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March 2012 Bike Touring Newsletter

Posted May 25th, 2012

Welcome to March’s bike touring newsletter.

We’re settling into life with a baby and are just about managing to keep a few articles appearing on the website, between rocking, feeding and cuddling. Blogging is tough when you have to type most of the time with one hand!

Recent Posts

Chain L
Gear We Love - Chain-L Oil

We first came across Chain-L oil via a review on Kents Bike Blog.

Intrigued, we got in touch with Francis, who makes the oil, and asked if we could buy a few bottles from him. He kindly obliged and sent over an order, plus some free samples.

Since then, we’ve been experimenting with this very thick lubricant. We’re not quite ready yet to deliver a full review (that will come later on the website) but we’re generally liking what we’ve seen so far.

True – it’s a sticky oil that’s a bit messy to apply but it certainly quiets a squeaky chain and it hangs around in the rain.

Good wet weather performance is especially valuable in our home country of the Netherlands, where a sunny summer is by no means guaranteed!

Wool SocksTip Of The Month - Armwarmers

We’ve recently been flipping through an advance copy of Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Bicycle Tours in Oregon.

In it, we found this nifty tip for making your own armwarmers.

If you have a few knee-length wool socks that you’re not using anymore, cut off the toes and a little of the heels. Instant arm warmers!

Now that’s a neat idea for some good-value clothing that will keep you toasty on chilly mornings.

Featured Bike Tourist - Jodie & Tom

This UK couple left London in May 2010 with the idea of cycling from Twickenham Stadium to Eden Park in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup 2012 – exploring rugby in every country that they went through.

On a budget of just $10 dollars a day, they cycled through 29 countries, including much of Europe, Iran, Pakistan, China (where temperatures dropped to -25°C), Japan, Southeast Asia and finally Australia.

Now they’ve published a book about their journey. Get it from their website: www.jodieandtom.com

 

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February 2012 Bike Touring Newsletter

Posted May 25th, 2012

Baby!Welcome to February’s bike touring newsletter.

The biggest news of the month is that we are now proud parents. To our eyes, little Luke is the sweetest baby that was ever born. We are so happy to have him in our lives.

In some ways, it seems silly to be writing about bike touring after such a life-changing event. If we’re being truthful, we wrote most of this newsletter in January! The March newsletter might be a little more chaotic to put together, and quite possibly late. We hope you’ll forgive us for that.

Recent Posts

Chariot Cougar Gear We Love - Chariot Cougar 1

We’re pleased as punch that bike trailer company Chariot agreed to sponsor our family bike tours with a Chariot Cougar 1 trailer.

As soon as little Luke is old enough, this is how we’ll be taking him along on our bicycle adventures.

We decided on the Cougar 1 because we talked to many other bike touring families, and this trailer (along with its higher-end cousin the Chariot CX) came up repeatedly as one of the best on the market.

It’s too early for us to give a complete review but first impressions are positive. It was easy to assemble, folds down for compact storage and converts quickly from bike trailer to stroller.

Watch the blog later for a full review, after we’ve had a chance to see how Luke likes it.


Tip Of The Month
 - How To Pack Your Bike

Creative Bike PackingOf all the posts on our website, some of the most popular are about packing your bike for a flight and bags versus boxes.

So when a reader emailed us a link to unique ideas for flying with a bicycle on the World Randonneur website, we knew we had to share. It has tips on:

  • The standard way to pack a bike
  • Where to stash a box while touring
  • What to do when you can’t find a box

We particularly enjoyed the picture that showed a bike wrapped in a combination of bathmats and rope. A final picture shows how all of this was held together with plastic wrap.

The main message? Be creative if you can’t find a box! You’ll get there in the end.

P.S. We also enjoyed this blog post on Flying With A Bike from Jen & Jeff.

Featured Bike Tourist - Laura & Paddy

Laura & PaddyLaura and Paddy are cycling 15,000 miles around South America, and sharing their adventures on their PedallingAbout website.

“Why are we doing it? There are lots of reasons. A desire to see more of the world, to have an adventure, to push ourselves and to escape the daily routine are all high up on the list. The fact that we both turn 30 whilst we are away and wanted a different way to celebrate was another excuse.” 

