Campeur Tire Clearance

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Good news.  Schwalbe 47/50mm touring tires (622-47, 28 x 1.75; or 622/50, 28 x 2.0) fit the new Campeur frame nicely, with enough room that a fender could be installed with careful mounting.  Smaller frame sizes may have slightly tighter clearances, so this information speaks specifically to 59 and 61cm frames with tires mounted to 25mm rims.

To my eye, the larger tires suit the frame much better than the narrow cross tires I initially mounted.  I’m headed off for a few days of riding with Jeremy.  Our route will likely connect rural paved highways and dirt roads through the Santa Fe National Forest, including sections of the Great Divide Route from Abiqui to Cuba.

Schwalbe Marathon Dureme tires are now discontinued, although Cass has a lightly used pair that he has lent for a period.  The tire sidewall reads 622-50mm and the claimed weight is 645g.  I love Schwalbe touring tires for their durable construction, resistance to punctures and pinching, and reflective sidewalls.  Last year, I put over 12,000 miles on a pair of 26 x 1.75″ Marathons.

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The Marathon Mondial is the top-of-the-line long haul touring tire from Schwalbe, a inexact replacement of the venerable XR model.  Personally, I have always preferred the construction and the price of the standard Marathon, but the Mondial seems as if it will give a similar ride, with slightly better off-pavement traction.  The Mondial features a robust sidewall and a versatile tread pattern for paved roads and dirt tracks.  The raised portion of the tread is several millimeters thick and should run for many thousands of miles.  The sidewall reads 622-47 and the claimed weight is 760g.  A slightly larger model, 622-50, is also available.

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Without a laptop computer and a full-sized tent, my gear easily fits into a small drybag up front and the capacious Carradice Camper saddlebag, which is mostly empty without food.  I look forward to a large custom framebag which will reduce the need for the Carradice on short trips out of town.

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I’ll be back in a few days.  Until then, check out my post over on the Adventure Cycling Blog about touring and commuting on a fatbike.  I’ll be sharing stories and ideas over there on a regular, monthly basis.  Any thoughts for next month’s post?

It has been exactly a year since I bought the purple Pugsley in Seattle.  You might enjoy revisiting my first thoughts on the new Pugsley (from a year ago) after hopping ferries and riding around the Puget Sound.

Faire du camping

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Finally finished some lingering writing projects and work around the farm.  The bike is almost built.  Tomorrow, the train to Santa Fe and a three day camping ride.

The bag is from Oveja Negra threadworks in Leadville, CO.  The button is a gift from Shawn Granton, the artist behind the Urban Adventure League and Ten Foot Rule comic-zines.  The black headset spacer is carbon fiber, to save weight.  The Campeur frame is 59cm, square.

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NOS Specialized hub to VO Diagonale rim with straight gauge DT spokes.  The rear wheel is a NOS black Shimano LX hub to the same rim, with straight gauge Wheelsmith spokes from another shop.  Both wheels are 36 spokes with brass nipples.  Standard bearing grease was used to prep the threads and eyelets.

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The VO Pass Hunter rack makes a great saddlebag support on taller frames with cantilever brake mounts.  The underside of the seatstay bridge is threaded for a fender, so I drilled the bridge in the other direction to accept the rack.  The backstop keeps the bag away from the straddle wire, and will leave a little room for a small drybag under the saddle.

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Clearance with a borrowed 30mm Michelin Cyclocross Jet tire on 25mm rims.

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I am hoping to mount some borrowed 50mm Schwalbe Marathon Dureme tires tomorrow, although the fit may be too tight for practical use.  Some 40mm Clement X’plor MSO tires are in the mail, and will fit nicely.  A friend is sending a single 45mm Panaracer Fire Cross tire from Fairbanks, AK.

Also on my radar: the re-released 43mm Bruce Gordon Rock’n’Road tire, the discontinued 44mm WTB Mutano Raptor, the budget 42mm Michelin Transworld Sprint, several 42mm Continental cyclocross models, and several 1.75″ micro-knobbies from Vee Rubber.

