Archive for the 'bicycles' Category

My New Whip

Monday, August 13th, 2007

It’s a FORT. Not the coolest name, but things could be worse; it could be called a FART.


My Longhaul Trucker has been relegated to the scrap heap. I’ll never again be able to call out “10-4 Lil’ Buddy. We’ve got some smokey up ahead!” to Sarah when we see a police car up the road.


The bike is not bad looking. It is an aluminum frame that claims to be handmade in the Czech Republic and its got a cool looking headbadge.



It also has a Suntour oil-suspension fork. I thought I was going to have to get a new front rack, but the mechanic at the bike shop was able to get my Surly rack on with a little bending of the attachment plates.



All the components were pulled from my bike except for the headset, crankset, and front derailleur. My crankset and front derailleur where also mangled during the accident, so now I’ve got a new crankset with 28 cogs on my little chainring. Nothing smaller was available so hopefully my legs and knees will be able to handle it!


The FORT felt comfortable on a short test ride; the biggest difference is that I am in a more aggressive position. I was expecting my Brooks saddle to be unridable in this new position, but it doesn’t feel too bad. We’ll see how it feels after several hours in the saddle though.

Sarah got her rear wheel trued and some new pedals. The total cost for everything including the minor repairs to Sarah’s bike was 9545 crowns (~US$477.25).

Tomorrow we hit the road again.

Resting & Roasting in Ranong

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

The boat ride from Koh Phayam to Ranong was quite nice yesterday, other than the fact that I wound up with the only seat on the boat that wasn’t in the shade. After 30 minutes I couldn’t handle the feeling of the sun creeping up to barbeque first my hand, then my arm, then my shoulder, then my neck…! So I sat on the floor with the bugs and ants and read my book for two hours. I was happy to be in the shade & happy I remembered to get my book out for the ride, so it wasn’t too bad. View from the pier, before getting on the boat at Koh Phayam:

Another pretty fishing boat:

I spent a very productive morning studying Thai. I am trying to learn the characters so I can recognize some common words. I can count to ten now, too! Here’s my study sheet:

We ate lunch near the pier in Koh Phayam, and Jamie sneakily took this picture of a Thai family taking a break in the restaurant’s back room. They were playing a card game and having a grand old time:

Upon arrival at the pier in Ranong we hopped on the bikes to ride into town and back to the same hotel we stayed in last time. It started to rain, which created a strange feeling. Our upper bodies were wet from the rain and so felt nice and cool in the breeze created by riding. But as the rain hit the hot pavement it created a steamy heat wave swirling up around our legs. When we rode through deep puddles, the water splashes were actually hot.

At bedtime we realized that the screens in our windows didn’t close all the way and one of them had a giant hole, offering a myriad of ways for the mosquito population of Ranong to pay us a visit. I went on a mosquito killing spree and then turned off the lights hoping they wouldn’t be smart enough to find their way in. No such luck. After an hour we gave up trying to sleep and got out of bed to kill more mosquitos and duct tape the edges of the windows to block further attacks. This is exactly why we brought duct tape, and we felt like geniuses for having it!

At this point I thought I felt an eyelash in my eye, so went in the bathroom to get it out before continuing with the killing spree. I looked in the mirror and realized that my entire eye was bright red and very swollen – so much so that the clear membrane of my eye was actually wrinkling up when I blinked. Yikes! Nurse Jamie held my eye open and vigorously sprayed it with saline solution in case there was something in there. Naturally, my pajamas got soaked with saline, too. It is so hot here I didn’t care, though, and just went to sleep and hoped it would be better by morning (it is – just red, not too swollen anymore). I also decided to shut off the alarm for 6am…lack of sleep from mosquito attacks, inflamed eye, and the fact that Jamie needs to go to a bike shop to get new rim tape in his back wheel mean we will take a rest day in Ranong. (Since New Zealand, Jamie’s rear tire has been going mysteriously flat. He has had six flat tires already, most of them are on the inner side of the tube and we can never find anything that looks like it is causing the flat. A mechanic in New Zealand thought our tubes were faulty, but replacing those and the tire itself hasn’t helped so now we are going to try re-taping the rim to see if that fixes the problem. The rear tire we swapped was trashed anyway. It developed a large double-humped bulge after 2500 kilometers of cycling. That’s two Panaracer tires that have failed on us so far, so we are in the market for new tires. We are hoping we can get the Schwalbe Marathon tires in Bangkok.)

