In preparation for potentially bike touring Iceland, I’ve been riding regularly, trying to get my equipment all dialed in to fit my body and fit my needs.
I’ve never had any piece of gear be so finicky and challenging to refine. Funny thing, I don’t remember ever having any issues with the saddle of my road bike in my teens, which I did decent distances on, and certainly discomfort never crossed my mind on my BMX in my early 20s, which I rode quite seriously for hours a day. However, recently exploring a new style of using a bicycle, for loaded, day after day long distances, has been an arduous hit and miss experience of seeking correct gear, especially the saddle.
The three places a bicycle interacts with you (hands, feet, and butt), are crucial comfort points. If the weight distribution to your handlebars isn’t right or the right height, then one can get major aching and cramping in the shoulders and neck, like I do, which can also rapidly cause tension headaches. The wrong shoes, or pedals, or pedal-to-seat ratios and alignment, can cause numb toes, sore feet, and all kinds of knee trouble. Most serious of all, IMO, is the seat interface. An uncomfortable saddle is just a recipe for several kinds of hell. Continue reading Woman seeks saddle for long-term compatibility
I have failed. I have not finished the online story of the last time we went to Iceland, before we’re going again. Even though it was getting a bit ridiculous to travelogue a trip we did two years ago, it was a mission I was determined to accomplish. We have such great pictures and adventures from 2010. I’m gonna let it go, though. Oh well. I don’t finish all my projects, I guess.
Although my brother and I were smitten with Iceland the first time and planned to go again in 2012, time trundled right along and 2012 showed up without us having produced any concrete plans, like tickets. The pressure built; if we’re going to go, we have to start making it real… Then all this unexpected upheaval happened, which made Iceland recede into the distance and off the priority list so the likelihood waxed and waned. Just when we’re getting back on our feet, H.W. and I got some welcome fall work that lands right when it would be ideal to be in Iceland. So it seemed to be on the outer edge of possibility.
I wanted the relief of saying, Oh, let’s just go next year, but when I thought about waiting until next year, I got a knot of sadness in my chest. Besides, if things go according to our plan B or C, we’ll have animals and gardens to care for, so now is the time to travel. Even though it’s neither ideal timing nor convenient, I figured I’d rather just go while the going was possible. My brother concurred, H.W. shrugged (he doesn’t know what there is to get excited about yet), and so we’re going. It’s on!
Just when I surrendered all planning, because nothing, ever, at all, went according to plans, the probability field seemed to tighten up and now plans seem to be working again. We get things done, less falls through, it’s safer to have an expectation… I think it’s safe to make plans again.
We’re going late in the year, in the rainy season, possibly well into the cold weather. Oh well. We’re cycling around the island, hopefully doing the ring road, plus all the good stuff that isn’t on the perimeter. We’ll be camping all the time, like last time, and this time we’ll know all the things that we can miss and many that we must do. And we’ll have more time, not be racing around everywhere to “fit it in”.
Bicycle travel will do that for you. Slow things right down.
This time, I’m taking my little Rite in the Rain journal, and I am NOT making grand plans to write an illustrated diary of our every moment there. No way.
I’m getting mentally prepared to make Iceland 2.0 a reality. We’re tentatively planning to go again in early autumn this year.
It’s a three pronged attack.
1. prepare physically (plan is to cycle tour the Ring Road plus) by bicycle training and gearing up.
2. study hard at learning the Icelandic language (one of the more challenging of the world’s languages, IMO, up there with Zulu).
3. finish my travelblog(ue) about our last trip to Iceland (which is now quaintly dated but still rewarding and satisfying to revisit in memory as I work on it). Really, it would be too embarrassing to not be done describing the last trip before embarking on the next.
Fortunately, I’m rabidly motivated to do all three. My keyboard is set to Icelandic and my heart is tilting all my memory towards it.
Unfortunately, there is no time, there are more pressing agenda items, and, because of the long-term fruition, these are all things which are easy to get shunted for the projects that dominate the here-and-now.
So I’m dredging up old learned techniques for “finding the time”, like those pitched at new mothers. “Set priorities; collect scattered moments; let the housework go; fit into existing routines”, etc. Aside: one suggestion I’ve always remembered for its strange perversity is “Use your grocery basket to do bicep curls while you shop”. However, all these techniques usually devolve into “stay up later”, and “get up earlier”.
