Category Archives: Bicycle

2014 CAMBr 20 Year Anniversary Jerseys

I was fortunate enough to work with CAMBr in designing some cycling jersey’s to commemorate their 20th anniversary. Originally they were only going to do one jersey but after taking a look at both the designs I submitted they wanted to run them both. I also did a post-ride beer-themed button down shirt as well. The work was pro-bono but I’m happy to support CAMBr.

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Velocity Blunt Tubeless Success

This past weekend I successfully mounted my tires tubeless to my Velocity Blunt Rims. I had been planning on doing this since I got the rims but They were running fine with the tubes so it wasn’t a priority. However, the dry trails have had me wanting more grip that running lower tire pressure can provide. I had everything I needed and since the bike needed a good cleaning and I had some free time on my hands and was a bit too tired to ride I figured I’d start the process.

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I followed most of the instructions that I found on the mountainbikefaq.com website. They specifically have a post dedicated to converting this rim to tubeless. The items I needed to perform the conversion were a set of Bontrager Rim Strips (symetrical) and valves, some Stan’s Sealant and some Slime Sealant (for the 70% stan’s and 30% slime homebrew mixture) and of course an air compressor. After watching the Stans Instructional Video posted on mountainbikefaq.com a few times I was ready to go.

I had been running tubes with the tires I was going to re-mount tubeless for about 6 months so they were pretty worn in but still have plenty of life/tread in them. I have a Maxxis Ardent 2.4 for the front and a WTB Wolverine Race 2.2 for the rear. After installing the rim strips I mounted the tires. I wish I would have had some metal levers because I’m pretty sure I almost broke my park plastic levers. I had a hell of a time getting them on but was able to. After mounting them I wanted to see if they would in fact inflate without any sealant just to make sure the bead would set on the rim. This is where I ran into trouble because for some reason my compressor will not work with presta valve adapters. I’m gonna have to look into getting a new head for my compressor to work with the presta adapter but since I was planning on riding the following day I needed to get these tires filled up. I had a few CO2 cartridges and I thought I could go that route but they didn’t quite provide enough air and the tire quickly deflated before I could fill it in time. So I figured I’d push my luck and I threw in the sealant and stood the tires up in my car and drove down to the gas station to try out their pump. At the gas station I had good luck. I was able to fill the tires no problem. I probably looked pretty goofy shaking the sealant through the rim in the parking lot but I managed to do just fine.

After my sucess at the gas station i went home and proceeded to wipe the rim/tire with soapy water to look for bubbles which would indicate small leaks. With the tire holding most of the air I was able to make minor adjustments with a floor pump and work out any slow leak spots. After keeping an eye on the tires and working out the slow leaks for about 15 minutes they were all sealed up. I mounted them back on the bike and was ready to go. In the morning I checked them and they didn’t lose a pound of pressure! It looked like they were gonna be good so I threw the bike on my roof rack and headed out to Palos for the morning.

Once I got to the trail I dropped the pressure down to just under 20 lbs and was ready to go. After a 25+ mile ride the tires held their air. The trails at palos are pretty smooth and hardpack so I probably would have been ok with a higher pressure but My local trail (saw Wee Kee) is pretty loose and rocky and lower pressures over there have paid off greatly. It’ll be interesting to see how this setup holds up in the months to come but I was relatively surprised by how easy these tires were to seal.

Vegan Tofu Jerky

Tofu Jerky

A food dehydrator is a great investment. You pick one up fairly cheap and there’s so much you can use it for.

Back before I became a vegetarian, I used a dehydrator to make beef jerky quite a bit. After I stopped eating meat I missed the texture and seasonings of beef jerky. I tried quite a few of the vegan jerky products out there and although I enjoyed several of them, they were quite expensive. Even when buying them in bulk I wasn’t able to save much. I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make a jerky substitute at home.

After looking online I was able to combine a few different recipes and cooking methods into what I felt was a pretty good batch of tofu jerky. The method I use here has a similar texture and consistency to the Turtle Island tofurky jurky. The seasonings can be played with quite a bit. I’m not one to get obsessive with measuring spices and I usually just dump in what I guess is a fair amount.

Ingredients:
2 blocks of organic sprouted Extra or Super Firm Tofu
1/2 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos (or if you don’t have then use low sodium soy sauce)
2/3 cup Water
2 T Liquid Smoke
2 T Black Pepper
2 T Tomato Paste
1 T Garlic Powder
1/2 T Onion Powder
1 T Crushed Red Pepper
1 T Chile Powder
1-2 T Agave nectar (depending on desired sweetness)

Start by draining and pressing the tofu using whatever method you prefer. Once the tofu has been drained you can cut it into strips that are about 1/4 of an inch thick. I find that anything thinner can cause the tofu to get crispy and lose it’s chewy consistency. The photo below shows `1 block of tofu that has been cut. If you like you can cut longer strips. I usually cut long strips and then chop them in half so the jerky is easier to pack in small areas like a pocket or bike jersey.

