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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You can never go home again.

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

Home [hohm]
noun
1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.
2. the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
3. an institution for the homeless, sick, etc.: a nursing home.
4. the dwelling place or retreat of an animal.
5. the place or region where something is native or most common.
6. any place of residence or refuge: a heavenly home.
7. a person’s native place or own country.
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I spent my adolescence and some of my teenage years in the “San Francisco Bay Area.” That’s what you tell people that aren’t familiar with The Bay. When you live in the East Bay, which I did- people still want it narrowed down. Living in Oakland and Berkeley is where the cool kids were. Where do you NOT want to live in the 90’s? Concord. That’s where.
I graduated from high school (barely) and promptly got the fuck out of town, hitchhiking at 17 years old to any point East. After 4 years on the road by thumb, bus, bicycle and freight train I found myself in Alaska which is where I am today (having done a couple year stint in Seattle in order to convince my [now] bride-to-be to move even farther north.) Nope, I don’t have much use for California. Too much humanity.
The Bay Area never felt like “home” to me. I was born in Oregon if you ask. I’m not really “from there” either I guess, I don’t have as many memories of it as I do of California- but I always felt out of place in that Golden State of earthquakes and hustlers. It’s a place that doesn’t fit as “home” to me- as dictionary.com defines it and my heart sure isn’t there.  Don’t get me wrong- there are a bunch of few people that I do care very much about in California. It’s everybody else that make me lose faith in the human race. I left in 1995 and every time I return it I have less patience for it.
All that, but California does have one thing on it that can’t ever move out of state. A thing that I will forever be thankful for, which helped shape me into who I am today. California is where I learned to ride a bike.
I remember:
  • Riding my bmx in the drainage ditches of Pittsburg, (before my first foray into wrenching left the thing in a hundred little pieces that my step-dad had no idea how to put back together.)
  • Riding my Fila hybrid (if it was sold today it would be called a “gravel grinder”) in the hills off the Contra Costa Canal trail and to school before it was stolen.
  • I purchased my first “real” Mountain bike in California, a GT Timberline. The one with the blue splatter paint and a rigid fork. It had sealed bearings and rapid fire shifters!  A bike I brought to Cordova in the late nineties and still see riding around.

I have riding memories in Oregon as well, but no where near as many as exploring the East Bay, Marin County and San Francisco on two wheels. Some of my best rides have been in California and I thought of these as I flew down to the bay last week, as a surprise to my good friend for his wedding (second time’s a charm!) I knew in the cargo hold of that 737 was my bike and I knew I was headed down to 80 degree weather on trip that would kill three birds with one stone. Not only would I threaten to spend as much time in the saddle as I did on a barstool, I would see my good friend and my favorite family members.

I wasn’t surprised that the weather was hot and dusty. California is in a drought. I asked some kid at the park how long they’ve been in a drought.

“How should I know? I’m only 12!”

My family unit now resides in Crockett. A town built by C&H sugar and is now sustained by various oil refineries. It’s an odd town, with a couple bars, no grocery store and an $80,000 median income. It’s closest BART station (an extremely useful tool in getting around in the Bay without a car) is in Richmond- 15+ miles away through a handful of towns and a fair amount of climbing. All in all I rode about 200 miles that week in the sun. I got to explore the dirt trails connecting Crockett and Port Costa, another odd little delta front town with a bar worth visiting.

In my week in the Bay Area I got to share some good beers and good times with some of the most important people in my life and ride bikes in places that I haven’t in many years, as well as some places that I’ve never ridden before. San Francisco and the East Bay is really stepping it up when it comes to beer selection and I had a lot of fun rolling around looking for a place to wet my whistle with a fine draft beer.

In all of that I came to realize that “home” means different things to different people. To some it’s where they first saw the light of day. To others, it’s where they had their first kiss, or where they went to high school. Maybe it’s where their family lives, or at least their favorite family. Can you ever go home again? I’m not really sure. I still don’t miss California. Alaska is where I live now, but I’ve lived quite a few places. I’ve come to be the person I am from my experiences down life’s trail- and to me, I guess, home is where I ride my bike.

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Mobroll Tour 2014: May 1st – 18th

Written by Tall Bryan on . Posted in Alley Cat Racing, DIY, Events, Media, News, Ride Your Bike, Seattle, Travel, Washington 1 Comment

“Imagine biking with your friends to all the dope Puget Sound seaside cities and going to shows, alleycat races, seeing art, watching films, doing workshops, camping out, and going on critical mass rides. Now stop imagining and do it.” – Thomas Kolb

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MOBROLL 2014 is coming to your town! Grab your bike and ride along. Starting May 1st in Bellingham and ending May 18th in Olympia. Riders can ride the whole tour, a few days, or just join for the afternoon. However long you can ride along one thing is for certain, you are going to have a blast on two wheels!

May 1st-4th Bellingham
May 4th Anacortes
May 5th Whidbey Island
May 6th Port Townsend
May 7th Kingston
May 8th Bainbridge Island
May 9-11th Seattle
May 12-13th Bremerton & Port Orchard
May 14th Gig Harbor
May 15-16th Tacoma
May 17-18th Olympia

Full list of events, dates, cities and RSVP HERE.

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