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Messages - dombrosk

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1
General Discussion / Re: bike rental, amsterdam
« on: August 27, 2014, 11:09:18 am »
I'd agree with the suggestion to look like tourists.  Better for you, and better for the hundreds of thousands of bikes around you!   :)

Your first time riding in the central part of Amsterdam can be overwhelming and seem chaotic.  But there are definite rules of the road, and newcomers usually break a lot of those without meaning to.  As another poster noted, a tourist bike lets people know to expect.

For riding around the city of Amsterdam and short trips into the countryside (Haarlem makes a great day trip) I've had good experiences with "Yellow Bike".  And yes, the bikes are bright yellow.

http://www.yellowbike.nl/en/

Central Amsterdam is so compact that you might also consider walking and trams in addition to biking.  The advantage of walking is that you can stop and look around you. Some days you may want to just walk, other days the bike (especially to the Vondelpark)  will be a great option.   Even walking you want to be aware of the bike lanes, usually colored red... backing up to take a photo can lead to trouble if you stray into bike traffic. 

For longer trips out into the Netherlands and beyond I take my own bike across, but for a companion's bike I had an excellent experience with Tulip Cycling.  (some folks may recall an article about them in Adventure Cycling a few years back.)  I would not suggest using one of their bikes in the city of Amsterdam, though.  If I were them, I wouldn't even want to rent a bike for that use.

http://www.tulipcycling.com/

Enjoy your trip!  The Netherlands is bicycling heaven. 

p.s.  For a real feast, try the Celebres Risjtafel at Sampurna
http://www.sampurna.com/index.html

2
Gear Talk / Re: Best foot wear for touring?
« on: July 21, 2014, 11:37:44 am »
Definitely not for most folks, but because I regularly spend up to a week at a time 'off the bike' during tours exploring cities along the way, I travel with these two items:

1)  Keen Austin leather bike shoes with SPD clips.  Keen has a giant toe box which is comfortable with my (aging) feet.  Off the bike they could pass as casual-dress shoes and are comfortable for all day walking.  I've never had problems with my feet feeling hot in them, although if you are prone to that issue you might want to look into sandals as others suggest.

2)  Ecco sandals.  Here again, probably heavier than most folks will want, but excellent support for all day walking.  As another poster mentioned, with/wiithout socks gives you two different personas.   ;)

Also, I ride with reversible pedals which give more flexibility in footwear and foot position.  (tip: If you have any history of plantar fasciitis it may be useful to not always have to be clipped in.)

3
Gear Talk / Re: Saddle Suggestion other than Brooks
« on: May 08, 2014, 05:21:39 am »
I've been very happy with Serfas RX saddles for over 10 years now.  The combination of the type of padding and the open split design have worked well for me.

In addition to touring I'm also a daily bike commuter, so my saddle gets a lot of wear.  I've been getting about 3 years of wear from the Serfas, after which the padding isn't quite as comfortable.

You mention that you're planning your first tour.  Happy riding!!!  Bike touring is a great activity that combines fitness and travel, and can be a (nearly) lifelong activity.

Before setting off, for peace of mind I'd suggest riding the length of your expected longest day on the new saddle.  For me, the Serfas involved zero break-in time and was immediately the right choice.  Having said that, one thing I've learned is that there's no real substitute for seat time when it comes to touring comfort.  Even commuting 10 miles each way every day, it takes a few 50 plus mile days to get my touring legs (and seat) happy.

I'm a big believer in supporting my local bike shop.  If your shop doesn't stock Serfas they may be able to order it in for you.

4
General Discussion / Panniers as Checked Luggage
« on: April 27, 2014, 01:22:43 pm »
There are many strategies for using duffel bags or boxes for taking panniers on flights.  This is a different question.

On an upcoming trip I'll have enough baggage allowance to send both rear panniers through separately.  (I link my front panniers and take them as my 'carry-on', with my handlebar bag as my  'personal item')

BUT, I'm concerned about damage to the exposed mounting hooks/hardware in baggage handling. 

Has anybody sent panniers through as luggage? 

What have you done to protect the mounting hardware?


5
General Discussion / Re: newbie planning Belgium tour
« on: April 23, 2014, 05:44:39 am »
I'd definitely suggest that you take your own bikes.  I'm heading across this summer for my 4th European tour and never regretted paying the fee to have my own bike and gear that matched it.

One thought on logistics.  I've found that Amsterdam Schiphol is an incredibly bike-friendly airport to travel in and out of.  I'm often not the only cyclist setting up my bike in the baggage claim hall, and the truly amazing Dutch bike network begins across the pedestrian mall from the main terminal.  I used an Amtrak box for my 1st trip across... minimal fuss to get your bike ready to fly.

