<![CDATA[Bike Tourings - Blog]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 23:28:42 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[How to Fly with a Bike the Cheap and Easy Method, by David Bender]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 21:28:46 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/how-to-fly-with-a-bike-the-cheap-and-easy-method-by-david-benderOr Simply Use a Folding Bike for Travel
Picture of bikeflights box for packing a bicycle for taking on a plane for airline travel
Click on photo for detailed instructions and how to videos for packing your bike to take with you on for travel by plane
This guest post from David Bender, an avid cyclist who has travelled to more than ten countries with his bike. describes some methods of packing your bike to affordably take with you on a plane.  He writes a lot about bikes at his blog.  When not attending to his blog he enjoys riding around the neighborhood.     
How to Fly with a Bike the Cheap and Easy Method
If you are a fervent mountain bike rider, at some point your adventures may include international travel with your beloved bike. You may be bringing your bike along during a holiday vacation, participating in a bike tournament abroad or simply looking to experience the thrill of exploring new, foreign trails. Transporting a mountain bike is regarded as an immensely tedious and costly undertaking by several mountain bikers but it needn’t be this way. This post will pilot you through the ins and outs of bike packing and show you the most affordable, safe and hassle-free way to fly with a bike.
Preparing to fly with a bike
Your flight’s success will be determined majorly by the way your precious bike will be handled in transit. You can improve the chances of having a successful plane trip with a bike as luggage by preparing adequately. As you plan your journey, be sure to include the following:
  1. Look into the various airlines’ bike-luggage policies to identify which one best suits your needs. You may want to consider their weight and size allowance alongside luggage charges. A majority of international air transport service providers agree on general baggage allowance of below 50 pounds weight and 62 dimensions size
  2. Decide which method of bike packing aligns with your preferences and prepare it in advance. You’ll need to purchase your bike’s packaging with its corresponding provisions including duct tape, wrapping twine and bubble wrapping
  3. Acquire a set of bike tools like Allen keys and hex spanners for use during partial bike disassembly prior to air travel and re-assembly after arrival
  4. Measure and record all adjustable bike parts like handlebars and seat-post height before setting out to disassemble the bike- this will save you substantial time when tuning them to your liking after reassembly.
How to pack your bike for air travel
Today, most airlines require that all bikes be partially dismantled and packaged for cartage although they only recently allowed them to be wheeled right into plane’s luggage bays in polythene bags. Airlines relay numerous reasons for these require provisions including:
  • It’s necessary to reduce the size of the bike so that it easily fits on airports’ luggage conveyor belt systems
  • Packaging will help protect the bike from damage and theft of some parts
  • Boxing up your bike ensures it doesn’t interfere with or destroy other luggage
  • Wrapping up the bike aids in easing its transport by luggage-handling crew
There are various ways of packaging your mountain bike for a flight. While the easiest and most cost-friendly are using cardboard boxes and clear plastic bags, the more costly ones are by use of bike cases and bike travel bags. Admittedly, the latter are also safer thus more reliable than the former. However, this doesn’t mean packing your prized mtb in a clear plastic bag or cardboard box is a trumpet call to have it mishandled en route- on the contrary, your bike is actually handled more delicately when in clear wrapping or fragile cardboard boxes. Nonetheless, you’ll need to go the extra mile in using extra padding like bubble wrap if you choose to pack your two-wheeler in a soft box.
Whether yours mountain bike or the most costly cycle dragon in the market, airlines will require you to adhere to their strict luggage weight and seize restrictions otherwise they’ll be glad to charge you heavily for excess baggage. You should do the following to stay within package size boundaries:
  1. Disengage the front wheel to reduce the length of your bike then screw back the axle into the forks to shield them from warping
  2. Unfasten the stem and push the handlebars down to reduce your ride’s height. Further, turning them parallel to the frame will lessen the width of the bike
  3. Unhinge your bike’s pedals or twist them inward if they are foldable. This will also condense your bike’s width.
  4. If your bike has disc brakes, be sure to unfasten them and secure the brake pads with padding between them to prevent scraping
  5. Disconnect the rear derailleur from the frame to protect the two from damage in transit. You can also secure the derailleur with duct tape or bubble wrap for added protection
  6. Partially deflate the bicycle’s tyres as required by several airlines. This is supposed to shield your tubes from rupturing at high altitude
  7. Lowering the bike’s seat-post before packing aids in reducing its height to the required 1m or below
  8. After packaging, ensure the box, bag or polythene is carefully labeled with your name and address (home or destination) to streamline customs clearance as well as aid in convenient shipment in case it’s lost.
Post-packing tips
Once it’s handed over to the luggage-loading crew, there’s little you can do for your precious cargo but cross your fingers and hope the baggage handlers will be careful. However, you can take pre-flight precautions to safeguard your bike from avoidable damage by ensuring it’s packed with sufficient padding to absorb and transmit most of the shock of impact. Further, it’s imperative that you ascertain whether the airline’s luggage insurance covers damage, loss or theft of bikes in transit.
Final words
It’s clear from this post’s coverage that international air travel with sensitive luggage can be a tricky undertaking. Still, we are optimistic this post has presented practical tips on the easiest and most affordable way to fly with a bike without compromising its safety.
Picture of favorite travel bag and backpack for bikepacking a folding bike on a planeRockBros Folding Bike Carry Bag 16 inch to 20 inch Cycling Carrying Travel Case
My previous post I touted the benefits of having a folding bike for travel and there is no better example of how convenient it can be than if traveling by plane.  That post doesn't mention or describe my favorite travel bag for stashing the bike because I didn't need to use it on our road trip.  After reading the information presented above consider this from a reviewer of the Rock Bros Folding Bike Carry Bag.  
"​Great folding bike bag! Best I have ever owned. Intelligently designed to include a comfortable lightweight matching backpack which can be used when traveling to hold the folded bike bag: get off the plane get bag at carousel unpack and unfold bike and fold bag into backpack and bike away. Backpack also has velcro so it can be used as a handlebar bag".

Learn more about David and his relevant content for mountain biking enthusiasts at his site Best MTB Gear.

Or visit him at Facebook or Twitter

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<![CDATA[A Folding Bike that Fits for Bike Touring or Commuting]]>Tue, 01 Aug 2017 23:44:08 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/a-folding-bike-that-fits-for-bike-touring-or-commutingHow to Select a Bike for travel, Fold It!
Picture of vintage Dahon Mariner folding bicycle for bike touring or commuting
Bigger isn't always better, say hello to my little friend, '98 Dahon Mariner five speed folding bike for travel.
Picture of older model Dahon Mariner folding bike folded to fit in car trunk
My mission if I chose to accept it was to drive Lisa's seventy six year old mother (Grandma Lynn) from our home in League City, Texas back to her home in Phoenix, Arizona via a lengthy scenic route.  

Lisa planned out a nice road trip vacation for her mother which consisted of visiting some of her mother's favorite areas including Santa Fe, New Mexico with the arts and crafts scenes that area has to offer while staying a night at nearby Madrid, a very eclectic if funky little town.  From there we would drive to Lisa's mother's cabin in Heber Overgaard, Arizona and then drive her home to Phoenix on our return drive home. 

