short list:

12 Survivors Shire 2 tent
Klymit static V sleep mat
Kaufland 40 superlight mummy bag.

I think I'm going to sleep in the back yard tonight, just to try it all out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I think I might have found a new hobby.

I've really been doing a lot of bicycle riding these days, and figured I ought to start sharing my experiences.

First, we'll cover some history. 

Back about 5 years ago, I got a bike at a local garage sale - $25 for a 15 speed 26". A Magna Glacier Point. 

The intended purpose was to ride the bicycle to the corner store for beer and cigarettes, instead of driving.

It had it's issues. It had thumb-lever friction shifters, and the one for the front derailleur was broken. I'd have to put the bike on the sprocket I thought I would need, and then just leave it for the entire trip. The saddle was uncomfortable, and every time I changed cogs my feet would slip around on the pedals (and sometimes slip off.)

So, after a few years of riding that bike, I found another 'garage sale special' bicycle.  For $50 I picked up a Nishiki Pueblo.  It had a front shock, 21 speeds that all worked, and I thought it looked much nicer than the Magna.

I have put many hundreds of miles on this Nishiki, and even a few upgrades. 

I'm now looking for a dedicated touring bicycle.

I intend to chronicle my bicycle progression here.

(I have since converted the Magna to a 21 speed, and replaced the friction shifters with twist shifters. It's now my son's bike.)

Thursday, May 7, 2015