Archive for September, 2011

Gear Post

As a warning for some, enticement for others, this’ll be a bit more technical than my other posts. I want to mention the gear I used on this trip 1) as a reminder to myself for possible future trips, and 2) to show others interested in touring cycling that you don’t need to break the bank on top-of-the-line gear for your adventure.

The Mystery, The Mancycle, The Moose – $33

This is the horse that took me across the country. The frame is a Fuji Finest Sport Series, 61 cm., found at the side of our house. It belonged to my friend, who I believe bought it sometime in high school, so it’s definitely not new. It came with an FSA Power Pro 201 crankset, Shimano Sora front and rear derailleurs and shifters, platform pedals, brake pads, and a rusty chain. I replaced the chain with anSRAM PC 850 P-Link Bicycle Chain (8-Speed, Grey) 8-speed SRAM PC 850 P-Link Bicycle Chain ($14) and got a SRAM PG850 11-32T 8 Speed CassetteSRAM PG850 11-32T 8 Speed Cassette ($19). Also shown in the picture are water bottles. Two 1.5 L bottles kept me hydrated, plus a smaller 500 mL for when the big bottles couldn’t fit beneath shallow sinks/water fountains (turned out to be VERY useful).

The Most Important Part of a Touring Bike – The Wheels ($220)

Rear Wheel: Dimension Value Series 2 700c 36h Rear Wheel Shimano 2200 Silver Hub WTB Freedom Ryder Black Rim Dimension Value Series 2 700c 36h Rear Wheel Shimano 2200 Silver Hub WTB Freedom Ryder Rim ($52)

Front Wheel: Dimension Value Series 2 700c Front Wheel, Shimano 2200 Silver Hub, WTB Freedom Ryder Black Rim Dimension Value Series 2 700c 32h Front Wheel, Shimano 2200 Silver Hub, WTB Freedom Ryder Rim ($47)

These consisted of WTB Freedom Ryder rims, Shimano 2200 hubs, and 3x crossed DT Swiss stainless silver spokes. For how cheap these wheels were, they performed amazingly. Dripped somePacer PT42 Threadlocker .20 ozThreadlock ($3) into the spoke ends and the wheels stayed true for the entire ride. Considering I rode with about 50 lbs. of gear, this was quite a feat.

Two tubes, plus two spare ($25)

Two rolls of Velox Fond de Jante rim tape 17mm Velox Fond de Jante rim tape 17mm ($14)

Two Vittoria Randonneur Road Tire Vittoria Randonneur 700 x 28c Road Tires ($50)

I only had three flats on the trip. Three! I switched the tires rear-to-front and front-to-rear in Kansas, and admittedly by the end of the ride both were well worn, but after 3,600 miles, I couldn’t be happier with them.

Extra Panaracer Pana RiBMo Bicycle Tire with Protex Shield (Aramid Bead Folding, 700x28, Black) Panaracer Pana RiBMo Folding Tire 700×28 ($29)

Goodies in the Front – $32

Avenir Mini Metro Handlebar Bag (91.5 Cubic Inches) Avenir Mini Metro Handlebar Bag ($15)

91 1/2 cubic inches of space. Plenty of room for my wallet, cell phone, iPod, camera, passport, sunglasses, chapstick, and pepper spray in the side pouch. Easily detachable when going into shops.

Bell F12 Bike Computer Bell F12 Bike Computer ($10)

Worked fine until Kansas. Replaced the battery in Denver. Went on the fritz again in Wyoming. I’m not sure what was wrong with it, but it was useless through the last leg of my ride. I don’t know if any bike computer can last a cross-country trip, but I was not impressed with this one.

LED headlight ($7)

I bought this as a pair with a taillight. The taillight fell off somewhere in Colorado. Fortunately, I never rode at night so it wasn’t a big deal, but I should have spent more on brighter, better quality lights.

I also had a clown horn given to me by Katherine, but the Kansas heat caused it to crack. Just like strong wheels, the clown horn is an important necessity for touring, if for entertainment alone.

Where My Rear Was (and other non-related items) – $10

Brooks saddle borrowed from a friend. Of all Moose’s components, this one was commented on the most. Nearly every host questioned its comfort, and one even compared it to a medieval torture device (“It even has metal bolts in the rear for extra pain!”). Despite its spartan appearance, Brooks saddles are the way to go for touring cycling. Many gel or padded saddles start out fine, but day after day of sitting will cause pressure points on your bum from where the padding has compressed. Leather saddles start rigid, but daily riding softens the leather to the shape of your butt. After many miles, it’s actually quite comfortable (for riding 60-80 miles a day, that is).

