Xtracycle Help

Last week I moved offices at work. And with any move, I stumbled upon lots of junk that needed to be tossed, stored or relocated. As I shuffled through all the findings, I realized there was a great deal of stuff that needed to be taken home. This is when the Xtracycle helps.

I didn't have to drive my car into work the next day. I didn't have to leave a pile of junk in my new office. I just planned to ride the Xtra and take it all home. There were a couple boxes and bags of stuff that fit easily in the FreeLoaders. It's such a great system that allows you to maintain a biking plan without adjusting because of normal life circumstances. The Xtracycle just rolls with whatever life throws at it. I love that.

Get out there.


A Little Break

I'll be off of the bike for the rest of this week. My wife is in Seattle and I have the kiddos all by myself. It looks like the weather is going to keep us from using the Xtracycle and trailer combo that would be perfect for these situations. So I'll be pimpin' the Astro Van instead of the bike.

It'll be a chance for me to catch up on my bike maintenance in the evenings, though. That'll be helpful.

Get out there.


Another Great Commute

Nothing to report today. It was just another great crisp morning commute to work.

Get out there.



If you've been scraping frost off of your car or letting it run for 20 minutes before you get in it in the mornings, then you've noticed how cold it is. For me, that means busting out the layers and gloves for some cold weather bike commuting.

One of my most crucial pieces of cold weather gear is my balaclava. I don't like too much on my head and face, so I went with a cheap little polyester balaclava that shields me from the wind but doesn't smother me. It's not thermal. It's not fleece. It's just one small layer between my face and the elements. If you've ever considered cold weather riding, a balaclava is a great addition to the wardrobe. I'd highly recommend it.

Mine is made with a big enough hole that I can pull my face through. Honestly, I usually only wear it for probably 30% of the commute on my face. I get hot quickly and pull it down. But it also covers my ears and head (since I don't have a lot of hair up there).

Get out there.


Off Balance

Normally, I always just carry one pannier on the bike. Balance isn't really an issue once you get moving. But today, I had all my clothes, a laptop and an iPad in in one pannier. Add to that pouring rain and wind gusts up to 30mph and that made today's ride a little off balance.

I really had to work and concentrate to keep the bike upright today. Even still, it was fun to ride in the cold, wet rain. It certainly wakes you up!

Get out there.


Red River Gorge Trip

Jeff, Mike and I headed to the Gorge for a three day trip last week. There wasn't any bike action, but being outside for three days was certainly worth sharing. We had a great time.

There's always beautiful views this time of year. We're probably a couple weeks away from peak colors in the leaves.
I love to go camping on the bike. But this trip had a lot of car time. I love my little Subaru.

The photos above are of Princess Arch. We ended up here both nights for camping. We camped near the arch with the anticipation of rain (which was a wise choice). The first morning brought on a lot of rain. We were able to sit under the arch, stay dry, and consume coffee while it died off.
Early morning brought a lot of rain on the hammock, but I kept a tarp over top of me. It worked great the first night... not so great on night two.
Coffee time in the woods is so nice.

Our next point of interest was Creation Falls. It's a cool little spot that's close to Rock Bridge (in the photo below). We fished here for a couple hours. Nothing big was caught, but I did get a whole bunch of little creek chubs.

The photo above is me sitting on Rock Bridge drinking, yet again, another cup of coffee.
Thursday afternoon was full of rain. We were pretty tired so we found a picnic area, laid out our stuff to dry, and took a nap.

The photos above are of Whittleton Trail. While we were on our way out, a monsoon of water came down from the sky. We hiked in under an arch and waited it out for a while. This was the wettest we got on the entire trip. But we kept our spirits up and enjoyed the time outside with great scenery.

Crawdad and salamander enjoying the damp weather.
The forecast was calling for a lot more rain, so we headed back to Princess Arch late that night. We knew we'd want the optional cover. It took a little amateur repelling to get down to our spot. Mike looks like a pro, even in the dark :)
I got so wet in the hammock at one point, I moved into the shelter of the arch. From there, I was able to sleep like a baby. This photo was taken as I woke up.

It was a great trip. I hope to get back there soon.

Get out there.


Horses and a Troll

The horses took interest in the Troll this morning. I stopped to adjust a brake and had a group come over and sniff out my bike. They took a little nibble on the pannier, too. I had to swat them away!
Get out there.


