Adventure

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So many people underestimate what their bike can do.  A properly fitted bicycle can take you down roads and trails, hither and yon with no problems whatsoever.  It is we that have the problem.

We’ve been conditioned to think that a certain type of riding requires a certain type of bike.  While that may be true of the professional racer, or someone willing to catapult themselves down rock strewn trails; for most of us it just is not the case.

The photo above shows me on a “mountain bike” trail.  An easy trail, but a trail none the less.  I’m riding my touring bicycle.  Fitted with racks, bags and a basket.  Tires a bit wider than 2 inches with no tread to speak of.  It was great fun.

This is the pinnacle of “Local Touring“.  We rode the local greenways to a state park that has off road trails.  After riding the roads through the park we took a detour onto one of the trails.  After completing our off road adventure, we got back on the road and retraced our path back home.  On another day we took hammocks and lounged for a while, enjoying the outdoors before we rode back.  I hope I made it sound as fun as it really was.

I think we all suffer from a bit of A.D.D. (Adventure Deficit Disorder-I stole this from Tim Ferriss, all credit to him).

Does this, in any way, inspire you to use your bike in a different way?

Do any of you engage in this sort of activity already?

I would be interested in hearing your stories.

Adventure on!

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A Tisket A Tasket

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Every bike should have a basket.  Or better stated, everyone should have at least one bike with a basket.

I’m not talking about a Dorothy and Toto basket.  I’m talking about a classic, inexpensive, ridiculously practical accessory that will make carrying things on the front of your bike so easy you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one.

My favorite is the Wald 137.  These baskets have been made in the US since 1905.  We sell them without the hardware so you can attach it to a front rack.  A handful of zip ties will get the job done.

Attaching the basket to a rack accomplishes a couple of things.  It keeps your handlebar clean.  Attaching many things to your bars takes room away from the things that the bars were meant for – your hands!  Having the basket on a rack also lowers the weight ever so slightly while still keeping things accessible.  It looks cool too.

Once you’ve got your basket you have to decide on a bag.  Where once there seemed to be only one bag specifically designed for this basket, there now are a multitude.   The bag that started it all (IMO) is the Shopsack (MD) from Sackville.  It’s a relatively simple cotton canvas bag made specifically to fit inside the 137.  To secure the bag in the basket you can either use a net, or there are loops on the side that will accept a mini carabiner.  The newer versions also include a small zippered pocket inside the bag to secure smaller items.

The other bag I use is from Swift Industries.  The Sugarloaf basket bag has a slightly padded bottom, has more pockets for organization and has “wings” to secure it to the basket.  Both are fine choices.

I get really excited about things that make using your bike easier, and more fun.  I can’t think of anything that has had a bigger affect than my basket.  I hope you give it a try.  I think you’ll love it.

Oh, since I shared some Insta hashtags with you last time I’ll give you a couple more that are basket specific.

#basketpacking

#basketlyfe

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Take the First Step

If you read my last post, and you’re interested in Local Touring you may be wondering how to start.  One word.  Bags.

The handlebar bag is the gateway drug to bicycle utility.  They give you the ability to carry some stuff without mounting a rack directly to your bicycle.  A bar bag will keep things close at hand and easily accessible even while riding.

Here are 3 great options.

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The waterproof bar bag from Banjo Brothers.   The least expensive way to start adding bags to your bike.  It has internal stiffeners to maintain the bags shape, a map pocket on top, mesh side pockets.  It comes with a shoulder strap for off bike carrying, and bracket to attach the bag to your bar.  Dimensions are 8″ H x 9″ L x 6″ W.  The bag opens toward you.  Imported

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The Paloma from Swift Industries.  Made in a small shop in Seattle the Paloma is a small bag made of the best water resistant fabrics.  It’s just the right size for a day on the bike.  The bag opens away from you making it even easier to access your stuff.  Dimensions are 10″w X 6″d X 6″h.  Bar adapter bracket priced separately from bag.  Made in the USA.