Also pictured: a Bell helmet given by Edward for my birthday – I think the padding is permanently salty from how much I sweated, and a letter-combination bike lock  – my word was not BATE ($10).

Junk in the Front – $10

Front racks and panniers borrowed from a friend. TheProduct DetailsAxiom Journey DLX Low Rider Rack kept the bags sturdy and free from interfering with the front wheel. The front panniers contained maps, first-aid kit, repair kit, toiletries bag, sunscreen/bug spray, granola bars, extra tubes, extra folding tire, Schwinn Aluminum Frame Pump Schwinn Aluminum Frame Pump ($10), which saved me a few times with flats in barren parts of the country,  a second pump in case one broke, and MSR Whisperlite stove and cooking supplies borrowed from Edward’s dad. I used stove nearly every day and never had a problem, even in wind, rain, or other poor weather condtions. Nearly everything was in Ziploc since the bags weren’t waterproof.

Junk in the Trunk – $156

Ventura Universal Bicycle Carrier Rack Ventura Universal Bicycle Carrier Rack ($12) sturdily held two Racktime Travelit panniers($55), providing a whopping 46 liters / 2,806 cu. inches of space, extremely easy mounting/dismouting, and pack-away rain covers for those drizzly days. The left contained my food bag (a day or two’s worth of cereal, oatmeal, bread, bananas, apples, peaches, peanut butter [near the end of the trip, I was finishing a jar every other day], tomatoes, onions, rice, and spaghetti) and my sleeping bag. The right had my clothes (3 quick-dry shirts, 1 cotton shirt, 2 bike shorts, 1 zip off pants/shorts, 3 underwear, 3 sock pairs, 1 fleece, 1 rain jacket, gloves, Teva sandals, sneakers, and cap). The top bag contained Coleman 5-Gallon Shower Camp given to me by Edward, wrapped around a Thermarest sleeping pad borrowed from Katherine, wrapped around a North Face Mica 12 tent ($89), bought with an employee discount from the same friend who let me use his Fuji frame. The solar shower allowed me at least a rinse-off at the end of every day, the Thermarest allowed for surprisingly good nights of sleep, and the Mica tent kept me off the ground, warm, and dry, even in severe lightening storms.

_____________

Total Cost: $461

For a trip of a lifetime, not a bad price tag.

Amazing Host & Amazing Host & Amazing Host &

Sandra in Laramie, WY (CouchSurfing)

She’s a graduate student studying community counseling at Univ. of Wyoming, the only four-year college in the state. Lives in a tiny apartment that reminded me very much of my time in Japan (counter intuitively, banging my head on short doorways actually enhances memory). We went out to a vegetarian restaurant where I demolished a massive black bean and cheese burrito, then took a bike tour around her campus. Really pretty area. Slept in a surprisingly comfortable recliner.

Thanks for the tasty dinner and beautiful bike ride, Sandra! Good luck in school, and Nick, stay lazy.

Rick in Rawlins, WY (CouchSurfing)

He’s a cyclist himself, though much more hardcore than me. 24-hour/400 mile races are his game. He’s gone randonneuring in France, cycled from Canada to Mexico, and plans to do the horizontal cross country ride in the near future. He also showed me his roller, a training device that teaches you to ride in a straight line. Admittedly, when I first heard this, I thought it was kind of silly; I mean, really, something for riding straight? But the first time I tried to balance on it, I flew off. Turns out riding in a straight line is harder than it seems. Anyway, because Rick has had firsthand experience in the voracious appetite of a touring cyclist, he made me massive quantities of stir fry, homemade bread, and for breakfast, endless blueberry pancakes. We watched about half of the thriller movie Zodiac, then crashed on his blowup mattress. Most memorable Rick quote: “Anyone can make a lot of money, but not everyone can tell a story.”

Thanks Rick for the inspiration to keep cycling and the massive quantities of delicious cooking!

Juan in Lander, WY (CouchSurfing)

One might call Juan a jack-of-all-trades; through our conversations, I surmised that he has at least five professions: Photographer (see his work here; I arrived the day after he had a gallery opening), Caver (he explores caves in Mexico), Carpenter (he built most of his house), Search & Rescue (he is occasionally called upon to help rescue people and recover personal planes that have crashed in the mountains surrounding Lander), Lumberjack (spent some time chopping timber in Denmark…?), and as a hobby, Collector…

We had a delicious dinner and breakfast from his gallery reception leftovers, and I took off with a promise from Juan to fix my broken water bottle cage as soon as he sets up his welding station…Seriously, this man redefines the word “handy.”