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Jetsam and flotsam

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The list of items that populate my bags and my bike is exhausting.  My Kit List accounts from this past month are almost completely inclusive.  However, if I was to upturn my bicycle and shake all the contents from the bags, a few items would fall to the ground to my surprise.  Some are useful, just in case; some are useless, mostly; and at least one item is an unexpected stowaway.  Item origins are indicated in parentheses, when known.  Less than half of these things are even remotely essential.  If you are looking for a way to trim down your touring load, start with the small stuff.

nail clippers, the worst I have ever used, $1.99 CDN in a small gas station (northern B.C.)

insulated electrical housing, 3 inches (came with Supernova headlight, Alaska)

extra Surly rimstrip for Marge Lite rim, black (Bozeman, MT)

1ft. yellow ribbon with reflective strip (Alaska)

3 spokes, length unknown but hopefully useful somewhere on the bike (Alaska and Montana)

tube of Nivea SPF lip product (Ontario, since June 2011)

spare tube, 26×2.3″ with unthreaded Presta valve  (from REI, Bozeman, MT)

tent stakes, began with 13 in AK, 9 remaining

homemade postcards, a dwindling supply of 100 (Ft. Collins, CO)

wallet

assorted business cards and grocery rewards cards

lens filters for camera (Fort Collins, CO)

6 links SRAM 9sp chain (Fort Collins, CO)

Origin-8 plastic chain retention, did not fit Lael’s drivetrain properly (Fort Collins, CO)

small Ziploc bag of 50 ibuprofen, dwindling (Anchorage, Alaska)

4 standard matchbooks with logo (Fort Collins, CO)

1 page from Dirt Rag magazine, Surly Krampus advertisement, to protect MacBook screen from keyboard when packed (Bozeman, MT)

postage stamps (Antonito, CO)

embroidered patch on Carradice Camper saddlebag, Great Allegheny Passage (March 2011)

3 plastic zip-ties (Alaska and Colorado)

1 small rubber band marked “Organic Broccoli” (origin unknown)

On our recent travels near Santa Fe, Joe Cruz exhumed a similarly well-used orange tube of the exact same Nivea SPF lip product from his bag.  His was purchased in South America, mine in Ontario, Canada.  There must be something about men with fatbikes and soft lips.

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Imagining the Campeur

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When I speak of the older bikes that I have ridden, I refer to the process of rebuilding the bike as re-imagining.  An older bike made to function is refurbished.  A classic bike made to appear as it once did, is restored.  An old bike, reborn as something new, is re-imagined.  The High Sierra and the Pugsley have both been imagined and re-imagined multiple times.  My new Velo Orange Campeur frame arrived this week along with a bundle of parts, and I’ve begun imagining what the bike will become.  To do so, I must imagine what the bike will do.

The build will be fairly typical in many ways– wide range gearing, durable wheels, and drop bars– but in others, it will reflect my riding interests and landscape.  I intend to explore a range of tires between 40-45mm for commuting and short-range touring on mixed surfaces.  I will be using a wide-range double chainset with 46/30T rings.  In the near future, I hope to have a framebag made to efficiently store packable goods. With such a large main triangle, the framebag will swallow most of my gear on short, lightweight trips.  I expect to strap dry bags to the bars and saddle when traveling overnight.  In town, I will use a large handlebar bag with the VO Pass Hunter rack and VO decaleur.  A well used Ostrich bag is in the mail from my parent’s house in New York.  The Ostrich bag was a reliable companion for a full year of touring and commuting.

A fresh harvest on the farm.

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Most Velo Orange models feature low-trail geometry, purported to handle front loads while retaining a light feel at the handlebars and stable handling.  Trail, also referred to as the “caster effect” such as on a shopping cart, is influenced by head tube angle, fork offset, and tire size.  Fork offset is generally accomplished through the curvature of the fork, or rake.  On straight blade forks the blades make a slight angle at the fork crown.  Suspension forks and BMX-style forks often put the dropouts in front of the stanchions, and build some offset into the crown.

The VO Polyvalent measures 36mm of trail with a 38mm tire.  Trail on the VO Campeur measures 56mm, also with a 38mm tire.  Most touring bikes feature even greater trail; the Surly Long Haul Trucker and the Rivendell Atlantis measure 67mm of trail, as does the Black Mountain Cycles cross frame.  The Cross-Check has 68mm of trail.  The current Trek 520 has 61mm.  The Bruce Gordon BLT measures 62mm.  These numbers are all for 58-60cm frames with a 38mm tire, as I would ride.  Numbers may vary slightly through the size range, and with different tire sizes.

