Boreas waterproof backpacks

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bags, Gear No Comments

Though not cycling specific, I’ve been using a Boreas pack- the ultralight Topaz, for a little while now for day trips with the pack raft. At 25L, it’s large enough for me to throw the raft and paddles in. I can go on a day trip on the bike or on foot- and weighing in under 14 oz., I hardly know it’s there. One downside is that I’m limited by only packing stuff in there that can get wet, as it has no waterproofing whatsoever. Enter the Waterproof Series.
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New stuff from Blackburn

Written by Ryan on . Posted in fat bike, Gear No Comments

Blackburn has been bringing a lot of new gear out- especially for those that ride off the beaten path. As anybody that keeps an eye on the bike industry likely knows, fat bikes, 29+ and “adventure bikes” are in high demand. With this, alternatives to the traditional front and rear pannier touring setups are being experimented with for trips of different lengths. Overnights and shorter (as well as lengthy) off road tours can make bike mounted luggage more appealing. Blackburn also has a crew of “Rangers” out there exploring- even as you read this.

Their Outpost line is where you’ll find the goods for gearing up your bike for some off road adventures.

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Chrome WARM vest

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Clothing, Gear, Reviews No Comments


Fall is here and I got my first insulating layer in the mail the other day to test out.  The Chrome Warm™ Vest is a new product, with a long sleeve Work Shirt available as well. Meant as a stand alone piece as well as for layering, here in Alaska I’ll likely be using it as an under layer.

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A ripstop nylon shell with diamond quilting gives the appearance of a classic vest.  It’s filled with poly insulation, so it’ll keep you warm if you do get wet by rain, beer, fire hydrant, swimming or running through a sprinkler.

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Can’t Run, Never Will. Part I.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Alaska, Bicycle, fat bike, Gear No Comments

Like most great ideas I have, it happened while drinking beer.

The packraft/bike combo is one that offers so much potential in this part of Alaska- surrounded by rivers, lakes, beaches, and not many roads. One trip that has been on my list for a long time was to the end of the road. Not the current end of the road, but the end of the road that we used to go see Child’s Glacier calve into the mighty Copper River- that and the engineering marvel of the Million Dollar Bridge.

The Copper River Highway is the old railroad bed that used to connect Cordova and the copper mines in Kennecott, some 196 miles up river via the Copper River and North West Railroad. Not without hurdles to construction and maintenance, the CRNW crossed 129 bridges, including the Million Dollar Bridge (which cost $1.4 million and was completed in 1910.) On April 8, 1911, the first ore train hauled $250,000 of copper ore to Cordova. In 1916, the peak year for production, the mines produced copper ore valued at $32.4 million. The mines at Kennecott worked until 1938, and the Kennecott company donated the land back to the state in 1941 for use as a state highway route. The 1964 earthquake took care of that nicely, when the last span on the north end collapsed (it has since been raised and the bridge added to the Nat’l Historic Registry.) The CRNW Railroad is sometimes referred to as the “Can’t Run Never Will.”

million dollar bridge

In 1999 I got the opportunity to raft down from the Tazlina river to Cordova (27mile,) a 9 day float trip. It was absolutely incredible and I fell in love with the Copper River. We floated alongside the old railroad route, sometimes getting out to explore the old tunnels and old railroad line long ago reclaimed my mother nature. Alders had overgrown through the railroad bed and bridges were long washed out by heavy spring snow melt-making the idea of a bike or even hiking trip down the trail difficult if not impossible.

The Copper River makes this whole remarkable area where I live what it is. The river has changed much over the years- moving sand, rock and trees with it. A few years back, the bridge at 36 mile was washed out, eroding the section of earth between two bridge sections. Gone with it was access to Child’s Glacier. Sure we have other glaciers here, but Child’s Glacier is something. It calves directly into the Copper River when the water is high sending waves of water across the river towards the observation deck. As a town, it affects tourism some and was a great place for folks to go camping and explore out the road. But I digress… Where was I?

That’s right, I was drinking beer. Son of A Berserker. A stout. I started putting my bike together for an overnight trip. I thought at first I’d do it in one day- drive to 36 mile, paddle across, ride the remaining 12 miles up river and float back down to the truck. Seemed easy enough. But my plan started to change.

I says to myself, I says “Self, why don’t you stay the night? When’s the next time you’ll be out here? Why don’t you just stop and smell the cottonwoods?”

