SSCXWC

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Events, Travel No Comments

Victoria, BC. That’s in Canada. It’s called the “Garden City.” It’s the capital city of British Columbia- and is not in Britain or in Columbia. It’s really confusing. Something about history, there is a lot of it there too. Tons of old buildings that I’m sure if they were in Seattle would be torn down- modern glass and steel condos put up in their place.

With the graying of the the team (Hodala) – we’ve taken to renting a big house when we travel for SSCXWC. It means that our “responsibility buddies” make sure everyone gets home, we can drink our own kegs and well- we just like to hang out together. Hodala is much more than a bike racing team- we look out for each other on and off the bike. We had a great house on the water with a hot tub and dock access.  Turns out “dock access” doesn’t mean “water access” and Dirty Randy cut the shit out of his leg (spoiler alert: he was drunk) trying to climb onto the dock out of the Gorge Waters on our first night. This year we channeled this video and it served as inspiration for our shenanigans.

 

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Seattle before SSCXWC.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Events, Races, Seattle, Travel No Comments

After traveling nearly 3000 miles and consuming a lifetimes worth of alcohol, pizza, cheeseburgers, donuts and ice cream cake- I’ve returned home to my house on the hill in Cordova- alive.

Bike racing is hard.

This year I’ve spent less time on this blog than I’ve spent on my bike- which isn’t much. I’ve taken very few photos as I seem to break every camera put into my hands. My phone is sometimes used- but I often forget that I can use it as a camera. What follows suit is a cycle of poor blogging- each shortfall I offer compounding the next shortfall. As my memories are dragged through coffee filters and alcohol, the days meld into one and the voices words in my head resemble the marriage of a Dr. Bronners label and a can of Four Loko. For that I’m not apologetic, it’s just like that and that’s the way it is.

Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships took place in Victoria, BC, Canada this past weekend and I was lucky enough to attend with Hodala: my CX team and some of the… how can I say… most polarizing people I know. After a red eye flight out of Anchorage, I flew into Seattle at the butt crack of dawn on a Monday. Bubba picked me and the bike up at the airport and we had some breakfast and red beers as we made our way into the city. A good friend that I see too rarely- it’s always good to cross paths and catch up. He dropped me off at Back Alley Bike Repair where Ben helped sort the wheat from the chaff on my all too neglected bike. A new chainring, chain and cables were installed along with some general maintenance performed, while we drank Berzerker and listened to Puscifer. Ben and Julian at Back Alley are solid dudes that are pumped to get people riding well maintained bikes. IMG_9396 2

Matt Falwell from Manwolfs CX came out from Louisville and I got to play tour guide around Seattle- the city I called home for 6 years. Matt was one of the organizers of Louisville last year and rode a we pretty good loop together: 

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And so Interbike begins…

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Bike Porn, Events, Gear, Travel No Comments

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Fresh off the plane in Las Vegas for this year of Interbike, I’m sitting in my hotel typing this- enjoying a cold Budweiser in my underwear. I’m doing things a little different this year, blogging solely from an iphone 6 and a bluetooth keyboard. I’m not certain it will work well, but I spent all my money on bike parts this year, so thats what you get.

I spent a little better than a week in California- the Golden State, visiting family and friends with my better half. Bringing our bikes was clutch- I love riding in the bay, and the wife didn’t ride much when she lived in the area. She also got a new saddle- so riding her skinny tire bike has been a pleasure lately.

A few of the fun things I did include the tasting of so many great beers. And whiskeys. And coffee. So. Many.  Mikkeller Bar, Fieldwork Brewing, Beer Revolution, Trappist Provisions, Øl…. The list goes on. We rode the Iron Horse Trail in 104 degree heat. I drank coffee for a couple hours with the homey Stevil as we spoke of the changing social and economic landscape of Oakland. I bought a sweet 49ers Starter x Levi’s collaboration jacket that will becoome something else very soon. I met my new nephew, now 9 months old, that my sister named after me (the poor bastard.) I was busy.

I also stopped by Montano Velo, which is now in half the space that it was last time I visited. I met with Daniel, owner of Tumbleweed Bicycle Co. Not only is he a nice guy, passionate about cycling and riding bikes in exotic locales- he wrapped his head around a different way (than I’ve seen) to build a 4″ tire fat bike. He and some buddies recently returned from a trip to Mongolia- all riding working prototypes of this bike of his. It uses a Rohloff hub- which may make some people scream “Nerd!” right out of the gate- but it works. It works well. The idea is to keep a low q-factor, use a standard mtb bb, and parts that are (at the very least slightly more) accessible in obsure places than many fatbike parts.  