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If you like the tradition of  waxed canvas and leather the BarSack from Sackville is the bag for you.  Sackville is the bag brand from Rivendell Bicycle Works.  This bag features  magnetic top flap closure, two side pockets and zip front pocket.  Top flap opens the way it should-away from you.  Attaches to your bar with the super swanky rack from Nitto (not included).  Dimensions 9.5″ wide to side x 7″ front-to-back x 8″ tall.  Expensive to buy, but cheap to own.  This bag will serve you for a long time.  Made in the USA.

Next time I’ll tackle other options for carrying stuff on the front of your bike.  Racks, and panniers and baskets-Oh my!

 

 

 

 

The Case for “Local Touring”

IMG_3303One of my many goals over the last decade has been trying to get more people to ride bikes.  Convincing people that a bicycle is a legitimate form of transportation is probably a better explanation.

Instagram is full of romantic images of travelers, vagabonds and hobos on expensive bikes, with expensive bags carrying their belongings over road and trail in far-flung locales.  While alluring, I’m enough of a realist to understand that most people aren’t going to chuck it all and start traveling the world by bike.  Many aren’t likely to spend several thousand dollars to outfit an adventure ready rig.

I was watching a video the other day from our friends at Surly.  The commentator for this bit of video magic was our pal Fleck.  He said something that made me stop in my tracks.  Just because you’re not taking long, laborious trips for weeks and months at a time doesn’t mean you’re not touring.  Traveling your local streets and paths-riding to work or to the store is still touring-“local touring“.  Outstanding.  It took two words to sum up my idea of making the bicycle a daily part of your life.

Just as the S24O, and coffee outside gives you a way to use your camping gear more often, local touring is the perfect way to take touring gear and make it work in your everyday world.  In addition, I hope I can present it in such a way to inspire people to think about their bikes differently.

The best part is that the bike you already own may be a great candidate for local touring.  Got an old hybrid or mountain bike?  Perfect.  Add some racks and bags (hopefully a basket) and you’re all set.  While these things can be costly, they don’t have to be.  I may do another post on my recommendations for these things.  When in doubt, feel free to ask me or someone at your local bike shop.

For some of you this may seem like a obvious thing.  That’s good, and I hope there are a lot of you.  That just means you’re out there using bikes.  For everyone else hopefully this will spark an interest in either getting a bike, or using your bicycle more often.

Instagram is a great source for bicycle inspiration.  I follow so many people, I won’t single anyone out.  Instead I suggest you follow some hashtags.

#coffeeoutside

#s24o

#basketlyfe

#localbiketouring (starting this one with my next post)

Follow a great hashtag that you’d like to share?  Send them on!

 

 

Moving the Masses

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I rode the city bus quite a bit when I was a kid.  The stop was at the end of my street.  It cost 25 cents.  I would either ride it downtown to the music store, or out to the mall.  It was long before I could drive a car.  At that age it provided an almost unbelievable amount of freedom.

I traveled to Minneapolis a couple of years ago, and wanted to visit a local store during some of my free time.  I asked the concierge at the hotel about a taxi.  He responded with “why not just take the bus?”  I will admit I blanched a bit at the proposal.  He assured me that their buses were very efficient and would cost much less than taking a taxi.  I thought, well I am in Minneapolis if they’re known for anything it’s their public transportation (and near manic devotion to bicycles).  The experience was pleasant, the bus stopped a mere block from where I wanted to go and it was terribly affordable.

The experience got me thinking.  I wondered if I could go 30 days without using my car.  I would ride my bicycle when I could, and use buses when I couldn’t.  The bus company has a Twitter page that posts the current status of individual buses.  After monitoring that for a couple of weeks, and seeing how often they were delayed, I gave up on the idea.  It is still something I circle back to from time to time.

The city of Indianapolis does not have a vibrant mass transit system.  The city itself is very spread out.  Logistically this can make using mass transit here challenging.  There are plans for a better, faster and more efficient system.  I think that would be a benefit to many people.  I also think that to be a modern city that appeals to the younger folk, you gotta have a public transportation that works.

What are your thoughts on mass transit?  Do you use it?  If not why?