Monday, August 19, 2013

Shopping for a Touring Bike

I'd like to take advantage of the bike sales in the fall so I decided to start getting my list together. Already this bike search seems easier than my road bike hunt mainly because there are fewer choices and among those choices the components are relatively similar. In case you want to donate a bike or sell me a used one, I fit on a 54-56 sized bike. :)

What I'm looking for in a touring bike: 
  • High quality steel
  • 700 wheels
  • Large gear range
  • Complete bike would be ideal, especially one that comes with fenders and racks but I'm not opposed to building it myself. 
  • Price Range: $800 (haha I know) to $1400
  • Getting a good discount from the MSRP either on sale/ebay/or craigslist is a plus
  • Handling/Tracking straight with a load is a obvious top priority
Things I am unsure about: 
  • Cantilever vs. Disc brakes - Cantis are likely fine for what I need. I worry about carrying things to fix disc brakes and worry about bending them. I know how to fix rim brakes.
  • Bar End shifters - I've ridden a 1980s bike with these shifters and hated it. It felt unnatural and I never got the hang of it. But this seems to be the standard, so I might look to swap. 
  • Saving money - will I save money buying a used frame and building it myself? I'd love to put the bike together, but I don't have any spare parts lying around and I think it might be more expensive. 
Here are the bikes I'll be testing out: 

Surly's Long Haul Trucker $1300 (canti brake option)
Pros: Most recommended touring bike, can buy through REI
Cons: No extras, heard it's slow unloaded/not versatile.

Raleigh Sojourn $1350
Pros: Comes with racks, fenders, disc brakes, brooks saddle
Cons: slightly lower components than others, complaints with fenders

REI's Novara $1200
Pros: REI service, Rack included, will go on sale
Cons: Cheap saddle, rack not ideal, complaints about brakes
Trek 520 $1100
Pros: Good bike for the money
Cons: Like all Trek bikes will need to switch out the wheels and saddle

Kona Sutra $1500
Pros: good quality extras (willing to overlook high price), great components, excellent reviews
Cons: bar end shifters, difficult to find in a shop

Bianchi Volpe $1300
Pros: no barcons! Often on sale, classic, versatile
Cons: No extras, not entirely sure if it is suited to long tours, gearing concerns

Soma Saga $500 frame/fork set
Pros: Nice bike, great company, good reviews
Cons: not available as complete bike - hardly a con.

Salsa Vaya 3 $1400
Pros: Good bike, good acceleration, great on gravel/dirt, can find on sale.
Cons: Not as good as LHT with heavy loads (i've heard), no extras

Out of my price range, but just in case I win the lottery ($3000+ Category):

Co-Motion Cascadia or Americano $3900
Pros: Everything. Ultegra components. Sexy. Lots of custom options
Cons: So far out of my league, but I can dream.

Bruce Gordon Rock N Roll Tour $3350 (with racks and shipping, $3000 no racks)
Pros: Specialize in touring bikes, top quality, custom options
Cons: ?
*BLT is the cheaper version made in Taiwan, same geometry for $1725

Rivendell Atlantis $3600-3900 fully built (frame/fork/headset $2300)
Pros: Super customizable, amazing company, bike is a dreamboat, offer advice on how to build.
Cons: So pretty you don't want to get it dirty

Independent Fabrications' Independence $2200 steel frame
Pros: probably has the most custom options from tubing size to frame and decal colors. Stunning bike. Friends have said these are the bikes to end all bike shopping urges.
Cons: The only way you could go wrong is if you pick the wrong components for yourself.

Geekhouse Woodville $1500 frame / $3500 complete starting price
Pros: local, lots of custom options, solid frame with rave reviews, reasonable price point for custom build
Cons: They are less than a mile away, I might impulsively walk down there and place an order.

Would be ecstatic to have a custom touring bike from the likes of local frame builders Honey, SevenIndependent, or Geekhouse. If I ever scrape together enough money these are the frame builders I'd go to first and without hesitation.

Have any thoughts on the bikes listed or other recommendations? Would love to hear them. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beer Bike Jerseys

All I want is one bad ass brewery bike jersey that involves a beer I actually like. This shouldn't be so hard to find except for the fact that many craft breweries only offer men's sized bike jerseys, or maybe they consider that unisex, either way the small option is not kept in stock or too loose for me. There are a few women's brewery jersey options out there, and a huge thank you to the breweries that provide them, but more choices would be nice. I want a brewery jersey and it better not be fucking pink.

One note to make is that Primal Wear is a great company that does a lot of breweries' jerseys (Boulder, Bristol, Left Hand, Terrapin, PBR, and Coors). The brewery collection is in men's sizing only, but they often offer XS and S sizes that will accommodate some women.

Here are some craft brewery's bike jerseys that I've rounded up. What am I missing? Do you have a favorite brewery jersey? Do unisex jerseys fit you?

Founders All Day IPA Jersey
Availability: Men's and Women's
Purchase via Voler

Left Hand Good Juju
Availability: Men's
Purchase via Left Hand

Also offer 400 Pound Monkey and you can find Fade to Black elsewhere on the internet

Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
Availability: Women's*
Purchase via Stone

*They offer 5 other jerseys, bmx included, all mens sizing
This is their only women's offering.