Deciphering these numbers: Notably, all but the Polyvalent feature similar trail measurements.  Although the Campeur is more similar than it is different, it is still designed with lower trail than traditional touring models.  A front load should play well on this frame, especially if you prefer a handlebar bag and front panniers, or a large handlebar mounted bikepacking load.  The low-trail numbers on the Polyvalent are influenced by French touring bikes, and more importantly, by French porteur bikes which were designed to carry bulky and heavy front loads in the city.  The Campeur should exhibit neutral handling in multiple loading configurations.  Neutral handling– steering that doesn’t draw your attention away from riding– is desirable.

Edit: The Pugsley measures 88mm of trail.  I input the 94mm nominal measurement of the tire, but the actual measurement may be slightly smaller when mounted and when under load at low pressure.  This explains some of the handling characteristics that I have experienced, in which monstrous rotational weight and traction are also in effect.

Check out this handy trail calculator.  Visit the manufacturer’s website to find your bike’s geometry.

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The Pass Hunter rack, at a mere 250g (claimed), offers a high strength to weight ratio.  It solidly mounts to the fork crown and brake posts, without any moving parts, brackets or hinges.  Also, Dia-Compe ENE bar-end shifters utilize the micro-ratchet mechanism borrowed from older Suntour designs, such as the venerable Sprint series.  The aesthetic is pure Campagnolo, and the mounting pod is borrowed from Shimano.  These VO brake pads offer better stopping power in every condition– even better than the Kool-Stop Salmon pads.  Sheldon would agree.  I used them exclusively on my High Sierra last year.

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Other VO parts include a 90mm stem with 17 deg rise and threadless stem adaptor, a brass bell, and 46 cm Rando bars.  The pronounced flare common to randonneur bars is invisible from this perspective.  The shape is much like the Nitto B135 Randonneur bar that I used on the High Sierra.  Prior to that, I used an SR rando bar on the Trek, borrowed from the Miyata 1000.  This summer I enjoyed the Salsa Cowbell bar which features a similar flare and a shallower drop.

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VO Model 3 touring saddle, shaped much like my beloved Brooks B-17.

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The Polyvalent cranks feature 46/30T aluminum rings and a chainguard on a standard 110/74 BCD.  I will explore this gearing for a bit, with the option to change rings in the future or to make a full triple.  The 30T can be replaced by a ring as small as 24T on the inner 74 BCD.  In building a triple configuration, a 34T is the smallest ring that will fit on the 110 BCD.  Hot off the press, the new Sabot pedals are a treat to handle.  Quality is on par with other modern sealed cartridge pedals I have seen, including Lael’s gold VP-001.  The bearings are exceptionally smooth, like high-end road and mountain pedals.

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VO Diagonale rims are 25mm wide, sized between the Sun CR18 (22.5) and the Rhyno Lite (27.5).  Matching Deore LX derailleurs front and rear were sourced in town, and are the same that were on my first touring bike,  a 1995 Trek 520.

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A built-in barrel adjustor with a rubberized lockring is a nice detail.

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More eyelets, a chainrest for wheel changes, and long chainstays.  Tire clearances are the same all the way around the bike.  Details like these are challenging to sort, either in production or on custom frames.

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Details of the fork: Robust socketed fork ends, like little lugs, are clean and strong.  They are also a labor saving measure and help keep costs down.  The pronounced boxy shape of the eyelets appeals to me, and reminds me of my 1983 Miyata 1000, which had an elegantly industrial aesthetic mated to military green paint.  The smoky grey color on the Campeur furthers the industrial aesthetic.

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Mid-fork rack mounts are threaded all the way through the blades.  Modern cantilever posts are spaced 80mm apart, center to center.  Some older touring frames are narrower.

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The fork crown offers 50-51mm of tire clearance, perfect for a 38mm tire and a fender.  Living in New Mexico for the winter, I hope to fit a larger tire.  The construction of the frame is tidy, and the welds are clean.

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A recessed nut can be used on the back of the crown.  The underside of the crown is drilled and tapped for clean fender mounting, as was common on high-quality constructeur bikes.  Technically, the arrowhead tangs on the crown serve a purpose, but mostly they look nice.

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Of course, you can’t go anywhere without a bell.  In a city full of bike paths, this will get plenty of use.

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These mellow singletrack trails are within shouting distance from my house and will be perfect for tire tests and a quick escape from the urban landscape.

