Archive for the ‘Gear’ Category

Coastal Camping

August 20, 2013 9 comments

Bodie Island Camp

Camping on the Outer Banks of North Carolina can be a challenge.  A dispiriting wind blows here like no other place, picking up sand and blasting everything in its path with equal disdain.  In this treeless environment the wind plows through unchecked for miles searching out its next victim and cyclists are easy prey.  Imagine battling a horrendous headwind for forty miles, arriving at a coastal campground mentally and physically exhausted, then trying to pitch a tent while being pelted by sand.

Here are a few tips for pitching a tent in windy conditions. 

First, site location.  Try to pick a spot with some type of wind break.  This last trip out my wife and I were lucky enough to find tent sites just behind small sand dunes.  If you can’t find a naturally occurring wind break you may be able to make one by up-ending a picnic table on its side.

Tent selection is another consideration.  If you have the choice, go with a smaller tent.  When tents are strung taut with tent poles they become kites and smaller kites are easier to control.  We were using a Big Agnes Seed House 2; a small free-standing tent with a low aerodynamic profile.  It was a good choice, easy to pitch in the wind and never gave us any concern of blowing down in the middle of the night.

Tent positioning is as important as site location.  Obviously position the door away from the prevailing wind direction.  We witnessed several poorly positioned tents inflate and blow apart.  Don’t be shy about asking for help, or offering to help your tenting neighbor. 

Be careful with loose stuff sacks.  Loose everything for that matter; socks, underwear, maps are all fair game to rogue winds.

Lastly, anchor well.  If your tent comes with those skinny bent rod type stakes, consider changing them out for bladed stakes.  Rod stakes will never hold in the sand.  Bring extra line to tie the tent to a solid object, like a picnic table.  You can also make anchors by filling plastic shopping bags with sand and tying off to those.

Do you have any pointers for tenting in high winds?  Leave a comment.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!


Double D and his Surly P

August 9, 2013 2 comments


Since I’m too lazy to blog anything lately…here’s a post from a reader. DoubleD sent pictures of his Surly Pacer…great job on the build!

“Here are a couple of pics of my Surly Pacer. My son (19) wanted to build up a bike so the Pacer frame was purchased.

Components are Shimano Sora, a good choice to me for dependability and good looks, my old Brooks Pro (Presoftened – it says so on the saddle!), Mavic Open Sport rims and Sora hubs. My son built the wheels and although it was a time consuming effort as it was his first ever build, the results have been good.
Bars are Nitto Randonneur and are too narrow for me. I have a Nitto Noodle bar that is two cm wider that will replace it.


Cassette (11-28) and chain are SRAM as recommended by my lbs being the cheaper but equivalent in quality to the Shimano I was going to buy. Seems to match up well.

I remained faithful to the Specialized Armadillo tires (700-28) as using them has caused my tube changing time to be increased from two minutes on the side of the road to something like 10-15 minutes, not including the snack afterwards. I’ve not had a flat but once in the 5 years I’ve used Armadillos. Love em.


The Pacer only has about 300 miles on it so far and I still have some tweaking to do (saddle movement, bar height, stem) but have already fallen in love with it. I love the Sparklboogie blue against the black components and the triple chainring (48/39/30) is fantastic. Most of the time I stay in the middle ring and spin. Oh joy!


I’m torn now as to which horse to ride – the Long Haul Trucker or the Pacer. I have found the perfect bikes for me.
Attached are a couple of pics. Not the best photos but I try.
You live in a beautiful part of the country. I envy you the hills to climb on your bike and the beautiful views seen from the top and the remote hiking trails.
Love your blog,

Categories: Gear

Surly Pacer with Parking Brakes? Why?

May 18, 2013 5 comments

Categories: Gear

About Bar Stools and Brooks Saddles

April 5, 2013 11 comments

Buying a Brooks takes a leap of faith.  They’re pricey. You can expect to spend about a hundred bucks for the B-17.  That’s quite a bit to spend on something that doesn’t come with advertising hype, no strategically placed gel or cut outs to prevent the dysfunction of erectiles.  Also, when you first sit on the thing, you’re overwhelmed by the urge to send it back with a nasty letter.  It takes time and miles to break-in the leather.  You have to lie to friends and family and say “oh this thing so comfy” so they don’t make fun of you for buying hundred year old technology.  But before long, about a couple of hundred miles, the thing becomes a pleasure to sit on.  Like a well-worn sofa, it conforms to your back-side like no other saddle can.

Brooks saddles are a lot like bar stools.  With bar stools, the more you drink the more comfortable they become.  With Brooks, the more you ride the more comfortable they become.