Good advice about bike touring Iceland:
I truly love my bicycle and I treasure the times we spend together pushing each other to the limit and beyond, exploring the edges or just relaxing on a sunny afternoon. I take care of my bike and my bike takes care of me, as it should be for any quality friendship. But what of those moments in time when I am not sitting proudly atop my two wheeled chariot or faithfully de-greasing and re-greasing the simple inner and outer workings? What of the times when I must park my bike overnight outside or store it for a extended duration inside of my old dusty barn?
If I truly want this incredible machine to last a lifetime or at least to look good and work well for years to come then I must wrap it in love as much as possible. What I mean is that I must protect my bicycle from the elements when I’m not riding it. The best way to protect a bike or any vehicle for that matter from elements when not in use is to put a cover over it. This will add years to the life of a bicycle, guaranteed.
I recently was contacted by Empire Covers in response to my “Adventures of the Bicycle Life” blog and was offered an opportunity to review the company’s bicycle covers. I checked out their website (empirecovers.com) and was impressed with the materials and wide selection of covers they make, from R.V. covers to bicycle covers and everything in between.
I am always in need of a quality bike cover when I am camping during a bicycle tour or even just when I have my human powered machine parked in the dusty old barn between regular rides. For years I have used military rain ponchos as my bike covers. They work pretty well as they are camouflage (for when I camp) and waterproof, but they are not a perfect fit, especially when my bike is tour loaded with panniers. Then the poncho gets blown out of place easily by the wind.
Empire Covers make 3 well-designed bicycle covers: the standard, sun-proof, and waterproof covers. I have utilized and am in the process of long-term testing all three. For the bicycle cover testing I’m using a 58cm Surly Long Haul truck with 700c wheels and Surly Nice Racks , and 22.5 inch Marin Larkspur with 26″ wheels and a rear Surly nice with a Jandd Extreme front rack.
The standard cover priced at $25 with a 2-year warranty is made of a silver, lightweight, high quality, breathable polyester material, that folds up to about the size of a football when stowed in its (included) storage sack. According to the Empire Covers website this cover has high protection ratings against dust, rain, sun and mid-range protection against snow. It is very simple and quick to use. I pulled it out of the stow sack, unrolled it, located and positioned the “front” labeled side and slid it down over my bike, snugging the elastic band at the bottom of the cover around my wheels and drive train. Total installation time, 30 seconds. Now my bicycle looks happy, all sealed up, impermeable to dust, moisture and sun. I think it will be my perfect long-term indoor storage bike cover, as I always store my bicycles indoors at home.
The sun-proof cover priced at $35 with a 3-year warranty is made of a high quality lightweight, breathable Du-pont Tyvek material. It is a very nice and well-engineered cover as well, with the same elastic band at the bottom that keeps it snug around the bike. It installs over the bike with the same process as the standard cover. This cover boasts a 100% sun protection rating, with rain and dust ratings not far behind and a mid-range snow protection rating also. This cover would be ideal for the bicycle owner that stores their bike outside exposed to the hot sun.
Then there is the top-of-the-line waterproof cover. This cover is by far my favorite cover for outdoor expeditionary type use (i.e. tour camping) because it is made of a heavy duty nylon material with an extra tough elastic band around the bottom and it is an easily concealable black color, requiring the same installation process and time as the other two covers. This cover boasts a 100% rain, snow, dust proof rating and a sun proof rating of at least 75%. I would say if I was to buy just one of these three covers then the most versatile, long lasting and weather proof option for me would be the waterproof cover.
I also had the opportunity to test a set of Gust Guards. These handy little items are located in the automotive accessories department of the Empire Covers website, but alas they are just as practical for use on bicycles and I was glad to give them a test run on my bike.
Essentially the Gust Guard is a set of short black bungees and four clips that attach to anywhere on the bike cover. You attach the clips at the base of the cover on opposite sides of the wheels and then hook the bungees onto the clips, which pulls it all snugly together so no wind gust will blow through and blow the cover off the bike. I think the covers are super snug and secure on my bikes on their own because of the form fitting design and tight elastic hem around the bottom, but the Gust Guard will give added security for the person that feels they would like it.
