Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Osprey Radial pack 34 Review

                
Osprey Radial 34 review/reflections


  • Water bottle/side pockets- don’t hold tall bottle at all, secondary internal pocket in one of the side pockets interferes with the pocket’s usability, zippers require two hands to close, making it unlikely I will store my wallet or phone there. If there was a loop or something to hold onto while zipping, two handed closing would be easier. 
  • Small front pocket is too small- would like it to hold my phone and wallet, key clasp is not purposeful, since it doesn’t keep keys from falling to the bottom of this tiny pocket
  • Second pocket back- too deep, items fall to bottom, which takes up space in the next pocket back- suggest it is shallower
  • Not enough pen slots (which I use for other things, like a spoon, sharpie, mat knife)




Third pocket back-

  • Document pouch is too tight: when laptop is in rear compartment, documents can’t be loaded or removed from this pouch. Also, the reinforcing tape for the mesh pockets on the other side of the divider obstruct documents from sliding easily down. I solved this by inserting a piece of cardstock, so documents now slide in easily.  This really should not be necessary.
  • The handle on the top- should be black, because my hands are often dirty and this shows clearly on the bright green-
  • The helmet clasp- the idea is great, but the shock cord is too short and rather cumbersome.
  • Make it lighter in weight



Elements I really like/love:
  • The zipper pull tabs are the best I have ever seen
  • Bright green color is very visible and seems to make an impact on drivers
  • Blinky clip strip is excellent and should be found on every pack everywhere
  • There is a sleeve under the blinky clip to clip back the waist strap when you aren't using it
  • The double pocket in the far back (when accessing the pack) has two compartments- great since I carry a laptop and ipad
  • Second pocket has a diagonal topped slot in which I keep my glasses- they don’t fall out, but come easily when fetched

IHSMBR Bike Prep

I have decided to be a lemming and get frame bags for my mountain bike.  I did the GDMBR with panniers, and they worked fine, but there is little singletrack on the Great Divide Route.  Idaho Hot Springs Route, however, has a lot of single track, offered as options.  It is pretty significant, so hence the frame bags.
Revelate is the brand I am familiar with, so I bought a frame bag, the harness, a gas tank and the Terrapin seat bag with a detachable Terrapin dry bag. I got a second Terrapin dry bag to put my tent in on the handlebar harness (Revelate states that dry bag will serve very well there).  My bicycling partner bought the SweetRoll and the Viscacha seat bag, which has a dry bag as its main component. This is kind of cool, since we will be able to compare the two systems.
In addition, due to the high elevations, I bought a Big Agnes Q-core air mattress, which offers some insulation, unlike my old thermarest. We shall see how fast I get tired of blowing the thing up.
I have decided to buy a lighter, smaller raincoat, since I think we will see little rain.  Going with the Novara Stratos 2.0 Bike jacket. REI was unable to give me a weight on it, so I will have to weigh it when it arrives.
And I bought an Osprey Manta 25 backpack off of eBay. Fool of a seller took out the hydration pack's stabalizing stay, which I tried unsuccessfully to re-install. I am pretty sure the stay's purpose it to keep the bladder from sagging, keeping the weight of the water evenly distributed from to top to bottom. Calling Osprey resulted in an invitation to send them the pack.  I pay shipping there, they fix and return to me on their bill. Lifetime warrantee. The pack seems really nice, with enough room for stove, kitchen and food.  I plan on hanging the entire pack (from bears). The hydration bladder seems really well thought out.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Idaho Hot Springs Prep

Adventure Cycling announced a new mountain biking route, and this one is a doozy.  The climbs on the main route and the singletrack options are both tougher than the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
Washington Peak by wsiegmund cc by
Washington Peak by Wsiegmund CC BY
The main route has 4 climbs of close to or over 3,000 feet in 10 miles, the highest point being at 8,719 ft altitude, when traveling in the direction AC suggests. Of the singletrack options, Secesh has one ascent of this caliber and Willow Creek and White Cloud each have one,  and in both those last cases you lose 500ft, which need to be regained.
In comparison, looking at the GDMBR, north of Breckenridge and including the Canada section, I could only find one section with that kind of gain/loss (Galton Pass) and if you take the route in the southerly direction AC recommends, it is a downhill.
My cycling partner looked at many blog posts of people who did it in its first year of available maps and came to the conclusion that you can probably only do 20 miles a day, at least on the singletrack, and not much more on the main route.
The main route is a 517.6 mile loop out from Idaho City and includes a singletrack option from Boise, allowing easy airline access.  There is a shortcut across the middle back east, in case you need to bail. The singletrack options, by their very nature, are long and remote.