Sad as it is, Grandma Lynn is experiencing some early stages of dementia which is just one of the reasons I was asked to do most of the driving, that and I'm simply an excellent driver.  : ) Anyhow, knowing how much stuff the gals tend to pack for a vacation (Grandma Lynn, Lisa and a teenage girl) I decided to see how full the car was before I selected a bike and bikepacking kit. Ironically while I assessed which bike to bring Jennifer Campbell asked me to share her informative piece on How to Choose a Bike According to Science, 10 Factors to Consider.  It's a pretty good read although there is no mention at all of folding bikes for travel. 

Four years ago I visited Grandma Lynn's cabin at Overgaard, Arizona (blog post here) and had such a nice time I thought next time I would bring a bikepacking kit for the Tall Timbers Trail Park.  That's what I had in mind and figured it would be alright to squeeze in one overnighter along the way.  Unfortunately, the trunk lid of the little Nissan Versa flexed too much with the bike on the Saris Bike Carrier.  Plan B, which is what I keep the old Dahon Mariner folding bike for and the fact that it doesn't require any precise bike fit consideration for the rider I can always fold it down and throw it in.  (Older post regarding this bike is here.) 

Picture of bikepacking gear and kit with Dahon folding bike for travelBikepacking kit with Dahon folding bike
As simple as that seems to be able to do, not having a full sized bikepacking or touring bike frame for packing gear on might imply a bit of a challenge.  For bike commuting and urban touring I used a handlebar basket and a hydration pack with the little folder but packing a tent, poles, sleeping bag, pillow, air mattress, photography kit and some food seemed a bit daunting of a task and of course how would the ride feel once the gear was packed on to the little bike that could?  

Photo at left of my typical kit for bike touring that includes a solar panel for charging camera batteries, a power brick, tablet and phone.  A very small cooking kit mostly for boiling water.  I kinda stood there looking at that mess for awhile before unfolding the bike.  I brought a couple handlebar bag options (nothing fancy) and was glad I brought my hydration pack designed for mountain biking and trails due to the fact that other than the rear rack trunk bag the old Dahon doesn't have a water bottle holder and July in New Mexico requires ample hydration.   

Picture of Dahon folding bike with bike touring kit for bike camping
Fortunately, it all came together quite nicely providing a stable, balanced kit good enough to balance the bike on a narrow rock ledge.
Picture of Dahon Mariner folding bike for travel with bike camping gearBikepacking fuddy duddy glory
Photo at left and above show how I got everything to fit on the bike without having to use panniers so it is more of a bikepacking kit than what is typically considered a bicycle touring set up.  Keeping in mind that I used a decent sized hydration pack for miscellaneous items that wouldn't fit on the bike.  

That inexpensive handlebar bag has proven to be very versatile and useful as a bikepacking kit item as I was able to stuff my sleeping bag and pillow into the Outdoor Research Dry Bag and used the straps of the handlebar bag to secure it.  I was able to fit my tablet, power brick, assorted cables and a mini tripod in the main compartment while the two pockets on left and right held my phone and Canon G 16 camera.  Behind the seatpost is the Seat to Summit Compression Dry Bag with my Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Tent.  Rear Trunk bag has external pockets with assorted snack food items, small cable lock and cinchable water bottle holder.  On top of the trunk bag I secured the solar panel for charging device batteries and power brick while the main compartment of the trunk bag was able to fit my bed mattress.  Seat wedge bag held a spare tube, patch kit and a few tools.  

Picture of Bicycle Nomad and Bike Tourings' blog author riding Dahon Mariner folding bike for travelConsidering a folding bike for travel? We like!
I'm glad I had an opportunity to experience some new variations on bikepacking and bike touring with a folding bike for travel.  Not only was it the perfect bike in a fun little town like Madrid, New Mexico populated with artsy craftsy folks who appreciate the style and uniqueness of a folding bike I was also able to experience how well it would perform for fun recreational sight seeing rides and as a get around bike for my photography.  While in Phoenix I had an opportunity to visit the Bicycle Nomad Cafe and owner Erick Cedeno after riding the little old Dahon Mariner said "it rides better than it looks, I always wondered about these types of bikes."  

This folding bike being touted on this post is a '98 Dahon Mariner five speed.  It's mostly all original with stock components with the exception of a new chain and free wheel gears as I wanted to diversify some gear ratios for trails.  Another modification was replacing the 20 x 1.5 street tires for commuting with some better quality 20 x 1.75 tires like these from Schwalbe.  Interesting that the reputable company which has been providing high quality bicycle touring tires made the Marathon Plus available in a size to fit folding bikes like this.  Also, the tread pattern provides just enough grip for some off road excursions which I found to be very useful in areas where I wanted to get some photos with the bike.   So to wrap up, as much as I wanted to bring my sorta fat bike for the trails previously described it turns out that the appropriate bike for our summer vacation proved to offer plenty of fun and a good conversation piece.  If you're reading this post in consideration of getting a folding bike to add to your riding options I definitely recommend it for their sheer versatility and convenience when a full size bike isn't an option under some traveling circumstances.  

While writing this post I received yet another email from the editor at "The Folding Bike Zone" where they consider a folding bike to be the best bicycle for your commuting needs.  Sure their a bit biased : ) everyone has varying commuter needs but their five reasons why they consider it to be the best choice may just help with your purchasing decision if you're someone in the market for this type of bike.  

When it was all said and done and I drove over a thousand miles in one day to get us home on time, Grandma Lynn is home safe and sound, I got some excellent photos for my bike touring stock images collection while putzing around on a silly little bike that made me smile.  Until next time, keep on riding even if you need the convenience of what many consider to be a fuddy duddy folding bike.  

Links Related to this topic
Folding Bike for Travel
Dahon


These EDiscoverpic UK Road Trips [Infographic]
The UK may not have road trips like you see in the movies, but there are many scenic routes throughout the UK that are worthy of the big screen. With more national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty than you could ever visit you can easily discover a route that will become an unforgettable road trip.
Despite being fairly short compared to more famous road trip destinations the UK still has a couple of fairly long road trip opportunities, we won’t spoil the below graphic by mentioning them quite yet, but if you want a whistle stop tour of England or Scotland then a couple of the road trips could be a perfect fit. Or if you’re after something short and snappy then other trips offer exactly that.
So without further introduction here are the 5 UK road trips put together by De Vere Hotels for your driving pleasure:
Picture of five epic road trips in the UK for bike travel including bicycle touring
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<![CDATA[Guest Post from MTBV, A Mountain Bike Trails Tour]]>Tue, 11 Jul 2017 20:16:05 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/guest-post-from-mtbv-a-mountain-bike-trails-tourThe 7 Most Technically Challenging U.S Mountain Bike Trails of 2017
Picture of mountain bike rider during Colorado bike tour
After reading about the technical difficulty of some of the trails described, I prefer to walk : )
Hopefully all you folks who enjoy our site and blog are finding ways to beat the heat while still getting out and riding.  It's summer vacation time for many folks, so here is a timely guest post from the team at Mountain Bike Vacations (MTBV)  Enjoy and hopefully get some inspiration for your next bike tour adventure.  
"We earn our turns mountain biking, and we earn our skill level. What looked frightening to us as a beginner, calls out to be ridden on the weekly ride, or added to the to-do list as a destination ride. However, there will always be trails that even the best riders struggle with. Trails that we never truly feel comfortable riding.Here are six of the most technical challenging rides across the country that we think are worthy of your attention." MTBV (Mountain Bike Vacations)
Picture of mountain bike riders on MTB tour of Porcupine Trail, Moab, UTFolks at Porcupine Trail, Moab, UT
1. Porcupine Rim (Moab, UT)
If you haven’t heard of this one, where have you been? Porcupine Rim has been a bucket list experience for mountain bikers across the world for decades. Whether you start at the tippy-top of Burro Pass, or enter just off Sand Flats Road, you’ll be thrust into a ride that guarantees at least 3,000 feet of descent through ledgy, rocky, sandstone.