Thanks for letting me help you finish the reception leftovers, Juan, and keep being eccentric and adventurous!

Gordon in Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, WY (CouchSurfing)

He has worked in the food service at Old Faithful for 10 years. Unfortunately, Gordon had to work in the restaurant when I arrived, but he gave me the keys to his dorm and offered his bed and shower. After getting some food and seeing Old Faithful do the Old Faithful thing, I crashed in his room. Woke up when Gordon arrived back from work around 11pm and we had a late night chat. He is really into food; as his CouchSurfing profile states, “Food is an important part of traveling. I think the best way to get to know a new culture is to sit down with the local people and eat local food.” Agreed. He also knows his stuff about the park – he recommended I return (in a car, preferably) and he’d show me around.

Sorry my visit was so brief, Gordon, but thank you for your hospitality. I plan to take you up on your offer soon!

Anne in Idaho Falls, ID (CouchSurfing)

4 words to describe Anne – trip and a half! She founded Laughter Yoga in Idaho Falls for the simple reason that she believes laughter is the best medicine. Within 5 minutes of…no, within a minute…actually, when she opened the door, I knew I would like her. Immediate warmth emanated from her, or said another way, she smiles a lot. We talked about mindfulness, ate homemade banana soft serve, and laughed a bunch. In the morning, she made tortilla, banana, peanut butter, granola, honey, pecan butter tasty treats for the road, and sent me off with a song!

Thanks Anne for the addictive positive energy and tasty treats to go! My trip was filled with much more laughter after my visit with you!

Randy and Laura in Fairfield, ID (WarmShowers)

After my unexpected but glorious 90 mile day, I arrived in Fairfield earlier than expected. Found Internet outside the library and checked WarmShowers.org, a hosting site for touring cyclists. The only hosts listed were Randy and Laura, so despite the extreme short notice, I gave them a ring. Surprisingly, they eagerly offered me their guesthouse, and within 15 minutes of arriving in town, I had access to a shower, food, bed, and roof under my head. Amazing. Randy was out on a fishing trip with his sons, but Laura was a very gracious host. In the morning she made me whole grain blueberry pancakes, eggs & sausage, and a blueberry-raspberry protein shake!

Thanks for your immediate kindness, Laura! Good luck with all of the farming, and I hope to one day have at least some of your superb cooking skills!

Howard in Meridian, ID (CouchSurfing)

He fights fire for a living and plays in water for fun. He loves fishing and rafting and owns his own hybrid catamaran-raft, a “cataraft.” We went to his friend’s stepdaughter’s college graduation party, where Howard was assigned Margarita Man and I was assigned to eat as much food as possible. Challenge accepted. We also talked to a few people that were flabbergasted at the idea of Howard letting a complete stranger spend the night in his home. I don’t think we converted anyone, but at least a few ended the night with a more open view of CouchSurfing.

Thanks Howard for being such a pro Margarita Man and allaying some fears of CouchSurfing. I hope to get a ride on the cataraft on my next visit!

Christy’s Bike Inn in Mt. Vernon, OR (WarmShowers)

I had heard about a woman in Oregon whose guesthouse she kept open for traveling cyclists to use. Sure enough, as I rolled into Mt. Vernon, I saw a small green “Bike Inn” sign on the side of the road. Unfortunately, Christy was on vacation, but true to the description on her WarmShowers page, the guesthouse was unlocked, there were clean towels and sheets, and the dog was super excited to play tug-o-war. As I flipped through her guestbook, I saw I was not the only one grateful for this woman’s amazing display of hospitality.

Sorry we didn't meet Christy, but thanks so much for the use of your guesthouse, and your dog is a tug-o-war champ!

Jennifer in Madras, OR (CouchSurfing)

First, she raised 7 sons as a single mother. Second, she is calm, collected, and good-humored despite completing such a feat. Third, she’s an amazing cook. BBQ chicken, corn, pasta salad, watermelon, and chips and salsa for dinner. A Dairy Queen Buster Bar for dessert. And Conan the Barbarian for entertainment. So bad it’s good. The next morning, Jennifer made sourdough pancakes, eggs, homemade granola, and chai tea, then loaded me up with pasta, chicken, and granola to go!

Jennifer, thank you for seamlessly making me a part of the family for a night, and Naveen, keep living, loving, slaying, and being content.