Last time we were in Ranong we discovered a restaurant that has the BEST iced coffee – D.D. Coffee. It is like a melted coffee milkshake and tastes like real, strong espresso because they actually have an espresso machine at the restaurant! This is a majorly exciting discovery because every other time we’ve had “coffee” in Thailand it has been that nasty instant Nescafe crap. Needless to say, we made a beeline back to D.D’s today!

Fun fact: we’ve spent the past five days going into every drug store and pharmacy we pass, looking for dental floss. No one sells it anywhere! Today we finally found it in Ranong…thank goodness!

Bon Voyage

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

The day has finally arrived! Sarah and I leave for New Zealand this morning at 07:45 EST. We will arrive in Auckland, New Zealand on December 30th after 23 hours of flying and 13 hours of lay overs. Sarah is sleeping like a baby right now, but I am definitely feeling nervous. It is hard to believe we are actually doing this.

Today we got some bike boxes from BikeCycles in Wilmington and packed up our boxes for the flight. US Airways would have allowed us to just wrap our bikes in bubble wrap, but we are flying on United for one leg of our journey and they require us to box our bikes. After a couple of minutes of staring at the boxes and comparing them with Sarah’s 61cm Rivendell Atlantis with racks and fenders, I realized her bike was not going to fit in the box without some serious disassembly. We had to remove her seat, front rack, and both fenders. On my bike, we removed the front rack, front fender, and seat and were able to squeeze it in. We were under the impression that we were just going to need to remove the pedals, lower the seat, and turn the handlebars to fit the bikes in, so the process of disassembling the bikes was pretty nerve racking as we wondered whether or not they were going to fit at all. Now we’ll just have to see how many pieces the bikes are in when (if?) they arrive in New Zealand.

If anyone knows if bike boxes come in large enough sizes to hold an assembled touring bike with racks and fenders, leave a comment or send us an email and let us know. We plan on avoiding airlines that require boxes instead of bubble wrap in the future, but if we do have to use boxes we would like to avoid as much disassembly as possible.

In other news, we secured the first sponsor of our site! Averatec has provided us with one of their 1100 Series notebooks which I am using to make this post right now. It is an extremely light and powerful notebook, so we are very happy to have it for this trip. You can find out more details on the Gear page, which I also updated with the rest of the details on our notable gear. If I missed anything it is probably Sarah’s fault.

We bought our tickets to New Zealand

Monday, November 6th, 2006

Some major mile markers for trip preparation are happening here, people!  Yesterday, after much painful research & deliberation in an effort to get the best possible tickets (read: cheapest possible), we bought our plane tickets to New Zealand.  We’ll be leaving on Dec 28th from Wilmington NC, making connections in Charlotte NC and Sydney Australia, and arrive in Auckland at 2:45pm on Dec 30th.  That’s right – two days later!!  I bet you’re jealous of that nice little agenda.

I also got my front & rear racks on Saturday from my very favorite bike person – Bill Davidson at Elliot Bay Bicycles.  I haven’t gone for a ride with the new racks though, because it has been awful awful weather here in Seattle.  And I really do not need to hear things from you people about how I will definitely be stuck in weather like this when we’re on the road, etc, etc! :)

Last weekend, James & I went on another test ride.  We went a little over 25 miles.  The bikes were perfect, the ride was beautiful, and the only thing that really hurt the next day was my butt.  Which is perfectly fine – that’ll go away as I start riding regularly.

In an earlier post I mentioned how non-sexy we are going to be on this trip.  Well here are some more pictures to prove it!  And please keep in mind, this is really nothing compared to what you’ll be seeing in a few months. 

James got hot on a ride up a big hill.  This is the resulting fashion statement:

Sarah’s helmet fits crookedly on her head.  Which annoys her very much:

We took a break for a snack at the halfway point on Lake Washington. Some ducks were very interested in our granola bars:

Close-up of the very cute duck:

Pretty scenery on the shores of Lake Washington:

Sage Advice

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

We had a wonderful dinner with Karen Anderson and Dave Henderson tonight. Karen and Dave are experienced bicycle tourists who did a trip similar to ours in 2000. We got in touch with them through Will Knight. (Thanks Will!) They gave us a lot of great advice about our upcoming trip during dinner, including the folllowing eight zumers.