If you’ve just bought a new Brooks and are scanning the web to see if your sore butt is normal…it is.  But keep the faith, it will get better, and then you’ll ride nothing but Brooks.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!

Categories: Gear

Leatherman Style CS Review

April 1, 2013 5 comments

Need a pair of small light-weight scissors for your bike’s first aid kit?  Sure you do, and if you’re like most folks you need a good first aid kit as well.  And what about tweezers for your bicycle related tweezing?  And wouldn’t it be nice to have a finger nail file so you don’t scare away little children after a few weeks on the road?  And a tiny eye-glass screw driver combination nasty fingernail crud digger-outer?  And a carabineer in case you need to repel out of a helicopter with your bike across your shoulders?  And a bottle opener?  (You know if you’re injured you’re gonna wanna drink.)  And a knife to cut your Power Bar into bite size pieces?  What if I told you, you can have all this for less than twenty bucks and only 1.4 ounces?

leatherman closed

“Shut up, less than twenty bucks and only 1.4 ounces?  Are you serious Velo Hobo?”  Yep and you heard it here first, or you’ve heard it somewhere else and I’m telling you again.  Either way, it’s true.  The Leatherman Style CS is a good pair of small scissors with other useful stuff attached.  Carry it on your keychain and toss it in your first aid kit.  All Leatherman tools, even this ultra-light micro tool, come with a 25 year warranty.  Wow.

leatherman open

Categories: Gear

Surly Pacer – Pragmatically Cool and Nothing I Wasn’t Looking For

March 30, 2013 19 comments

I’ve developed an allergy to carbon.  Lycra too but that’s another story.  Needing a replacement for my aluminum and carbon Specialized Sequoia, I just could not bring myself to spend hard earned cash on another bike that will need replacing after only a few decades of hard use.  I wanted a bike I could ‘ride hard and put up wet’ as the cowboys say.  I wasn’t looking for a feather-weight racing bike; I don’t race.  I wasn’t looking for an overly-built truck-cycle either.  I have a dedicated touring bike.

Pacer on a tree

The first bike I took a serious look at was the Surly Pacer, a no-nonsense steel old school roadie.  At first glance I was sold.  The Pacer had none of the design features I wasn’t looking for, such as silly space-age materials, goofy aerodynamic shapes or ‘technological advances’ in bicyclery.  It’s a bicycle, not a Mars Rover.

Being the thrifty fellow I am, I ordered the frame through Bryson City Bicycles (support your local bike shop!) and set about stripping parts off my Sequoia and bolting them to the Pacer.  Andy
(BCB’s co-owner and head wrench) was a great help and did the more complicated parts of transplant procedure.  This is the second bike I’ve done major work on and the most important thing I’ve learned is: I really hate working on bikes.  On my first rebuild I pressed my own headset, installed a bottom bracket and even pulled my own crank, and as fun as that may sound, I just found it too tedious.

Pacer in a tree

The Pacer frame weighs about 4 ½ pounds and add 2 pounds more for the front fork if you choose to ride with one.  That’s 6 ½ pounds for folks in Alabama.  24 1/2  pounds completed; not a feather-weight, but not bad for a bike with no fear of pot holes, room enough for 32c tires (28c with fenders), braze-ons for fenders and even a pump peg.  The pump peg alone is worth the price of the bike.

The Pacer’s color, ‘Sparkle Boogie Blue’, is not as crippling ugly as the Traveler Check’s ‘Brown Low’.  Out of the box it’s not very attractive, but built up with shiny things attached I think it works.  I’ve added a set-back seat post and a stem from Velo Orange.  And of course the saddle is my old worn in Brooks.  Andy dressed up the cables, chopped the steering tube down to size and generally made the thing ridable.

Tree under a Pacer

The Pacer’s ride is snappy and responsive with its tighter geometry and narrower tires compared to the Travelers Check (Cross Check) but not as snappy as a more modern style ‘racing’ bike.  The front fork rake seems forgiving of road vibration but admittedly not as cushy as the Sequoia’s carbon and “Zert” inserted fork.  The Pacer will allow me to run a wider tire that should more than make up the difference if I choose, but really, I’m not so delicate that road vibration is an issue.

The Pacer seems to be manufactured solid, with clean welds and a good paint job.  I’ll do a more comprehensive review after a few thousand mountain miles but my initial impression is very positive.  This is a great bike (frame) at an affordable price, practical and unpretentious.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!

Categories: Gear

Quick look at the Card Ninja

February 23, 2013 7 comments

Here’s a quick video of the Card Ninja.  A cool way to combine your wallet and your phone.


Categories: Gear
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