Tofu Jerky Step 1

Once it’s been drained and cut you can combine all of the other ingredients and mix them. Then place the tofu into a pan and pour the wet mixture on top. try and make sure most of the tofu has the wet mixture on top of it. You’re going to let it marinate for about 4-5 hours. It’s a good idea to move the tofu around every hour or so to insure that it’s evenly marinated.

After it’s been marinated you can add the tofu slices to the dehydrator sheets. 2 blocks of tofu should fill up 4 round trays. The slices will shrink down quite a bit after they’ve been dehydrated but it’s best not to have them touching if possible.

Tofu jerky Step 2

Once they’ve been added you can start the dehydrating process. I usually will let them dehydrate for about 8-10 hours at about 135 degrees. I find that anything hotter or longer than that and they start to get too hard and brittle. They will retain a bit of moisture so I usually plan on eating them within a weeks time (if I can keep from eating them that long)

Tofu Jerky

Dekalb Gravel Metric, Hot Hell Ride

Last weekend North Central Cyclery in DeKalb held the Gravel Metric, a 62+ mile ride on mostly gravel and dirt roads. Over 200 riders showed up to compete in the non-competitive ride. It was more of a competition against the 110 degree heat and headwinds.

Dekalb gravel metric 2012 start.

There were probably around 10-15 singlespeed riders and I only saw 2 other fixed gear riders besides myself. I was hoping to finish in around 4 to 5 hours but it ended up being over 6 hours. Even without the heat I don’t think I could have done it in 4 hours on a fixed gear. I chose to run about a 73 GI gearing and something in the mid 60s probably would have been a much better choice.

I was riding with another fixed gear rider I met on the course and he went down pretty hard in the loose gravel. Quite a few people ate it on the creek crossing and several people crashed in the first few miles of the course due to difficulty with the gravel. This was not your typical crushed-limestone type gravel that you see on most bike paths. It was more like the loose chunky stuff people used to put down in their gardens in the 80s. The dirt roads were dry and hardpacked but had deep narrow ruts.

I once read an article in Dirt Rag that described 2 types of rides. There are rides that are fun when you are riding, and there are rides that are horrible when you’re riding them but fun the days preceding the ride. This was the latter type of ride. I was hurting bad from heat exhaustion the day of the ride however, after resting, eating, cooling down, and returning to sanity I’m able to look back on this ride and appreciate it with a smile. Looking forward to next years ride and knowing that with cooler temps, knobbier tires, and a lower gear choice I should be able to beat my 6+ hour time no problem.

More details on the ride can be found here

Nashbar Cargo Trailer for Bicycles

I make a lot of trips to the grocery store on my bicycle and can only fit so much in my messenger bag or a backpack.  I wanted to be able to carry more groceries without having all the weight on my back. Also, I wanted to start getting into doing more multi-day rides and haul my own camping gear, supplies and food. So last summer I decided I’d get a trailer. You can spend anywhere between $1,000 to $100 for a trailer. If  you have the right equipment you can even weld one yourself. I didn’t want to go the homemade route but I wanted something as cheap as possible.  I found one at Nashbar for just over $100.  It is made out of chromoly steel and looks pretty sturdy.

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The assembly of the Trailer was fairly simple. There wasn’t too much to it. All I really had to do was put the wheel, fender, and reflectors on. There’s also a flag that comes up. At first I didn’t think the flag was necessary but After I took it out on the street and realized how much length was added onto my bike with the trailer attached, I figured the flag would probably help cars see me. I also added a blinky to the back of the fender just as a precaution. Most cars aren’t used to seeing a bicycle pulling a trailer so anything you can do do be seen will help.

After several rides with the trailer you’ll notice a few things that differ from regular riding.

  1. It’s harder to make sharp turns. You need to account for the extra 5 feet or so in length that the trailer adds
  2. It requires more braking power to stop. You have the momentum of the trailer from behind pushing at you when you hit the brakes.
  3. When you are stopped and off the bike, standing the bike up against something can be difficult.

The trailer has a 50 pound weight limit and of course I had to push the weight limit to the max on my first trip to the grocery store. If you throw a storage bin in the back of the trailer you can carry quite a bit of groceries in the back. Essentially I was able to pull the size of approximately 4 standard grocery paper bags. The only issue was that the 4 bags I loaded up were a bit on the heavy side if not over the 5 pound max. Probably not a good idea to stock up on pop, canned foods and liquids. Save the heavier stuff for lighter trips. I think I had too much because the bike felt really unstable like my rear axle was going to snap or like if I leaned too far to one side the bike would topple over. I noticed it is also quite difficult to accelerate with a full load.

Last summer I took the trailer on a short bikepacking trip to test it out for carrying camping gear. I was able to pack a sleeping bag and pad, medium sized tent, tools, a small stove, food and water, and extra clothes and raingear no problem. Pulling the trailer for 30 miles didn’t even seem to be a problem. There’s a 80 miles one-way trail that I am going to try and tackle next.

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Illinois State Parks Stand a Chance.