  1. Bring a mesh diver’s bag. It packs up extremely small & light, but is also very strong. You can put all your panniers in it and check it as one bag on a flight.
  2. Bring mirrors that mount on your helmet. These are extremely useful for keeping an eye on traffic and each other. As Dave said, “At least you’ll realize you are about to die when you see that truck bearing down on you from behind.”
  3. Bring bowls and cups to eat out of & a teapot for clean water. I don’t know how we forgot about this. :)
  4. Fly into and out of smaller airports if possible. This makes it much easier to ride your bike right out of the airport and onto the road.
  5. Bring a tupperware container big enough to store a loaf of bread.
  6. Put covers on your panniers during the day when riding. This way the covers get dirty and you can bring your clean panniers into the tent with you at night.
  7. Bring a down jacket with you for warmth and also to be used as a pillow at night.
  8. Bring a shortwave transistor radio, so you can listen to the BBC and keep in touch with the world when you are out on the road.

Thanks Karen and Dave for having dinner with us and sharing all of your experience and advice!

Next step, fully loading our bikes and going for a test ride…

Keep on Truckin’

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

I got my Surly Long Haul Trucker this week! Adam and Peter at Counterbalance Bicycles built it up for me and did a great job. The bike is a 60cm, steel frame and fork made of 100% Surly 4130 cro-moly steel. I gave some general guidelines to Adam and he built the bike up to be as simple and reliable as possible for our trip. The wheels are hand-built with Mavic’s heavy duty A719 rims and Shimano Deore XT hubs. The tires are Panaracer T-Servs, which are a little different than the Panaracer Pasela TGs that Sarah has on her bike. We’ve heard varying opinions from the touring community on tires. Some people swear by the Schwalbe Marathons or the Continental Top Touring tires. Those tires seem to be preferred by people who value puncture resistance over comfort. The Panaracers are supposed to be very comfortable tires that also have decent puncture resistance. We are going to ride them for a while before we had overseas to see if they are going to suit our needs. The drivetrain is XT in the rear with Sugino cranks up front and I got a silver Chris King headset for some sex appeal. Adam also put on the Surly Nice Rack on the rear for me. I was originally going to get a Tubus rack, but the Surly rack is amazingly overbuilt and the silver looks cool on my bike. I put on the Brooks Flyer Saddle (Ouch!), SKS Fenders, ESGE kickstand, Jandd Handlebar & Frame Bags, and Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus rear panniers that we got as wedding gifts (Thanks everyone!), so after I get the front rack and panniers I will be ready to go! I am going to start commuting on the bike to get used to it and make any needed adjustments before we leave. Right now, I’ve got a decent drop between my saddle and my bars and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need to raise my bars up. The total cost for the bike so far is $1764.96 which brings the total for the trip up to a whopping $6602.94.

Bling, Bling!

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Sarah's New Rivendell AtlantisSarah got her fancy new bike today! She is going to ride a 61cm Rivendell Atlantis on our trip. Sarah wanted the Atlantis because she has long legs and a short torso and the short top tube geometry of the Atlantis means it will be comfortable for her and allow her to sit upright. Bill Davidson of Elliott Bay Bicycles built the bike up for her with a mixture of components. The wheels are handbuilt with Shimano Deore XT 36-hole hubs and DT Swiss TK 7.1 rims. The headset and front derailleur are Shimano Ultegra and she got Dura-Ace 9-speed bar end shifters. Sarah was originally thinking she wanted moustache bars, but after trying them out at the store she thought they were awkward and went with a standard Nitto Dream drop bar instead. The drivetrain is a Deore XT derailleur with a Deore LX crankset. We went with an 11-32t cassete so we can (try to) climb hills while carrying all our gear. The brakes are Camagnolo Veloce Linear Pull Cantilevers. Sarah is still afraid of clipless pedals, so she just got toe clips for now while she gets used to the bike. Last but not least Sarah will spend the next year sitting on a Terry Butterfly saddle which we heard is one of the most comfortable saddles for a woman. We are going to start doing short rides and making adjustments to the bike. Eventually, we’ll put racks, panniers, and everything else on it. Now that Sarah has the bike, our trip definitely seems more real. The total cost was $2244.11 which brings our running total for the trip up to $2843.17.