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Note: The frame and fork were supplied by VO for long-term review.  The parts to complete the bike were offered at cost, but are all of my own choosing.  In some cases, availability and finances dictate the use of locally sourced parts including used derailleurs and NOS hubs.  I worked for VO for two months in 2011, sandwiched between bike trips in Mexico and on the Great Divide.  One creative afternoon before this bike had a name, several amusing suggestions were offered.  The Velo Orange Cassoulet, a French dish containing white beans and meat, would have been a nice counter to the midwestern Salsa Casseroll.  Camionette, the French word for a small truck, was offered in reference to the popular Surly Long Haul Trucker.  The Campeur name is simple and apt.

Exploring White Mesa

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Gary Blakley has been riding here for decades.  Spinal ridges and a rocky white mesa are a bike playground unlike anywhere else, except Moab.  In the appropriate season, the deserts of New Mexico present opportunities unknown to riders in temperate, forested regions.  Since Gary’s time on a 1987 MB-1 with drops, the White Mesa mountain bike trails have been developed by the Bureau of Land Management.  The trails are well defined, signed, and fun– except that every time we ride there someone goes over the bars.

Separate from the main trail system, rough jeep trails and faint singletrack lead to another world known as The Moon.  Underlain with bright white gypsum, the area is part of an active mine, and adjacent to the mining operation are hummocks of crusted white sediment.  These features are nature’s dirt jump track– traction is good, transitions are smooth and the landscape is wide open.  Play is inevitable.

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Leaving from the trailhead, follow the ridgeline along the aptly named Dragon’s Back trail.

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The spine of the dragon, looking north toward the western end of the Jemez Mountains.

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This short steep cliff blocks our passage, for a moment.  Teamwork gets us up; the reward is a fast descent off the north end of the ridge.

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Working together.

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An old cabin slowly melts into the desert off the north end of the trail system.

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This part of New Mexico has a relatively mild climate, so this place will do just fine.  Gary suggests a few improvements.

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Our bikes speak of a broad range of approaches.  Like a touring bike or a road bike, a bicycle only becomes a mountain bike when it is out riding in the mountains, or in the hills or the meadows, deserts or forests.  For this reason, I prefer the term all-terrain bike, or ATB.  In various modes, any of these bikes would be fine on the road, on tour, or on dirt tracks.  Gary’s custom steel AMPeirce is thoughtfully built for comfort and utility on trails.  Come spring, it will serve as a touring bike for a time.  As planned, it may be for a very long time.

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Patti’s bike is also custom fabricated by Andy Peirce outside of Del Norte, CO.  The bike fits more comfortably than any bike she has owned, and uses neutral stem and seatpost positions.  She has recently converted to On-One Mary bars, and loves them.

Gary and Patti have hosted passing cyclists on the Great Divide Route in Del Norte for years.  This summer, they rode north on the Divide from their home in Colorado to Banff, AB.  Leaving this spring, they plan to spend over a year cycling the world.

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Lael’s Raleigh XXIX has become a favorite of all the bikes she has ridden.  It felt like a lot of bike when she transitioned from the small wheels of the Hooligan this summer, but now she rips.

The Hooligan will soon be back from storage.  Some simple modifications are planned, including a more upright bar and some larger tires.  I’ve ordered a Velo Orange Tourist bar, which features generous rise and sweep to allow a more upright riding position.  Some voluminous 20×2.125″ Kenda K-Rad tires will conquer both paved and unpaved commutes in town, and are well priced.  Right in the city, Albuquerque has some historic irrigation ditches with dirt levees which are a blast to ride, and less than a quarter-mile from our house some mellow singletrack trails wind along the river.  Lael loves gold things, especially her Marys.

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This bike needs no introduction.  The Carradice saddlebag has been removed and may spend some time on the new VO Campeur when I complete the build this week.  For a time, I will have two bikes allowing me to refine each to a more specific purpose.  The fenders will soon be removed, and the Pugsley will become a dedicated ATB.  I may consider building some 29″ wheels at some point to continue my experiments from this spring.  The new 29×3.0″ Knard tires designed for the Krampus will fit the frame nicely.

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Jeremy is traveling through town and has several interesting bikes in his possession.  The design of this Laguna Mountaineer is representative of mid-80′s mountain bikes like my High Sierra or Stumpjumper.  High quality 120tpi 2.35″ Kenda Small Block Eights are the heart of the ride.  The basket is the soul.

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Also in his traveling stable, Jeremy has a Rivendell Hunqapillar with drop bars and 2.2″ Geax AKA tires.  I intend to spend some time riding it to develop the idea of my ideal dirt road tourer.  Groundwater seepage is rich with minerals, and crystallizes as snowy salts at the surface.

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We aren’t in Texas anymore.  A 34T chainring is a little steep on some hills.

