Posts in Category: Randenneur

Touring Shoes Spec List

Image by Christian

You absolutely love the Sidi shoes. The pair must be 3-5 years old as the soles are starting to wear thin. You ride in them all the time, but recently you started thinking that they are not the best shoes for a proper tour. Just in the last 6 months several components of the shoes broke. The Sidi strap, made out of plastic, broke off first. Then the closing part, fell off. These are not big deal issues. In fact, all these parts are easy to replace when taking the bike on a day long ride. One returns home, orders a new part, and a few days later the part arrives. But when one is on a multi-day tour, the point is to move forward. On the road, less is more.

The operating principle for great touring shoes is KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID (KISS). One should minimize all possible breaking points such as fancy Velcros and other parts that can break. Shoelaces work extremely well and are easy to replace on the road, in any supermarket, should you manage to tear one. In addition, good ventilation is great and, probably just as important as being able to spend many hours clicked into the pedaled is being able to walk off the bike with the same shoes. Obviously, mountain bike shoes should be the preference for as touring shoes.

And with this, the search begins.

Planning for 2020

2020 is just around the corner and the amount of awesome rides in Europe are growing.

Instead of keeping a local list, here is what arrived on my desk so far.

  • Rando Imperator – The European Randonee – May 2020.  Munich-Italy.
  • Swiss Audax – Brevets in Switzerland (talk about climbing).
  • CAT700.  A bike packing adventure across Valencia, Spain.  10-15 June, 2020.
  • MontañasVacías.  This is a bike packing route in the Spanish Lapland.  The nearest airport will be in Valencia.  It looks awesome.  No specific dates.
  • Hamburg-Skagen-Hamburg. Start on March 7, 2020.  1339km in one go.

More to come.

What the Fork?

Hunter at Lubars

I miss this setup.  I would love to be able to add a nice mini-rack on my Seven Mudxium, attach my Bailey Work D-Rack Bag and have my coffee kit with me on all rounds.

In essence the dream fork will be:

  • Tapered
  • Disk brakes
  • Fender tabs
  • Crown hole
  • Mid-fork screws for rack mounting
  • Room for 45mm tires, possibly

With the recent announcements of the Specialized Sequoia I was reminded that there isn’t really a reason not to have rack bosses on carbon forks.  So I started looking for options in the market.  So, what do we have on the table?

  • Seven Max 45 Tapered Disc Fork – this fork has room for loads of rubber and fender tabs.  Sadly, I can’t figure out how to add a rack to this.
  • Whisky Parts No. 9 Carbon Thru Axle Cross Fork – This one has loads of room, fits the bill pretty well but does not have any way that I could find to add a rack.
  • Rodeo Labs Spork – This looks like the absolute winner.  It has everything on my list.  The price point is much lower than the rest ($380) and it looks super sexy.  This may end up on the Mudxium very soon.  Stay tuned.

Favourite Bikes in 2015

2015 was certainly a good year for different kind of bikes.  The most exciting bikes for my taste were, as probably expected, the mutant bike category.  Disk brakes, wider axels, geometry that’s right in between road and cyclocross and very colourful paint choices.  Of course there are loads of bike “TOP” lists so there is really no point to replicate them.  So I reached into my own personal resources and here they are, in no apparent order.

Interestingly to me, each one of these bikes will be a bike I’d love to have.  The problem is, each of these bikes is already a bike I have, in some form or another, which is why I lust over these, but am not chasing after them.  Well…other than one.  Now that we have a nice collection to commemorate 2015, lets see what 2016 bring.

  • 44 Bikes – Huntsman “Super Trail”  The bike and the blog post (linked) just scream adventure!  I love how it manages to look clean and organised even though there are so many moving parts.  Bikes with thick tires and drop bar just do it for me.

  • Stinner Frameworks – Ti Grinder This one came through on the excellent Cycleexif.  It is based on the Bruce Gordon Rock’n’Road tires (43mm) which have been around for a few years now in combination with SRAM 1×11 groupset.  It’s clean and tidy and even without riding it, it seems like a confident ride.

  • Igleheart – Painted Hills Bike.  This came up much earlier in 2015 as a competition to explore the hidden treasures of the state of Oregon, U.S.A.  Even though the bike is very small (for me) I could not stop staring at it.  Why?  Again, adventure on two wheels.  In addition, Chris Igleheart is someone whose bike building skills I admire since years.  That fork is amazing and the paint job is stellar.  What’s not to like here?