Now with Rod Blagojevich out of office, Our state parks which were closed stand a chance of being re-opened. Newly appointed governor Pat Quinn who led petitions to keep the parks open will look at the possibility of reopening these parks. Now Quinn will have the opportunity to prove whether his concern for the parks was genuine or simply a means to gain public approval. Blagojevich said the closures were due to budgetary issues but local officials claimed it was for political reasons. From the looks of Blagojevich’s time in office and the way he handled money, I wonder what he actually meant by “budgetary issues”?

…Read More at WQAD.com, quad cities news channel 8.

Apex Park – Golden Colorado

This was the first Trail I hit on my September trip to Colorado. Finished Driving in from an overnight in Nebraska and headed straight to the trail after checking in to the Hotel in Golden which happened to be less than 5 miles from Apex Park, Red Rocks, Dakota Ridge, Falcon Mountain, and Green Mountain Trails. I could have spent a week in that area exploring the Front Range Trails and Denver Mountain Parks. Unfortunatly I only had 2 days so I decided there was no time to waste.

After about a half mile of the climb on the Apex Trail, I was winded. The elevation hit me. I got off my bike and felt like I was going to vomit. I was discouraged and wondered how long it was going to take for my body to get used to the elevation again. I got back on my bike, jumped into granny gear and slowly paced myself up the trail stopping every half a mile to catch my breath. After a few stops and reminding myself to take it slow on the climbs, I was feeling much better.

Apex Park Mountain Biking

Apex Park is pretty rocky and technical. Although this is only a 6 mile trail, it definitely wore me out. There were plenty of sections I had to walk my bike through. It would have been nice to have a little more travel on my bike to blast through some of the rough sections but I managed. Here’s some photos. I didn’t manage to get any photos through the “Enchanted Forest”, a forested fast singletrack that traverses the side of a ridge across from the Apex Trail not to miss.

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Red Rocks // Dakota Ridge Mountain Biking

On the second day of my September Trip to Colorado I was more adjusted to the altitude and I had a ride in the mountains under my belt so I was feeling more confident. Unfortunatly it was cold and rainy and didn’t look like it was going to get nice. By around 2:00 I figured I’d head out to the Red Rocks & Dakota Ridge Trails. I’d seen photos of these trails and they looked pretty sweet. I’d planned on riding these trails last year but never got around to it. I was pretty excited.

The weather managed to stay pretty tame. Although it was pretty cloudy it stopped raining and the trails were pretty tacky and not too slick. I started out from the Mathew Winters Parking lot and headed south on the trail towards Red Rocks Park. I took a short Detour on a trail that heads to higher elevation off the Red Rocks trail. After a little while I met up with two locals who I rode with and showed me around the area.

The next day we headed out to the actual Red Rocks amphitheater which was impressive as well.

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Illinois State Park and Landmark Closures

As some of you know, our governor has made a $14 million dollar cut to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources funding. This funding cut has caused the DNR to layoff 39 employees and close 11 state parks and 14 historical landmarks(4 of which are national landmarks). The parks and landmarks are scheduled to close on November 1st.

Many communities have spoken out against this and shown their disapproval of the governor’s decision. The disapproval caused an emergency meeting of The Illinois House of Representatives resulting in a vote to restore DNR funding.

In order for the funding to be restored, both the House and Senate must agree. The Senate will not be in session until after November 1st and after the park closures have been made. If enough people speak out it may cause the Senate to have an emergency meeting on this issue as the House of Representatives did. I’d imagine that some of you may know more about law that I do but there are several ways we can help keep these parks open.

If you agree with the governor’s cuts than God bless. If you disagree and are interested in helping keep these parks open, you can go to the following website and sign the petition against closing these parks:

http://www.gopetition.com/online/21603.html

It should only take a minute of your time.

If people don’t express their opinion then our state government wont think that state parks, history, and culture are important to the people of Illinois and will be more likely to close more parks. Possibly some of the parks most of us frequent. If you really want to help, feel free to forward this message to family and friends that respect and support the use of these parks and landmarks.

Here’s a listing of the state parks and landmarks that are currently scheduled to close due to the cut.

  • Castle Rock State Park, Oregon
  • Lowden State Park, Oregon
  • Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park, Sheffield
  • Illini State Park, Marseilles
  • Channahon Parkway State Park, Channahon
  • Gebhard Woods State Park, Morris
  • Hidden Springs State Forrest, Strasburg
  • Kickapoo State Park, Oakwood
  • Moraine View State Park, Leroy
  • Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton
  • Wolf Creek State Park, Windsor
  • Dana-Thomas House, in Springfield
  • David Davis Mansion, in Bloomington, Illinois
  • Fort de Chartres, in Randolph County
  • Pierre Menard Home, in Randolph County
  • Apple River Fort, in Elizabeth
  • Bishop Hill, Henry County
  • Bryant Cottage, in Bement
  • Fort Kaskaskia, Randolph County
  • Hauberg Indian Museum at Blackhawk State Historic Site in Rock Island
  • Jubilee College, in Peoria County
  • Lincoln Log Cabin, in Charleston.
  • Old Cahokia Courthouse, in Cahokia
  • Carl Sandburg State Historic Site, in Galesburg
  • Vandalia Statehouse, in Vandalia