Archive for the ‘Skills’ Category

Travel the World for FREE!!!

November 8, 2012 2 comments

Traveling the world for free is the dream of most of us.  Here’s an ingenious scheme to do just that.  Here’s what you’ll need: A zip-tie long enough to go around your neck, a carabiner and a three by five card.  Inscribe the following message or something similar.  Unless you’re particular furry, change ‘teddy bear’ to uncle, brother, cousin.  You get the idea.

Dear Traveler,

My name is (insert cute name here).  I am the teddy bear (sister, brother…) of (Susie, Tommy or Timmy work well as they conjure up images of cute kids in the minds of most people).  I would like to join you on your trip!  Would you take me and make a picture of me on your holiday location?  Then e-mail this picture and the name of your holiday location to (you can use anyone’s e-mail or send them to me if you’d like.   This way class (whatever) of primary school (wherever) can follow my travels around the world.  Would you then give me to another traveler?  Thank you very much and enjoy your holiday.

This scheme seems much safer than the traditional approach of mailing yourself places ‘Postage Due’ and sneaking out of the post office in the middle of the night.

Happy travels, Jack

Categories: Skills, Stupid Bike Tricks

Cycling with a Nonjudgmental Stance

August 30, 2012 2 comments

Cycling, as with any other athletic endeavor, encourages judgmental thinking.  Judgments flow forth like water from a spigot and, if allowed to go unchecked, can stay with you long after you’ve gotten off the bike.  Judgments about your performance or your riding partner’s.  Judgments about riders you’ve passed or those who’ve passed you.  Judgments can leave you feeling either deflated or superior. Is this the emotional state we want to train our brains to be in when we are on our bikes?

Feedback is an important ingredient in attaining goals and bike computers are great at giving feedback.  Whether you’re trying to increase speed or distance, computers are a great tool.  But if you find that the computer is taking away from the pleasure and simple joy of riding a bike (as I have) you may try mounting it on your seat post out of view.  I’ve chosen not to ride with a computer at all, and I can honestly say I don’t miss it.  I no longer have a constant reminder of how slow I’m riding or how little ground I’ve covered staring me in the face.  I am where I am and going as fast as I please.

Judgment can creep in when riding with others too, especially when riding with someone traveling much slower.  Learning to appreciate the slower pace and the opportunity to practice patience has increased my enjoyment of cycling tremendously.  When riding multiple days a slow and steady pace is better than hammering all out the first day, then finding yourself exhausted on the third day out.  When I tour with others, I like to let the slowest person set the pace.  After all, what’s the hurry?  It’s not a race, it’s a tour.

Just my opinion, Jack

Categories: Skills

Road Hazard!

September 10, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again.  I’ve recently re-certified in CPR and First Aid.  This is my 9th consecutive year of certification and thankfully I’ve not used first aid beyond applying a band-aid and helping someone who was having a seizure.  Certification is a requirement of my job, but it’s a good idea for anyone heading out for a bike ride.

We invest a lot of time learning to repair our bikes and I’d be willing to bet more people carry a bike repair kit than carry a first aid kit.  I don’t mean to be ‘preachy’; I’m just saying it might be worth your while to invest a few bucks for a small first aid kit and a few hours once a year to prepare yourself for the unexpected.

I’ll let it go at that so I don’t drive off my entire readership.  If you’re interested, here’s the link to the American Red Cross training page.  Just enter your zip code and find a class near you.  For all my loyal readers in Finland and Uganda, I have no idea where you should go for training, but I’m sure there’s something out there for you.

Thanks for reading, Jack

Categories: Skills

Skills: How to Bike Tour ~ a comprehensive beginner’s guide

August 6, 2011 4 comments

There are more than a few “Bike Touring Experts” out there who can tell you what gear you should and shouldn’t take and on what bicycle you can and can’t tour.  I’m not an expert, but I won’t let that stop me from giving my expert advice to anyone considering their first bike tour.