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Given the color, some iron may also be present.

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In search of The Moon, we leave the signed trails behind.  In a rare instance, this actually looks steeper than it it.  Still, it was too steep to ride and at least one rider (with a wire basket) flipped over the bars.

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The faint trail disappears into a narrow drainage.

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Sandy doubletrack…

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…to The Moon!  Linger and play.

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And as the sun falls, we spin back to the start.  Riding in circles isn’t all bad.

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Real Transport

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I live on a farm.  This 12-acre urban plot is just south of I-40, north of old Route 66, and east of the Rio Grande River.  We are not the first people to live and work this land; in modern times, it is some of the oldest inhabited land in the state.  The floodplain provides nutrients for growth, and the shady cottonwoods offer respite from the sun.  On Sundays, only people on foot and bicycle may visit the farm to enjoy the setting and to purchase produce.  Discovery is inevitable at all ages.  Young boys find a grasshopper– they are a mere “three and a half quarters” years of age.  Adults learn how to harvest their own food.

Even with several children in tow and a pair of unruly three-foot gagutza squash, bikes are the way to go.  Bikes serve real transportation.  In a week, or in a month, what kind of cool things do you transport on your bike?  What are the most interesting places you visit in town?

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For more fresh images, check out Lael’s post “Salad. Salud.” on her blog, Lael’s Globe of Adventure.  Over the winter, you are bound to see more of our lives on the farm.  Last winter, Lael and I slid our mitts into pogies while riding fatbikes around Anchorage, Alaska.  This winter, we look forward to a full week of 65 degree days through Thanksgiving in Albuquerque, NM.  In addition to assisting with farm operation, we will also be helping to develop a new zoning designation for bike-in commercial enterprise.  Bike paths go places, which is good, but what if they allowed us direct access to the things that we need?  “Bike-in commercial” zoning could assist the growing culture of bicycles as transport, and could bring more value to properties along popular cycling routes.  The world of urban zoning seems like a complex patchwork, but we’ve got a fixed-gear Surly Cross-Check riding friend in the zoning office to help us navigate the maze.

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Better than a blog: Urban Adventure League

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To counter all the trees that have become pulp on account of Lance Armstrong and bicycle racing, there is the subtle wit, the humility, and the handcrafted comics of Shawn Granton.  He rides blissfully slow, is clothed as if Grant Petersen went on a shopping spree at Goodwill, and documents his bicycle travel as a subterranean un-superhero.  He rides to comic conventions and cross-country and does nothing spectacular except visit friends and drink coffee and pedal.   Yet, he is the perfect antidote to almost everything in the cycling world, and even considers himself a caricature of it all.  His real superpowers are pencil and paper, and his cause are people on bicycles.  It’s not a race, but he’s winning.

This week, a slim envelope arrived in my mailbox from Shawn.  Hailing from the universe of Cascadia (Portland, OR), Shawn has self-published the reality comic series Ten Foot Rule for over 15 years and is co-credited with the popular Zinester’s Guide to Portland, a best seller at Powell’s.  His Urban Adventure League guides include an instructional bike touring manual and a “Bike-Fun Primer”, which discusses ways to involve riders in a non-competitive, non-commercial, and non-combative way.  Since 2005, he has also published a blog by the same name, Urban Adventure League.

These zines are a must-read for anyone who: enjoys Jan Heine’s Bicycle Quarterly or the evangelism of Grant Peterson, but rides a bike made in Taiwan or made of Hi-Tensile steel; appreciates the humor of Bike Snob NYC, but stopped reading a long time ago; or considers the bicycle a way of life and wishes for a more bikeable future.  Here is a taste of Shawn’s work.

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Three issues of Urban Adventure League– part instruction, comedy and inspiration.  And, a button.

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A hearty compilation of the comic Ten Foot Rule, “Distance is a Long Range Filter” includes many years of travel.

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“paper is a screen that does not turn off” is a textbooklet investigating important issues such as the Continental Divide, daylight savings time, cyclepaths, the self-death of cities by highway, and the joys of cycletouring.  This is an essential text in the School of Bike Touring.

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Shawn’s main ride is a stylishly realized Surly Long Haul Trucker, although he is currently re-imagining a 1984 Raleigh Crested Butte ATB, because bigger tires are better. Note, dynamo lighting and a Carradice saddlebag.

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His bike touring expertise is undeniable, and a keen sense of bicycle culture keeps things fresh.  Riding with friends can be hard.  Riding alone can be hard.  They can both be great.