The riding is technical. You’ll want to at least have broken your legs in a little bit for the season, and logged some miles in to prepare your body for a few hours in the desert. The reward comes early though, with breakaway views of Castle Valley that give you a chance to let your hands rest from charging through rocks.

Picture of mountain biking on Farlow Gap trail at Pisgah Forest, NCTechnical terrain of Farlow Gap
2. Farlow Gap (Pisgah Forest, NC)
Farlow Gap has been gaining notoriety as one of the most difficult trails around Pisgah, if not the most. There are spider webs of roots, and the steep boulders will have you going over your bars quicker than a pelican dive-bombing for fish.

The trail is tight and off camber in some sections and to make it even tougher there are a few tricky climbs right in the middle of the descent. It’s scenic as hell though, and it opens up in a few segments so that you can hold some much-earned speed.

Picture of mountain bike rider carrying bike on Psycho Rocks trail at Crested Butte Resort, CO Carrying your bike is common at Psycho Rocks
3. Psycho Rocks (Crested Butte, CO)
When you see Psycho Rocks from the chairlift at Crested Butte Mountain resort, you’ll either want to ride it as soon as you get off, or re-visit the idea in a year or two. From above, it looks like the trail builders threw down some wooden planks across a giant pile of talus to play connect-the-dots, but it works. The beginning has long, swoopy wooden features that lead you into the massive rock garden. Psycho Rocks is spooky, and confidence inspiring at the same time.

For more information on Crested Butte, check out our guide to mountain biking in Crested Butte.

Picture of mountain bike riders on Dakota Ridge Trail, Morrison, CO
4. Dakota Ridge (Morrison, CO)
Dakota Ridge sits on the edge of Metro-Denver and between Golden and Morrison. It’s a short climb up before it flattens out and then drops you into one of the most technical sections on the Front Range of Colorado. The off-camber slabs of lime and sandstone are what make Dakota Ridge tough, especially in the flatter sections where a lack of momentum makes it harder to get your bike through.
Once you’re through the slower moving first half of the trail though, get ready for a lot of flow mixed in with steep slabs of chunk that will have you flying over rock gardens with your bike underneath you. It’s only a two-mile road ride back to the top if you want to do it again.

Picture of mountain biking at Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City, NVExtrem portions of Bootleg Canyon Trail, wear a helmet.
5. Bootleg Canyon (Boulder City, NV)
Las Vegas is one of the last locations most people associate with mountain biking, and that’s fair. You might get a warm welcome when you plop down in front of a slot machine, but Bootleg Canyon is a different story.

The trails are hot and technical, the rocks are sharp and abrasive, and in some places, it’s just scary. That being said, the trail system here has quite a bit to offer and it’s not every day that you get to ride that same trails that Aaron Gwin races on. Riding Bootleg Canyon is kind of like living in New York. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

Picture of mountain bikers riding The White Line Trail at Sedona, AZNarrow Gauge trail of The White Line at Sedona
6. The White Line (Sedona, AZ)
Okay, we’re getting kind of crazy here, but hear us out. It’s you, all alone, out on the white line trail in Sedona, and a dozen people toward the bottom cheering you, watching you, and hoping that you don’t die. It’s a novelty trail and it’s probably cooler telling people that you’ve done it, than actually doing it, but sometimes that’s the point of technical riding.
It may not be overly technical in that there aren’t any rock gardens, but the exposure is as high as it gets. If you do ride it, get a video, because that’s the only way your friends will believe you.

In the process of planning your trip? Come explore our Sedona mountain biking guide to help you get started. You can take our word for these trails, or you can go find out for yourself. We recommend the latter - just make sure to log some miles before jumping into any of these trails. Keep those skills sharp and follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more insight on trails we love.

Mountain Bike Vacations was developed by a team of mountain bike enthusiasts to share their insights on how others can make the most of their mountain bike adventures. For more, you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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<![CDATA[Mixed Bags For Bike Touring or Commuting]]>Fri, 14 Apr 2017 03:47:46 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/mixed-bags-for-bike-touring-or-commutingDetours Sodo Bag and Axiom Smart Box Reviewed
Picture of Detours Sodo Handlebar Bag and Axiom Smart Box top tube bag
So impressed with the functionality and features of the Detours Sodo Bag.
Picture of Detours Sodo Handlebar Bag with raincover for bike touring and commutingDetours Sodo with included rain cover
Detours Sodo Handlebar Bag is currently available at such a hugely discounted price that I wanted to share the information with folks who read and depend on this blog for this type of information.  Affordable, quality bike touring gear and this product is a perfect example of that. 

I don't know for certain but it seems to me that Detours Bags is going to discontinue this product so if you're looking for a nice sized handlebar bag for either bike touring or commuting snag one of these before they're gone.  Click on photo or underlined link above for more product information.  

I was looking for a handlebar bag with a quick release clamp that could be mounted with my inline brake levers and that held the bag out far enough to allow my hands easy access to those secondary brake levers and this design allowed for that.  After reading a review from a guy who had recently invested well over a hundred bucks on the new Arkel Handlebar bag he felt that he had overpaid considering it didn't include a rain cover. I'm not saying the Detours Sodo Bag can be compared to the quality of an Arkel product but when you see the price this is listed at it's a no brainer.  And it includes a rain cover! 

Other features include a nice padded shoulder strap for carrying around off the bike and a clear map sleeve on top.  Apparently the clear sleeve was actually designed for cramming a cell phone into but it doesn't work well for that.  Like other reviewers have mentioned the goofy plastic ziploc type of access on the under side of the lid broke on the first use.  I didn't care as a map stays nicely in place with the bag closed.  

Picture of Detours The Sodo Bag for bike touring and commutingSturdy mounting bracket, nice padded shoulder strap with metal, not plastic attachments and included rain cover that can be stowed in bottom zipper compartment.
​Here's some basic information from the product listing:
  • 2 large zip zippered compartments are covered by a TPU-coated waterproof flap with a waterproof welded clear pocket on the top lid for maps and screen phones
  • Interior org / zip pockets / key fob / external side pockets for water and snacks
  • Plenty of padding for lunch and camera
  • Removable shoulder strap and removable rain cover
  • Dimensions are: 10 x 4.5 x 8 in

Picture Detours Sodo Handlebar bag with 7 watt solar panel for bike touringA 7 watt solar panel tucked in front for charging devices while touring
For this year's fund raiser bike tour the need to post regularly to social media and continued blog posting I found the Detours Sodo to be a nice piece of kit to keep electronic devices protected from the elements.  Definitely appreciating the waterproof lid but also the nice thick material lending an insulative quality for potentially extreme summer temperatures.  I was able to fit all my equipment including a Voyager Pro Tablet, Canon G16 camera, mini tripod, spare camera battery, all necessary cables, power bank and even the seven watt solar panel!  There are two nice sized exterior pockets on both ends that are excellent for stuffing snack stuff into for easy access while riding.