Maybe it was the beer, but I thought that was a pretty good idea. Unfortunately, it meant that my loose plan made with Hoots the day before was out the window. Hoots was interested in going, he could borrow a packraft from a friend and I’d set him up with a bike. With the change to an overnight, I didn’t have enough gear to get all our stuff over the river and to set up a camp. With that, I decided I’d ride the route solo instead of driving to the end of the road and making a day trip with a friend. Seemed fitting.

Choosing the bike. With most of my route on a gravel road, I didn’t need 5” tires. I knew the conditions on this side of the bridge because I’ve been around out there. On the far side, most bets were off. It’s been a couple years since the road has gone through and I was unsure if the sand had blown over the road, it was washed out, or something else. In the summer there is an outfit that takes people over on a massive airboat and then a shuttle van brings them to the glacier, so I know it’s been traveled, but I was still unsure. I may have to ride up the sandy river bed for miles looking for a place to cross. That and when it comes down to it- I don’t have a bike that is as well equipped for taking whatever is thrown at it as my Fatback. It may be slow, but it’s steady. And I’ve got some frame mounted bags for it so….

Packing the bike. This was my first overnight with the Fatback so I was a little unsure how to best pack it. The frame bag looks large, but doesn’t really fit as much stuff in the space as I was hoping. Heavy things like food should have gone in there to keep the weight low but I didn’t bring much of that- and my little “gastank” bag held my snacks for the road. I don’t have one of those fancy seatpost bags that would have been so nice, but I do have a seatpost mounted rack that worked pretty well. I strapped my sleeping bag and pad and lifejacket to it. It made for a tall package, but was light stuff and it worked. I also don’t have one of the fancy rolls for the front of my bike- but I do have a compression sack from Granite Gear that has three straps to make the roll skinnier and one strap to compress it length-wise. This gave me enough strapping points that I could lash it to my Jones H-bars without messing with the cable routing too much. It worked quite nicely actually, even strapping securely onto the stern tie-downs of my raft. That and I had it in my stuff already. I’ll be looking into a seatbag, but the handlebar roll will wait until I can afford it.

After everything was strapped up and lashed down, my bike weighed in at just over 63lbs. Not a very nimble beast, but hey- neither am I. Strap a 15lb backpack to my back and my 7lb pistol to my hip, and I was ready.

My beautiful bride (of ten days) was headed to work so I hopped in with her and she dropped me off 12 miles closer to my destination. We kissed goodbye- her wondering what the fuck I was thinking taking off by myself across the Copper in a plastic boat and a heavy ass bike, but being supportive as she always is.

The packing list:

  • 0º degree Wiggy’s sleeping bag
  • OR Standard Bivy sack
  • foam sleeping pad
  • MSR dragonfly stove
  • fuel bottle (I could have carried the smaller fuel canister)
  • MSR cook pot
  • Estwing hatchet
  • Coldsteel campknife
  • Couglan’s folding saw
  • EH tool roll
  • extra Surly fat tire tube
  • Lezyne pump (I haven’t used my mini pump to inflate a fatbike tire and I hope I never have to.)
  • point and shoot camera (which the wind blew overand broke)
  • GoPro & extra mounts
  • collapsible tripod
  • iphone
  • Delorme Inreach Explorer
  • Swrve Schoeller wool trousers
  • poly long underwear (tops and bottoms)
  • two pairs poly/wool socks
  • Club Ride liner chamois
  • Club Ride shirt
  • Chrome Warm vest
  • OR HAVOC jacket
  • OR wind/rain layer
  • Filson leather belt
  • Keen sneakers
  • mesh cap
  • Black diamond windblock fleece gloves
  • Alpacka raft
  • Carbon paddle
  • heavy type III PFD borrowed from seine boat
  • 3L water bladder
  • water bottle
  • bear spray
  • .44mag S&W revolver with 6 240gr. bullets.
  • sunglasses
  • Niterider Lumina 220 light
  • Black Diamond headlamp
  • small first aid kit
  • 2 Granite gear compression stuff sacks (one for raft, one for sleeping system)
  • Stanley flask full of Buffalo Trace bourbon

I want to take this time and stress that you don’t need all the new shit to get outside. It doesn’t need to cost a ton of money. In my head I kept thinking of that overused hashtag “#outsideisfree.” Sure it is- of course I’m typing that on a $600 phone, atop a $2000+ bike or $800 raft with $xxxx amount of shit strapped to it. It’s important to remember that the experience we are searching for isn’t something that most of us want to put a price tag on. I don’t want people to not go bike camping because they don’t have the newest, hottest thing. You don’t need a hashtag to get outside. If you have your essentials: Shelter, food and water, you can have a great time and make some memories. These requirements are of course regionally defined. Summer beach camping in San Diego is far different than fall camping on the Gulf of Alaska- be smart, think- but don’t overthink it. Have fun and enjoy the ride. My packing lists change on every ride, and yours will too, the more you do it the more you’ll figure out. You’ll find out how warm (or cold) you sleep and how much food you need (pro-tip: bring a little more than you think you need if you’re going to be self-supported.)

