Thursday, December 31, 2009

lighting the night

But wait there is more :)
just came across a rechargeable solar blinkie.. this is a photo of it
Am going to send away for one and will do a full report after I give it a testing

Ernest, thanks for the suggestion.

As I am an Oregonian I should have been promoting Rechargeables as we pride ourselves in being the Green State.
I added some good information to this thread.
Cost savings
As mentioned, you can not only lighten your environmental footprint, but save a ton of cash by using rechargeable batteries.

A pack of 4 rechargeable batteries I purchased a short while ago cost me around $20. They'll be good for at least 500 recharges, likely more. A battery charger costs anywhere from about $10 -$30. The cost to recharge the set works out to to be just a couple of cents each time. So, in total, even factoring in the charger, a set of 4 AA will cost around $50 for their serviceable life.
A comparable set of heavy duty disposables cost around $2 - and that's at a discount price. The equivalent usage would cost $1000!
Environmentally and financially, rechargeable batteries just make more sense. If you can, try ditching your disposable battery habit and reap the rewards.


> > hi Christian!
> how about using rechargeable batteries for those uses when you're
> not out on tour? at your current rate you might save a little money in
> the short term, but you're adding 5 extra batteries per cycle to
> landfill/disposal.
> rechargeables would cost you less in the long run and almost
> completely eliminate the impact on disposal.
> cheers!
> e
> christian Oregon wrote:
> >
> >
> > led lights are the bomb.. Changed my rear trunk light after a year of use w
> > ith fresh batteries as I wondered if it was getting dimmer (not that I coul
> > d see, but knowing they were a year old) New batteries and the light is j
> > ust as bright as the old. So one year of use on a bucks worth of batteries.
> > LED head lamp gets used all the time - I use it to read while I sit in the
> > hot tub under the stars. I get around 100 hours of use for a dollar. I alw
> > ays buy my batteries at the dollar store. The cost ratio is two Panasonic's
> > for a buck or 2 Duracell's for 3.49, so far seven Panasonic's (equivalen
> > t to 2 Duracell's in cost) have outlasted the 2 Duracell's.
> >
> >
> >
> > to icy to ride today. may have to resort to the trainer....
> >
> > Christian
> >
> >
> > Today is a good day to Ride

Sunday, December 27, 2009

talking about comfort

Neil writes>I like comfort too. In a related vein, how much clothing do you carry?
Chris reply: from my packing list for upcoming 18 day tour.
2 pairs socks - one to sleep in if it is cold, fleece pants, fleece pullover,rain jacket, 2 pairs padded shorts, 1 polo shirt -non wrinkle( for going out to dinner) 2 pairs cargo over shorts (like the Columbia titanium brand- light weight but tough) 2 wick shirts, bike sandals, hiking sandals, wind rain pants, and three bike jerseys.

> What you're wearing and one change, or two? >Neil writes: Do you carry extra layers to deal with inclement weather? Chris replies: see above
>Neil writes: Do you wear bicycle specific clothing, or general purpose clothing? Chris replies: Yes
>>Neil writes: Do you wear padded underwear? Chris replies: padded bike shorts
>Neil writes: How many miles a day do you usually travel? Chris replies: 40-60 on average.
But have cranked out a few 100 milers when the next town with a cold beer is calling my name.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Comfort vs. Weight on Tour

Comfort vs. Weight on Tour

Okay so I’ll state my philosophy right up front when it comes to tours. Why cut out 10# of gear if you are going to be miserable for the entire tour. I have a very opposite view then the weight misers that sacrifice comfort to peddle a lighter load. I am not talking about a hundred extra pounds of gear; you know the hot tub still stays at home. But sleeping on a postage stamp pad as some bike touring cyclist do to me is well kinda nuts. How are you going to get a good day of cycling in if you are not sleeping well? I have traded up and then traded up again until my final sleeping pad is a camp size thermarest. Yes it is big yes it weights more then most but wow do I sleep like I was home in my own bed. I wake up refreshed and glad to be alive, ready to start the day. This is just the start of the comfort vs. weight debate and I know till will not sit well with some but so be it.

