Vicarious Touring

When you have a job, family, bills, and other people who depend on you, the idea of chucking it all and heading across the country on a bike is pretty much just a dream…for now.  I both satisfy and feed that urge by following others’ travels.

By far the best source has been Crazy Guy on a Bike.  Recently I stumbled across Self Propelled by Geoff Winslow.  Not only did he take a good trip across the US, but he took great pictures, and most of all, he took the time to write well about it.

I’ll put it like this: One of my all time favorite books is Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon.  It chronicles the journey around the country of a man who hit spiritual bottom, and how he finds himself by looking both outward and inward.  Mr. Winslow’s blog has the potential to be just as good a book.  I hope he considers it and finds a publisher.

Highly recommended reading.

Lightening the Load

No riding to brag about lately.  Any free time I have is pretty much focused on firewood, and I’m still way behind.  But that’s not to say that I haven’t been dreaming.

I decided to sell off the Primus Eta Packlite since it is a bit large for just one person and I haven’t been using it much.  Instead, I put together a small titanium kit with a canister mounted burner.

The best deal on titanium pots seems to be Toaks, plus they provided excellent service and fast delivery.  The stove is a Chinese knockoff of the Pocket Rocket for $10, plus another $9 for the base.  Thrown in some folding stainless utensils for another $6 and we’re good.





The Kitchen: 900 pot, 450 mug, 300 bowl.  Stainless utensils, canister stove, Esbit stove.

The Kitchen: 900 pot, 450 mug, 300 bowl. Stainless utensils, canister stove, Esbit stove.


The yellow on the mug is a Snow Peak “Hotlip” – nothing more than a piece of silicone to save from burning your mouth since ti transmits heat so easily.  The orange band on the bowl is the same, only from Toaks.  Based on some internet advice, I also added strips of fuel line tubing to cover the handles on the pot and mug.

The weight difference is pretty noticeable, although I don’t have any figures.  The whole kit also takes up a lot less space.

For coffee I had been using a LiTech pot with a press adapter, but honestly, cleaning that in the field is a pain; plus the pot gets committed to coffee while I have to wait to heat water or anything else.  I’ve decided to go with a small pour over system for now which should be good enough.  Looking at two extremes, I always have the Via packs if I need to go ultralight, and I’m curious about the Aeropress.   Decisions, decisions….

Heavy Camping

Once a year, on Labor Day Weekend, we attend Family Camp.  We load up and trek to East Waterford to a somewhat remote yet very appealing campsite with several families from our church.??????????????

As you can imagine, the dynamic is quite different from bike camping.  Even though I take some of my lightweight kit along, most of our gear is “heavy”, with an emphasis on convenient.  You can see the big tent, which gets used once a year, as well as the canopy for meals, which also gets used once a year.  We have electric and access to a water spigot.  The campsite has warm showers and a freezer full of ice.

Our family is one of the few that uses a tent.  Most others are accomplished car campers with trailer units ranging from pop-ups to 32′ condos with bump outs and canopies.  To their credit, these owners make frequent use of their trailers, either travelling over the summer or setting up at remote sites similar to owning a cabin in the woods.

The other difference that takes some getting used to for me is the proximity to other people.  I’ve concluded that my true personality is introverted, because I like the aspect of getting away either by myself or with a small group where we can share more intimate and deeper conversations.  Family Camp is more about general socializing with a large group, often boisterous and fun loving.

Fortunately, we are usually able to set up in a quiet area and people know us enough to realize that our family enjoys time alone, so we can mix it up – general socializing at times and quiet reading or conversation among ourselves.

Because of school and job schedules, I got to go out by myself on Friday and set things up, and spend the night by myself.  I got some hiking in, caught a fish with my Popiel Pocket Fisherman, found my winter Montbell bag to be quite comfortable on a chilly night when even the trailerized campers were complaining about the cold, and I listened to coyotes carrying on in the middle of the night, which I have never heard before.

By Saturday the family arrived.  Red had prepared enough food for a month, and brought along more “stuff” that the manly-man in me had to complain about.  We dealt with bugs, building fires, and all the typical camping stuff that resulted in a pretty nice time.

Sunday night we were greeted with a thunderstorm. The big tent still had a small leak through the rainfly, so I improvised to cover that up with a tarp and then moved into my Kelty for the night which I just happened to throw in the truck.  That gave us a bit more room to arrange things away from the damp floor, plus I am the early riser of the family, so it worked out.

Still, with heavy camping and rain, there is always so much more to clean up and dry out.  It will take about a week of hosing stuff off and letting it dry in the sun so we can put it all away dry and pull it out next year.

At the end of the day I don’t regret heavy camping because it’s nice to get away with the family to relax.  Still, I have to confess that my heart is really into bike camping with a lot less gear to worry with.  The whole trailer thing does seem to be a lot more convenient, but we’d need to use it a lot more than once a year, and I’m not sure the fam would be into that.

So I’ll continue with my S24O’s and mini-tours; and I’ll just have to grin and bear it one weekend a year for heavy camping.


