2018 Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride

2018 Cycle North Carolina Coastal Ride

Our adventure started on Thursday in Washington, NC, a small town on the Inner Banks about one hour East of Raleigh. There are about 10,000 people who live in this quaint town. There was 3 days of riding scheduled (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). The participants were divided between campers in the local park and people who stayed on hotels.

Note: If you are planning on doing this next year and want to stay in a hotel then you should book next years town very, very early. Like 2017 early.

The rides were great. Most of the rides had less than 500 feet of elevation in the whole ride. There was 3-4 rides a day ranging from 5 miles to 60-100. There was some washboard1 roads but probably less than 5 miles of the entire weekend. Though we only did 100 miles total so your mileage may vary. The rides are what you make of them. They can very challenging if you are looking to rack up a buttload of miles. One guy did 260 in the three days. We were looking to get some miles in but also relax. It has been a pretty hectic year so we were looking for some chill time.

Food stops were well stocked with plenty of cold water/Gatorade. The towns had interesting other foods like baked goods, etc.

We camped (I had mistakenly waited until January to book a hotel…) in the park.

They had laid out a grid so tents were not cramped together. They had regular facilities and porta potties and a decent but not great shower truck. They had great coffee served every morning and one pretty good food truck.

The restaurants were typical for a small town. One was dreadful (Ribeyes) but the Bank Bistro was by far the best.

We would highly recommend the coastal ride. We thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

  1. Washboard is a term for asphalt roads that a tractor has put ridges into and they stayed. With skinny tires, it is brutal on your hands.
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2017 Cycling Christmas Ideas

I know, this is probably too late for 2017 but better late than never. Here is this year’s list.

Swift Industries/Oveja Negra Chuckbucket – ($56) This is a collaboration between my two favorite bike bag companies (Swift Industries and Oveja Negra). Nancy and I discovered these bar bags this year and we both love them! With regular drop bars they do not get in the way (or minimally at least) and are extremely convenient. They are obviously easy to reach and they can hold a myriad of items. The most obvious are water bottles but people put snacks, cameras, sundries, and probably hold a small dog or cat… They come in more colors on the Oveja Negra site.

Klean Kanteen Double Walled Water Bottle – (Varies) If you are going to buy a bar bag, you should get one of these too! These bottles with a sports cap keep water cold or hot for hours and I mean hours like 10-12 not 1-2.

Oveja Negra 1/2 Pack – ($80) This bag was broken in on a trip along the Greater Allegheny Passage trip I took in June. This is a very handy bag that manages to stay out of the way in the bike’s upper triangle. Mine on the trip held my phone, extra snacks, rain jacket, my food for the trip, pump, and chamois butter with plenty of space to spare. On the left side is a smallish side pocket that holds an iPhone 8 or iPhone X easily (and probably the Plus since the zipper is pretty long. This held my phone, wipes, and chamois butter. The right side has a long zipper that goes the length of the bag. This makes the bag incredibly easy to get into and the inside has a bright fabric that allows you to see (at least for my oldish eyes). Holds way more than you would think and stays put.

Swift Industries Sugarloaf Basket Bag – ($160) This is an amazing bag (yes, there is a bag theme or problem depending on your point of view). I used this to commute daily and it easily held all of my work clothes, lunch and occasionally work equipment. I also used this on my GAP trip. Held most of my clothes for our S24O trip. Easy to mount to the Wald basket on my Atlantis. Easy to get into (again with the light interior to see crap). Very, very nice front pocket with a magnetic closure. Pretty rainproof – YMMV. If you are cool with mounting a Wald basket on your bike this is the perfect addition.

A Bevy of Top Tube Bags

These are reviewed here

 

Gloves

We’re both dedicated Ibex customers and so are saddened that they’re ceasing operations as of February 2018. Check them out now for great deals on remaining inventory.  Here, I’m recommending their Kilometer Gloves.

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These unpadded gloves are good looking, comfortable and grippy. They’re warm enough until temps drop into the 30’s. Then you either need a warmer glove, or to add some thin liners.

I wear them on and off-bike. Off bike, they’re warm enough when temperatures are in the 30s. That’s as cold as it’s gotten her so far this year.

For reference I (Nancy) usually wear a women’s medium glove. These are unisex-sized and the S fits perfectly.

Other Great Ibex Gear

Ibex doesn’t have much in the way of women’s bike-specific gear now, but here’s a few other recommendations:

Their Bicycleta knit cap keeps head and ears warm under your helmet. 6694_8100_00

The women’s Izzi pant, while not bike-specific, is totally comfortable for riding, as well as other athletic activities.

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They’re great for commuting. You’re comfortable on the bike, and  look and feel put-together in the workplace. Being wool, they don’t absorb sweat or get smelly.