Geoff in Government Camp, OR (CouchSurfing)

That’s the three-story house in which Geoff currently resides that he bought from his uncle and has been doing repair work on for years. He used to live in the city, but says he much prefers the wilderness. When you’re in a ski town of population 200 (off season) and living practically on top of Mt. Hood, the only year-round skiing in the contiguous states, living in the “wilderness” doesn’t sound too bad. We went to his friend Lia’s party, where I had delicious steak, chicken, bean and broccoli salads, strawberry shortcake and Lia specialty chocolate-dipped potato chips. A cyclist’s paradise.

Geoff, thanks for inviting me into your enormous house and to your friend's party. Good luck on all those house repairs!

Words: Oregon

Up Down Up Down Up Down: Every day I rode over one, sometimes two mountain passes

Varied Scenery: See above

National forests

High desert

Meadows

Canyons

Huckleberries: ice cream, syrup, bbq sauce, pancake mix, candles…

Mt. Hood: Only year-round skiing in contiguous U.S.

Portland: Felt like one of the Portlandia characters

Week Ten Stats

Week 10 Stats:

Starting city: Mitchell, OR

Ending city: Portland, OR

Total distance traveled: 198 miles

Total distance to date: 3596 miles

Days on the bike: 3

Days in Portland: 4

Average per day of riding: 66 miles

Shortest day: 56 miles

Longest day: 76 miles

Total money spent: $16

Average per day: $5.30

Number of sons CouchSurfing host Jennifer raised as a single mother: 7!

Delicious food at Jennifer’s: BBQ’d chicken, pasta salad, roasted corn, chips n’ salsa, and Dairy Queen Buster Bar! Next morning: sourdough pancakes, eggs, homemade granola, and chai tea (and pasta, chicken, and granola to go!)

Terribly good movie seen with Jennifer’s sons: Conan the Barbarian (the one, unfortunately, without Arnold)

Best pickup line, courtesy of Conan: “I live, I love, I slay and am content.”

Bike riding at the bottom of a thousand foot canyon: Check mark symbol

Elevation change between Madras and Government Camp, OR: 2500 ft.

Description of my CouchSurfing host Geoff’s town, Government Camp: Quintessential ski village

Geoff’s international history: Lived in Saudi Arabia, went to boarding school in Switzerland, speaks German, has visited most of Western Europe (including several Oktoberfests), and has backpacked across New Zealand (and can’t wait to go back)

Food consumed at Geoff friend’s Lia’s party: Steak, teriyaki chicken, bean n’ broccoli salad, strawberry shortcake, and Lia’s original chocolate-dipped potato chips (with choco-chips to go!)

Rivers crossed into Portland: 1, the Willamette, thankfully less intense than the Mississippi crossing

Nights spent at JET friends Taylor and Julie’s apartment: 3

Katherine’s picked up at the airport: 1

Coffee shops in Portland: a bajillion

Parks in Portland: a forest’s worth…literally, the city parks are forests

Voodoo doughnuts consumed: “No Name” – Raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, rice krispies and peanut butter, and a quarter of Taylor’s Mango Tango (I originally went for Old Dirty Bastard, but the bastards weren’t available)

Awards won in 4 player Pac Man at Ground Kontrol Arcade Bar: Most Games Won (actually, I tied with Julie at 2 games each; Taylor won 1 game…and Katherine ate 2 items)

Impression of Portland: Beautiful, green, young, and most definitely Portlandia

Pics through WY, ID, and OR

He's kind of a big deal.

Train

rather green to be called desert, no?

Through the high desert

Cool pic, Poor camping location

Putting that wind to work

Squiggly road over hills

Shadows

Split Rock

Reflection

Desert

Total mileage in Montana: 10

Christmas tree sunset

Wind River Basin, Wyoming

Bike and Build was here

Painted Rocks

Craters of the Moon, ID

Holy Rock

Fire from dry lightening near Boise, ID

Farmland and a Butte

Clouds over Unity, OR

Cows

Ascending into one of Oregon's many national forests

Funky flower

Canyon in John Day Fossil Beds, OR

Awesome section of US 26

Shoe Tree

The Mountains of Oregon

Last climb of the trip - Mt. Hood

Moss in the Mt. Hood forest

Moss on a Tree

Made it to Portland!

Words: Idaho

Not as many potatoes as I was expecting (though in Eastern ID I was surprised by the number of small rocks strewn across the shoulder, until I realized they were the vegetable)

High desert

Mountains

River gorges

13 national forests and 26 state parks, “more wilderness than in any of the lower 48 states” (from the Idaho Highway Map)

Lots of Couchsurfing/Warmshowers hosts (don’t worry,they’ll get mentioned)