I just added a new tent to my gear stash. It is a three person three season double walled tent. It weights a hair less then a pound more then my small two person tent but offers me almost double the room. So why do I need a bigger tent? Good question glad you asked. I tour in the early spring and late into the fall. During the summer months my two person tent is perfect. But after spending a wet spring on tour in BC where the rain days out numbered the dry I knew that there had to be a better plan. If I was going to be forced to ride out another rain storm I wanted to have some room. The little two person tent offers nothing more then a good shelter to sleep in. With normal weather this is all it is needed for just a place nice place to sleep. But when you are traveling in the early spring or late fall and the weather can go bad for days on end you want the ability to move inside. That larger space is then a welcomed extra pound gladly carried.

I have been following the travels of a couple who are on an epic 10,000 plus mile tour. They have been carrying and using for months a set of camp chairs. Not to heavy, but large in size. They have some of that same comfort philosophy I do. Sitting on the ground is never really comfortable. When the ground is cold or wet it is avoided so taking a chair the comfort outweighs the weight.. Pun intended.

So this next week I am going to lay out all my gear for my upcoming tour just to see what is there as a comfort item.. YOU?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Gear Feedback - Stove

>Mike wrote: I bought the New Zealand version of this stove call a "Thermette"
Chris replies: I looked at this version before I made my Kelly Kettle selection. Even though the gang at Thermette push the healing properties of copper it must be an acquired taste.I am not one for the flavor of sucking on an old penny (the taste of blood) But then again I have never found that yeasty Vegimite to my liking, this Thermette being from down under and all.
The other two cons were that the abuse that camping gear is subject to. Copper dents, stainless steel used in the KK pretty darn sturdy. #2 copper handle that is attached to the side of the Thermette pot is going to have some major heat transfer. I liked the way the Kelly Kettle avoided the need for a oven mitt pick up the pot.

There is a video out that shows a head to head competition of the two kettles that is so one sided it is funny. They admit after that they spilt water on the kindling used in the Kelly Kettle's base. But watching the two guys tend to their fires is the funny part.

The play by play; Therm guy used one match to unseen kindling huge flame seconds later, KK guy works the match slow flame, Them adds long twigs down the chimney flame shoots out, KK breaks up sticks into small pieces adding one twig to every 5 that Them is adding. Narrator at this point wonders out loud if the water spilt in the KK is the reason for the KK poor flames. at this point I am saying to myself Gee who do they want to win,, rigged no it can't be rigged... lol

>Mike wrote: The one nice thing about this one (other than the large water capacity) is >that it has a cook ring that sets on top and you can do other
>cooking besides boiling.
Chris Replies: The Kelly Kettle offers the same type of cook ring.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Gear
Touring 2010
New Stove

Wonderful winter weather we are having from crisp 40’s* to minus -01* . Sunshine to snow with the assorted everything in between tossed in just to keep me packing ten tons of layers and rain gear. 100 days to my first long tour of the season not that I am counting the 12 hours and 4 minutes before it becomes 99 days.

So stoves on past tours have ranged from tin can and charcoal to a nice whisperlite, I looked after I order my newest stove and counted four different stoves in my gear cabinet. Problem being none of these stoves have ever been trouble free. But those are stories for another time. This year I toured Greece without a stove, big mistake as anyone who knows me knows I run on 99% caffeine for the first four hours of my day. You know the triple shot Americano followed by a triple shot Americano just to take the edge off. So I really wanted a stove to make my morning coffee and maybe a bowl of my famous oatmeal.