Some common complaints of handlebar bags are the lid or cover opening from the front making it very difficult to access contents while riding.  For me, that's what a top tube bag is for so next item in this post is the Axiom Smart Box.

Picture of Axiom Smart Box top tube bagSecure fold over velcro closure lid
First bit of important information is this; everywhere I found product information this little goody bag is described as being eight inches or more both in length and height with two inch diameter.  That last bit of info is the only correct measurement.  It's actually closer to five inches in each direction, a very significant difference!

I considered returning it for that very reason but since it holds my Canon G16 very snugly providing ease of access while riding while not bouncing around at all I decided to keep it.  I was also able to fit a 6700mah Zendure Power Bank with it.    

Picture of Axiom Smart Box top tube bag vertical measurementMeasures smaller than descriptions
  ​
Dubbed "Smart Box" as the exterior side pocket on the drive side of the bike is designed to hold most common sized smart phones.  I was able to fit a Moto G phone without a case easily.  I'm planning to take advantage of the pocket's convenience for my old Kodak Playsport zx5.  This provides easy access to a waterproof camera that I can use in inclement weather.  Notice the four straps used to secure this little thing makes for a very sturdy install.

Picture of Axiom Smart Box velcro lid cover for bike touring or commutingA solid velcro closure keeps a lid on it. : )
What I have found an appreciation for is the no zipper design.  Some other manufacturers have tried a velcro design on covers that open and close lengthwise and folks commonly complain that the cover pops open too easily when riding over rough terrain.  Not so with Axiom's Smart Box design.  It is such a sturdy bag it actually feels more like a box than a bag and the velcro holds the lid shut tight.  

Anyhow, if you're looking for a large top tube bag to stash a rain coat or larger items than those described here this is not the product for you.  However, if you need easy access to a couple gadgets that would otherwise be difficult to access from your handlebar bag while riding than this is a very good affordable quality option.  

Picture of Profile Design Standard Aero E Pack for bike touring and commutingProfile Design provides a much larger affordable option
For a large top tube bag consider the popular ​Profile Design Standard Aero E Pack, photo at left.  One large zippered main compartment and is approximately nine inches long.  I'm considering this product option for another bike and will add a post if or when I do.  Until then stay tuned for information regarding this year's Organic Farm Tour Fundraiser.  Feels good to be blogging again after a six month hiatus due to some unfortunate circumstances at our store last August.  More about that later.  Until then, Happy Spring and y'all are planning some fun bike touring adventures this year. 

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<![CDATA[Bikes and blogs after six month hiatus]]>Thu, 13 Apr 2017 20:17:05 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/bikes-and-blogs-after-six-month-hiatusNew Bike Touring Fund Raiser for our StorePicture of Bike Tourings' blog author walking touring bike through meadowReturning after a six month hiatus
It has been six months since my previous blog post so where have I been?  Our little store was in trouble and I had to go help after the business owner who shared the lease with us decided to suddenly quit without notice.  

Picture of mountain bike for bike touring and bikepacking at herb shade house, New MexicoWorking at Granny B's Herb Shed in New Mexico
The case of the missing juice bar.  Being a small business owner, entrepreneur or any type of self employed venture can at times feel like a test of endurance.  It's important to take some time off, retreat, recharge and refresh.  So, late last summer while making an effort to do just that I planned a nice little getaway to New Mexico, visit family and do some bike packing or mountain bike touring.  Instead I took care of some much needed maintenance around Granny B's mini pecan grove, herb garden and while doing so discovered a major gas leak to the house.  

Then I received a phone call that the owner of the Juice Bar back home in League City, Texas decided she was done with her business and was shutting it down.  Unfortunately our store depended on the Juice Bar paying half of the lease for the newly acquired commercial space.  So, did it feel like I went on a nice vacation to refresh and recharge?  Absolutely not!  As soon as I could I was forced to pack up all my bike touring gear and return home to help find a solution to keeping our six year strong organic food co-op business going.  There's a reason our little store has been so successful for the past several years and that reason's name is Lisa Piper.

Picture mountain bike for bikepacking at Natural Living Co-op and Cafe with store owner Lisa Piper
Store owner Lisa Piper sitting outside of what is now the Natural Living Cp-op and Cafe
Picture mountain bike for touring and use of bicycle trailer for moving firewoodTook down a dead tree threatening to fall on power lines
Before coming up with solutions for funding a rather large buy out of the former juice bar I had to process some much needed frustration.  Luckily there was a dead tree threatening to fall on my workshop and power lines that the city wouldn't have taken care of unless it fell onto the power lines.  There's no metaphorically speaking mumbo jumbo I was just glad I could vent a bit and do something productive at the same time.  : )

It was difficult to not be angry with former juice bar owner's sudden decision after attending a week long spiritual retreat where it seems that she "drank the kool aid" and the lack of consideration of her effect on her business lease partner and family.  So, yeah I was pissed off and after the saw dust settled Lisa told me about her solution to help cover the lease by renting out the commercial kitchen to our local vendor product suppliers.  But we still had to figure out a way to make use of the rest of the old juice bar space.  

Picture mountain bike for bikepacking and touring used with bike trailer in wood working shopOld juice bar tables used for wood crates
So, this is how I helped to handle the situation in an effort to benefit our little store's efforts in our community.  Firstly, I took the old juice bar table tops which had sayings stenciled on them like "Go Ahead and Tease Me". "Feed My Soul" and "Let go and let Smoothies" and cut them into useable sizes for much needed wood crates that would help our staff with maintaining our weekend farm and garden sales table. 

Photo at left shows the stackable creates in the bike trailer (which I got a lot of use from for these tasks) and can be used to fit inside of coolers to store and keep produce fresh overnight.   By the way, if you're looking for some cordless power tools for around the house or even somewhat industrial use I have a huge fond appreciation for any of the Milwaukee M12 line of tools, especially the recently acquired hammer drill after burning out the chuck and motor of my old drill. 

Picture of mountain bike for touring and commuting with bike trailer to move pallet wood tableRustic pallet wood table top ready for use
After cutting up the old tables for crate use what would we do for tables then?

I replaced all three poorly made tables from particle wood and cheap trim with some elegantly funky upcycled pallet wood.  

After I got them all installed for use in the newly acquired cafe space we received a lot of complements from folks who probably got tired of reading those previously described silly messages on the old tables.

While putting this post together first thing this morning I received a call from the store that another one of our staff has had to give her two weeks notice as she simply needs a better wage.  It's just a reminder of how the inconvenience of the former juice bar owner's behavior and the forced buy out effected our funds in such a way that we are unable to offer better pay to our much valued staff.  So, with that I can make first mention of our fundraising bike tour with a link to our GoFundMe page.  