    
  
 The bikes were loaded heavily for the trip and ridden over 1000 miles, few if any paved. All worked well. Though the final frames will have minor aesthetic changes, along with cleaner welds- you can expect a pretty neat bike that will accommodate a number of wheel sizes (it also uses an adjustable bb,) front suspension, a Rohloff and feel good on the trail. I hope to hear more about Daniel and Tumbleweed Bicycle Co soon. I mean-the website is a .cc like Rapha is, so it must be good, right?

But now I’m in Vegas and the real work starts. Desert heat, an overwhelming number of brands and people trying to get their goods to the masses. The beer drinking. The shitty food and 1 mile long blocks. Underbike. Even a goddamn cargo bike syposium. I’m going to need a vacation after the next 5 days.

But yeah- if you like to make party and you happen to be in Downtown Las Vegas on Thursday, the bad decision makers will be attending Stevil’s annual shit show that is Underbike. 

  
  There will be music and hopefully the bar doesn’t run out of beer (which has happened just about yearly.)

So that’s about all that’s fit to print. I’ll try and do a daily thing with some stuff that appeals to me but then again, I’m nothing- if not unreliable.

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Comes with Baggage

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Events, Gear, Mountain Biking, Travel No Comments

Sea Otter is just around the corner and bike nuts are getting ready to head to Monterey to enjoy some sun, salty air and bicycles in California later this month. Oh- it’s also the 25th anniversary!

Blackburn will be there, along with a number of companies offering ways to get off the beaten path to explore the great outdoors. Blackburn is hosting a debut screening of a moving showcasing the history of bike travel. If you’re there, check it out. I’m sure they’ll also have some of their bikepacking gear around to play with as well.

COMES WITH BAGGAGE FLYER (1)Here’s a little trailer of what you’ll be watching

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Review: DeLorme inReach Explorer

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Accessories, Bicycle, Gear, Travel 2 Comments

It doesn’t take long to go off the grid here in Alaska. You can be a couple miles from your house, in the shadow of the mountains- and out of cell range.

Last year I purchased a DeLorme inReach Explorer- for my own safety as well as the piece of mind of my loved ones. Put simply, the inReach is a 2-way satellite text messaging unit. The inReach Explorer model offers mapping (though no maps,) whereas the inReach SE does not. There are other options out there, such as those offered by SPOT- but I chose the DeLorme because you can actually have a 2-way conversation. Whether on the boat or in the woods, I’m often out of cell range and the ability to keep in touch with my lady puts her mind (more) at ease. The SPOT can send out preset messages, but that can be limiting if you want to let people know you’re somewhere in between “OK” and “SOS.”

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With the DeLorme- it can be synced via bluetooth and you can email or text from your phone easily, accessing all of your contacts. When you send a message, your Lat/Lon is given as well as speed, elevation etc. For those that are interested, you can update to Twitter or Facebook as well. There is a 160 character limit on sent messages.

This past fall I made my trip across the Copper River- a place that can feel as desolate as the planet Mars. At about mile 32, cell phone coverage stops. Traveling alone in wild Alaska is exhilarating, exciting and potentially dangerous. With the inReach, I was able to keep my lady, as well as Elmer (the guy with a plane that could come save my ass if need be) apprised of my location, what my intentions were, and Elmer kept me updated as to what the weather was going to do on the ever changing Copper River Delta.

When I head out- I track my route, and then when I come home and sync with the online DeLorme site, it brings my track into a map that is far better than Google Earth- at least for the locations I’m traveling in.

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This is the zoomed out route I took on a raft/bike trip to Sheridan. (The one on the right is a bike/raft loop I did to McKinley Lake)

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Zoomed in, the detail gets considerably better than what I’ve seen on Google Maps.

After the MSRP of $379 for the inReach Explorer, you pay for service. You can elect to go with the $25 annual “Freedom Plan” and shut it off when you’re not using it, or sign up for a 12-month contract which starts at $12 a month- and keep the safety plan on (I use the “Expedition” plan in the summer and the “Safety” plan in the winter.) I won’t focus on the monthly charges, they are a bit confusing on the DeLorme site, but they do make a little more sense when you get your bill.

As a stand-alone unit, there are four buttons and a lock switch used for the SOS feature. Simple- though if you are trying to text, it can be time consuming. There is predictive text, which helps- but it’s really hard to beat using the phone (iPhone or Android compatible.)