All three covers where large enough to put over my bicycle and racks when it was tour loaded with four large front and rear panniers.
These covers are great for protecting during storage all kinds of bicycles in the garage (or barn in my case) because they protect against standard dust or sawdust and protect the bike frame from the occasional bump when I am working in close proximity.
These covers are great for the person that stores their bikes outside whether at home or during a tour because of their sun/water/snow protection, which is crucial to maintaining the long term integrity of the bike frame and components.
These covers are well designed and made, well worth the $25 to $40 investment in protecting the beloved bicycles for a lifetime of riding, one pedal stroke at a time.
A bow and a solid hand shake to Empire Covers, well done.
I go hard…. Those three words swirl through my mind and ripple across my lips when that primal urge swells up from within me while I’m seated in this throne of self propelled power that is the bicycle. I drag my body and this piece of steel up and over snow covered mountains, through crisp endless dessert, deep into the temperate rainforest, along jagged salty coastline and back again.
I dress in black and I go hard……
I dress in black as I ride an all black machine, this is my neo-geo, Mad Max version of cycling. Man and the machine merging into one parallel shadow soul existence. I am my bicycle, my bicycle is me, we have become one streamline soul that rides the line between two worlds into the sunset.
We dress in black and we go hard….
Well hello, and welcome back to “The adventures of the bicycle life”. I am pleased to report that my love for the human powered machine has continued to grow. This past week I have heard from people of all walks of life from every corner of the globe expressing their love of and/or connection to bicycle culture. It reminds me of how the bicycle is like a universal language, a language of personal freedom, of connection with the self and nature, and a language of living life to the fullest. A language that we all innately understand and is expressed in one way or another in our own unique lives.
I find that bicycles are such versatile machines. In this post I intend to expand upon the human powered machine’s capabilities in our daily lives as a more than just a “bike”, and to take the musing to the next level. What non-recreational activities have you engaged in with your human power machines as a tool en-route?
The possibilities are endless, to say the least. I have seen some awe-inspiring bicycles engaged in all works of life in many parts of the world. This past spring the “sustainability bike tour” that I have guided for since 2007 decided (with a little help from me) we would go totally car free as a company. We would no longer be using use a “support” vehicle that was combustion propelled (a van). We would be facilitating support vehicle duties from our staff Guide bikes. This is a week long educational camping bike tour of about 25 people, so there is a pile of gear and food that needs to move from one bivouac site to the next every other day over the week-long expedition. Group tents, stoves, pot/pans, cutlery, and of course food. We were going to need some trailers for the staff to pull that had capacity and versatility. Continue reading Bicycle trailers. Pushing/pulling the limit..
Hello my name is H.W. (Hugh Willoughby) and recently I married the beautiful love of my life, Selka. We recently pedaled our bicycles from Central Washington down to Central Oregon and back. It was an incredible expedition, filled with mountain passes, river crossing, exquisite camping, deluxe trail mix, and hot romance the whole way.
We rode two steel machines that I built up over the last 2 years, Selka pedaled a “Marin – Larkspur” with 26” Mavic wheels and I pedaled a “Surly – Long haul trucker” with 700c Mavics. Two quality and even elegant modern machines.
I have ridden that route half a dozen times over the past few years to and from my Bicycle Expeditionary Guide gig, but this time was special.
This time I got the chance to see the route through a different lens. You see over the years I have kind of created a daily schedule for where I should stop and eat and where I should stop and camp and so forth. But this time we stopped and even camped at some different places and experienced the trip differently than I have in the past. So it was a breath of fresh air for what was becoming to me to be a worn out route.
Not to mention the fact that we stopped half way through the expedition in Portland and got married. So it is officially the best ride of my life. Since then we have have done some sweet rides here in British Columbia I intend to make frequent posts on Selka’s blog about our cycling lives and adventures. So stay tuned for “The Adventures of the Bicycle Life”.
I love bicycle culture. I love thinking about bikes, looking at bikes, touching bikes, smelling bikes, tasting bikes (a mild flavor of salty sweat with a hint of sweet Tri-low) and of course riding bikes. My heart swells every time I see a fellow cyclist float by on two wheels. Continue reading Bicycles, get some!…