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Messages - paddleboy17

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Gear Talk / Touring Stove
« on: November 06, 2008, 07:05:33 pm »
Since my last post, I have continued to build and test super cat alcohol stoves.  Here is what I have learned:

  • You will need a wind screen
  • You will need two of them, as you cannot safely add fuel to a hot stove.

I have simplified Jim Wood's design slightly.  I do the first row of holes 3/8" down, and I do the second row of holes 3/4" down.  I also bought a punch set to make the holes.  The engineer in me just cannot make something with ragged holes. I found taping strips of quadrille graph paper allows for accurate hole punching.  

I have tried other cans sizes and can only report success with a 3oz cat food can and an Underwood Deviled Ham or Chicken can.  The Underwood can has the same diameter, but is taller.  It requires a 2oz charge of alcohol to light.

My travel plans are to use the smaller can for heating water for oat meal of beverages, and the larger can for more substantial meals.  Sorry, but I am a bit of a foodie and will not live on dehydrated food.  My touring buddy is pretty exited about the super cat stoves and will carry a similar set.  We are both tired of the finessing that goes with an MSR white gas stove.

I also have been storing alcohol in a water bottle, for the last 2 weeks.  The bottle is LDPE #4, and it seals adequately tight, and has not melted or otherwise been affected.  It may not have been designed to be a fuel bottle but it appears to work just fine.  As was mentioned in an earlier post, I want to use my bikes 3rd water bottle cage to carry fuel, and this works just fine.


Gear Talk / Touring Stove
« on: October 23, 2008, 12:37:45 pm »
At the start of this thread, I was a white gas snob.  Maybe even worse than that, an MSR white gas stove snob.

Based on some earlier remarks, I got intrigued and looked into alcohol stoves.  My research was not inclusive, but I like this one:
Jim Woods Super Cat Stove.  The stove is based on one 3oz cat food can with some holes in it.  There is no stand.  You dump alcohol in the can, torch it, let it burn for 30 seconds to heat the fuel, and set the pot on it.  Flames will shoot out through the holes in the can and heat the pot.
My experiments were done in Michigan (750' above sea level), and at temps down into the the high 40s (F). I can't wait to use these stoves on my next camping trip.  Do your experiments at night so you can see the flames.  And yes, you will need a wind screen (I used the one from my Whisperlite).  And yes, I can live with the fact that this stove will only work above 35 (F).

I would take several of them on your trip.  Why?  They only hold an ounce of fuel, enough for 6-8 minutes of burning.  That should bring 16oz of water to a boil, but if it does not, you can add alcohol to cool 2nd stove and use it to finish your meal.  With multiple stoves (which we do with white gas stoves anyways), you can boil water for hot beverages and cook dinner.

I am going to use a water bottle (appropriately marked) to hold the alcohol and carry it in the 3rd water bottle carrier (at least my bike has one).  I know some people carry their MSR fuel bottles in the same spot, but when I did it the pump mechanism got dirt in it.  I am sure that I can find room somewhere for two Super Cat stoves in my gear.


Gear Talk / Touring Stove
« on: October 08, 2008, 06:17:04 pm »
OK, I will come clean.  Perhaps I have been guilty of white gas snobbery.  I did go and visit
and I will admit that I am intriqued.

But I am not much of a machinist.

So I did an online look up for commercial stoves.  Wow, what a cottage industry.  Here are the ones that looked interesting.

I would love to hear who uses what and what experiences anyone has had with these stoves.  The ION looks interesting to me, but I know nothing about alcohol stoves.


Gear Talk / Touring Stove
« on: October 07, 2008, 11:54:05 am »
I guess I should have clarified what you cook to include how you cook it.  

I don't see how anyone can do stir fry, pies, cakes, etc. with a white gas stove or any other portable stove.  I don't have room for a dutch oven, so I don't know how these got made.

As for me, if I did marinara sauce from a jar and pasta, I would be in trouble because there is not enough protein in it to sustain me.  

Beans and rice from a bag are OK, but it does use a lot of fuel to cook, and I don't advise riding behind me the next day.