The DeLorme Explorer boasts a long list of features including:

  • Digital compass, barometric altimeter and accelerometer
  • Odometer and displays useful trip statistics while in the field, such as trip time, max speed, moving average, trip distance
  • Color screen and virtual keyboard with predictive text for standalone two-way messaging
  • GPS accuracy to +/- 5 meters
  • Water rating: IP67 (withstands incidental water exposure; tested for submersion at one meter for 30 minutes).
  • Rugged, dustproof and impact-resistant (Mil-STD-810G for shock; IP67 for dust).
  • Internal lithium polymer battery (2,450 mAh capacity at 3.7 V)
  • SOS messages are received by GEOS, a worldwide emergency response coordination center with 24/7/365 staffing
  • Email, SOS and tracking functions work anywhere in the world; SMS availability may vary by country.
  • 100% global coverage via the Iridium satellite network, which is the world’s furthest-reaching satellite communications network.
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces

It’s advertised that the unit has a battery life of up to 100hrs on 10minute tracking- I haven’t tested the full time, but from the 36hrs that I used mine on my trip across the Copper River, with texting and using other features, the math didn’t quite add up that it would last that long.  After 36hrs I was down to 45% battery life, and that was shutting it off over night.

Though DeLorme claims that the unit has a water rating of IP67 (withstands incidental water exposure; tested for submersion at one meter for 30 minutes,) when I was riding, and the sun came out- the whole screen fogged up- presumably from water that got inside. It didn’t affect the functions and eventually went away- but I have to question the water rating- having not dunked it underwater at all.

One thing that bums me out about the unit is there is no map feature. You can plug in waypoints and routes, but they are just on a white screen. A topo map would be pretty handy- bridge the gap between the communication and a separate GPS unit. You have to go home and plug back into the computer to see what the terrain was.

Side note: I also purchased the DeLorme Topo North America map set but was disappointed to learn that it isn’t Mac compatible, and it doesn’t do a damn thing with the InReach. It was a waste of money in my opinion.

If you find yourself going off the beaten path and out of cell range- this unit is a great investment. I’d be curious about ways to charge it (they seem to work with Goal Zero on some power options) or else a dynamo hub (which costs an arm and a leg.) It seems costly, but it is more dependable than a cell phone and it may just save your ass. So go do something awesome.

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Review: 1UPUSA Quik Rack

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, fat bike, Gear, Travel 1 Comment

Last winter, after a disappointing run with my Thule hitch mounted rack, I reached out to 1UPUSA to see what they had to offer. I was out to test a rack that would work with a wide selection of bikes. From a 25c road bike to a 5” tire fat bike, I was looking for one rack to rule them all. Well it’s been about a year and the rack has lived on the truck since day one- through rain, sleet, snow, sand and the salt air of my seaside fishing village.

Enter the Double Bicycle Quik Rack.

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2014 Holiday Gift Guide. Bikepacking edition.

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

Once again, the holiday season is right around the corner. That time of year that we buy things for those that we love and for ourselves if there’s nobody that loves us. We’ve done gift guides in the past- but this year I figured I’d focus on the stuff for those that like to get down that road less traveled.

So here it is. In no particular order. Or some particular order. Or just get them a bottle of booze. Or a gift certificate to your LBS. Or a lump of coal.
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Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion seat bag. $170.00 CAD
I haven’t used any of Porcelain Rocket’s gear, but the craftsmanship looks amazing. This newly designed bag uses a seat collar supported frame, weighs in at 14oz. complete and can pack 5-14L of gear. PR is really pushing the limits as far as bikepacking gear. The new bag Scott is developing for the Jones Loop Bar looks AMAZING!
Made in Calgary, Alberta. Canada.

 

 

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Cleaveland Mountaineering Everything Bag $50-$60 depending on attachment method.

I haven’t used this personally, but it looks like a good option, or alternative to the Salsa Anything Cage and the numerous bags to fit said cage- if you’re looking for one. If you don’t have the 3 braze-ons, if you have a suspension fork, say- it can attach with the use of a few P-clips. It’ll allow you to hold more stuff on your bike. Keep in mind that you’ll likely want to distribute the weight evenly, maybe have one on either fork blade- otherwise your steering will be affected.

Made in Grand Junction, CO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You’ll never make it out alive.

Written by Ryan on . Posted in Bicycle, Bicycle Racing, Cyclocross, Travel No Comments

It’s 8 o’clock on a Saturday night and I’m contemplating whether or not I should get my shit packed and head to Louisville on Monday for SSCXWC.  Probably not a great idea, which likely means I’ll be there- Hodala willing. They have bourbon there, right?

Much to well dressed bloggers dismay, beer will likely be spewn.  Like my mom always said “Sometimes you just gotta be a man and shit in your pants.”

Here’s some Playmobil toys riding bikes.

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