On colder or windy days, I you’ll probably want a base layer. They’re not padded, but they’re stretchy enough to accommodate padded undies or shorts.

Check out their women’s long sleeve tops for winter riding. None are bike-specific but some work well both on and off bike.

 

 

 

Swift Industries Sugarloaf basket Bag

Swift Industries Sugarloaf basket Bag

I got a Sugarloaf bag back in June. I love this bag! It fits perfectly within a Wald basket (medium) with straps that hold it into the basket. They fit perfectly. I bought it for two purposes: commuting and also bike touring.

Bike Touring

I went on a S24O on the GAP back in June and used this bag. I stored my clothes in this bag. A pair of shorts, a t-shirt, my second days riding clothes and my Dopp kit. It easily held all of this. I also had a medical kit in the front pocket. It worked great.

Bike Commuting

I ride nine miles between Catonsville and Locust Point in Baltimore. It easily holds a days clothing and my lunch and still have room to spare. You could store your shoes also if needed and still have room to spare.

Final Thoughts

For either task, this is an amazing bag. It holds a decent amount of stuff. As a commuting bag it can hold all of your clothes and your lunch with room to spare. As a touring bag, it can hold 2-3 days worth of clothes with room to spare unless you are wearing a suit or something.

Review the Greater Allegheny Passage

Review the Greater Allegheny Passage

 

Back in June 2017, I went on a S240 with two friends of mine on the Greater Allegheny Passage, a bike path from Cumberland Maryland to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. This path is a continuation of the C&O National Park that follows the Potomac from Washington DC to Cumberland so you could ride from DC to Pittsburgh along a pretty nice trail. Our plan was to ride 62 miles to Confluence PA and then return the next day.

We started in Cumberland. This is a cute town in western Maryland that has a lovely downtown courtyard area that on the Friday I was in town had a small crowd listening to a band play not half-bad rock music. I had dinner in a great little bar that had good food and a decent beer selection.

We started at the local bike shop, the Cumberland Trail Connection. This is a great little camping bike shop perfectly situated right on the trail. I got a bunch o packets of chamois butter and my compadres bought some last minutes supplies also. This should be your last stop in Cumberland before you take off. They have a great selection of gear for riding the GAP.

The trail itself is a packed cinder trail that is very well maintained. We encountered a tree that was already being dealt with when we got there. We encountered only one other bad patch the entire trip where the trail had washed out from a butt load of rain the previous week.

The trail itself is a pretty easy ride. You get on it and ride until you hit a town. You are not going to get lost in any of these towns with the possible exception of Pittsburgh. They are little towns that may have had industry at one point at time but now I am not sure how they exist for sure. They are not living high on the hog that is for sure. Basically, you are riding uphill into PA and downhill on the way back. It is an extremely minor grade in both directions. I did not really notice it on the way out and while I averaged a bit higher speed on the way back, it was pretty much the same.

There are three tunnels that were carved for the railroad that are pretty damn long. I had no trouble on the way out but in one of the two unlit tunnels on the way back I freaked a smidgeon because while I could see the end, I could not see the ground I was riding on. Still here so it ended well but it was a strange feeling.

The scenery is amazing.

Confluence, our destination, had a campground that I think was a state park. If you go there, do not get a regular campsite. They are designed for RVs I believe. That is what was mostly there. They suck for tents. However, there is a lovely bike camping area that was very nice. Showers are meh but functional and warm.

We ate at the Luck Dog Cafe and the food was surprisingly good. I know, I am a city snob but I had a great burger and a Fat Tire (well two but who is counting). After a day of cycling, it was a great feast. We also got a huge — think stoner huge — plate of cheese fries with bacon and spring onions. My compatriot got a burrito the size of a nerf football that he said was quite good also. A word of warning, the town pretty much rolls up the carpet at 9pm so you are not going to go hog wild here but after 62 miles, we were good.

As noted, the ride back was uneventful but a bit faster. I stopped at the Queen City Creamery for some great ice cream when I got back to Cumberland.

Things I liked a lot

  • The trail itself. Pretty easy, get on, ride until you get to your destination with minimal road crossings. Trail also had these cool water/tool stops where they had free water, a pump and an assortment of tools that was pretty extensive. This was a great feature!
  • Friendly people on the trail itself and in each of the towns we stopped at. People were genuinely happy to see us.
  • Rivendell Atlantis. Bike handled flawlessly on the trail
  • Swift Industries Sugarloaf basket bag was a perfect accessory. Held food and toiletries for this trip and a few other odds and ends and could have held more.
  • Bike shop was two thumbs up, way up.
  • Creamery was quite good and olde timey…
  • Downtown Cumberland was cute though it could use a few more active stores.