Perhaps more importantly, on departure you can buy bike boxes at the airport (left luggage office sells them for about 20 Euros).  These are sturdy cardboard boxes similar to the Amtrak style that last until the return trip you're going to want to make after this first one.   :)

There is a train station connected to the terminal if you want to speed south to Belgium, or it's a pleasant few days down along the coast to Belgium.  It's a reasonable option to take the train back to Schiphol from your tour ending point--- but do a bit of planning on which trains take bikes... most do, but not all, and some require reservations for your bike.

Happy riding!

6
General Discussion / Re: Bike Travel and Visiting Dress Up Sites
« on: March 12, 2014, 10:16:18 am »
"Are some environments or countries more or less tolerant of grungy bike tourists in potentially dressy locations?"

My experience is that in Germany folks are very accustomed to sport clothing.  Hiking is very embedded in German culture, and biking and nordic walking are also common today.  I'd have no concerns at all entering any 'tourist' destinations in bike gear.  For some restaurants, and events like opera, it would be best to clean up a bit, but you're less likely to run into that during a day's ride.

The Netherlands and the UK would also be places where I've felt little pressure to dress up.

Belgium, especially Brussels, tends towards the dressier side.  Italy is the place I've felt most inclined to want to present my best appearance.

A few things that I've adopted for European touring that might translate to any other place where you want to blend in:

--Keen leather bike shoes... they take SPD clips, are very comfortable for all day riding, and look like dress shoes.

--Monochrome bike shirts, especially the newer non-scratchy wool variety.  I've been astonished at how non-stinky wool is, and the range of temperature it's comfortable in.

--For a quick cover up, dark rain pants over bike short work well.

--Even in the U.S., I always make a point of taking off my bike sunglasses before entering any business.  That seems like simple politeness to me.

Hope this is useful.  Happy touring!




7
General Discussion / Re: Dry Bag Sizing?
« on: January 27, 2014, 11:16:32 am »
For clothing I use Granite Gear zippered sacks.  I also have non-waterproof panniers and was skeptical of a zippered item, but they've kept my clothing dry in days of saturating rain.  The benefit of this item for me is that I can easily see and access all my clothing when it's unzipped.

Here's a link to the Granite Gear site:
http://www.granitegearstore.com/Air-Zippsack-P76C50.aspx

I use two of their medium bags, one for on-the-bike clothing and the other for off-the-bike.  (My tours usually involve multi-day stopovers so it's worth it to me to carry dedicated off-the-bike clothes)

8
General Discussion / Re: how to keep my feet warm!
« on: January 18, 2014, 12:34:54 pm »
As a Minnesota winter bike commuter I ride down to around zero.  One useful discovery I've made was nordic ski socks... smartwool and other companies make them in a variety of weights.  Because they come up over your calves they help keep the blood going to/from my feet warm.

Order of layering also makes a difference.  I'll start with bike shorts and socks.  I pull tights up over the socks to make sure there's no gapping at my ankle.  Then I'll add gore-tex pants and shoes.  Finally I put showers pass rain covers over my shoes and up and OVER the outside of my rain pants.  (Definitely don't want to do that when it's raining!)

As other's have mentioned, loose enough shoes to wiggle your toes are also important.

Happy (warm) riding!

9
Gear Talk / Re: Schwalbe tires
« on: March 29, 2013, 09:19:05 am »
Based on my experience with both, I'd go with the Marathon Supreme's over the regular Marathons.  I felt like they were noticeably faster tires, with excellent flat-resistance.  I just wish Schwalbe would make the Supreme in a 650B size...

10
General Discussion / Re: Cycling US = Crazy?
« on: March 24, 2013, 10:10:19 am »
Welcome to American Cycling!   

Perhaps from your name you are from Belgium?  If so, I understand you are worried.  Compared to Northern Europe, cycling in the United States is not well supported by our road system.  But, it is possible!

Keep in mind that unlike areas like the Netherlands, many automobile drivers in the United States do not respect cyclists.   Because of this, it is important to keep aware and alert at all times to vehicle traffic.  Many drivers will, sadly, assume that it is your job to clear the road for them.   This can be upsetting at first.  But many, many Americans do cycle and enjoy cycling so it is possible to adapt. 

When I cycle in Europe I need to adapt also.  It can be hard to realize that motorists actually do give right of way to cyclists in some regions!  But, it is perhaps a more happy adjustment.  :-)

For your immediate question:  I am guessing you are in Banning, California?  If you are still there, below is a quick suggested route to Joshua Tree based on using Google maps for walking directions.  Google is often incorrect for cycling in the U.S., but the walking directions are sometimes helpful. 

