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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

new toys

I've learned from pedaling my ass all over the countryside that minimalism is one of the best eccentric behavior patterns.  It's healthier than a lot of bad habits and keeps you from accumulating a lot of stuff.  Now and then I have to  admit that I need more.  I did this when my simple, aged, Blackburn Lowriders started compulsively shifting on me.  They not only irritated me, but scratched my beloved woolly mammoth (The Hunq) right at the knees.  Well that couldn't go on for long and I looked around for suitable replacement.  I was first caught up by a couple lowrider mounts, but saw the common sense in the Nitto Big Front Rack designed by Rivendell.  It's a substantial piece and, like all things Nitto, a functional work of  art.
I didn't buy it, I bought a Surly rack instead.  
The main reason was all those substantial brackets you see there.
The vertical mounting options extend the entire length of the lower frame members.  The Nitto design did not.  Even the Riv installation video demonstrated using a P-Clamp to fit one of their own bikes.  There's nothing wrong with that, except that a $200 piece of equipment should bolt on.
Especially when a less expensive unit will, and provide more mounting options for the bags. So price and function beat the beautiful brazing and plating on this application, of course the way I abuse equipment, the beautiful whatever will be questionable in short order.
Once I leveled the rack I thought I would have to mark the mounting points on the top mounts, but moving the rack completely forward made it as level as a piece of bike equipment gets and I went out for a labor day overnight to test it.
It sat there like it was s'posta' the whole time.  No problems, 
And here is where the xtra room comes in.  When I have been riding for a few days at a time, the grocery seems to show up about 3-5 miles before the campsite.   Stopping is usually more convenient than going back later, but how to lash every thing all over the place and get down the road for the night becomes the question.  A grocery bag can be strapped down to the top platform of this rack easily, I have also ordered a small basket to mount on the top platform.
Hopefully, It won't develop into a bad place to accumulate stuff.
After a weekend,   I think it's a great rack!
It makes me happy and, it only takes a
 few screws to mount or dismount.
The other new item I picked up is a battery backup for electronic devices.  I haven't bought into the idea of hub dynos and adding constant drag when it is unnecessary.  This is not a stand alone solar generator.  It is a rechargeable lithium ion batter pack with a back up solar collector.  It reminds me of an experience at a kiosk in the local mall.   I stopped to talk about the "one shot" phone re chargers.  I told the girl (18 maybe 20) "It would be a good thing to have when I am backpacking, biking or canoeing and had an emergency."  She answered, " They cost as much as a car charger, if you just buy a car charger you would always have it and not wear it out."  I looked at her and said, " It would be a good thing to have when I am backpacking...."  We repeated those same two sentences 4 times until I actually witnessed the light bulb lighting above her head.  She held a stupefied and silent gaze at me when she realized I was talking about going somewhere without my car!  I got kinda uncomfortable, so I left.
Any way this gadget from Batteries and Bulbs plus for $40 is not a standalone solar solution to the worlds climate change problem sensationalized by Al Gore.
There are three functional light arrays.  The left blue light indicates a light source being collected, and even a 75 watt CFL provides enough for that.  The red light indicates that it is "on" and fully functional for recharging a device, the 4 blue indicators tell you how much fuel you have in the battery array.  
 It's no great shakes, but it works. I recharged my phone and it used half the battery charge.  I recharged in the morning, and that reduced it to one blue light, it is sitting on my window sill now to see how long the solar charger takes to liven up the battery.  I'll call you in a month or so.
 Being a holiday weekend, all the outdoor facilities were packed,but I discovered there are two campsites reserved for bike camping at the Yankee Springs modern campground.  It's nice, the fee is discounted because it has no electricity, but for rustic price,
 I had access to modern plumbing and showers
without the indignity of staying in a trailer park.
It was a welcome discovery and I accomplished three nice things over the weekend.


  1. Hi Marc!, the winter did go away in the end then ;o)
    I have had the same rack as you for a couple of years, it is still going strong (now transferred from the old Surly LHT to a new VO Camargue).
    Some time ago I stumbled upon a clever solution for adding additional space for waterbottles using this rack; it works really well.
    Best regards Soren from Denmark

    1. Good to hear from you Soren, That is a sweet idea to mount an extra bottle cage. They got smart and don't send the extra hardware with the racks now, but a couple pieces of bracket material from a hardware store will do also. How is the VO Camarque, I've been wondering about that one.

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  3. Actually Marc, I really wanted a Hunquapillar, but living in Denmark makes the price impossible expensive, by the time the frame would reach my doorstep the price would be something like 3.200 usd.
    So I figured that the Camargue could be a reasonable alternative.
    I do like the Camargue, although I am strugling to find the right riding position(s) over longer rides. I have been doing longer rides (+ 150 km a day) for the last couple of weekends, I know you will have issues when you exceed 7 to 8 hours in the saddle loaded up.
    The one main difference to the old LHT is the way the Camargue feels when you are climbing, out of the saddle, it fells heavier/more energy consuming, otherwise I do like the new frame very much, it feels much more stable to me than the LHT did, a more floating feeling. damn how do you describe these things..?
    all in all I am very satisfied with the Camargue ! (although I wanted the Hunquapillar) best regards Soren

    1. Thanks for the feed back, I was less happy with the LHT's handling than I am with the Hunq, it sounds like you will like the Camarque.