  • L’espérance – Disc Randonnee. This sweet 650B belongs to a fellow cycling fanatic from Seattle.  It’s a one of a kind since he basically had it built by a local shop and man does this rig look like it will be fun to ride.  I can imagine this being the only bike one really needs to explore, do grocery shopping, go camping, what-have-you.  I’ve been staring at this bike since February and still get excited at every new picture John posts of it.

  • Elephant Bikes – National Forest Explorer. This one is probably the most exciting bike of the year for me.  Why?  Because it is actually attainable.  Sure, there is a waiting list of about 8 months for one, but the price is in the “affordable” range (compared to the above bikes) and it has everything a bike that could be “The One” is – grocery shopping, check.  Brevets, check.  Trail riding, check.  I pretty much like everything about it and am waiting patiently for my turn.  A great article about the creation of this bike is here.  Other than the Radavist post about it you can also find one here.

  • Mosaic – GS1 All Road.  This would be the ultimate road bike in my book.  A bike you can keep up with a fast group, but still take on a detour in the forest should you feel so inclined.  I absolutely love the look of the baby blue with those HED wheels as well as pretty much everything Mosaic produced this year.

Cold and Wet Brevet – how the Internet can help you stay dry

  • Randovibes
  • Roads like this
  • Typical East German Bike Trail
  • Checkpoint
  • Between two rivers
  • Pee time
  • Boneshaker
  • We own this wet road
  • THAT wet
  • The other East German bike road
  • SO WET
  • The Dutch Mountains in Germany
  • Veteran and new

(All pictures by guest photographer John Braynard of Salzburg500 and VeloBeats.  Text by yours truly featuring in Orange wind jacket above)

As someone whose job is to “make Internet” it is mind blowing that last Saturday, I left the house at 6AM wearing a wind jacket, gloves I know not to work under 5 degrees Celsius, and no thermo protection. It is also unexplainable how, for the first time in basically forever, I actually ate properly before a long ride, but, and I can not emphasize this enough, was dressed for a completely different day. And so, the first brevet of the season began.
“Getting it right” is really quiet simple in a brevet:

  • Make sure you have a bike you can ride for hours without feeling much pain
  • Make sure your seat is comfortable and augment with a healthy doze of chamois creme (I can not recommend the Assos stuff enough)
  • Bring loads of food.  Forget that power bar stuff and think sandwiches, fruits and specifically bananas
  • Make sure your lights are working
  • Make sure you are dressed properly

I failed miserably on the last part.  Earlier in the week I spoke to one of the other riders and mentioned to him that I am going to install fenders on the Mudxium.  He commented that I should not install them because if I do the rain will come and if I don’t it will be dry.  My response was sadly to tempt the devil and I answered quiet tongue in cheek “I rather plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

On Friday as I was gazing outside the office window it was very obvious that spring has arrived.  The weather was warm, the sun was shining and not a cloud was in the sky.  I rode in the early evening wearing a light jacket and t-shirt and my brain shifted to “it’s spring time”.  There was a “woohooo” and “finally!!!” somewhere in there as well.  12 hours later, winter returned with temperatures grazing the freezing and persistent drizzle that just got everywhere.  About an hour into the ride, roughly when we left the city borders, it started raining.  It stopped raining roughly when we returned to the city – some 212 km later.  At that point I had no sensation left in my body and as I was trying to snack on a salad at the end of the ride the fork kept falling down.  Sven who finished earlier and was already post shower had a fine giggle watching me shivering and dropping my fork repeatedly.

Well at least I had fenders.

There is a lesson to be learned here and it is rather simple.  When drinking coffee on the morning of a brevet, do yourself a favor – call up your favorite weather app, check the weather report.  Look for answers to essential questions like “how many hours of sunshine are expected today?”  “What is the chances of rain and how much rain is expected?”  “When is sunset and am I going to be riding in the dark?” (the last question is a little silly since after Brevet number 1, you can plan to ride in the dark in each Brevet).  With the answers to these questions you decide on what to wear and do yourself a favor – bring extra gloves.

Well at least I had fenders.