That’s what I’ve got so far.  I’ll do another post of the trip as it was, with the photos I could recover. Stay tuned.

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The Men’s Riding Coat.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Gear No Comments

Fall is here, and though some places are still sunny and 70, winter is coming. The folks at Hub and Bespoke in Seattle have been working on a Men’s Riding Jacket for a while now, and you have one week left to get involved and help get it off the ground.

They’ve designed the jacket with a classic double breasted pea coat in mind, with waterproof fabric and a cycling cut.  It’s made in Seattle, has some reflective touches and has venting to keep you, uh… vented.

It’s classier than a garbage bag with a couple holes in it, and will likely work better.

To get the production going, it takes money.  Like $15,000.  But don’t sweat it- you don’t need to cut down your money tree for this jacket to become a reality.  You can get on board for a little as $9.  And you’ll get some stuff!  As of today, it’s almost 25% funded.  So head on over to the Crowd Funding site HERE and make it happen.

Hub and Bespoke – Crowd Supply from Chris McElroy on Vimeo.

 

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Limited Affinity Endo Track Kit

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Clothing, Gear, Track No Comments

Looking for a clean looking kit from one of our favorite NY track teams?  Affinity teamed up with Endo to bring you this beauty. The kits are 100% handmade in Endo’s small workshop in Downtown LA, where they handle all the printing, cutting and sewing in-house. The kit is available as both a long and short sleeve jersey and our team bib short. 

This kit had been reserved exclusively to their World Championship winning track team and has never been available for public sale. They’re running a two-week pre order and capping it off at the first 50.  So get in now, or forever hold your peace.

Pre-order HERE 

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Blackburn Tech Mag

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Gear No Comments

Much of the US is still basking in the sunshine of summer and enjoying the cooler evenings that the beginning of fall brings. In Cordova we’ve had a bunch of rainfall that will continue until it turns to snow. CX season is around the corner and sometimes it’s hard for me to get motivated enough to hop on the bike and go for a spin in a monsoon. This little guy is one option for those that want to get some spinning in, but can’t pull themselves away from Orange is the New Black. I haven’t used a trainer before, but kinda want to give it a go.
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TECH MAG 1 TRAINER

• No assembly required
• Single optimized resistance setting for no-fuss operation
• Compact, lightweight and foldable design
• Rubber feet micro adjust for extra stability
• Bike installation is simple and works with wheel sizes between 26”x 1” and 29”x2.3”
• Tapered cones fit most dropouts
• Steel quick release skewer included

$119.99

Check it out HERE

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Gevenalle Derailleurs for your CX bike

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bike Parts, Cyclocross, Gear No Comments

Gevenalle is based in Portland, Oregon and they love cyclocross.  Now they’ve got two derailleurs to complement their CX shifters.

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The aptly named BURD (Blatantly Upgraded and Rebranded Derailleur) duo is an affordable option for those that need a workhorse in the mud, sand, blood and tears that cyclocross brings each fall.

Available as a braze on front derailleur or a 34.9 clamp (31.8 with included adapter,) it weighs 84 grams, and is bottom pull.  It’s a shorter cage, making it stiffer than a road derailleur.  Some folks might opt to use it as a chain guide, which Gevenalle fully supports. 9 and 10 speed compatible.

It retails for $49, and if you wreck it, they’ll re-build it for $20, including shipping in the US.

Gevenalle (made up from two Dutch words: ‘GEVEN’ which means ‘GIVE’ and ‘ALLE’ meaning ‘ALL’) is the rebranded Retroshift, who’s CX levers are a smart and burlier alternative to road levers and brifters.

That is of course if you prefer gears to beers.  Good on ya Gevenelle. Keep on keepin’ on.

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Modify Watches

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Gear No Comments

Founded in 2010, Modify Industries Inc. has recently entered the cycling market, bringing a bit of color to your wrist as well as increasing the chance that you won’t miss happy hour.

They’ve been working with various sports teams since their beginning, and following their successful Kickstarter campaign, they can print-on-demand fully customized watches.  They are printed and assembled in San Francisco, and we have one for Hodala, the cyclocross team I race for.

photoIf you’ve got a team, a bike shop, a brand or any other reason to have a made to order watch.  Check out Modify at their website.

You can also find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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