July 2010 Bike Touring Newsletter

Welcome to July’s TravellingTwo bike touring newsletter. It’s an exciting month because we’re giving away free gear – wonderful merino wool cycling socks from Icebreaker!

Three lucky readers will each win 3 pairs of these socks – our favourites for bike touring. To enter the contest, just read our review of merino wool socks and leave a comment telling us why you deserve to win the socks. Bonus points for humour or a good story!

Read on to find links to some of the recent articles on TravellingTwo, plus:

  • A unique bike touring tip
  • A featured bike tourist
  • One piece of gear we really like

And don’t forget to drop in and say hi to us. You can reply to this email with your bike touring questions and comments, join our Facebook group or follow@travellingtwo on Twitter.

Recent Articles

  • Adventure Cycling In Mongolia – Mountain biker and adventurer Tom Allen has just returned from an off-road bike tour across Mongolia. He gives the highlights of the trip and practical advice if you’d like to bike across Mongolia.Bike Touring In Denmark
  • Mini Cards For Bike Touring – They’re just the right size to stick a bunch in your handlebar bag, and they’re personalised with your own photos. We love them!
  • Bike Touring In Denmark – It’s one of the world’s most bike friendly countries. Patrick & Sandra tell us about their bike tours in Denmark and why it’s so great.
  • QStarz GPS Tracker review – We’ve been testing a GPS tracker. Do you really need one on tour? Read our verdict.
  • Panniers vs Trailers – This is one of the biggest debates in bike touring. Here’s our take, but you might not agree.
  • Planet Superflash Bike Light – An amazingly bright light and the best we’ve found for night riding or those dark tunnels you sometimes come across.

Tip Of The Month – Broken Bike Frames and Group Photos
Ever worry about what you’d do if your bike frame or a rack cracked on tour, and you couldn’t get it repaired immediately?

Just go to a hardware shop, boat supply store or auto shop and ask for a Fibreglass Repair Kit. These kits cost about $10-20 U.S. and can be used to repair steel or aluminium frames.

The materials in the kits vary slightly. You want one with fibreglass cloth or woven tape, which can be wrapped more easily than fibreglass mat, and an epoxy adhesive, not weaker polyester resin.  The idea is to sand down the broken area, then use the fibreglass and glue to create a cast around the broken part. It’s similar to how broken arms and legs are treated! The job is a messy one but creates a strong bond. Whole bicycles can be built with these materials.

On another topic, the bike touring tip below comes from a reader, who replied to the last newsletter with an idea to share.
“A little tip for groups of tourers: Synchronize the clocks in everyone’s digital cameras. That way you can rename all images by date, copy all images into a single folder and have them in chronological order. Better yet, if someone has a gps, synchronize to that and later geotag your images.” – Chris, who created TrackMyTour.
If you have a tip to share for the next newsletter, get in touch.

Petzl TikkaGear We Love – Petzl Tikka 2 Headlamps
We’ve had the same Petzl Tikka 2 Headlamps since we started touring in 2006. They’ve seen repeated daily use, including several hours of reading in the tent at night during winter bike tours. They’re well past their 3-year warranty period, but these torches are still going strong.

We’ve dropped them, thrown them in our panniers with no special care and lugged them all around the world and they haven’t developed a fault yet. It’s quite a contrast with 2 cheaper headlamps we’d owned before, which broke within a few months.
At up to 120 hours of burn time on just 3 AAA batteries, the Petzl Tikka 2 headlamps are economical too. That’s a good 2 months of constant camping and evening entertainment in your tent!

They’re also very light, weighing in at just 85g, including the batteries.
At just $29.95 U.S., we also think they represent good value. The PetzlTikka headlamps are stocked by CycloCamping.com and REI.
Scott Mullin
Featured Bike Tourist Blog Powercycle
A chance Google search led us to Scott’s Powercycle website, and he drew us in with this:

“No mortgage… no wife… no kids… and now no job… what’s a guy living in South Florida to do? Jump on a bike and ride to Alaska of course. When I make it up there the plan is to head down to South America and then over to New Zealand and then Australia. After that wherever the road (or a boat) takes me.”

Sounds logical to us! Scott has now made it all the way to Guatemala and he’s heading south, but not without encountering a challenge – the hallmark of any long cycling trip. He’s broken his front rack, and now he has to figure out how to get a replacement. It’s not proving easy.

“Bicycle touring is so easy until something goes wrong. Not speaking the native language and being in an undeveloped country doesn’t help either,” Scott writes in his journal.

He’s keeping an optimistic attitude though and trying to line up places to get a replacement rack sent to. Check out his website to find out how Scott’s broken rack saga turns out.

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