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Messages - dombrosk

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General Discussion / Re: Bicycle Security
« on: May 08, 2011, 11:37:09 am »
We've recently had two active threads on this topic, "bike locks" and "bicycle security".  Folks interested in the topic might want to look through both threads.

Seems like there are three approaches to locking up:

1) completely unlocked.
I'll do this on a charity ride when I'm surrounded by lots of unlocked bikes much nicer than mine.  Aside from that I avoid this approach, partially because a neighbor of mine had a bad experience trusting small towns during his Northern Tier ride.  (He published a journal of his ride, A Crossing by Brian Newhouse) 

I was concerned when one poster to this forum advised going unlocked in major cities... this advice seemed very unwise to me:
 "Re: Bike locks
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 01:48:36 pm »  My touring has been in Europe and the USA.  I'm not sure I took a lock on any of my tours.  Its been a few years so I may have forgot what I carried.  I recall visiting a museum for a day in Munich and leaving the bike outside in a visible area.  Unlocked.  Bags and bike were still there when I returned.   "

2) lightweight cable lock.
This can be a nice compromise position... I had an eye-opening experience with this, though.  One of my students (I'm a high school teacher) offered to show me a magic trick.  He took my cable lock (as a bicycle commuter I park my bike in my classroom) and in less than a minute had it opened up.
"How did you learn how to do that?" I asked. 
"YouTube."  came the reply.
So I googled "bicycle combination locks" and the first item was an instructional video on how to crack the combinations.  So if you go the combination lock way, be careful to get a more serious combination.

I was relieved when an old thread got reactivated today on the website to see another description of that same day in Munich that had concerned me.. it seems that the bike really wasn't unlocked, after all.
 "    Re:   Bicycle Security
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2004, 09:55:51 pm » Quote 
Back in 1992 I toured loaded in Europe.  One day I parked my fully loaded bike, with panniers, in front of a museum in Munich, Germany.  I used my cable lock.  I spent several hours inside.  The bike and bags were just fine when I returned. "

3) maximum security.
This can include a Kryptonite style U-Lock and cable or a variety of hardened chain locks.  This is the direction I've headed into over the years.  While no lock will stop a determined thief, it can lead a thief to move on to the less secured bike on the next rack.  My goal is to never be the "least secure/most expensive" bike in any situation.

Those of us who ride in cities are accustomed to these kinds of systems.  If you'd like a humorous and informative look at how to secure a bike here's a short video worth watching.

General Discussion / Re: Mistakes and Attitude while on the road.
« on: April 05, 2011, 05:55:04 am »
Reading the discussion on this thread so far puts me in mind of the old saying, 'there's two kinds of people in the world: people who think there are two kinds of people in the world, and people who don't."

This thread taps into a basic philosophical question that pops up frequently on these forums, and frequent visitors tend to learn which sides regular contributors come in on. 

When I started to get into long distance touring I did reading, on-line research, and signed up for the Adventure Cycling Introduction to Road Touring class.  (Thanks Wally!!!)  For me, all that preparation was fun, not work, and helped me enjoy the experience more.  A friend of mine who'd toured cross country with a knapsack was baffled at my preparation, because her style was much more get on the bike and go. 

For some people an Adventure Cycling class will help maximize fun, for others, even following the Adventure Cycling route maps is losing the spirit of adventure.  Fortunately, there's plenty of roads and trails for all of us.

As for attitude while on the road, one thing that I've noticed is that 'problems' while touring are often lead-ins to the highlight of the day, so much so that I sometimes sing to myself the song from The Producers: "Where did we go right"  about how the most bungled situation can turn into a golden opportunity.

Planners and non-planners all have one big thing in common: our love for travelling by bicycle.

General Discussion / Re: Bike locks
« on: April 05, 2011, 05:34:28 am »
My personality tends in the direction of minimizing risk.  For example, I've never believed the advice that the stock market was a secure place for retirement savings...   ;)

Despite that, before last summer I toured with a lightweight combination cable lock, and tended not to worry. For me, a lot depends upon where I'm planning to ride.

But last summer, during a month of mixed urban/rural touring in Europe, I switched to my usual urban setup of a U-lock with a cable to wrap around front wheel.  On impulse I added a lightweight cable designed to keep my quick release seat attached.  (Akita Seat Leash Cable Lock, 3 oz,  - $4 at REI)

This setup felt completely secure until I hit Amsterdam, where even the oldest, rustiest one speed bikes had locks much more secure than mine.  At that point I visited a local bike shop and added a key-lock chain that gave me more attachment options than my U-lock.