Amphibious Xtracycle

This has made it's way around the internet a bit, but I thought it was worth posting. Bike Forth has made a unique prototype for an amphibious Big Dummy. Pretty fun. It's worth clicking the link to watch the video.
Get out there.


First Commute on the Surly Troll

Yesterday I finished the build to about 95%. I'm having a little trouble with my shifter for the front derailleur. It was a bit sticky the last time it was used and isn't shifting at all now. I just left the chain on the middle chainring and rode in today on the Troll anyway.

First impressions are great. The fit and ride feel very comfortable. I had my laptop, an iPad, a kindle and a change of clothes in my pannier. That's a lot of weight on a mountain bike. But it handled it with ease. I've still got to play with the H-Bars to get them adjusted perfectly. But as they are, they feel good. I just think they could feel better.

There wasn't enough time to switch out the tires. So today's ride was on knobbies. That'll make a difference when I switch those to the Schwalbes.

One thing I really like is the top tube slope. At first, I thought the little triangle coming down off of the seat tube was a little odd looking. Now I appreciate it. It makes it really easy to hop on and off of a loaded bike. The clearance for your leg is way more noticeable than I would have guessed.

Overall, I'm very pleased. I'm excited to ride it more.

Get out there.


Deadly Weapon?

On my way in this morning I saw something for the first time. It was the equivalent to roadkill on the bike path... Pathkill.

I saw a little mouse squished on the path as I pedaled along. I thought, "Wow. I've never seen such a thing. Perhaps we cyclists are heartless killers." But then my curiosity of guilt was soon overcome by a new mystery.

That mouse wasn't alone. For a good one mile stretch of the path I saw about a dozen dead mice. They weren't squished like the first. They were just sprawled out dead. What had I stumbled upon? A mouse massacre? Was it some kind of pesticide or mowing incident? All I know is, there's no way a bike could have taken out such a group. We cyclists remain innocent as far as I'm concerned.

Get out there.


Surly Troll Build - Version 1

Last night I threw on all the components and parts of the new troll. For the most part, the build is finished. I'm going to play around with the shifter/brake situation. Right now I have some newer shifters but I've got a set of older shifter/brake combos in the garage. I think having the single shifter/brake unit will sit a little better on the Jones H-Bars. Everything else looks great, though.

Hopefully, this weekend I'll get to the cables. From there, I'll just swap out the tires for my Schwalbe Marathons, install the rack and I'll be on my way. It's exciting to be so close.

Get out there.


Mayday, Van Down!

Our primary family transportation was down for two and a half weeks getting a new transmission (by the way, I would have loved to have spent that money on a Pugsley instead... but I'm not bitter :)). So my wife was driving my Subaru and I was car-free for a while.
I'm so glad that I have the Xtracycle and plenty of bike enthusiasm in seasons like this. My wife had a doctor's appointment when I took this photo. She drove across town while I loaded the boys up for some man/bike time. Having the Xtra and trailer meant that we were, in no way, confined to the neighborhood. We explored the town and found a great little park with playground and basketball courts. This wouldn't have been a remote possibility with one car and no bikes.

The truth is, I enjoyed that time when the van was gone. It was nice to depend on the bikes out of necessity. It made me appreciate them more.

Get out there.


A Surly Troll is Born

Last week I picked up a new little bikey thing that's got me pretty pumped. My buddy, Riley, at Bike Green Lexington received my shipment of a new Surly Troll frame set. This weekend I took it home, sprayed it full of frame saver and now it's on it's way back to Riley for headset and bottom bracket.

The Troll is going to be my mountain bike, partial commuter and the go-to ride for my wife. The Cross Check I bought for her will step down into single-speed foul weather duty. By running the Troll and two Cross Checks, I've got some really versatile bikes that'll handle almost any responsibility I throw their way.

That'll be four bikes in the garage. Roadie Cross Check, single-speed Cross Check, Troll and Xtracycle. It seems like the perfect plan for me.

Get out there.


Cargo Bikes in Bicycling Magazine

photo from Bicycling Magazine

Bicycling asks the question, "Is this the coolest bike ever made?" Great read if you've ever wondered about the world of cargo bikes. I would certainly say they're competitors for the coolest bikes :)

Get out there.