Stony Creek

??????????????It’s been years, so carving out the better part of the day and riding back to the reservior seemed appropriate.  Honestly, the access road to the trail head is rougher than the trail, but the trail wasn’t much better.  It’s become quite rough over the years; too rough for the LHT to navigate.

On top of that, I came across a Guard unit grading and dumping stone in parts.  I’m sure it will be nice in a month or two after some rain has settled it, but this day if the trail was not bumpy, it was a muddy slog.  That made for a tedious 40 miles for someone not used to trail riding.

But the scenery makes up for it.  Other than the construction in parts, there wasn’t a lot of activity.IMAG0005IMAG0007IMAG0010 IMAG0011

One of the culprits

One of the culprits

Good excuse for knobby tires

Good excuse for knobby tires

Meadow on a side trail - always looking for stealth camping spots...

Meadow on a side trail – always looking for stealth camping spots…


Goal achieved = tranquility

Goal achieved = tranquility

Happy camper

Happy camper

Taking a Break

There always seem reasons not to ride, which I work hard to overcome.  But this summer, this year for that matter, has been chocked full of activities and responsibilities that have just sucked up my time and energy.  On top of that, I just haven’t been inspired to blog much, and have been thinking about changing up the format.

I still have a job, although it’s permanancy has yet to be decided.  It’s going well and I’m settled in, but if it does go south, it benefits not to be using a lot of vacation right now.  We did take a week and go to the beach, but it was Myrtle Beach, which is notoriously bad for biking.

All three kids are home, so there is usually something going on that keeps us busy.  Plus, I’m just trying to stay on top of some house projects as best I can.

The bikes have not been ignored, but there haven’t been too many epic rides.  Mentally I’m focused on the cooler weather of September and October for some S24Os.  Fingers crossed.

There is a new bike in the house…a stationary spinning bike that I’m using as part of HIIT training.  High Intensity Interval Training is my latest fad, again being sold by Michael Mosely.  Without going into great detail, it amounts to short intervals (20 seconds) of all out work with rest in between, for a total of 3 minutes of exercise a week – yep, 3 minutes.  All I’ll say is that I’m usually sore the next day, and I noticed some improvement on my hill climbing on the “real” bike already.  Intervals were part of my rowing training years ago, and it was usually necessary to get in good shape before those sessions, which would then get me in great shape.

I’m still doing the weight training, and am pleased that my shoulder issues seem to be under control.  I’ll probably take a few months off to focus on firewood cutting real soon.

Elsewhere, I’ve been reading alot this summer… a little bit of everything and even going back and re-reading some books I previously enjoyed.  When in doubt, pick up a book.

Misc. Miles: 32.2  2014: 444.8

Ride Report: 07.12.14

Another beautiful Saturday morning.  Of course I got a late start, at least later than planned, due to sitting around drinking coffee and surfing the net.

Eventually I took off for Boiling Springs with the thought of sitting on a bench and reading for a bit.  I also had it in my mind that I just wanted to see other bikers this morning as well – ‘not sure why.  The Boiling Springs route is always guaranteed to produce quite a few roadies, especially on the weekend.

Sure enough, once I got over to Williams Grove they were out and about.  Plenty of waves and smiles, but a few who were busy matching their own pace to the Tour leg for the day.

??????????????Boiling Springs was perfect.  I sat on a bench and people watched for a spell, then I read a few chapters of The Perfect Mile, which I’m re-reading.  Great stuff and I sat for too long enjoying the morning.

My trip back was uneventful until I got to the corner of Gettysburg and Grantham.  A woman came around the corner in her car, on her cell phone, and shouted to me: “You better move on, there’s a black bear right over here coming this way.”

…like I’m going to move on from that…

I rode through the intersection and pulled out the camera.  Another car came around slowly and blocked my view just as he came through the bushes onto the roadway.  I got a glimpse of his shoulder and side, but couldn’t tell if he crossed or was scared back by the cars sitting there.  He was big, and I was impressed by how clean and shiny his coat was.  This guy was far cleaner than any black bear I’ve seen, either stuffed or in captivity.

There were news reports all weekend of this wayward bear, and that was my big excitement for the weekend.

Coming back in Siddonsburg Road, with a bit more light this time, I stopped to snap this pic of the root ball that I mentioned previously.  It’s just unusual to see one this big:??????????????Homeward bound.  Another near perfect ride.

Misc. Miles: 2

Distance: 38.5  2014: 412.6

Ride Report: 07.09.14

No storms tonight so I ventured out for a nice ride broken up with some time reading “Brief Encounters with Che Guevara.”

There is wind damage all over the place: trees down, crews working, some areas still without power.  Yet, life goes on and people seem to be taking it all in stride.??????????????Brenneman Road was closed off, but I decided to take my chances.  I ended up “doing the limbo” to get through where this tree came down on some power lines.  It was too dark for a picture, but there is a massive root ball (10′ round) at the base of a fallen tree at the corner of Seitz and Siddonsburg.  It looks like the tree just brushed the house – could have been much worse.

Misc Miles: 10

Distance: 17.2 miles  2014: 372.1