On my last weekend trip, my touring partner and I were each responsible for one dinner.  He boiled instant brown rice, with canned chicken, and canned black beans.  Very filling, although the chicken has a funky smell to it (taste is OK).  I boiled canned ham with instant rice-a-roni.  Actually, I attempted to saute the ham with a little olive oil before adding the water, rice, and seasoning packet.  Also very tasty, no funky smell, ham has a funky texture.  We both used white gas stoves.  


Gear Talk / Touring Stove
« on: October 06, 2008, 12:06:00 pm »
I have a later model MSR Whisperlite, with the self cleaning jet.  So my stove is not finicky.

White gas is more refined than unleaded gas and does not have any additives.  So white gas does not gum up or varnish, and it leaves no odor if you spill it.  But the Whisperlite International will burn unleaded gas, if I could not buy a quart of white gas, then I would refill my fuel bottle with unleaded gas.

It would be worth discussing what kind of meals you can cook on the stove.  Actually, I don't think any of the stoves mentioned will do scrambled eggs and toast.  You are going to cook something that can start out as being boiled.

My metabolism switches over the second day of touring so that I need a lot of protein.  If I have oatmeal for breakfast, I will be hungry an hour later.  My preference is to buy lunch but my touring partners are PB&J guys.  I might add that I have never toured for longer than 2 weeks.

I would like to hear what other do with their stoves.


Gear Talk / Touring Stove
« on: October 03, 2008, 12:05:12 pm »
I have an MSR Whisperlite International white gas stove.  It is pretty rugged and dependable.  The stove also fits in the center of an MSR Alpine cookset.  The Whisperlite will simmer if you are patient.

I carry my 22oz fuel bottle in an external pocket of rear pannier.  You can fit the fuel bottle in a water bottle cage, but I would worry about dust on the stove pump.  You can usually find white gas anywhere.  In a pinch, my stove will burn gasoline or kerosine.

I think there is an issue with Alcohol and IsoButane stoves with altitude and or cold weather, but I don't remember the details.


Gear Talk / Racks & Panniers
« on: October 01, 2008, 12:14:32 pm »
I used a borrowed set of JandD Mountaineer panniers on my first tour.  They worked well.  As I remember, they are a little on the flat side, so they handle well on the bike.  The hook system was not real high tech but they worked well.  I went on to buy a set of Serratus World tours from MEC (  MEC now has someone else build what looks to be the same pannier.  

I have a friend that I tour with who has Arkel's.  They seem nicely made and he likes them.  Arkel maintains a US warehouse so their stuff is easier to get then MEC's.


Gear Talk / BRP Bike Help
« on: September 24, 2008, 12:46:34 pm »
You have a criterium bike, and most of your concerns are justified.  It is not designed to tour on, and I would be concerned about how comfortable you would be riding it all day long.  

I think you would be better off twiddling with your mountain bike, or buying new.  I am sure that your local bike shop would love to sell you a Trek 520.  You might want to have them swap the OEM crank out for an LX crank.

I also encourage you to do at least one overnight practice tour while you get the hang of your equipment.


Gear Talk / How to Adjust Your Rear Derailluer
« on: September 23, 2008, 12:13:41 pm »
I would agree that a little more is needed about cable housings.  You do need to replace it sometimes, and cutting it is not a trivial task.  For the record, I use a Dremel tool with a metal cutting blade.  It cuts fast, easily, and neatly.


Gear Talk / Ortlieb Dry Bag
« on: September 22, 2008, 12:36:11 pm »
If you have a trailer with one bag, your wet tent presents a problem.   I might trash bag what I want to keep dry and not bother with a large waterproof bag.  I would be concerned about UV damage if you carry the tent on top.  Even getting the tent sack damaged by UV can be a pain in the butt.

I use panniers, and I designate one large rear bag as being stuff that I don't care if it gets wet.  Into this bag goes my tent, ground cloth, bike cover, Thermarest pad, and camp sandals.  Once I am in camp, and set up the tent, and the Themarest can be placed somewhere to dry off.  Michigan has morning dew, so your tent will almost always be wet when you pack it up.  And yes, the tent needs to be set up when you get home so you can pack it up dry.



Gear Talk / mtb shoes
« on: September 22, 2008, 12:14:26 pm »
I do not use egg beater pedals.  

There have been semi passionate debates over how much float is really needed.  My position is that if your shoes are done right (proper cleat position, proper foot beds if you need them, cleat wedges if you need one), that you don't need float.  So I would never use an egg beater pedal on a road bike.  I might use them on my mountain bike if clearing mud was an issue.