Thank you DC for the Winter Cycling Challenge

It is difficult to motivate yourself to ride in the winter, when the temperatures dip into the single digits, remain in the teens and there is ice on the road and a kick butt wind chill.  A shout out to DC for starting and managing the Winter Cycling Challenge.  It was open to anyone, from anywhere, but mostly it was people from the Buffalo area.

Because of this challenge setup, which pits teams against each other, the inner competitor in me rode 450 miles starting from November 14th. The challenge used the GreenLightRide website. Although it was probably a good place to run a competition, it doesn't seem to be a very good general way to track your mileage, for there is no mobile app and it makes you log on too often.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sigh. A little lack of progress on this front

I have had numerous conversations with FedEx, UPS, other delivery and Wheelchair van drivers about not parking in the bike lane. I explain it is illegal. I explain that they force me into traffic approaching from the rear. 
They ask what I want them to do instead. I tell them to park illegally in front of someone's driveway (though often there is a space they can pull into 10 feet ahead or behind them).  But ultimately my response should be, "what would you do if there was no bike lane"? Because they would all admit that they would block the traffic lane.

Monday, August 11, 2014

And on to Lake Champlain

A new trick (for me).  I drove to Lake Champlain at Port Kent, left my car there and took the ferry across. $9.  The crossing took 1 hour, during which I was free to read, look around and NOT drive. Pleasant. FYI there is also an Amtrak station in Port Kent, within walking distance of the ferry dock. Unfortunately the train is slated to take 10 hours to get there and it is only 6 to drive.  Given my previous report of Amtrak usually being an hour or more late, it was not appealing. But the FERRY! Highly appealing. The ferry is so large that you don't feel the swells and a bike doesn't need to be secured to keep it from falling over. So I packed all my panniers on the bike and off I went to Burlington, where I was to meet up with Jamie.

We stayed at North Beach campground, a Burlington park. This park does not have a "no turn away" policy for cyclists, paddlers or hikers, which is a bit of a travesty. When asked why not, the woman at the office exclaimed "If we are full, where would we put them?"  Answer; on the unused volleyball court. Really.  How many could there possibly be? I should write a letter... maybe tomorrow... We rode in to downtown Burlington to their fabulous Co-op to gather supplies. The easy thing about this route is that there are very good re-supply stores all along the way. We carried no stove for this trip. It is warm, neither of us drinks coffee and we usually bought a sandwich to eat for dinner at one of the numerous grocery stores. 
The Lake Champlain Bikeway map is a really good start, but the routing had many odd misdirections and mileage errors.  We should have kept better track of these and given them some feedback to correct the map, but we were ill equipt to do so.  Part of the problem is that the map is available in PDF only (no hard copy) and formatted at a really odd size for home printing, so it was difficult to keep in a map case.  Really, I do have no excuse for not making corrections right on the paper copy I had printed out.  It would help them to get the feedback. On the VT side, the bikeway is marked at regular intervals (though not necessarily intersections), but in NY it is marked as Bike Route 9, I believe. Other than those minor problems, the route is pleasant (but not the most direct- which is fine). Adding camping info would also be helpful.

The second night we stayed at Crown Point, a DEC campground. These DEC CG are staffed by really good, smart people, who are constantly thinking and analyzing.  The night before the ferry, I had stayed in a NY DEC CG and was looking to do some hiking, but wanted to get to the trailhead via bike, having driven for 6 hours. The attendant took the road surface, shoulders and type of trail into consideration and pointed me to a nice trail with great views.
Anyways, this time, the attendant knew the weather forecast and asked us if we wanted to pitch in the only available lean-to. No wet tents in the morning.  Sweet.  There was an amazing thunderstorm that night!
We spent the next night at Ausable Chasm (pronounced Aws-Able Chasm, with the Ch sounding like chicken).  Although this was a private campground, it was pretty nice.  You have to purchase a separate event ticket to travel on the Chasm trails and we didn't think it was worth it, considering we were there for such a short time.
The NY side of the lake is much hillier overall and the route we used was quite, shaded and heavily wooded.
My Bike Friday New World Tourist scored 11,000 miles. Kind of astonishing to me, though I have been watching the milestone approach for a while. Totally missed the 10,000 milestone. I think it occurred on a commuting day.

Plattsburg is working on being more bike friendly, but they have a ways to go. It is obvious they are working on a bike path that hugs the lake, but it is not yet complete.  All in all, I didn't feel harried going through the city, except at a construction zone, when I am sure the drivers also felt harried.  There were several bike tours we crossed paths with along the northern end of the lake, all inn to inn tours.
We crossed the mouth of the Riviere Richlieu, the outlet of Lake Champlain, at Rouses Point and could see the Canadian border crossing just down the road.