It's important to mention that given the angst created on behalf of other folks' decisions and actions the former juice bar owner continues to be a loyal customer and supporter of our business.  It wasn't about us or our business why that person made the choices she did.  And all the while Lisa received many complements over the past several months in regards to how well she has been handling it all.  I will be conducting a nice long bike tour visiting organic farms, gardens and co-ops in an effort to raise funds for our store's co-op garden and cafe.  I have just recently put together a GoFundMe Campaign for our store's continued efforts to serve the community.  For more information about all that the Natural Living Country Store and Cafe does here use any of the underlined links in this post or use new widget below. 

Looking forward to honing my bike and blog skills as a means of providing a meaningful and significant contribution to our Store's funding effort.  So far I have been realizing how much work it is to put such a campaign together and the logistics of bike touring while working.  Very different than simply putting together a bike touring vacation where it's much more of a recreational activity than an electronic gadget filled effort of blogging and posting to social media.  Anyhow, look forward to more posts regarding bicycle touring route and establishments along the way.  I have no doubt despite all the hard work and effort I will still be able to enjoy myself.  : )

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<![CDATA[Affordable Quality Products for Bike Touring & Commuting]]>Mon, 31 Oct 2016 17:33:17 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/affordable-quality-products-for-bike-touring-commuting
Picture of touring bike and rider in meadow while bicycle touring and camping
End of the year round up of our favorite products for bicycle touring, commuting and bike packing

Selection of Bicycle Accessory Products

"You can't buy happiness but you can buy a bicycle and that's pretty close".  Most bike folks and those considering taking up bike commuting, touring or recreational riding can relate to to that quote.  One of the reasons it's "pretty close" is that lots of folks after purchasing their bike for its' intended purpose find themselves needing a few more items to fulfill their bike's ability to meet their needs.  After four years of blogging, riding, testing products and reviewing them here is our list of our favorite affordable quality products.  

Front and Rear Racks for Bicycle Touring and Commuting

Picture of Touring Bike with Minoura MT-4000SF front rack for bicycle touring and commutingAffordable quality steel front touring rack
A few years ago while designing and building our kinda fat mountain bike as an all terrain utility rig that could navigate an area without designated bike routes we had a difficult time finding a steel front rack to meet our needs.  I was looking for a design which provided low rider positon of panniers and a top deck for either strapping a tent or sleeping bag to or to support a large handlebar bag or basket.

After comparing cost, weight and other specifications I was pleasantly surprised to find the MT-4000SF front rack from Minoura.  Not only is that rack disc brake compatible it comes with hardware for mounting to either standard or suspension forks, will fit 26" to 29" wheel sizes and mounts to the axle with an extra long skewer making installation easy yet very secure.  Here's link to my review of that rack from three years ago.  

Picture of mountain bike for touring with lowrider style front bike rack for bicycle touringLighter weight Minoura FRP-3000
After being very happy with the first Minoura front rack I decided to try another rack in the FRP-3000, a traditional low rider front rack for my road touring bike, weighs much less than the MT-4000SF and includes same mounting hardware with axle skewer and brake post mounting hardware.  

I have had both of these racks for three years now and very much appreciate the quality steel front racks provided by Minoura with a price tag that is unmatched by anything comparable. 

Here's a link to my initial review of this rack that I have installed on both a 26" Bridgestone MB-1 converted to a touring bike and my 700c touring bike.

Here's a link to another informative review of these racks shares some ideas of optionally mounting the rack to the a threaded touring bike fork rather than the brake bosses.  

Picture of axiom DLX Streamliner Disc Cycle Rack, Black for bicycle touring or bike commutingStreamliner DLX rack for disc brake
While Minoura provides favorites in terms of front bike racks axiom continues to deliver some ultra solid load carrying capacity with their rear racks.  I've installed many axiom racks for customers over the years and since the introduction of the Streamliner DLX rear rack for disc brake equipped bikes installation couldn't be easier.   Here are a few main points to consider from their product description:
  • A lightweight, low profile solution for mountain, commuting and fitness bikes
  • Ultra-narrow profile improves aerodynamics, keeps load closer to center and greatly reduces bag "swing"
  • Hand-welded 10.2mm tubular 6061 T6 alloy construction
  • Fits 26" and 700C wheels
  • Ample space for MTB and Hybrid/Trekking fenders

At our shop the most popular is the axiom Journey for bikes that don't have disc brakes.

Panniers and Bags for Bike Touring and Commuting

Picture of handlebar bag for bicycle touring and bike commuting with photography equipmentA versatile, affordable, quality handlebar bag
Due to the simple fact that I like to ride different bikes for a variety of reasons it is nice to be able to swap panniers and bags from one bike to another.  That quality of versatility is something I look for when considering and sifting through many of today's bike touring and commuting pannier and bag options. 

For example a handlebar bag which mounts with a quick release bracket can only be used on the bike to which the quick release clamp has been installed.  Some manufacturers offer an additional clamp at additional cost of course.  The same can be said about some panniers with locking mechanisms which limit the ability to swap panniers around to the front or rear racks as preferred or needed.  This is not to say that some of the more popular products from Ortlieb, Arkel and the like are not of excellent quality but to say that there are some other options in affordable quality panniers that can lend some added versatility compared to others.

Photo above is of a very inexpensive handlebar bag that just so happens to fit most all my gear for "some" professional quality photography and blogging gadgets including a tripod, tablet, camera, cables and rechargeable power pack.  Here's a link for a review of that handlebar bag. It's design provides a very convienient option for swapping the handlebar bag from my touring bike to my mountain bike for bike packing and even on a folding bike for travel.  Very versatile indeed and after two years of lots of use it is holding together extremely well considering how rediculously affordable that bag is. 

Picture of touring bike with front and rear panniers attached to racks for bicycle touringAxiom panniers, new and old style

​Axiom products continue to prove to be an exceptional choice of quality and value.  Unfortunately, Axiom has discontinued their Cartier panniers (front panniers in photo at left) which are still providing dependable service after ten years of use.  Fortunately they have introduced the Seymour DLX panniers available in two different sizes both of which can be used as front or rear bags and although those panniers now have the Rixen and Kaul latching mechanism for attaching the top of the pannier the very heavy duty steel hook and bungee are used to secure the bottom of the bag making for a versatile yet secure attachment system.  

Another very impressive option in that same series is now available in a waterproof material called their "O Weave" series.  It's a complete line of various panniers and bags of varying capacities for different uses.  Another thoughtful idea is that the interieor of the waterproof design is a red interior for enhanced visibility inside their bags and panniers.  



Picture of Axiom O Weave Seymour waterproof panniers for bicycle touring and bike commutingAxiom's new O Weave waterproof panniers
Axiom's O Weave Seymour Panniers are some of the first affordable quality waterproof panniers to become available from a reputable company of proven reputation that stands by their product with an excellent warranty.  Here's a quick description from their product listing: "Made from recycled fishnet polyester with waterproof polyurethane coating; Red interior liner on back-plate protects contents from scratches and improves internal visibility; Daisy-chain webbing for additional tie-down options".