They’re sharing great photos and daily blog entries, as well as a series of gear reviews on things like the popular Brooks B-17 saddle, their Thorn Nomad bicycles and Ortlieb panniers.

“Most cyclists we have met cycling around South America are using Ortlieb bags. They come with a fantastic reputation and quite rightly so. In the past we have tried cheaper products, but often ended up with wet kit, so splashed out on the Ortliebs and haven’t looked back.”

Follow their adventures on the PedallingAbout website.

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January 2012 Bike Touring Newsletter

Posted January 30th, 2012

Welcome to January’s bike touring newsletter.

We all love a ‘freebie’ and this month we have two super giveaways: bike touring books that will inspire and entertain you.

Bike Touring Basics#1 - Bike Touring Basics.

The 2nd edition of our popular and free guide to bike touring is complete.

Get Your Copy. It’s Free!

It’s fully updated, with inspiring and practical articles about bike touring. There’s also an overview of all our favourite cycling gear.

We hope you enjoy it, and look forward to hearing your comments.

Thanks, and happy reading!

Bicycle Traveler#2 - Bicycle Traveler Magazine.

Our friends Grace & Paul have released the latest edition of their Bicycle Traveler magazine! 

It’s full of entertaining stories and inspiring photography which will have you dreaming about new destinations and the latest cycling gear.

Download Bicycle Traveler magazine!

 

In addition to these two great books, we also have the regular newsletter for you to enjoy. Happy New Year!

Recent Posts

Gear We Love - Topeak Super Tourist DX Rack

Topeak Super Tourist DX RackIf you’re planning to do a lot of touring, we recommend a top quality luggage rack. But sometimes your budget won’t stretch that far, or you don’t plan to tour enough to justify the cost of the best racks.

In that case, we recommend the Topeak Super Tourist DX rack  (available from Wiggle and Amazon).

We bought two back in 2009, for commuting and light touring. The racks are fairly light (700g) and should fit almost all bikes. They’ve held up admirably on 10-14 day tours of Denmark and Spain, as well as numerous shorter trips and countless grocery store run. We’ve never had to adjust them or fiddle with them. They just work.

The only negative thing we can say is that there’s a bit of paint rubbing off where the bags touch the metal but that’s a problem with almost any rack. For the price (around £30 in the UK or $40 in America), the Topeak Super Tourist DX is excellent value.

Tip Of The Month - Don’t Forget The Spokes!

Spare spokes can come in handy...
It’s all too easy to forget the small things when you’re touring but whatever you do, don’t forget the spare spokes.

It’s unlikely you’ll need to use them but if the spokes in your wheel do start to falter, you’ll appreciate being able to make a quick roadside repair. A spare spoke can also come in handy for repairs you wouldn’t normally expect – for example, we’ve used one to reach into tight places when doing field repairs on our MSR Whisperlite stove.

Since spokes are easily bent, store them somewhere safe. Options include taping them to the chainstay, underneath the saddle or putting them inside your handlebars or seat tube.

Not everyone will be comfortable with the mechanics of replacing a spoke, so another option is a temporary replacement such as the Fiberfix. It’s easy to install, and should get you far enough to reach the next bike shop.

Featured Bike Tourist - Cycle Trails Australia

Cycle Trails AustraliaWe love websites with practical info – and that’s just what Cycle Trails Australia is all about. The author, GJ Coop, said it started the site because tips for biking through rural Australia were hard to find.

I came up with the idea of a website for off-road, epic trail bike tourers while sitting on my bike somewhere remote in Outback Australia and wondering why I didn’t have much idea where I’d find the next water refill station.

What’s GJ accumulated so far? Information on 16 remote bike routes, for a start, plus a dose of sound advice on the reality of touring in the back country. He notes, for example, the importance of a reliable bike.

It’s a long way between bike shops in remote Australia.OK, you can get tubes and puncture repair kits in many towns even without a specialised bike shop. Anything more complex, a 9 speed chain, spokes, brake pads even, and you may well be out of luck.