 

The bridge took us back into VT and we headed down to North Hero, hoping to camp at North Hero State Park, but the CG had been closed due to bad flooding a couple of years earlier. There was nothing else, public or private that we could find until way down on Grand Isle at Grand Isle State Park. Long day.  Our 50 mile day turned into an 80 or so mile day, but again, they found us a lean-to and again there was a thunderstorm during the night. That was pretty much the only rain we experienced (except another incredible, but short lived downpour when we had instant access to shelter).
Both the DEC and VT state CG hold a "no turn away" policy for hikers and cyclists. Nice job.

Last day: we left Grand Isle via the "bike ferry". We had some difficulty locating the beginning of the northern part of the causeway.
 
 
 

I had some weird idea that this was a pretty long jaunt, but it turned out that it was a tiny ferry ride to cross a gap in the old railroad causeway. The gap allows boats to move from one part of the lake to another.
Ignore the amateur finger in the photo- mind the gap. Really.  That is it. The dock on the other side is the ferry dock. I'm serious.

I understand the causeway was damaged by the same storm that took out the campground, but am unsure if there was a bridge previously. The ferry fee is by suggested donation; $10 (actually more that the Lake Champlain Port Kent to Burlington ferry, but I don't begrudge them the money). Then you travel along the rest of the causeway.  It was pretty heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists, but we were the only touring cyclists around. Lots of young kids.






We stayed at the North Beach campground again that night. All around a pretty decent place with a lovely beach.  We spent the next day renting paddleboards, which was way more upper arm work than I am used to.
Bike repair station with basic tools and a simple repair stand- on the Bikeway.  Very cool.

This finished our journey, which I had miscalculated the mileage for, leaving us 3 unused days.
 
We returned to Burlington and rode the 60 or so miles to Jamie's house and spent those extra days kayaking on Lake Champlain and camping at primitive paddling access only campsites.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Talk is sweet, especially when accompanied by action

Again, GO Bike Buffalo was involved in something inspirational. The Buffalo Bicycle Master Plan, a city/Go Bike Buffalo venture in conjunction with the Alta planning firm, involved city residents in an informational meeting to explain and answer questions about the plan. It was a fabulous RahRah mtg, encouraging citizen participation by having people draw on a big map of Buffalo to illustrate where they wanted more bike lanes and problem areas.  City officials were present, including the mayor and representatives of the streets department. We (mostly Dwight) have had exposure and interactions with the streets people before and they seem to have a genuine interest in people's opinions. 
The turnout was varied age and sex wise, but poorly represented those who rely on a bicycle for financial reasons.  It does appear that that group is being considered; traffic registering devices in lower socio-economic areas are able to discern the difference between a car and a 2 wheeled vehicle, allowing the streets department to see current bike routing patterns.
Afterwards, many retired to Ulrich's for dinner or drinks and I was pleasantly surprised to see a group who arrived via bikes with panniers.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

How bike friendly is NYC?

I took Amtrak to NYC for a weekend. They get a pretty good grade on cost and service, but they have gotten pretty bad about being on time. Since they seem to be struggling with this problem regularly (1-2 hours late), it would really behoove them to simply adjust their schedule to reflect it. I have never tried to take a full sized bike on board, but it seems those are still restricted to trains with baggage cars, a rarity. Also, Buffalo still has no platform, requiring a very steep climb up train stairs to the car's interior. 
 
 In NY, I found the traffic and bike lanes exhilarating, traveling from Penn Station almost to Battery Park. My daughter and partner did not necessarily share my perspective, considering the pedestrians in Manhattan to be a severe impediment to travel. I plan to return to cycle the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway trail. Hopefully this will redeem the city, at least in the eyes of my daughter.
Brooklyn was a different story. The routes are convoluted and you have to plot out a complicated route to get most places. I found this annoying, but survived by writing the streets and turns on a piece of paper I stuck in the leg band of my cycling shorts. Dresses over my shorts helped me not stand out like a sore thumb.  Most of the spandex crowd only appeared on the weekends or in the parks.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Another sign of progress

This is a new hardware store I patronize occasionally near the corner of Main and Summer Sts. Although there are some eligible posts nearby to lock to, they opted to install this bike rack.  It may have been precipitated by my (and probably others) locking our bikes to the railing, but instead of yelling at us, they saw the need and reacted nicely, placing the rack close to the entrance and pretty well protected from the parking. Yay!