This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cycle-touring, the Hunqapillar's natural habitat

I didn't really build up the Hunqapillar to put on the wall of my bedroom and look at it.  I know I had a lot of advice and encouragement, but it's prime directive is loaded touring, being pretty and running around the woods like a 29er are ancillary functions.  The past couple of days I tested him in his natural habitat, the road.

The Kal-Haven trail is a rail trail of packed crushed limestone that now extends from downtown Kalamazoo to downtown South Haven on the shore of Lake Michigan, a distance of about 38 miles.  It's a nice afternoon ride and I picked a great day for it.  The weather was a moderate 60 degrees, the trail was a bit soft and consequently a little slow after a previous day's rain.   I loaded up the bike
and took him out for his paces.
    I get a lot of flack from some of the touring pros on the internet for loading my bike this way, but I have found that the simplicity of the Blackburn lowriders on the front end distributes the weight better and makes the bike more manageable when it's loaded.  I use the front bags (I know the common French word is panniers, but I am writing in English) for the tent, cooking equipment, stove, fuel and lantern.  Then all the light weight stuff, clothing and sleeping bag go in or on the saddlebag and rear rack.  It makes the bike track more easily without any inclination to "wheelie" and loose traction on corners.  I'm also a lot less likely to break spokes on the rear wheel.
    I have been told, again by "experts" that this bike was meant for rear loading and would be awkward this way.  The  "experts" (regardless of their critique of the minute detail of the geometry) are wrong.  This bike handles a load beautifully.  It is much more pleasurable to ride loaded than the Surly LHT.  Even with the load on the front, I rode it no handed for 100 yards on level hard packed limestone without a problem, and cornering is much more nimble than the LHT.  Somebody I heard compared the loaded LHT to a bus, well if that's true, the Hunq is like a Bentley Sedan after it's loaded.
   Although it was somewhat tedious to ride all afternoon against a 15mph headwind, I had an enjoyable afternoon riding without any traffic to worry about
passing the picturesque Michigan country side to a small campsite about a mile from downtown South Haven.
The campsite is a little weird because it's elevated from the path and  can only be reached by this set of stairs which some enterprising Scout must have built for his Eagle service project.
I've lived in enough apartments that I didn't let that bother me. The reward was the view over the river.
I am just starting to see a few buds out on the trees here in Michigan, and my next trip out here will be filled with foliage.  After setting up camp,

I rode the remaining mile into downtown South Haven

past some scenic wetlands to find a place for dinner.  There is really nothing like the experience of bike touring.  You can drive or fly somewhere, but this is the way to fill your lungs with the atmosphere of a new experience.
    Downtown South Haven is pretty sleepy right now, the season is not in full swing and there's not many people to see, but it is a beautiful area with views and access to Lake Michigan

I'd like to take a moment and thank the Bodum company for making the nice coffee press you see in my lower cage, they were good enough to make one that coordinates with the color scheme, so I don't have to obsess about that.
  Well this was a quick "shakedown" trip so after a good night's sleep and breakfast I rode back on the same route, downwind this time and made better time without incident.  Being the first loaded overnight I have done in a few years, I was having some serious leaden legs on the last few miles, but I am confident that the four day trip I have planned for next weekend will be fine.  After two days in the saddle, and a good night's sleep, I awoke without stiffness or soreness in any of the shoulder, back or arm areas I would expect.  The Hunq is truly a no morning backache bike.


  1. Actually, pannier is an English word. Panier (with one "n") is probably the french word you were thinking about. It is a basket for bread. They are also pronounced differently. Pannier is pa-neer whereas panier is pan-yay.

  2. I stand corrected, but will consult the OED. Thank's for reading and the authoritative input. I still think that it's appropriate in Midwestern America to call it "bag."