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Sometimes bike culture gets in the way.  We all ride bikes, right?

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And a personal favorite, the Half Hour Retro-Grouch Comedy Hour.

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Every self-respecting publication has a recipe.  Make your own damn energy bars!

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Some of his tours are documented as neatly detailed travelogues— even better than a blog.

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Some are simple human comedies that aren’t funny and aren’t meant to be.  Sometimes they are funny.

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And others do more than all the pixels and words in the world.  Shawn is a one man Critical Mass, slowly making the world a better place to ride a bike.

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His skills have even been professionally contracted.  This is a sketch for the Five Boro Bike Tour, which also serves as a suitable guide for any day ride.

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All of these zines, and more, can be ordered at the Urban Adventure League Store.  They don’t cost as much as they should, so buy two or three or all of them.  Posters and buttons are also available.  A collection of sketches and comics can also be found on the Urban Adventure League Flickr site, including several that have been published in Momentum magazine.  For professional contracts, contact Shawn here.

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From the “Bike-Fun Primer”:

I feel that bike fun is a necessary tool in the toolbox for creating a more bike friendly world, along with a more kind, civil, and just society.  As the quote attributed to Emma Goldman and repeated ad nauseum goes, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.”  If we don’t know what it’s like to have fun NOW, how are we going to know after everything becomes magically “perfect”?  Would we ever know?

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(All words and images presented in photographs are Shawn Granton, tfr industries/Urban Adventure League, 2005-2012.)

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Real touring bikes: Montana

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These are real touring bikes.  These are real people.  These are real places.  If you have missed the “Real touring bikes” series, check out the Yukon, British Columbia, and the Canadian Rockies.

July in Montana is high time for bicycle touring.  Adventure Cycling maps draw cyclists into the state on several routes including, the Great Divide, Northern TIer, Lewis and Clark, Great Parks, and the landmark TransAmerica Trail.  Glacier National Park and heavily forested mountains offer the next best thing to Alaska, and the sight of a bear is a regular possibility in the western part of the state.  Montana is expansive and wild, but charming towns and small cosmopolitan cities create a diverse experience.  Whitefish is a friendly tourist town, aware of its growth and committed to maintaining its allure.  Missoula is ever one of my favorite places, and every time I visit, I resist leaving.  A trip to Missoula is incomplete without visiting ACA headquarters, FreeCycles, and the refreshing Clark Fork River.

In Eureka, MT: This Swedish rider has come from Boston, and selected to hop the train through the Dakotas and eastern Montana.  He rides an older Cannondale touring frame with Vaude panniers, neatly pasted with reflective tape.

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Also in Eureka, this rider has come from Seattle.  His newer Novara Randonee has a replacement fork; the original fork was damaged in an accident and this hybrid fork was sourced from a local bike shop out of a pile of homeless parts.  The duct tape is integral to the system– it attaches the fender and keeps the spring from coming loose from the brake arm.

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Whitefish, MT:  This town is full of touring cyclists in the summer.  Three routes pass through town– the Great Divide, Northern Tier, and Great Parks.  Outside Glacier Cyclery, nearly a dozen touring cyclists convene one morning.  Ryan‘s mid-nineties Trek 520 reminds me of my first touring bike.  He carries a simple kit in a pair of panniers and a handlebar bag.  Only a month into his first tour, he has already unloaded a pair of front panniers, and developed a relaxed approach.  A steel mug is a solid companion on the road.

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Down-tube shifters, a stem mounted bell, and a tidy bike.

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The train also passes through Whitefish, and is a popular way for people to come and go.  He scheduled to take the train to Portland to take a rest from touring and to visit with friends.

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I still don’t understand why this bike looks like a spaceship, but it is actually much more normal that it appears.  The frame is aluminum, and features internal cable routing and some non-functional black plastic venting on the headtube.  The rider is from northern Europe, and is equipped as one would expect: lighting, fenders, panniers, low-rider rack, kickstand and an upright position.  The bike is a Batavus Venturo Extreme, a touring model that is sold ready-to-roll with racks, fenders and lights.  That is not a suspension fork, although the lengthened steerer suggests that the design is suspension corrected for a short travel fork.

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This rider had just completed an unsupported group trip, operated by the Adventure Cycling association.  We has headed back home, but was keen to share his new Surly Long Haul Trucker.  It is mostly a stock build, with an aluminum rear rack and a Surly Nice Rack up front, made of tubular cromoly steel.  The rider has also installed fenders and a double-legged kickstand.