General Discussion / Re: Luxuries
« on: February 26, 2011, 09:36:23 am »
"Coffee!  ...  what are the (lightweight) alternatives?  "

For a semi-coffee caffeine fix, both GU and Cliff Shots make caffeinated espresso energy shots.  One of those while I'm breaking camp gets me to a cafe for some real coffee with second breakfast.

For a real coffee experience, the little Starbucks "VIA" instant coffee packets are surprisingly good... a three-pack weighs 0.35 oz, and grocery stores are starting to carry them.  Pricey, but not like any other instant coffee I've tried.

Gear Talk / Re: Long Two-Person Trip Tent
« on: February 20, 2011, 09:13:49 am »
Based on MrBent's suggestion my wife and I went out to our locally owned outdoor store yesterday and set up the Big Agnes Copper Dome 3.

Our immediate reaction was "wow" ---- what a nice tent.  Easy to set up, freaky light weight, two doors, easy sit up height.

We're in the market for a bigger tent because after about 10 years of solo touring my wife is ready to join in for a self-contained tour, and my little MSR Zoid 2 is really a one-person tent.  The amazing thing to me was that the Copper Spur weighs the same as my oversize bivvy Zoid.

Now for the price: $499 list.  Amazon has it at 20% off, and our local store had a 20% off Presidents Day sale coupon, so I'd look for paying about $400.  You'll have to look at your finances and how long you plan to use it--- but for us it was definitely worth it.

Thanks for the tip, MrBent!

GPS & Digital Data Discussion / Re: GPS: Ready To Go Cross-Country
« on: February 20, 2011, 09:00:35 am »
I used a GPS for the first time on a tour through the Netherlands and Germany last summer and was very happy I had it.

My original reason for the purchase was to help avoid getting lost on the bike, and it did help a lot in that area.  What I didn't expect was how useful it would be in finding food and lodging, atm's etc.  Also, when I was walking around in towns and cities I could store the location of my lodging, and then go out on a totally random walk, following whatever alley or canal looked inviting, with no worries about finding my way back.  One odd side benefit in cities was that instead of screaming out "TOURIST" by unfolding a map at an intersection, my handheld GPS looked more like I was just checking for text messages.

I bought a Garmin GPSmap60cxs based partially on the great advice on the GPS forum here, adding the Garmin "City Navigator" series maps.  (which do include a lot of country roads and lanes--- but not all!)  If I were buying today, I'd get the Garmin GPSmap 62s.

Since returning from my tour last year I've gotten interested in geocaching, but that's another whole world.

Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar bag
« on: February 13, 2011, 04:25:53 pm »
I agree with EnduroDoug on the Arkel sizes...
the smaller Arkel carries everything I take off the bike...
wallet, camera, cellphone, gps, sunglasses, journal, etc.

I actually find that I can tuck the gps into the map case
on top of my map as long as I float it on a kerchief so
it  doesn't slide.

I pull the shoulder strap down and through the two
mounts... that way I can pop it off the bike and
have it over my shoulder in less time than it
takes to lock up my bike.

Water has never been an issue for me with the Arkel.
I keep the bright yellow rain cover tucked into the
front zipper pouch, but it has to be a real steady
heavy rain for me to feel a need to pull it out use it...
the clear plastic map case on top plus the
overall design handles most rain showers.

I bought an extra pair of mounts so I can move
the bag between my summer and winter bikes,
the metal on metal secure connection is solid.

Routes / Re: Anacortes Hotels
« on: February 05, 2011, 09:14:23 am »
When I was starting east on the Northern Tier I stayed at the  Cap Sante Inn, what I remember mostly was that each room had its door directly to the outside so it was easy to roll my bike in and out.  Enjoy Washington State Route 20!

Gear Talk / Rohloff- two questions
« on: February 02, 2011, 07:30:29 pm »
I'm having a new frame custom built and considering Rohloff...

1) I'd be curious to hear from anybody who has actually toured with one what their experience was, especially just how noisy they can be in use.