Deschutes Wool Jersey
Availability: Men's
Purchase via Deschutes

I like a good vintage wool jersey. Wish it'd fit.

Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA
Availability: Men's (made by Primal)
Purchase Via Deschutes

They also have a Black Butte and Mirror Pond Jersey.

Russian River Loose Fit Jersey (by Canari)
Availability: Unisex
Purchase via Russian River

Best of all, there's no comic sans on it

Smuttynose Club Cut
Availability: Women's and Men's
Purchase via Smuttynose

Collar reads Powered by Beer
I think I need this.

Troegs Nugget Nectar - Sugoi relaxed fit
Availability: Men's
Purchase via Troegs

Bonus: One of my favorite beers

Breckenridge Avalanche Jersey Sport Cut (by Primal)
Availability: Men's
Purchase via Breckenridge

Also offer Agave Wheat and 471 IPA jerseys

Harpoon Unisex Club Fit
Purchase via Harpoon

Also red and white bottle cap version

New Belgium Fat Tire
Availibity: Men's (runs small)
Purchase via New Belgium

Find older jerseys, other designs on ebay/amazon
For a company that was born on a bike, I'd expect more choices in their online store.

Dogfish Head
Availability: Women's and Men's
Purchase via Dogfish Head

Odell IPA Jersey (by Giordana)
Availability: Women's and Mens also sleeves or sleeveless
Purchase via Odell

Also Cutthroat Porter and 90 Schilling jerseys
They win with the best designs and options.

Bell's Brewery Club Cut (by Louis Garneau)
Availability: Women's and Men's
Purchase via Bells

Boulevard Single Wide IPA
Availability: Men's
Purchase via Boulevard

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Life In the Woods

I'm terrified of being this person. I laughed because it's so sad. This comes from my favorite comic site Incidental Comics by Grant Snider.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." - Henry David Thoreau

Get out there, just for a short hike or bike ride, and leave the phone behind for once. You might feel nervous at first, grappling with thoughts of getting lost or stranded without a cell phone can be hard and feel foolishly unsafe, but once you get over that you might find yourself enjoying your trip in ways you hadn't before. I hiked this weekend and the most high tech device I took with me was a compass. I resent my current level of dependency on my phone and leaving it at home when I'm out for short bits is always like a mini vacation from life. I highly recommend it.

I hope this comic serves as a reminder as to how laughable mobile device dependance looks and how closed off it actually makes you, maybe you're like me and could even use this reminder today. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Starting Points

I want to be this ready right now. (via India Mike)
Every time I think about this trip, I want to pack immediately. I feel like I could rush out the door tomorrow, largely just to avoid this whole planning period. This part seems hard. Here's what keeps my mind spinning on a regular basis:

Which direction I want to ride. This is the first thing I should know, yet I remain indecisive. East to West will ensure that the sun will be on my back in the morning and the late afternoon sun will be in my eyes. I can handle that. I've also heard that it's a bit easier headed west. But what does easier really mean when you're looking at 5,000 miles on a bike? I think finishing the trip riding into Boston would be phenomenal, but in the past leaving it behind and watching it disappear from an airplane window feels good too.

I had big plans to complete a half ironman next summer and I'm already wondering if bringing running shoes on this trip will seem like a hysterical joke when I try and pack them next May. At this point, I can barely run 3 miles off the bike after a 20 mile ride. How will I be able to bike all day and then go for a run? What state would I even register for a race in? I have no idea where I'll be.

All the gear. I get excited about gear. New bike, panniers, tents, racks, lights, solar panels(!!!). There are so many things to attach to your bike, it's exhilarating. It's also the biggest time suck. There are so many price checks and sales to wait for. So many comparisons and reviews to read. Do I need a tablet/netbook, garmin, camera, and a phone that can all be charged via a solar panel? Probably not, but I definitely like to think I do.

The route. I don't even know what to say. I have to map out 5,000+ miles of bike friendly roads. Those roads need to connect to breweries that are in the dead center of unfamiliar cities, in industrial parks, or out in the middle of nowhere. I know there are sites out there to help, but saying it's overwhelming would be an understatement. How do you plan a route?

At this point, four major topics into my bike adventure daydream, I've gotten so worked up that I've made myself nervous. Is this too big of a trip? Can I even manage the planning aspect, let alone the part where I move my legs in small circles for thousands of hours?
And then I came across this via
Luckily, when I need a break, I can do what I always do--go for a ride and come home to a beer. Then I'll remember that's all this trip is about; a bike ride and a beer. How very simple and satisfying, I'll say to myself. I should do this every day, I'll think. And that's how I got here in the first place.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

If you ask me why I'm doing this trip

Here are some likely responses:
  • I've been stationary for too long and am in need of a new and challenging adventure.
  • I love the simple feeling of freedom and joy that comes from flying along on a bike.
  • I need a break from desk jobs.
  • There are too many breweries that I have yet to see.
  • I want to see more of America, and doing it by bike allows you to see more than by car.
  • I want to meet new people.
  • I love craft beer, the brewing process, and trying new beers. It's the perfect motivation.

I'm sure there are many other reasons that will be revealed the more this journey evolves.