Recommendation

If you are looking for a S24O or longer ride to do in the mid-Atlantic region, this would be a strong candidate. It is impossible to get lost, moderately challenging and accessible to those who are not Lance Armstrong, scenic with some very friendly towns. I would give this ride two thumbs up, way up.

Review of bike packing bags

Review of bike packing bags

Oveja Negra top tube bag

Pros

  • XL is positively cavernous. Easily holds 2-5 snacks depending on size (I carry Honey Stingers and I can easily get 5), chamois cream individual packets, lip balm and iPhone 7.
  • Well built
  • Decent color selection.
  • Good looking though more MTB looking than roadie looking.

Cons

  • I notice it when I am out of the saddle or straddling the bike. Not in a fuck I hate this kind of notice it but I do notice it.

Adipura top tube bag

Pros

  • Great snack bag
  • Well built
  • Water resistant
  • Great looking. Would look good on pretty much any bike.
  • Easy to mount

Cons

  • Regular barely holds a iPhone 7 with a leather case. It does fit but the zipper barely slides by it. If you have one of those Samsung Phablets, this ain’t gonna hold it. Just saying. If I could have a do-over, I would get the extended version.
  • One color. It is a damn fine color but you got to like it since there aren’t any others…

Oveja Negra 1/2 frame bag

Pros

  • Three sizes to fit pretty much any bike.
  • Left side pocket would easily hold iPhone 7 and probably a Plus.
  • Holds way more than you think. On a GAP S24O, I was able to store extra snacks, extra chamois cream packets, pump, rain jacket, extra tubes (2), coffee and coffee kit, and tool kit.  You could also store a wine bottle in there, probably 4-6 beers, or a kitten.
  • Extremely stable on the bike.
  • I did not notice it at all when riding.

Cons

  • Mounts pretty straightforward but I would not be taking it off and putting it back on much. It can take a few minutes to mount. Not a bad design but takes a lot of straps to make it stable.

Recommendations

I would buy 2 of these three again in a heart beat and I would not hesitate to buy the Adipura XL next time since this is a bag that I think most people would store their phones.

Review of the Randi Jo Bartender bag

Review of the Randi Jo Bartender bag

 

Unquestionably, the best item I bought for my bikes this year was the Bartender bag from Randi Jo. This bag attaches to your stem and handlebars in the nook where they join together. I cannot say enough good things about this bag. It is great at carrying big and small Kleen Kanteens up to a bigly size (32oz Klean Kanteen) — not like growler size but way bigger than a bottle cage can. The bag is at a perfect height for easily reaching for a quick drink. Nancy’s bike is pretty small and has one bottle cage so it allows her to have a second bottle without cramping her riding space or putting it on her back. You could use it for other things as well if you wanted. You could hold a beer, a wine bottle, probably a classic ‘fifth’ bottle of whiskey, a bag of carrots, a couple of bananas, a pint of cherries, or a very small dog. Please note that these are or not and this is not a grocery bag.

Pros

  • Extremely well built of waxed canvas.
  • Decent color selection.
  • Holds a wide variety of bottles.
  • Pretty waterproof (hey I use insulated stainless steel bottles.  Not like they are going to melt…).
  • Mounts securely.
  • Does not appear to effect the steering.

Cons

  • I would not move this bag between bikes often. It mounts well but it is a bit of a pain in the ass. Not a bad design, just the nature of the attachments/space.
  • It is waxed canvas so if you are not digging that, there are many other choices that do the same thing.
  • If you are a roadie, this is going to look a bit ‘Fred’ like.

Overall Recommendation

If you are even thinking about this, pull the trigger. This is absolutely one of the best and most useful purchases I have ever made for my bike. I would give three thumbs up if I could though that would be more than a bit creepy.

Rivet Independence

Rivet Independence

 

Saddles are a funny thing. Finding the perfect one is like finding the Holy Grail… Back in February, I purchased a Rivet Independence to replace a C-15 Cambium that was too narrow. I had originally gotten the Cambium to replace a Berthoud touring saddle that was claimed to be waterproof but alas was not and was too wide and chafed my thighs.

I know, I sound like Goldilocks and the three bears…

The Independence is half-way in between the width of a B-17 and a C-15 at 160mm. I have ridden it about 500 miles since I got it.

First impressions is that it did not need to be broken in at all. It has been extremely comfortable and does not bother my thighs when in the drops. I have gone on 30+ mile rides with hot, humid weather but little rain and the saddle has been fine. I have never been pinched as I have with a Selle Anatomica (Christ that hurts…). And supposedly, this saddle is rainproof. I will update after my first ride where I get caught in the rain.

I may have found my perfect saddle. Time will tell.