I had been reading up on the Kelly Kettle stove after someone on the touring list had used/liked the concept. Here was a water jacketed stove that used paper, small twigs, pinecones and dried grass as fuel, combined the pot and stove in one slick unit. So I brought out my most recent stove, the pan I take to boil water in, the full fuel bottle and weighted them.
This 3 pint stainless steel Kelly Kettle stove actually weighted less then my stove kit. The full fuel bottle alone weighted a whopping 30 ozs. So I debated for a few months the old back and forth of pros and cons.. less weight – pro, bulky – con, no real fuel concerns – pro, limited to boiling water – con. So after a good look at the reviews I finally sent away for the 3 pint kettle in stainless steel. With shipping from Ireland it came to $100 US. And then a few weeks later…. It arrived. Larger then I had imagined though it did not feel heavy. Good workmanship was evident in all the details. I was impressed.
My first firing was with some dried grass, dry leaves and twigs smaller around then a normal pencil. Eureka I have flame shooting up and out the chimney within 2 minutes. Steam started pouring out the spout after 4 or so minutes with a good rapid boil soon following. They have devised a clever way to pour out the boiling water so you do not have to touch the kettle while it is hot. Using the handle and the attached chain I was pouring without spilling water into my French Press coffee maker. The first test was a real success. The small fire dies quickly and the base was ready to be packed away, it stores up inside the chimney part of the kettle. One small opps was when I picked up the base the wood on the porch was scorched from the heat of the base that was in direct contact. This was good to know as I will avoid using it on a surface that may burn for now on.

So as with any new item only time will tell if I made the right choice. But seeing the results of the first test I am leaning towards many happy cups of coffee.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Year for Gear - New Bike

New Bike

First off I should go into the selection process of picking this “new bike”.

Plans to go back to Europe in the Spring had a large monkey wrench tossed in with the announcement by Lufthansa Airlines that they were leaving the Portland, Oregon airport. Personal experience along with the advice of other seasoned travelers had impressed on me to when ever possible travel with one airline with a few stops as possible. With only one airline to deal with when and if things go wrong they have very few options for deflecting blame. Having only one transfer with good luck you and your gear will make it on the same plane and arrive at the same place at….( listen closely as you can hear me knocking on wood) the same time.. (Hopefully Madrid was the exception.)

So now I was stuck with going to Plan ‘B’ finding one Airline to fly with one stop between here and Athens. This wasn't as quick or as easy as I had first thought. Most of the Portland options were long and involved flying to the east coast then jumping the Atlantic.

So then I looked at Seattle, one airline with one stop several choices. I checked each airline baggage rules; low and behold three airlines allow your bicycle as second bag. British Airlines charges you $60 for the second bag; both KLM and AIRFRANCE allow a second bag for no additional fee. Change that as of November that both charge a small fee for a second bag. But this fee is nowhere near the $200.00 each way that most American based and some European airlines want to charge Wahoo I can take a full sized touring bike on my upcoming trip to Greece and still have money left to hit the bakeries.

Now comes the difficult part.. My Raleigh road bike that has served me faithfully on many tours has a slight phobia to ridding on dirt roads. I have talked to it using all the knowledge from my college psychology 101 without getting it to change its mind. Something about narrow tires on gravel during an extended tour of Oregon that causes this impasse.

Oh gee, I will have to get a new bike. And so the research began.

Criteria for this bike:

Fat tires 700x32 minimum

that was my starting point. A wider tire to handle the rough gavel roads in Greece that from first hand experience knew I would encounter.
I also knew that the Island that I was traveling to had very little in higher quality bikes and or spare parts.

Recently I had read of this couple that was doing a world tour on Wally World type bikes. Part of their philosophy was that these tanks were cheap, easy to replace, parts were everywhere, and that if stolen they were out a 100 or so dollars. With the knowledge that the next town would provide them with a new ride or repair if needed... They showed a photograph of their bikes tossed high on a pile of cargo at a river crossing. If that was my Raleigh Road bike stacked up there I would have been in the major stress mode.