We're excited about testing a couple of these items based on our experience with axiom's innovative quality.



Rechargeable Lights for Bike Travel

Picture of Cygolite Metro front bike light on bicycle path at nightExample of Cygolite on unlit path
A favorite around here are any bike lighting products from Cygolite.  With a rechargeable USB connection I can simply connect a Cygolite Metro front light to a Zendure power bank if for whatever reason the battery should get low.  I've been using the Cygolite Metro for my night time bike commutes and for bicycle touring with ability to recharge via USB cable and solar kit.

We have found most if not all Cygolite products to outperform other bike lights based on battery run time, lighting options and overall brightness.  

Last year I received a Blackburn 2 fer front or rear light for review which is also USB rechargeable and can be used as a headlight for camping.  It's very small, lightweight design and multi mode functions make for a nice bit of kit just know that the battery time is lacking.  

Rain Gear for Bicycle Touring and Bike Commuting

PictureYes, you can stay dry riding in wet weather
I have tried so many different types of materials from various brands and manufacturers but they fell short of the quality I wanted or had an absurdly high price tag.  Now that  I have found a rain gear kit that truly keeps me dry I don't mind riding in wet weather at all. 

For the past couple years I have been more than satisfied with the performance of my Bellwether Storm Front Jacket with a drop down butt cover combined with a pair of Tenn Outdoors Waterproof Cycling Trousers.  Photo at left shows how much rain we frequently receive along the Gulf Coast and having good quality rain gear makes it fun and easy to ride.  


While I continue with this blog look for more fun and effective ways to improve your rides whether it's more bike commuting or bicycle touring we effort to have you covered.
Link related to this topic:
Multi day Bike Touring Kit



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<![CDATA[Bike Touring Adventure at...Las Vegas? ¬†Absolutely!]]>Mon, 17 Oct 2016 02:05:03 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/bike-touring-adventure-atlas-vegas-absolutelyTravel Ideas for Bike Friendly Las Vegas
Picture of bicycle playing cards, black jack and dice with mountain bike for bicycle touring in background
Backpacking and MTB tours abound just outside of Las Vegas
Picture of vendors and customers at Interbike in Las Vegas, NevadaHundreds of vendors at Interbike
When bike folks think of Las Vegas and bikes their first thought is of the largest annual meeting of bicycle industry leaders known as Interbike.  “The annual Interbike International Bicycle Exposition is where the bicycle industry gathers to celebrate, educate and conduct the business of cycling.  Bicycle retailers, media, importers and distributors can discover the latest in bicycle technology, including bicycle demos at the largest 2-day demo event for the trade – OutDoor Demo”.

Yeah, pretty awesome whether you’re a customer or a vendor it’s considered the most exciting event the bike industry has to offer.  However, Interbike is held only a few days out of the year so is there any good reason for a bike travel enthusiast to want to visit what has been dubbed “Sin City”? This article highlights just a few reasons that hopping on a bike and touring around Vegas could be one of the most fun and rewarding travel ideas many bike folks wouldn’t consider.

Picture of paved bike path from Las Vegas to Boulder City, Nevada for bike commuting and touringTwenty five miles of paved bike path at Las Vegas
Las Vegas is Bike Friendly?  Bicycle repair author, frame builder and regular Interbike attendee Lennard Zinn has been riding the twenty seven miles from Las Vegas to Boulder Canyon's outdoor bike demo for the past ten years and says "every year it gets better".  Why?  Because nowadays there's a twenty five mile paved bike path from Vegas to the River Mountain Loop Trail where the Interbike Outdoor Demo takes place.  "What's not to like about a shaded, tree-lined trail along a railroad in a sunbaked city? Photo: Lennard Zinn | VeloNews.com" 

Picture of people riding mountain bikes on trails near Las VegasMountain Biking at Bootleg Canyon, near Las Vegas
Of course, if you're looking to get off the pavement and onto some dirt the coordinators of Interbike have selected some of the best mountain bike trails in the country for their annual display of bike industry leaders wanting to show off their latest and greatest rides.  

Want to simply grab your bike and leave for Las Vegas without making a whole lot of travel and activity plans?  Guided mountain bike tours are available like that pictured at left of McGhie's Las Vegas Mountain Bike Guided Tour.

There are also many hotels and bike shops that rent bicycles for you to conveniently get some exercise while visiting Las Vegas.  Visit Vegas.com to search those types of specal offers and deals.

Picture of Pedego Henderson bike shop owner at Las Vegas offers bike rentals and bicycle toursPedego Henderson E Bike rentals and bicycle tours
I know that some folks, bike enthusiast or not just want to see Vegas from a unique perspective that can add to their vacation enjoyment.  From a photographer's point of view I wanted to know just how bike friendly Las Vegas is.  Well here's a nice tid bit of information Las Vegas increased its bike network by more than 23 percent to 444 miles of bike lanes and 102 miles of paved off-road trails and installed bike parking racks throughout downtown.  The League of American Bicyclists awarded both Las Vegas and Henderson with their bronze award in recognition of the closely knit communities efforts to encourage bike enthusiasts to visit the tourist based area.  

That's what I like to hear when considering a bicycle touring or bike travel destination, particularly when planning logistics for photography opportunities.  I have found getting around town by bike is the most versatile and efficient methods of transportation regardless of what town it is and more often than not offers picture opportunities that I wouldn't have otherwise considered or seen if I was in a motor vehicle.  Businesses like that of Pedego Henderson understand this and offers electric bike rentals and tours of Henderson, Las Vegas, Lake Mead and Boulder City.  

Whether you're interested in epic mountain bike rides, long, scenic road touring or just want to get out on the bike while playing in Las Vegas there is a bike and terrain for your every whim.  Visit Vegas.com for more information when planning your next bike touring adventure whatever that means to you.



Picture of escape adventures mountain bike tours in las vegasescape adventures' variety of bike tours in las vegas
Escape Adventures offers a variety of mountain bike tours, road tours and many other options for bike touring enthusiasts of most all skill levels providing many ways to see the sights of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas.  Click on photo for more information and if you plan on going to Vegas to party and exercise you might consider stopping up on some healthy performance supplements like that from redace organics where our visitors can now get an additional fifteen percent off their purchase.  

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<![CDATA[Performance Supplement for Bike Touring and Commuting]]>Wed, 12 Oct 2016 05:49:20 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/performance-supplement-for-bike-touring-and-commutingred Ace Organic Beet Juice Products, Fuel for Rides
Picture of Red Ace Organic Beet Juice Supplement for bicycle touring and bike commuting
Red Ace Organics small, pack friendly two ounce bottles for bike touring and commuting
A few years ago I met a fellow bike touring enthusiast who told me how good he felt on long rides after fasting on beet juice for several days.  He explained how much lighter and faster he felt not only while riding but in his everyday life he was just feeling more energetic.  We have a juicer and enjoy the nutrition benefits it offers and with a good food dehydrator using the pulp to make crackers or fruit leathers that can be packed for bike camping and touring is quite a perk.  That having been said, sometimes in the course of our busy-ness around here we want something quick to grab and pack that doesn't require refrigeration without compromising on quality nutrition.