GJ is currently working in Alice Springs, and waiting for the west season in northern Australia to finish. Then he’ll be heading for Cape York and down to Melbourne.

Read more on the Cycle Trails Australiawebsite.

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FREE: Our Bike Touring Basics Book

Posted January 17th, 2012

Bike Touring BasicsIt’s here! The second edition of our Bike Touring Basics book is free, and exclusively available to our newsletter subscribers.

Bike Touring Basics answers common questions about planning a first tour, such as:

  • What makes bike touring so wonderful
  • How much it will cost
  • Which bike to buy
  • Where to go for a first tour
  • What to pack
  • The gear we use and recommend

To get your copy, simply fill in your name and email.

When you do, you’ll also receive an extended preview of our Bike Touring Survival Guide and future editions of our monthly newsletter*, with exclusive bike touring tips.

*100% spam free. May inspire you to quit your job and go cycling.

Still not convinced? Here’s a free preview of Bike Touring Basics.

December 2011 Bike Touring Newsletter

Posted January 10th, 2012

Welcome to December’s bike touring newsletter.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each one of you. We’ve really enjoyed connected with all of you over the past year, and can’t wait to share even more bike touring information and inspiration with you in 2012.

As a small ‘Christmas present’ to all of our readers, here’s a free bike touring poster for you to download.

Recent Posts

Gear We Love - Stocking Stuffers

Tent PegsWondering what to put in a fellow cycling nut’s stocking? Here are some ideas that you can make yourself or find easily in local shops.

  • Small Packages of Herbs & Spices - When you’re bike touring, tiny 1-2 serving sizes of common flavourings like oregano, basil and cinnamon (great on morning oatmeal) are always appreciated. You could create an entire lightweight spice kit (as featured in our September 2010 newsletter).
  • Contact Cards - Grab a picture from their latest trip, add their contact details using Photoshop or another graphics program and then have your local copy shop print a few mini, personalised contact cards to hand out on the next tour.
  • High Quality Tent Pegs - Most tents don’t come with good pegs, so splurge on a few high quality pegs. It’s a tent upgrade that almost everyone will appreciate. Even if they already have good pegs, a few spares never hurt!
  • Map of Their Dream Location - Even if a dream trip is some time away, it’s a lot of fun to stare at a map and pick out a route so give them a road map of the place they’d most like to go cycling. Look up a few main attractions and mark them on the map with post-it notes for an extra dose of inspiration.

Tip Of The Month - Make Your Own Bike Stand

Bike Rack HackNow that we’ve rebuilt our steel touring bikes, we have 5 bikes in a small apartment: our steel bikes, our Santos bikes and one Brompton folding bike.

Where to put all these bikes? We needed a rack, and we didn’t want to spend a lot so we started researching different ways to make our own rack.

There are some very clever solutions out there, and many of them focus on what you can build from parts available at IKEA.

Here’s what we decided on: a variant of the Broder Rack on this IKEA Hackers website. Total cost? Under €40.

We’ll be posting more details of how we did it on the website. Until then, do have a browse around the IKEA Hackers website and see what other cool bike related ideas you can find.

There’s a fantastic stool that’s made from a Brooks Saddle on top of an IKEA base, and at least 3 other ideas for making your own bike stand for very little money.

Featured Bike Tourist - Two On Four Wheels

Pete & MaryWe asked our Twitter followers for a bike tourist to feature this month, and that’s how we found Pete & Mary.

They boarded a boat from England to France in July, and haven’t looked back since. Currently they’re in Turkey and they’re heading broadly for ‘the other side of the world’. Where exactly? We’ll have to wait and see!

We particularly enjoyed their recent and comprehensive round up of the equipment they’re using and their accounts of free camping and dog encounters in Greece. After a night of listening to dogs circling their tent, they wrote:

Too lazy (and scared) to get out of the tent, we imagined huge, salivating, vicious beasts ready to tear us to shreds. Emerging from the tent at sunrise we were greeted by two very friendly dogs who just wanted a bit of attention and a bite of our breakfast.

Read more on Two On Four Wheels

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