I realized that I was not looking for a ten ton Wally World bike but had subscribed partially to their way of thinking. Would or could a good urban cruiser fit my needs and handle a tour? There were several bikes out there that looked possible. 24 speed triples, nice up right flat handle bar options, most even came with fenders.. I looked at the Trek Globe, Raleigh detour and went with the Giant Transend DX from Discover Bicycles in Hood River, my local bike shop. I tossed the comfort saddle in favor of my normal touring seat. Changed the pedals for a set of Shimano duel platform pedals SPD on one side, shoe platform on the other, I was ready to ride.
I am currently using this as my work commuter and to say that I am happy with it is an understatement. Solidly build aluminum frame, 700 x 35 tires, rapid fire shifters, Ergon gp1grips (these are great, as in where have you been all my life?) With the new pedals I was into this bike for just under $600.
Waiting to fit it out with new panniers and a red town & country handlebar bag from to go with the sweet red Detour's Switchback trunk bag that now rides my rear rack. This Detours trunk bag is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.

You would swear it was normal fabric, really cool knowing that these bottles are not heading for a landfill but have a new life as a functional item. What sold me on it was that it has built in hip belts that turn it from a trunk bag to a lumbar waist pack.
So more photos of my new ride will be posted soon..

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Early to Rise

Up at 4am surprise didn't need the alarm clock. Put all my gear back on the bike I was ready to head out for the last time. The guest house had a supply of Nescafe and a hot tap allowing me to make coffee in a water bottle as there were only ceramic coffee mugs on the shelves. The plastic water bottle felt like it was going to melt in my hand. Where was the idiot warning label that all American products must wear? 'NOT INTENDED FOR USE WITH BOILING WATER'. to understand how large this ferry was that dark blur all the way down that alley way is a four door car

Arrived at the ferry terminal before the ferry. The gathering crowd swelled with each minute, I had only been able to buy a deck ticket as the Easter holiday made this trip a sold out affair. When the ferry pulled in only a few cars and trucks offloaded. I was waved on into the depths of this huge ferry. Given permission with a nod that I could lock up my bike to a baggage cart I offloaded my gear into the secure baggage cart locked my bike and headed to an upper deck. There were some stragglers that raced to get on board at the last minute. But one lady who ran to the ramp was denied boarding even though the ramp was down and easily crossed. A line had just been cast free, the signal to the boarding officer that no more allowed. He told the lady so, and then stepped across the ramp back as she yelled what only could be interpreted as fond wishes for a pleasant journey.
The ferry was remarkable. New, clean with the look and feel of a cruise ship, what a difference from the first ferry I used to get to this Island. I pulled up a deck chair and enjoyed the island cruise for the rest of the day.

So that's it my ride in Lesvos Greece was complete.

Would I go back?
Yes, in a heart beat

What where the people like?
I and others I talked with defined the locals in two groups. Group one totally ignored you. Group two was out going and would offer to help with a smile.

Did you feel safe?
Always, never had that Spidey tingle that warned me that I was in the wrong part of town or around bad people. Riding my bike was better on that Island then many places I have ridden in the states. Drivers are just more aware of small motor scooters zipping around the streets and roads of Lesvos so sharing the road wasn't a foreign concept as it is in many parts of the states.

Did you have problems not speaking Greek?
Pantomime has always worked well for me. There were enough people that spoke English that I was able to find an English speaker to translate when I really needed the help.

I am adding a different kind of map to my touring bag. In my travels when people ask where I am from I tell them Oregon. When I was in Greece saying Oregon was to most somewhere in the USA but where was totally unknown. So I am going to search for a small printed cloth map that could have multi uses. Would be nice to point out on this map showing them that New York City is just a 5k ride away or the west coast is more then California. I may sew a map of Oregon to the back side.. > These are my small world photos- this young lady's roommate in college is from the same small town where I live in Oregon. We met by chance at the Acropolis in Athens on Easter Sunday.

Also since I am shooting digital I left a few shots of the local area on the card before going. Now I know that ten or twelve good shots would have been better as all of the folks I showed the scenic Columbia Gorge wanted to see more photographs.