Perhaps those directions will help you request local assistance. 

Another tip is to seek out local cyclists for help.   

Google shows a bike shop in Beaumont, telephone (951) 916-4600.  According to their web site they are open on Sunday from noon to 4 pm ( 12:00 to 16:00)

1. Head east on E Ramsey St toward S Murray St   0.5 mi
2. Turn right onto N Hargrave St   0.1 mi
3. Turn left onto Johnson Ln   2.7 mi
4. Turn left onto Malki Rd   59 ft
5. Turn right onto Seminole Dr   1.1 mi
6. At the traffic circle, continue straight to stay on Seminole Dr   4.1 mi
7. Turn right onto Kimdale Dr   1.1 mi
8. Turn right onto Rushmore Ave   0.2 mi
9. Turn left onto Tamarack Rd   4.4 mi
10. Slight right onto Service Rd   0.1 mi
11. Turn right onto Whitewater Canyon Rd   0.1 mi
12. Turn left onto Whitewater Cutoff   0.7 mi
13. Slight left onto Old Morongo Rd/Painted Hills Rd   0.4 mi
14. Turn right to stay on Old Morongo Rd/Painted Hills Rd   1.1 mi
15. Turn left onto Windhaven Rd   236 ft
16. Turn right toward Old Morongo Rd/Painted Hills Rd   0.1 mi
17. Slight left onto Old Morongo Rd/Painted Hills Rd   1.1 mi
18. Turn left onto CA-62 W/Twentynine Palms Highway   25.3 mi
19. Turn right onto El Reposo Cir   85 ft


11
Gear Talk / Re: Shaving Creme
« on: March 21, 2013, 06:40:53 am »
I like the original poster's concept of dual-purpose items.  It's great to carry one item that can serve multiple purposes.  As another person who shaves on tour, my solution is Dr. Bonners liquid soap (I like the peppermint variety).  It's available at REI and many other outlets.
For me, this product works as shaving cream (just a few drops works), soap, and shampoo while on tour.  Makes it very efficient heading to the shower at camp!  To get road dirt off in the shower, it does help to carry a mini-size pack towel to use as a washcloth. 

12
International / Re: Help! I want to go to Europe.
« on: March 16, 2013, 11:12:04 am »
I've taken my bike from the US to Europe several times on Delta... they charge a lot, but it's worth it to me to have my own bike and my gear (and a non-stop flight, I live in a Delta hub).  For the trip over, I pack my bike into an Amtrak cardboard box. All I need to do is remove the pedals, turn the handlebars, and slightly deflate the tires and I'm set for baggage check-in.  On the return I've been lucky flying in and out of Amsterdam / Schiphol in the bicycling heaven of the Netherlands and been able to purchase a comparable box at the airport.  Happy riding!

13
General Discussion / Re: Self Contained Touring in Northern Minnesota
« on: February 04, 2013, 06:47:49 am »
You might want to include the Mesabi Trail as part of your route.  I've ridden it twice as part of the MS-TRAM fundraising ride and it covers some nice countryside and interesting history.
http://www.mesabitrail.com/

14
General Discussion / Re: Step thru frames
« on: November 18, 2012, 09:03:52 am »
I wish this style of frame was more available.  Yes, I do tour on a 'women's bike' AKA mixte AKA step-through-frame, and I really prefer it.  But to get my bike I ended up having a custom frame built for me. 

Here's a photo:

In addition to being able to step-through the frame the generous stand-over height is a real plus. 

As you can tell from the photo, I'm far from an ultra-light tourist.  I've never had any concerns with stability with the frame, and I've gotten pretty close to single-track mountain bike terrain with it, fully loaded.

As Americans begin to ride more for basic transportation and the baby-boomers (hi gang!) continue to age, I think this style of bike will become more popular.  When I'm in countries where people use their bikes on a daily basis, I see very few 'racing' style bikes and a lot more step through frames.  Actually on one tour a German man came up to me and after discovering that I was American asked me, "Das ist ein Amerikaniches Fahrad?!?"  That's an American bicycle?  I pointed to the 'hand-made' decal on the front tube and he understood.

If your friend's bike can mount racks, is comfortable for a day in the saddle, and has (or gets) the proper gearing, there's no reason to fear the step thru frame.
Happy Touring!

15
Gear Talk / Re: Thermarest pads - are Neoairs that much better?
« on: October 22, 2012, 05:50:09 am »
Another option to consider: the Exped SynMat.  After years on several models of thermarests I switched to one of these a few years ago.  If you're in the AARP age bracket, and especially if you like to sleep on your side, this might be a good option for you.

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