Good nutrition plays such an important role whether it's helping to meet the demands of everyday bike commuting or completing those long treks of bicycle touring.  Other than pre ride carb loading and post ride protein recovery, nutrients necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system will keep you going when the going gets tough wherever your rides may lead. 

We appreciate good food and nutrition so much that we opened our organic country store almost six years ago.  Since that time we have expanded not only our store's ability to meet the varying needs of our customer's dietary concerns but have learned a lot along the way.  Over the past few months we decided to make our store's products all organic and non GMO as more folks are educating themselves about proper nutrition and how it contributes to their general health and well being. When the folks at red ace organics reached out to us with an opportunity to test sample their products we were more than happy to considering their California farm supplier is a hundred percent organic and GMO free.
Picture of Red Ace Beets and Greens juice blends for bike touring and commutingRed Ace Juice available in three distinct blends
The Boulder, Colorado based company well known for their three beets per two ounce bottle of beet juice now has two more blends which rounds out a more complete nutrition package. It includes a beets and greens blend packed with antioxidants, is cleansing and detoxifying and a beets and turmeric blend to help with recovery with post workout inflammation.  All of these products aide cardiovascular health, stamina and oxygen intake.  This kit of two ounce glass bottles which don't require refrigeration unless opened offer a very practical method of getting a good dose of nutrition in warding off fatigue for long rides as it's not difficult to find some space in a pannier or bike bag to accommodate the little two ounce bottles.

Usually when I think of the types of ride performance supplements found in bike shops I think of GU, Red Bull and other junk food caffeine sugar spikes which actually deplete the body of good ride fuel.  When the body is fueled with such synthetic junk food it's like a gas hog vehicle that gets very poor mileage.  We're excited to be promoting such an excellent performance supplement that benefits not only your bike rides but supports your body's good health and longevity.  

Before I sign off of this post I also want to make mention of what I refer to as "my green drink" that I like to have everyday with hemp milk or with water.  I've tried a few over the years and have found my favorite for the past few years to be from Amazing Grass and their Original Superfood Powder.  It's very easy and convenient to pack and is of course organic and non GMO.  

Our blog visitors can use promo code clean energy at check out for an additional fifteen percent off your purchase!

Links related to this topic:
Lose Weight, Get Fit for Bike Touring
​Benefits of Goat Milk for Commuting
Bike Touring Energy Bar Recipes

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<![CDATA[More cushion for Pushin' while Bike Touring]]>Wed, 05 Oct 2016 03:22:04 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/more-cushion-for-pushin-while-bike-touringFat Wrap Offers Comfort for bicycle touring
Picture of Fat Wrap Handle Bar Tape for Bicycle Touring
Fat Wrap, a product from TASIS Bikes
Picture of Tasis Bikes fat wrap for cushioning handlebars while bike touringWrapped properly, no branding, nailed it : )
When Kent of TASIS Bikes contacted us about reviewing his new handlebar tape made specifically for bike touring enthusiasts he mentioned "if you double wrap your handlebars, this product is for you".  Of course Kent got his new Fat Wrap product to us a couple months after I had just finished double wrapping the bars on my touring bike.  

Due to the long hours spent on a bike while touring having your bicycle set up properly is imperative in eliminating some of the most commonly associated miseries of a long bicycle tour. Even with proper bike fit, handlebar to saddle length and height adjustments customized for the rider's body characteristics certain types of pain tend to creep up on many folks while touring.  Second only to saddle soreness is hand numbness and/or wrist pain from maintaining and holding a particular riding position hour after hour day in and day out, week after week.  

Over the years I have used many products all of which I might add have provided solutions to hand numbness and pain.  Several gel pad products are available designed to be installed under handlebar tape and I found them to be most notably helpful while riding over rough dirt and gravel roads for vibration dampening.  Some of the fancier kits are designed to fit over the contour of the handlebars and are reusable when you need to re-wrap your bars.  

That having been said the gel pads are only so durable and if they get punctured the gel oozes under the handlebar tape consequently requiring the tape to be removed and very likely replaced. Also, some of the gel kits are a bit cost prohibitive and don't include bar tape.  Padded cycling gloves help to some extent but often are just not quite enough to accommodate the needs of some long haul touring enthusiasts.  There have been innumerable companies creating all sorts of gimmick products (particularly saddles) in an effort to provide more comfort or "implied comfort" by the less scrupulous.  So it is refreshing to receive a product to review that provides a simple, practical solution to one of bike tourings' most common complaints.

Picture of Tasis Bikes Fat Wrap thickness on handlebarsFat Wrap is that much thicker
Introducing Fat Wrap, a simpler more cost effective method of getting the handlebar comfort and durability for bicycle touring and especially bikepacking where I have a tendency to be rougher on equipment than while road touring.  Grabbing, gripping, lifting the front wheel and throwing it about can cause the gel pads to wiggle about if not properly secured under the tape during installation.  Sweat, rain, any moisture that may seep in can contribute to some of the loosening effect over time.  

A simple solution would be to have a very thick, durable handlebar tape available which can be installed securely without added layers of other products.  That having been said how much thicker is Fat Wrap than one of my favorites from my shop supplier?  Significantly, photo at right illustrates how much thicker Fat Wrap is then the very durable cork synthetic blend shown in photo.  It's worth mentioning that the durability test of handlebar tape can be determined while wrapping gel pads.  I've had some tapes tear while getting the tight wrap necessary to ensure the pads stayed in place without feeling "squishy".  Perhaps it's due to the sheer girth of this product which contributes to such a nice durable feel when installing as while I pulled and stretched it tight to ensure the tape would cover the entire handlebar I soon realized I wouldn't have to be concerned about tearing it. 

Picture of Fat Wrap with flush bar end wrap on touring bikeSo thick wrap flush with bar end
If I have one criticism it's that the Fat Wrap didn't include bar end plugs, which although not an issue around here as I had plenty extras to choose from other folks may not.  However, a trip to your local bike shop might provide a set for free or very inexpensively.

Fat Wrap is so thick that when I attempted to begin to wrap the drop bars (photo at left) by tucking the initial portion inside the handlebar and then inserting the bar end plug like all other handlebar tape the Fat Wrap kept kicking the plug out.  All this is covered with the included product instructions but I had to test it out myself for this review.  

As barend plugs are designed to fit with bar tape tucked in I added a short piece of cloth rim tape to ensure it would hold securely.  Fat Wrap is designed to be wrapped flush with the handlebar end so the accompanying instructions which suggest using a short piece of electrical tape to secure Fat Wrap tape to the bar when beginning the wrap proved very useful.  

Picture mountain bike for bicycle touring and bike packing with handlebar tapeHandlebar tape over foam grips for comfort
While adding some hand positions to my mountain bike for bikepacking I installed some inexpensive plain old foam grips (left photo) over the bar ends and then wrapped them with some extra tape from the shop.  

Although this provides more than ample hand comfort it is a bit squishy and I'm concerned it will wear out rather quickly as the tape flexes with the cushy foam.  

