Dovetail Bicycles: Take a load off

Dovetail Bicycles wants you to know that you can pack your bike any way you want, but I want you to know that’s it’s more fun to travel with less stuff.  How is a “scrappy start-up” like Dovetail going to fare when I share the secrets of traveling light?  Simple, lightweight compact goods that directly satisfy your needs are never excessive and will quickly become an essential part of your personal touring system.

First, a small tent.  The Man Tent does it.

Minimalist summer sleep system, insulated jacket and hooded lounge parka.  The Napsack will do.

A small, reliable cook system.  The Esbit alcohol/solid fuel hybrid stove.

Efficient water transport.  The 64 oz. Klean Kanteen is a full half-gallon and fits perfectly in the Salsa Anything Cage.

And a useful eating utensil.  I still don’t know about the spork, even if it is a fork and a spoon at separate ends and even if it is titanium.

Imagine saddlebags bulging with an abundance of provisions– apples, biscuits, gunpowder, and a bedroll neatly secured behind the saddle. The cows are home for the winter and the season’s work is done. Leaving in the late afternoon sun,  the horse rides, but hesitates under the load. By the the third day the steed is strengthened, the whiskey is gone and the biscuits less numerous, and stale. The lightened bags dance in counterpoint to the horse’s gallop across the plain. A bike, like a horse, has a character and will respond to both load and terrain. Too much equipment in panniers can instigate a discomforting shimmy at speed and a knee-buckling strain up hills, while the right equipment and packing technique will allow a bike to run free. By reducing the complexity of luggage, hardware and racks, the bike will not only be lighter but will ride quietly and with finesse. There are steps that any rider can take to trim some fat and maximize riding pleasure. Most importantly, living with less affords mental levity– take a load off.  Learn more at Dovetail Bicycles…

Dovetail Bicycles

For those that sleep out under the stars and buy reduced price ripe bananas because they’ll be eaten on the sidewalk outside the grocery store in the shade of a loaded bike.  Bananas are still better than energy bars.  For people that push their bikes on occasion because they’re doing things the bike isn’t supposed to do, like climb a twenty percent grade on gravel with camping equipment.  For us, the casual misfits that choose to ride a bike to get places.  Dovetail Bicycles is the result of experience on the road and inside the bike industry, and they’re stocking bike stuff for people who love adventure.  They’ll keep you dry and they’ll hold your stuff.  They will cook you eggs and coffee in the morning, and whittle a stick for your marshmallows in the evening.  Dovetail has got the basics covered, and will be adding to their inventory daily.  The thing that separates Dovetail: they actually ride bikes.

I’ve written some inspired articles on bike travel over on the Dovetail page and will be posting over there on a regular basis.  Check out my article on packing light, “Take a load off”; and my recipe for adventure, “Slow biking”.  If you’ve been following me here for a while, you’ll appreciate some of the goods they’re stocking as well.  Get a 64 oz Klean Kanteen, an Esbit alcohol stove, and a shiny Velo Orange Passhunter Rack to support your basket or saddlebag.  Pile it atop an old ATB like my High Sierra and you’ll have your own gypsy jalopy in no time.

Slow biking, like slow food, is an intimate and creative process of discovery and craft.  Slow food is not necessarily slow, and does not exclude high-heat searing, blanching, broiling, saute or flambe and slow biking does not exclude riding fast and far or climbing hard and descending rapidly.  Rather, slow biking is finding pleasure in the process: expertly packing your bags in the morning, seeking sinuous dotted lines on the map, inquiring locally about conditions and savoring the spoils– the meal– which may be riding the spine of an Appalachian ridgeline with farmland and forest in either direction. If a map is a recipe, consider following the recipe loosely, looking to it for suggestions when necessary and changing it when an idea arises. Somewhere between knowing exactly where you are and being completely lost, is adventure, and a great meal.  Visit the Dovetail Blog for more…

Technicolor breakup

An Iron Curtain of hard won snowbanks and solid ice parking lots are failing in the face of forty degree days and sunshine, and some old fashioned ice chipping. The banks are falling like dominoes, calving into mud puddles, and retreating as fractured icebergs. As if a switch was flipped, the weather got warm and the nights have barely refrozen the day’s melt. Studs chatter on pavement and fenders are a necessity. It’s almost time for regular town tires again. To most locals it’s called breakup season, but to cyclists it’s fender season.

I’m exercising a new camera in a scene of mud puddles and micro-icebergs. By surprise, it’s a really beautiful time of year. An exciting new project is in the works; check back on Friday.