I run SPD-like mountain pedals on all of my bikes.  I find Shimano's SPD road pedals ill concieved.  I use a single release SPD cleat on my pristine SPD compatible shoes  designated for the road bikes.  I use a multiple release SPD cleat on my grungier shoes designated for the mountain bike.  Someday I will retire the current bike mountain bike shoes and reassign the current road bike shoes to mountain biking.  Then I will buy a new set of SPD shoes for road biking.

That is my system.  Your free to come up with your system.



Gear Talk / Equipment Qestions For A New Guy
« on: September 09, 2008, 01:16:20 pm »
I had a Bianchi Volpe, and I don't think you will have any problems with it.  Depending on how much climbing you expect to do, you might want to get your like bike shop to swap out the crank, derailleurs, and rear cluster for LX.

Since you are looking at a Volpe, you are most of the way to touring with panniers.  On road, I prefer to tour with panniers, off road, I prefer to tour with a trailer.

As I have gotten older, I have become less hard core.  At my most extreme, I did not like to ride in sub 30F weather as my facial hair would freeze and do painful things.  It is your call, but how about doing weight training on those cold days?

You will want booties if it is under 40F.  Get yourself a silk or synthetic balaclava too (fleece is overkill).

Good luck.


Gear Talk / MTB tires
« on: August 12, 2008, 12:35:42 pm »
Try visiting your local bike shop and see what they have in inventory.  Any smoother (as opposed to nobbier) tire should meet your need.  

I think a Schwalbe Marathon XR comes in sizes for a 26 inch mountain bike tire.  You would probably have to special order it.


Gear Talk / Clipless w/float and platform please
« on: August 19, 2008, 12:52:19 pm »
A foot bed is that insert that goes into your shoes.   Most bike shoes have pretty pathetic foot beds.  Some bike shoes run pretty narrow, so maybe that is the manufacturers way to make volume for bigger feet. ;)

If you live in SE Michigan, I can recommend a good orthotist.  You meet for an examination, they watch how you walk, they take impressions of your feet.  Ultimately they make a foot bed or insert for you.  My orthotist likes to make 3/4 composite inserts.  These won't fit in my bike shoes, which is why I had him modify an off the shelf foot bed.  

Actually you might try an off the shelf foot bed.  Super Feet are pretty good and available from REI.  

You might also look into cleat cants (wedged shims) from Greg Lemond.  Your correction might be very close already, and only need a slight canting of your cleats.  The retailing bike shop is supposed to be able to measure you feet and tell you how much of a cant you need.  Greg Lemond sell the instruments as well as the shims.  You could check out his web site for more information.  I needed 5 layers of shims which is why I looked into foot beds.  

Your higher cadence is not at fault. We all pedal at a high enough cadence that we can suffer from repetitive strain injuries.


Gear Talk / Clipless w/float and platform please
« on: August 15, 2008, 01:01:20 pm »
I mispoke, but I still have the same conclusion.


No, pidgeon-toed is not what I need, but it's what happens if I have float, and it hurts my knees.  I need to ride the other way (heels in, toes out); and when the cleats hold my feet this way, the pressure I put on the sole of the shoe is rather even left to right, without wedges.

When your feet a properly supported, you should be able to ride a complete power stroke with your feet parallel to the crank.  I will grant you one exception.  

I have flat feet, and my feet never saw a corrected foot bed until my late 30's.  My calves come out from my knees at a funky angle.  So I will concede that environment may produce feet that defy a corrective foot bed.

I used to ride with my heels in (duck?).  Once I hit 40, I had also sorts of orthopedic issues that youth had masked.  When I had knee pain it was due to one of two problems:
  • too slow cadence (too much knee strain)
  • Poor foot alignment (correctable with foot beds)

For me with my flat feet, I don't need much of an arch, but I do need a canted foot bed.  My full custom foot beds are too big for my bike shoes.  I got the othotist (aka the foot bed guy), to laminate foam rubber onto an off the shelf foot bed and mill it to the proper angle.  He charges me $40, and all I have to do is leave the shoes and foot bed with him for a day or two.

I am sure that you can do something similar in your neighborhood.


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