2) I'm not very mechanically literate... but if I understand the system, to get a lower 'granny gear' you adjust the size of the front chainring.  I'd love advice from the many mechanically blessed members of the forum on a good front ring for touring for this 58 year old rider who doesn't mind going uphill at 4 mph as long as I can keep pedalling. 

Here's where to get some useful numbers that I don't understand:

Thanks in advance, and I hope people have good daydreams going about 2011 tours!

General Discussion / Re: camera choice
« on: January 22, 2011, 12:50:10 pm »
I thought I needed an ultra-zoom until I got spoiled by a little weatherproof Canon Powershot D10...

It lives in my handlebar bag in a micro stuff sack, when walking around fits in a pocket, no worries about water or cold (on a recent Death Valley winter trip when other digital cameras were balking at the cold my camera was shooting away.

For bike touring I'd always wanted a camera that ran on AA batteries to be  independent of a charger, but I've found that the tiny lithium rechargeable in this works amazingly well, I carry an extra battery and when I'm in a hotel/motel charge both batteries up.

This is a camera that's so easy to pull out and snap that I use it on tour.

General Discussion / Re: Wear eye glasses/sun glasses while riding
« on: January 22, 2011, 12:38:14 pm »
For dog-sledding my wife discovered "Croakies" --- lightweight straps that hold any type of glasses snug and safe, there are other brands, some eyewear shops carry them.

Gear Talk / Re: Rain Pants
« on: August 24, 2010, 08:47:51 am »
For me, rain pants are more about staying warm than staying dry.  I've had good experiences with Marmot Precip rain pants... they make a full-zip version which is very bulky and not useful for biking.  I like the lighter version that unzips just enough to go over my bike shoes.  Some stores only stock the full-zip version, so you might have to hunt around a bit.

Gear Talk / Re: Bicycle Shipping Cases
« on: July 22, 2010, 10:43:42 am »
Even if you are flying, if an AMTRAK station is within reach, consider buying one of their boxes. 

It's inexpensive, so there's little pain in abandoning the box at your destination.  All you need for prep is removing the pedals and turning (or with bar ends dropping) the handlebars.  The only extra gear I needed to carry was a lightweight pedal wrench and a baggie with a dollop of grease for reattaching the pedals.  The pedal wrench gave good service pounding in tent stakes!

Delta had no issues accepting this box on a recent flight from the U.S. to Amsterdam, aside from the $200/euro charge.  While I was assembling my bike in baggage claim a Dutch traveler picked up his bike from his flight home from Los Angeles--- also in an AMTRAK box!

BTW, if flying home from Amsterdam, Schiphol airport sells sturdy cardboard boxes for bikes that are the same size of the AMTRAK boxes.  I'm holding onto that box for my next overseas trip.

This was my first time flying my bike, and it was not difficult at all.

Gear Talk / Panniers- EZ on/off
« on: July 19, 2010, 03:47:10 pm »
In U.S. touring, my panniers always stay on the bike... seems like I'm either camping or in a budget motel where I just wheel the whole bike into the room.  The fact that my Jannd attachment system is not quick and easy has never been an issue.

BUT, in my first European tour recently...  every lodging I stayed at happily provided a secure place for my bike, but then I needed to unpack-repack my panniers.  My Jannd expedition panniers simply were not designed to come on and off easily while loaded.

I envied the local cyclists who simply lifted their rear panniers off the bike at the hotel and carried them in as their luggage.

Any recommendations for rear panniers with a large capacity that will easily and repeatedly go onto and off of a bike with a Jannd Expedition rear rack?

Thanks in advance!

Gear Talk / Re: Heavy Duty Handle Bar Bag
« on: July 19, 2010, 03:28:31 pm »
My arkel handlebar bag has travelled with me for 6 years and shows no sign of wear... I'm still very happy with it and extremely happy with Arkel's service and communication.

I like the smaller Arkel bag because it forces me to discipline what goes into it:  wallet, camera, cell phone, GPS, sunglasses, journal all fit nicely.  The metal-on-metal mount system makes it easy to take the bag off so my valuables stay close to me, but once the bag clicks in the mount it is very solid.

The map case on the smaller bag is not 100% waterproof like on Arkel's larger handlebar bag, but it's been fine for me, ACA maps fit without any trouble.

For light rain, the bag is water-resistant.  I find the rain cover easy to pull over in case of downpours, and also easy to lift up to peek at the map.

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