June 2010 Bike Touring Newsletter
Welcome to the first edition of the new TravellingTwo bike touring newsletter and a big thanks for signing up.
With these short emails, we’re aiming to provide even more bike touring inspiration.
Read on to find links to some of the recent articles on TravellingTwo, plus:
- A unique bike touring tip
- A featured bike tourist of the month
- One piece of gear we really like
Do you have a tip to share? Or perhaps you know of a bike tourist who deserves to be highlighted? Reply to this email and tell us about it. We might feature your contribution in the next newsletter.
- Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook Review – Learn what’s new in the 2nd edition of this practical bike touring book.
- Bike Touring In Taiwan – Hear about riding the steep mountains of this island as well as how much to budget and other helpful tips for bike touring there.
- Overpacking: What One Bike Tourist Left Behind – See what Keith dumped when he came to stay with us, on his way to India.
- A Trip Around the IJsselmeer – Journal entries from our 4-1/2 day bike tour around the IJsselmeer Lake in the Netherlands, including helpful links for planning your own bike tour here.
- Thunderstorm Safety While Bike Touring – Tips for dealing with unexpected thunder and lightning storms when riding your bike.
- The Ginger Ninjas – An amazing band that carries their show from city to city, using only their bikes. The bikes power the show as well!
- Cycling In Vietnam – Dave, an American who’s lived in Vietnam for a few years, gives us some advice on bike touring there.
Tip Of The Month – A Homemade Kickstand
If you’ve ever tried to park a heavily loaded touring bike, you know how tricky it can be. All that weight makes propping it up against a curb or a pole a difficult balancing act.
Getting a kickstand is one option, but some people don’t want to add the extra weight to an already heavy load.
Another option comes to us from Sats, who runs Quantum Cycles, one of Australia‘s best bike builders. He describes the trick he learned from another bike touring couple, while crossing the empty Nullabor desert.
“They had cut from a tree, a short green branch about the thickness of my thumb. It was straight but it had a small fork at one end. You carry it slid into the luggage on back rack, and when you stop you can pull out and prop it under the side of the rear rack. Bingo, a perfect bike stand! I cut one for myself and ever after I could stop and stand the bike anywhere, fully loaded or unloaded in a camp.”
“The important thing is not to use a stick off the ground as the wood would be dry and it would likely break. I cut a branch about 20 mm thick out of a tree. I suppose the type of tree would depend on where you are in the world. Aussie gum trees tend to be hardwood and fairly strong. I never had the bike fall over, even in a strong breeze. Fully loaded: no problem. I carried probably over 35 kilograms at times. I guess one could go to hardware store and buy a 20mm diameter wooden dowel and cut a V shaped notch in one end and use that. It only has to be the length to go under the rack to the ground.”
Thanks for the tip, Sats! If you’re ever in the city of Perth, Western Australia, then drop in and see Quantum Bicycles (64 Farmer St). We had some work done on our bikes there and these guys really know their stuff. And if you have a tip to share for the next newsletter, get in touch.
Gear We Love – Compression Straps
What’s the best way to strap gear to the back of your bike? During our world cycle tour, we used bungee cords. It wasn’t a well researched choice. They stretched over time, making it increasingly difficult to tie things down tightly. The hooks on either end that hold the cords tight also had a habit of coming loose and flying off the racks at the most unfortunate moments.
Sometimes we narrowly missed getting whipped in the face. Other times, the cord wrapped itself around our rear cogs, making a fine mess to untangle.
The solution? Compression straps! Just like the Riverside Utility Straps ($12.99 from REI, as seen in top right photo).
Kayakers and other outdoor sports people – including most of our fellow bike tourists here in Holland – use them all the time. The straps are solidly woven and the buckle that secures the straps doesn’t come loose during a day of cycling in the same way that bungee cords tend to slide around.
We’ve had our straps for about 3 months now and we have the impression that they’re much less likely than bungee cords to stretch and wear thin over time.
You can also use compression straps to hold your panniers firmly to your racks – a great solution if you’re planning to ride over some bumpy roads and not a bad extra anti-theft device as well (see lower right photo). The straps go behind the panniers and interlace with the racks.
Finally, a compression strap pulled tight around your front wheel and frame, can add stability by keeping your front wheel from swinging wildly to one side when you want to park it somewhere.
Featured Bike Tourist Blog – A Journey Of 1000li
Meet Vicky and Kelly. This American couple are cycling the length of Japan. They’re a few weeks into their 2,500 mile journey and we’re loving their updates A Journey Of 1000li website.
They really make us want to pack our panniers and head out to see a few temples, soak in the local bathhouses and wander through the peaceful gardens for ourselves. Like most tours, it hasn’t been all smooth pedalling. They’ve had a lot of rain to deal with, but we enjoyed hearing this story about how one stranger made a wet day better:
“The one highlight of the day was a man that stopped to wait for us in the pouring rain as we crested a long climb out of the Biwa-ko area. As we came up behind his van, he hopped out to hand us his business card and two hot cans of the sports drink “Aquarius”, wished us good luck, and drove off. Cheered by this simple act of goodwill, we were able to carry on through the rain for the next few hours…”
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