Archive for March 2010
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring in the air

 

Photo: A landscape view from my home, 17.3.2010 19:26.

The daily commuting is getting a little more challenging as temperatures hovers above and below 0°C. During last week the bike roads were really slushy, like in the photo below:

 

Now if that kind of stuff freezes during the night, you have probably the worst possible conditions in the next morning. For my "disappointment" this road was later cleared, althought maybe it's also better for me that I have fairly easy conditions in the mornings when I'm usually in a hurry.

When the conditions are slushy and wet in the afternoons, and icy in the mornings, it's better to have full fenders, disc brakes and studded tires. I have full fenders on my multi-purpose bike but it has tubeless wheelset/tires, and singlespeed doesn't have full fenders but it has normal rims with studded tires. I could install studded tires with inner tubes by removing tubeless valves but usually the valves are not airtight after removal. They are also pretty expensive so it's better to have a separate disc-brake wheelset for the multi-purpose bike. But then again, even a budget wheelset is too expensive for me at the moment, so what can I do? Fortunately I have old rim brake wheelset originally from Wheeler, and I decided to convert it to disc-brake wheelset with Jan the Pyöristi. The hubs are Shimano SLX and discs centerlock Shimano Deore.

 

 

 

First ride with these on the Monday morning, and conditions will be icy!

On Saturday I found a couple of cheap items for my adventure gear. KingCamp compression pillow (5,95€) and KingCamp fastening belts (4,95€).

 

Only one week of work and then it's the long waited winter holiday of two weeks! I have a lot of household chores to do, but I hope I can do a couple of longer rides and my plan is also to read two books: Alex Hibbert's The Long Haul and Jill Homer's Ghost Trails.

By Toni at 16:00 | Permalink |
Category: Commuting, Gear

Saturday, March 13, 2010

First overnighter

 

Before this winter is over I wanted to do an overnighter to test my gear and myself. Weather forecast looked perfect this weekend, with clear skies and night temperature around -10C. So I headed out late Friday evening.

But this overnighter was going to be more than just a test. I decided to go to Huso in Paimio, as it is fairly close (less than 20 km) from my home and there is a hut which provides some extra shelter. My goal in the future is of course to camp under sky but my sleeping gear is not enough for that yet. Also, I haven't been in that place before so it's should be a nice first time for me. And then, I wanted to take a lot of photos with a possibly beautiful sunrise.

Bike packed and ready to go:

 

The Lumicycle LED4 lights are really good:

In Huso, and next to the hut:

 

Next I was faced with a very hard bike push to the hut. I took this short video to show what was going on. Epic:

 

A night to remember:

 

Finally there! It was fairly easy to navigate to the hut because the trail was marked with ribbons and more importantly REFLECTORS!

 

Inside the hut:

The sun is rising:

 

The hut in the morning:

 

Another photo of my adventure bike:

This is a fantastic place:

 

My visit has been marked:

 

What I wanted to see:

 

The radio mast of Huso:

 

The road to back home:

 

Overall this overnighter was more extreme than I imagined. The bike pushing to the hut was really hard but very fun. The night was cold, about -10C. I didn't sleep too well, the first two hours was reasonable but after that I was feeling a little too cold. My McKinley Yukon sleeping bag is definitely not enough for these kind of conditions (limit comfort +1C). Fortunately I had a fishing overall in my backpack. It would have been slightly better with the extreme sleeping pad but I didn't take it with me as I ran out of storage place in my bike. In the morning I drank morning coffee from Retki thermos and it was still warm, and a couple of sandwiches. There is a lot to improve with my adventure gear, and preparation is always very imporatant, even for this kind of "mini adventure".

As I'm writing this I'm not tired at all! But the tiredness surely comes at some point. But what a night!

By Toni at 10:04 | Permalink |
Category: Adventures, Gear

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday commute in photos

Took a little different route back home today and here are the results...

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Toni at 20:27 | Permalink |
Category: Commuting

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thoughts on gear

 

Photo: Testing the seatpost rack on 11.3.2010.

Cycling as a recreation leads quite easily to a situation where you don't own just one bike, you have several of them. In my case, I have six bikes: two hardtail mountain bikes, singlespeed, road bike, road TT bike and cyclocross bike. That should be enough, right? Definitely. But this fantastic winter started me to think about yet another bike project, snowbike/fatbike, like Surly Pugsley or Fatback. My first thought, for low-budget reasons, was to convert my current "multi-purpose" bike to snowbike, with Surly's Pugsley fork and Large Marge rim/Endomorph tire combo, and fit the rear wheel with the biggest tire it could take. But, the front of the bike would be probably too high and it would still be a compromise, compared to a complete snowbike. So, another option would be to purchase Pugsley frame and fork, and transfer all the parts from the current bike. With 29er wheels the bike would be really versatile. It would work as a commuter and an adventure / bikepacking bike throughout the year. But the next problem is budget. Pugsley frame+fork price is reasonable, but I would need two sets of wheels: Large Marge and 29er wheels. LM's with Endomorphs are suprisingly expensive, and fine quality 29er wheels are not cheap either. With Pugsley I would need also 100mm bottom bracket and maybe new crankset, new seatpost and headset. All this would cost well over 1000€ and that's way too much for at least a couple of years.

So instead, I'm thinking of a compromise that will fulfill my needs pretty well. The secondary / multi-purpose bike will be the primary adventure bike and will work as a snowbike with 48mm wide winter rims, to be purchased from Trail's Edge. The old suspension fork will be changed to a rigid fork with a front rack. This way I will save a lot of money and be able to improve bikepacking gear with a stove, winter sleeping bag and so on. BTW, found this blog with a great article of survival gear.

Also, I have plans for a DIY frame bag.

Next weekend I'm going to do my first overnighter and test how my current gear works.

And there is more exciting reading and following for this spring. In addition to Mike Curiak's Alaska adventure, Ben Saunders is trying for North Pole speed record.

By Toni at 18:34 | Permalink |
Category: Gear

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Commuting limits?

 

Photo: Commuting view, the morning of 4.3.2010.

I've been commuting by bike from 2007 almost every day, and I've been thinking if there is any kind of limit that would prevent me from commuting. Winters are usually the hardest if it's very cold (-20C or more). A lot of snow without snow clearers work can be also a factor, or if the roads are extremely icy. This winter there have been a lot of cold weather and also a lot of snow. My conclusion? No limits. My winter riding gear is now better with the bike pogies so I think I can commute even if the temperature drops to -30C, and here in South Finland it is very rare. But I have to admit that daily commuting is possible as the lenght is only 9,5 km and takes about 30 minutes. Maybe 20 km / 1 hour would be manageable but after that the time would be limiting factor. To my old work place it was well over 40 km. Daily that would be simply too much.

Actually the road conditions have been fairly easy this winter, as the temperature stayed below freezing from the end of December to late February, and snow clearers did their job pretty well. A couple of times I have had to ride thru a lot of snow but I like it when it's challenging. March is usually the worst when the roads are icy, and usually the ice is uneven.

 

Photo: Rugged bike road, 3.3.2010.

 

Photo: Beautiful Friday afternoon, 5.3.2010.

Here is a list of my usual winter riding clothes when it's very cold:

Last week I followed the 2010 Iditarod Trail Invitational, and also Mike Curiak is doing his awesome self-supported adventure.

BTW: as the Haloscan commenting system is closing down, I'm trying to convert the old comments to IntenseDebate.

By Toni at 11:42 | Permalink |
Category: Commuting, Gear