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.

trailer02

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.

trailer01

Arapahoe Basin and Montezuma Bowl

Just got back from skiing in the Rockies. It had been a couple of years since I was able to do some skiing out there. Most of my recent trips out to Colorado have been during the summer to do some mountain biking. It was nice to do some Big Mountain skiing again.

Me and my girlfriend managed to score some pretty good lift ticket discounts from Liftopia.com. I was able to get a 2 day ticket for Arapahoe Basin for 75 bucks! Not too bad.

Arapahoe Basin has always been one of my favorite places to ski in Summit County. The base and summits of the mountain are a little bit higher than most of the other resorts so the snow tends to hold better late season. The terrain is pretty rugged and has some of the Steepest Runs in Colorado. The mountain is littered with rock faces, windblown cornices and tight tree chutes. I was especially excited because last year A-Basin opened up the Montezuma Bowl and added a chairlift on the backside of the Mountain expanding their in-bound terrain by an additional 80%.

Arapahoe Basin Montezuma Bowl

The terrain was pretty sweet.  For those familiar with the old A-Basin the terrain is more of the same which I will never grow tired of.  Can’t wait to head back out there next season.

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.

You need to update your Flash Player to view this gallery.

Click here to update.

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.

You need to update your Flash Player to view this gallery.
Click here to update.

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

Knock Knolls Mountain Bike Trails

Knock Knolls Mountain Biking

There aren’t too many mountain bike trails in the Chicago suburbs. Palos, Saw Wee Kee, and Deer Grove are probably the most well known. A few years back, Knock Knolls in Naperville was pretty well maintained and offered a bit of challenging terrain and obstacles. For the past few years, Knock Knolls has seen it’s share of obstacles being removed making it less of a challenge. Many of the larger log piles have been taken out or cut down and the bowl area has been filled with branches rendering it completely un-ridable. However, although not as great as it used to be, Knock Knolls still offers quick flowing singletrack within close proximity to where I live. I only live about 8 miles from knock knolls to I am able to ride there, do a few loops and head back home.

There is virtually no elevation change at Knock Knolls, the challenge pretty much lies in seeing how fast you can flow through the trails. There’s a few hikers and runners that use these trails but they are horse-free.

A great place for an after work ride. It’s nice to have a simple trail like this for days when I don’t quite have the energy to push it at Saw Wee Kee, or the money to fill up my gas tank and drive out to Palos.

My favorite route at Knock Knolls is a 4-mile loop I’ve outlined in the map above. I usually ride this loop a few times through changing up my direction through the singletrack sections from loop to loop.

For more information on Knock Knolls Trails, check out the Knock Knolls Page on CAMBR’s website.

Beautiful Losers The Film

I’ve been anticipating this movie for some time, both as an artist and as someone involved in the skateboard culuture of the mid to late 80s. This film showcases street art inspired through the skateboard scene culture. Many of the artists featured were both skaters and deck-artists during that time. The particular style embraced everything from skateboards, to album covers, to public awareness posters, to t-shirts and even sneakers. Beautiful Losers will be showing in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center 9/19/08 – 9/26/08.

Beautiful Losers film trailer from beautifullosersfilm on Vimeo.