So, here’s how it’s done:

Pack some stuff.  Pack it in anything you have that you can safely and comfortably ride with.
Hop on whatever bike you own, or borrow a bike.  Any bike will do.
Ride somewhere and spend the night.
Ride home.

Ta daa!  You’re now a bike tourist.  Welcome to the loosely associated collection of all kinds of people riding all kinds of bikes carrying all kinds of gear to all kinds of places.

Check out the Gallery of Velo Hobos for a visual aid.

Keep it simple, Jack

Categories: Gear, Skills

Eat Bark on Your Next Bike Tour!

January 23, 2011 4 comments

Sampling the local cuisine is one my favorite things about touring, but there are times when eating in restaurants is not an option.  Often there’s just nothing around or you’re too tired and smelly to dine with the locals or you may want to save a few bucks.


Here’s a great resource I’ve stumbled across: The  Backpacking Chef  featuring recipes, links to suppliers and ‘How To” articles on dehydrating food.  I think I may try the ‘pumpkin pie bark’.  Sounds yummy.




Why Bark?

  • When you cook and rehydrate Bark with other vegetables and meat, your backpacking meal turns into a thick stew with flavorful sauciness.
  • Because you make Bark from starchy foods high in complex carbohydrates, your hearty meal will power you up the next mountain with calories to spare.
  • Bark makes a great backpacking food because it weighs in at a couple of ounces per serving dry. Ten pounds of potatoes barks down to just eleven ounces.
  • If you run out of fuel or water, you can munch on Bark dry. Bark will reconstitute right in your mouth. Pumpkin Pie Bark goes in like a chip and down like pie!

via Food Dehydrator Recipes.

Navigating w/o a Compass from Brian’s Backpacking Blog

January 8, 2011 2 comments

We seldom need a compass bike touring, but from time to time it is nice to get your bearings as you consult a map or come to a cross-road.  Brian Green describes a quick and easy way to determine ‘south’ using an analog watch.  Follow the link below the quote to learn more.  Read his other post,  Part Oneto learn a little about night time navigation (not very useful for bike touring, but fun around the campsite).

Using an Analog Watch to Find South

This is the second part of a three part series describing easy to remember and reliable ways to accurately navigate without the use of a compass. In part one I described how you can use easily identifiable constellations to locate the north star, Polaris. In this second part I will show how you can use an analog watch and the sun to quickly determine North and South.

Here’s the link:    Brian’s Backpacking Blog.

Skills: Hand Tooling Leather

December 18, 2010 4 comments

So here’s a post of little or no interest to most people.  Enjoy. 

Having hobbies other than cycling gives me a guilt free excuse to avoid pedaling out in this miserable weather.  The two hobbies that consume my obsessive mind when the roads are iced over are mastering the claw-hammer banjo (which I am far from achieving) and leather craft.

Leather tooling is an easy hobby to pick up and with a few basic tools, a small workspace and a lot of patience almost anyone can do it.  Some people may find making art out of the flesh of doe eyed animals a bit sick, but for those of us who enjoy gnawing the juicy bloody meat of these innocent creatures, making the most of the leftovers from the carcass is down right ethical.

Anyway, here’s the process in a nutshell.  First find a design you would like to transfer to the leather.  I use black and white tattoo templates for most of my projects.  You want a design with  bold lines that is easy to trace.  Trace the design onto tracing paper.  Lightly wet the leather.  This is called ‘casing the leather’ and will allow you to trace over the design onto the leather.  Next carve out the design using a swivel knife.  You can accent your carving using an assortment of stamps and modeling tools if you like.  Lastly finish your project off with leather dyes and a product such as Eco Flo, which resists the dye and makes your design stand out.  Tandy Leather is the biggest supplier of leather tooling products and I have had great service from them.

For those who are still reading, thanks, Jack

Categories: Gear, Going off topic, Skills
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