Getting Ready for Summer: Handlebars, Racks and Bags

I’ve been working on refining the packing accessories on my bike and getting ready for summer bike camping.

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One Bike to Ride Them All

If you read my previous posts you can review the on-going evolution of my hybridized mountain bike. I decided that I want just one bike for local errands and recreation. I live in Seattle and the region has many rail trails and local governments that promote cycling.  So my bike needs to handle city streets and the obstacles as well as asphalt and gravel trails. Comfort, maneuverability, and load-carrying take precedent over speed.
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Wasn’t it just August? Layering for a cold November ride

Now to start with, I AM a Seattleite (the denizens of Seattle really call themselves that). I’m used to cool, humid, wet, gray winter days. It rarely gets below freezing and very rarely in the teens Fahrenheit (the record low of 0°F was in 1950). We get a big wet sloppy snowstorm once in a while and a couple inches of snow bring this hilly city to a halt.

So today it was sunny and cool and I thought I should get out for a ride. My days on the bike have slacked off since September and it takes some extra initiative to get out. Sunny or just rainless days are rare and I should make every effort to ride when the weather is better. The weather stats are pretty typical for a winter day: 45°F, 50% humidity and it was windy today with winds from the NNW at 15-25MPH. I felt the 15MPH wind at least and had the total pleasure (NOT) of getting headwinds coming AND going on this trip. Note the humidity was rather low today, with high humidity levels being common (and temperatures in the mid-forties Fahrenheit).  Continue reading

Bike Rack Hacking: Mounting a Rear Pannier Rack on the Front Fork

I have used the Sunlite Gold Tec front rack on my bike and it works well with a small dry bag or mounting a small basket with zip ties, but a 9.25″ overall length, it is just a bit short for most rack trunk bags.  I do like the mounting system, with one bolt at the rear and one to each of the unused V-brake mounting bosses on my disc brake equipped bike. It is dirt cheap, light and simple to install.

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Suburban Seattle Rail Trail Labor Day Bike Ride

I didn’t get out of town for Labor Day weekend and with the weather improving, I decided to go for a good ride. This time I headed north on the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River rail trails, entering the trail near Matthews Beach Park in the northeast corner of Seattle and passing though the bedroom communities of Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, a side trip into Kirkland and turning around in the town of Woodinville.

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An Afternoon Bike Ride on Seattle Streets and Rail Trails

I was up for a good urban adventure last Wednesday, so I loaded up the bike and took off for a loop through downtown Seattle using as many rail trails as possible. I live in the northeast quadrant of Seattle and it is about 7 miles to the downtown area by the most direct route, but using rail trails and some connecting streets, I made a trip to the west side of the city, along the waterfront, back through the city center and back home in a 27 mile loop.

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Chain Bicycle Locks

I have been using an OnGuard Pitbull Mini LS U-lock along with an 7′ Kryptonite KryptoFlex cable  to secure my bike. The Pitbull purchase was driven by cost and I found it on eBay at a good price. The cable was purchased used as well. The recommended way to use a U-lock is to go around the seat tube and rear tire and an immovable object like a bike stand or street signpost. The distance between the seat tube and the rear tire on my bike is too wide, so I normally went around a handy part of the frame and the immovable object and tied off both wheels with the cable looped onto the legs of the U-lock. I have bolt-on skewers as well. I use a small Abus 1500 chain for a seat lock and for “no ride-off” protection only at my local grocer or the post office.

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New tires: Continental Country Plus 26 x 1.75

I’ve been running Schwalbe Big Ben 26 x 2.15 tires for most of the time I have owned my Novara Bonita bicycle. It originally came with WTB WeirWolf Comp 26 x 2.1 trail tires. I travel pavement and gravel rail trails and I don’t need an off-road tire; in fact, they are noisy and slow on hard surfaces and I got two flats in one 25 mile gravel trail trip from blackberry thorns.

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