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The Surly rack is indestructible, but heavy.  When carrying a lot of weight, it is an excellent choice.

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This young rider had begun his trip on an older Bianchi mountain bike that has served him through many commuting seasons in Pennsylvania.  Along the way, a crack developed near the rear dropout.  He considered repairing the bike, but several components also needed replacement.  Instead, he purchased this new Specialized Tricross Sport Disc, one of the growing class of 28ers on the market.  Including the Salsa Vaya, Raleigh Roper, Kona Rove and others, these bikes fit tires up to 40-45mm.  Many newer models blend both drop bars and disc brakes, while less expensive models are sold with upright handlebars and rim brakes.

The rack extension is designed to carry a mandolin, which he had only begun to play on this trip.  Rear panniers, not pictured, are also in play.  The extra leverage of the rack extension and the weight of the panniers resulted in broken rack bolts at the dropouts.  Also to blame is the “disc-specific” rear rack, which puts considerable leverage on the rack bolts due to a widened position.  This rider left most of his gear in Columbia Falls,  ten miles away, and rode into Whitefish seeking repairs.

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The sheared bolt can be seen in the frame.  Note the black barrel on the backside of the rack strut.  It spaces the rack away from the frame to avoid disrupting the action of the disc brake, but it puts a lot of stress on the long bolt that is required.  Other disc-specific racks use a similar design, but a short bolt is installed inside the extension barrel, which puts the stress on the rack itself, and not on the bolt.  The Topeak Explorer Disc works well with disc brakes and is affordable.  It does not suffer from this design flaw.

Propery tightened bolts are also less likely to shear.  In this case it appears that a disc-specific rack was not even required, as is becoming more common on utility bikes with disc brakes.  Disc brake touring bikes from Surly and Salsa do well to make rack installation easy as the caliper is attached inside of the rear triangle, rather than on top of the dropout.

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A family of Salsa Fargos is headed north, only a few days from the end of the Great Divide Route.  They began in New Mexico.  On the right, daddy Fargo; center, mommy Fargo; and the left, baby Fargo.  The younger rider is only twelve years old.  He began the trip carrying only a portion of his load, but now carries all of his own gear.

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Daddy Fargo.

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The stick and the red bandana signal a child’s dream to hit the road.  What kid didn’t stuff a sandwich and some marbles into a bandana, tied it to a stick, and threw it over his shoulder?  Let your kids run away from home.  Go with them.

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His first bike trip traveled cross-country, when he was only eight or nine years old.

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Pedalin’ Pete is now an old friend in Whitefish.  We met last year, and I was happy to see he is still in town.  He rode this Tout-Terrain Silkroad up to Alaska, where he spent several weeks climbing Denali.

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Jason is a friend of Pete, and joined me for two days of riding to Missoula.  His touring kit includes a Specialized Crux, a cross racing model, and a vintage Burley trailer.  Read more about our trip in my post, The Flathead.

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Sean joined me in Missoula for a week of riding.  His bike is a repurposed Novara Aspen from the late 80′s, with drop bars and 26×2.3″ Kenda K-Rad tires.  A Bridgestone XO-1 rests in the foreground at the Orange Street Food Farm.

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On the Great Divide.

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Brent is an active warm showers host in Missoula who welcomes dozens of cyclists throughout the warmer months.  He spent several years upon a bike, but is now a student of computer science and jazz music.  While staying at his house I crossed paths with several other cyclists.  This Pake C’Mute frame is nicely built with an Origin 8 SpaceBar, much like the On-One Mary, and had come from Virginia en route to Oregon.

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Ian Hibell’s Norway to South Africa bike is now prominently displayed at ACA headquarters.  The bike is nearly complete with original equipment.  The Carradice handlebar bag is a replacement for display purposes, but only the color is different from the original.

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This Centurion is one of the older models I have seen.  Repurposed with some new parts, it now serves as a tourer and commuter.  The early history of Centurion and the WSI corporation is well-documented on Sheldon Brown’s site.  Originating in Oakland, these riders are headed east.

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Her riding partner is on a late 80′s Trek 520, after both the 620 and 720 had been retired.  This appears to be a 1988 or 1989 model.  The wheels are original to the bike, but have been refit with 27″ Schwalbe Marathon tires.