This is an excellent example for highlighting the textured surface of Fat Wrap which feels to provide a much better grip so important on the trail while maneuvering a loaded bikepacking rig over rough terrain.  Not only does Fat Wrap offer a better textured grip but the product feels sturdier simply due to the fact that it is applied directly to the bar surface eliminating slippage or quickly wearing out under rough handling.  We really like this product from Canadian based TASIS Bikes and their Fat Wrap and look forward to sharing other products that Kent might be coming up with for fellow bike touring folks.  Use any of the bold text links or photos for more information or to purchase.  

Links Related to this Topic
Bike Fit Basics
Fit Well Bikes
Ergonomic Cork Grips
Posture for Bicycle Touring

Treatment for Sciatic Pain

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<![CDATA[Top Four Tents for Bicycle Touring and Bike Packing]]>Thu, 25 Aug 2016 17:30:33 GMThttp://biketourings.com/blog/top-four-tents-for-bicycle-touring-and-bike-packing
Picture of mountain bike for touring and bike packing with tent
One and two person tents compared for bike packing and bicycle touring.
Picture of torn tent while bike camping with dog"Roo" feeling bad about damaged tent
My recent bike camping visit to New Mexico provided an excellent opportunity to compare some new and old tents while working around some family property.

This past summer had proven to be a very challenging time for a lot of friend and family folks for varying reasons which effected my bike touring plans for the months of late July and August.  In an effort to make light of those facts I blogged about it here, Lisa found it to be rather amusing.  

Anyhow, after finally getting some bike packing travel plans figured out I debated over which tent to take to sleep in with my dog after our house and puppy sitter flaked out.  So I decided to pack both the REI Quarter Dome 2 two person tent and the Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 person tent.   Both tents offer a "quick pitch" method using only the foot print and rain fly as an optional simple shelter.  

Although the Quarter Dome 2 is much roomier with dual entry and vestibules it weighs approximately the same as the Alps one person tent (three and a half pounds) which has a single entry and vestibule although the vestibule is quite large for storing panniers, packs, shoes, etc.  How the Quarter Dome is capable of being so lightweight is that the rainfly and tent body are made of very lightweight fabric that can best be described as unpacking a material which resembles plastic cling wrap used in a kitchen.  Lisa immediately voiced a concern about the fabric being "too thin" for use when camping with the dogs as they could possibly tear the floor fabric.  As it turns out Lisa's evaluation of the fabric was correct as shown in photo above it was way too easily torn by a stray year old lab puppy who insisted on keeping me company by sleeping next to the tent every night.  Previous to that while we camped one night using only the mostly mesh tent body without the rainfly our three year old dog was startled and made an effort to lunge out hitting the mesh and creating stress tears in the base fabric of the tent body.  It was easy enough to repair those tears but the other damage caused by the lab pup pawing at the tent will require us returning the tent to REI.  Will update this post later.  

Picture of bike packing load with REI Quarter Dome tent polesBike Packing the REI Quarter Dome 2 tent pole length
Another important consideration is tent pole length as poles which are exceptionally long are a hassle to pack properly especially for bicycle touring and bike packing.  At ​??? inches I was barely capable of tucking the Quarter Dome 2 poles under the top tube of my twenty inch frame mountain bike.  Also, due to the "single pole" packing design where all the poles fold around what I would call the tent pole hub and the slightly curved design of some of the pole sections I was concerned about them getting bent.  In comparison to the Alps Mountaineering poles which are two simple poles with pole sections that fold and pack flat.  Also note the convenience of being able to pack the Alps Lynx 1 tent poles into the top tube of bike packing rig pictured above.  

I could go on and on saying the praises of the Alps tents materials, ease of packing and pitching.  As one reviewer of the Quarter Dome 2 is quoted as saying "it's not the type of tent design you want to try to set up after a few drinks" implies that it needs to be set up a few times to get familiar with the design for pitching at night or if in a hurry for inclement weather.  When the same stray lab puppy tried to get in through the rain fly vestibule while it was zipped shut he evidently became frustrated and chewed through the guy lines which were staked down for the gusty New Mexico monsoon weather.  

So, all that having been said here are top four suggested features of a tent for bicycle touring or bike packing followed by a list of our top four tent picks which all weigh less than four pounds.
1. Packing friendly aluminum tent pole length which can fit inside a pannier, bike bag or pack or strapped to the top of a front or rack so as not to adversely effect navigating the bike especially on trails. 
2. Materials pack down small enough to fit inside a pannier, seat bag, or can be strapped on to a front or rear rack or handlebars in the case of bike packing.
3. Ease of setting the tent up whether it's due to being in a hurry with bad weather with free standing design.
4. Durable enough that a dog doesn't tear it too easily. : )

Our Four Favorite One and Two Person Tents

Picture of Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Tent for bicycle touring and bike packingAlps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Tent
1. Alps Mountaineering Lynx 1 Tent has become a personal favorite for several reasons least of which is how incredibly affordable this tent is at under a hundred bucks, compare to the three hundred dollar Quarter Dome 2 previously described.
After deciding to add the ground cloth (sold separately) I have no doubts about the durability and quality materials of this tent.  Large vestibule for storage of personal items, absurdly easy to set up even with lots of wind and includes a gear storage loft which I have found very useful for holding other small personal items while bike camping. 

Picture of Kelty Salida 1 Tent for bicycle touring and bike packingKelty Salida 1 Tent
Another quality free standing one person tent option that is light weight and pack friendly with manageable pole section lengths is the Kelty Salida 1 Tent.  Footprint is also sold separately and doesn't include a gear loft like the Alps Lynx 1 tent but is very well reviewed and slightly lighter than the Alps model. 

Another thing I like about this tent when compared to the Alps Lynx 1 is that it doesn't have the little transparent plastic windows on each end of the rain fly which probably contributes to this tent being slightly lighter weight. 



Picture of Bryce 2P Two Person Ultralight Tent for bicycle touring and bike packingBryce 2P Two Person Tent
Personally this Bryce 2P Two Person Ultralight Tent and Footprint is not only a much more affordable option to the Quarter Dome 2 at under two hundred dollars and it includes the foot print!  Also, the packed ple section length is very manageable at just seventeen inches.

This is a highly reviewed tent weighing less than four pounds.  Couple things I don't like about it are the seventeen inch packed pole length and single pole hub design very similar to the Quarter Dome 2 poles described previously.  

Picture of Kelty TN 2 Person Tent for bicycle touring and bike packingKelty TN 2 Person Tent
This is going to be the tent to replace the Quarter Dome 2 tent.  With pole section length of just fourteen inches, weighs less than four pounds, easy to set up and at a hundred dollars less than the QD2 I'm excited.  
This is the Kelty TN 2 Person Tent which although the ground cloth (foot print) is sold separately it's still an awesome deal and the only tent I have found with the option for parking my touring bike under an accessory tarp shown below, also sold separately.  

Picture of Kelty Upslope Tarp for bicycle touring and bike packingOptional Kelty Upslope Tarp for bike camping
Optional Kelty Upslope Tarp shown being used with trekking poles (sold separately) or as I have mentioned for use with a touring bike with a double kickstand.  Of course the Upslope Tarp can also be used by itself as a simple tarp shelter if needed.  Excited about the possibilities with this tent and tarp combo.  

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