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My friend Doug welcomed me in Bozeman, where I  built a new wheel on a Surly Marge Lite rim.  Doug enjoyed his first bike trip this summer from Bozeman to the Oregon Coast.  I consulted him during the planning process.  He is keen enough to see value in a Kona Dew, priced at less than $500 dollars.  I recommended that a rear rack and some panniers would carry all of his gear, if he avoided packing for the Bikapocalypse.  A handlebar bag and Jandd Framepac balance the load and offer some convenient storage for snacks, and probably more snacks.  Doug is a hungry guy.

He selected a riser bar for a more upright position, and 38mm Schwalbe Marathon tires for increased comfort and reliability.

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I often recommend this class of bicycle when asked about a cheap (new) bike for touring or commuting.  Some that come to mind with wide-range gearing and reasonable tire clearances: the Kona Dew, Novara Buzz, Jamis Coda, and KHS Urban XPress.

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I met this Korean rider on one of many short sections of pavement on the Great Divide Route.  He was riding cross-country on pavement on a new Surly Long Haul Trucker with butterfly bars, and didn’t speak a lick of English.  Instead, we laughed for five minutes and took pictures of one another.  This was a great exchange, and the last touring cyclist I would see in the state before reaching Idaho.  Coming soon, Real touring bikes: Idaho and Wyoming.

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My bike evolved all summer.  I entered the state on 26×2.35″ Schwalbe Big Apple tires, and left the state on 26×3.8″ Surly Larrys.  For a time, drop bars and fat tires coexist.

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Bike In Coffee

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Update, 2/7/13: For updates about Bike-In Coffee, check our Facebook page.  Additionally, we are currently working to extend the idea of bicycle based business through a new city zoning class called Bike In Zoning, or “BIZ”.  Sign our petition to support BIZ.

Bike in for some coffee and bike out with a bundle of hardy greens, fresh apples and garlic.  Albuquerque is all of the things you have heard– it is sprawling, and dry, and a little rough around the edges.  But the land along the Rio Grande has been home to Burqueños, Spanish and Natives for a long time, and it is quickly evident why they settled here.  Water-loving trees create a luminary texture, and shade, that is uncommon in the desert .  Hardy greens and more delicate lettuce are still thriving in early November, and every afternoon in October climbs above 70º.

Bike-In Coffee is the idea of two local farmers whose produce is already distributed amongst friends and neighbors, and whose property abuts the bike path.  The combination has led them to develop a new Sunday market that is open exclusively to bicyclists and pedestrians.  Hot drinks and open-pit fires warm the body as the morning frost lifts, while fresh salads and small plates feed the noontime crowd enjoying a post-ride rest.  Everything comes fresh from the garden, and is prepared on site.  Featured items are: peach-thyme turnovers made with farm-fresh jam; bite-sized quiche with fresh spinach, chiles, and eggs; and seasonal smoothies packed with varietal greens and apples.  The few items that do not come from Old Town Farm, such as coffee, are sourced locally.

Eat fresh food.

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Harvest fresh food for your family.

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Enjoy the day at a relaxed pace.  The only turnover at this eatery is filled with homemade jam.

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Fill your bags and your bellies.  I’m an old pro at transporting odd-sized objects on a bike, but some cabbage and assorted greens are good practice.  The event is a reminder that active transport if fun and empowering.

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Only a stone’s throw from I-40, coming and going by bike allows you to forget the ills of the city.  Coming and going by bike is always a good idea.

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Lael and I met Linda and Lanny of Old Town Farm through the WWOOF website, and they had just begun the project.  We offered to help, and are now a regular part of the crew serving coffee and quiche, allowing them more time to commune with others.  Weather permitting, Bike-In Coffee will continue for several weeks, and will resume in the early spring.

New Mexico Postcards

Joe has been detailing our five day loop out of Santa Fe in a series of posts on his blog, Pedaling in Place.  He is an expert at doing more with less, in both his writing and his riding.  He is also the foremost expert on doing more with more, given his fatbiking adventures though South America on a Surly Pugsley.

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I still have about two dozen postcards left if anyone missed the first few rounds.  If you expected a colorful handwritten note but did not receive it, let the mistake be corrected.  Send your name and address to nicholas.carman@gmail.com for a splash of color in your mailbox.

If you have an itch to send something in the mail, consider sending a postcard to someone that will appreciate it.  On the Rivendell blog, Grant suggests that readers send postcards to a customer with a terminal illness.  Better than flowers and Get Well Soon cards, he recommends simply drawing a bicycle in the text box.  I sent mine last week.

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