The Lighter Side of Bicycle Touring and Cycling. Touring Lighter and Less Encumbered ~ I hope you enjoy and visit often. Please send any links, pictures or ideas you would like to share to

Featured Rider: James of

The bike touring community is a small one; there’s not many of us out there. Within that small number is a subculture of ultralight enthusiasts obsessed with the challenge of touring with lighter and lighter kits. James is the author of a wonderful website on the topic of touring and ultralight travel (actually puts The Velo Hobo to shame).   James has also written an e-book on the subject. Check out CycleFar, subscribe to be updated on new posts and buy the book. I think you’ll be as pleased as I am to find such a wealth of information on this obscure topic of Ultralight Bike Touring!

Children Learn Country Flags in Zadar, Croatia (800x600)

“My name is James and I’m the Author of

Though I love to cycle tour, and recently I have been captivated by ultralight touring, I’m an advocate of cycling culture in general.

 James and Ellie in Turkey (800x600)

From CycleFar

“I’m passionate about cycling for transport, utility and touring. I secretly enjoy cycling’s subversive potential to make people happy and challenge the value system of society.”

I often tour with my partner Ellie (see pics) we love to cycle pretty hard, tackle hills but then enjoy relaxing with coffee and food, lots of rest and plenty of sightseeing. We currently live in New Zealand after cycling part way here from England where we commute 100% (we don’t own a car) and like to grow our own food and live simple.


Over the Alps, painful expression (800x600)

Takign a break in Austria (800x611)

Categories: Featured Riders

Researching Rumble Strips: Riders Needed

February 23, 2014 6 comments

The bane of my existence and yours too I’m guessing, is rumble strips.  Rumble strips are those evil divots carved at great expense into road shoulders in an attempt to hinder sleepy or texty drivers from careening off into eternity.  They are also great at flipping cyclists over handlebars, jarring dental work loose and generally wreaking havoc on bicycles and bicyclers.

So here’s an opportunity to participate in a study to develop safer strips to rumble over.  In March volunteer riders, my wife and I included, will spend a few hours riding over an assortment of rumble strips and giving feedback to the researchers.  A shuttle will ferry us for our downhill runs.  This sounds like a great way for cyclists to add their voice to the development and application of rumble strips.

The project is being conducted by the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at NC State University.  It’s being held in Almond, NC on a beautiful stretch of highway 28.  If you are anywhere near the area you should plan to come for a visit and participate in the study.  There’s a lot of great hiking and biking opportunities in the area; so make a mini-vacation of it.

To learn more and to sign up, contact Sarah O’Brien at .  I hope to see you there!

Categories: Road Bike The Smokies

Real Writing with Real Paper and Real Ink

January 18, 2014 4 comments

So the new year is here and my resolution to write 52 letters this year is off to a great start.  I sent off three so far, one to Hendrik in Finland (Hiking in Finland), one to my sister in Virginia and one to my boss thanking him for my bonus.  But now I need your help.  The United States Postal Service is insisting I put an address on each envelope, as if a stamp were not enough.

If you’d like to receive a hand written letter the way it was done ‘back in the day’, please send me your address via .  It would be helpful to put something like ‘send me a letter’ in the title.  You’d not believe the amount of email The Velo Hobo gets; mostly trying to sell me Viagra and hair plugs (who have they been talking to?).

Thanks, Jack


Categories: Going off topic

Another Dam Ride Report: Fontana Dam

January 14, 2014 7 comments

fontana dam panorama

In the mid-1930s Congress decided to share the miracle of electricity to the savage hillbillies of Western North Carolina (e.g., my family).  To do this they dammed-up and tamed the last of the wild free-flowing rivers and built a series of peaceful and picturesque concrete hydroelectric dams.  After completing the dams and seeing that the hillbillies no longer needed electricity because their homes were submerged under 150 feet of frigid mountain water, the government decided to send the electricity across the state line into Tennessee and give it to an aluminum company to make beer cans.  They also sent some to Nashville to fuel America’s most important industry, country music, because you can’t drink beer without country music.  Although homeless, the hillbillies were happy because now they had lakes to play in and they had learned a new word, corporatocracy.  It was what aluminum company executives called a win-win situation.

raquel at dam

Anywho, what we are left with today are some pretty nice lakes and some scenic road riding around said lakes.  One of my favorite road rides here in the Smokies is an absolutely beautiful stretch of road from the foot of Fontana Dam, slicing its way between the lake and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park till it reaches the tip of the Dragon’s Tail.  By Dragon’s Tail, I’m speaking of ‘The Tail of the Dragon’, a famous and dangerous twisty-turny road (318 turns in 11 miles) where motorcyclists and sports car-er-ists come to challenge their skill and bravery.  The trees along this road are festively decorated with car, motorcycle and body parts.  Despite being so close to the Dragon, this mountain lane sees little traffic and is relatively flat considering it’s skirting the GSMNP.  Not to say there isn’t any climbing, there’s plenty from the Twenty Mile ranger station up to Deals Gap.  Enough to kindle a small fire in your thighs, but a series of switch-backs makes the climb manageable for most riders.

jack & raquel

This ride is about 22 miles round trip.  For extra credit (24 miles round trip) start and end on top of the dam, but be careful.  The steep road winding snakishly (yes, I do like to make up my own words; why do you ask?) from the top of the dam to the foot of the dam is just about as dangerous as it gets.  For extra-extra credit do a loop around Yellow Creek and experience the steepest paved road in North Carolina - see my Yellow Creek ride post.

raquel by lake

jack at sign

Categories: Day Tripping

Why I don’t like people on Facebook.

January 14, 2014 2 comments

Just a quick note to all 36 of my Facebook friends who like me a lot but who I don’t like back.  It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s just that I don’t know how to like you.  I guess I’m saying that I just don’t know what it takes to like you.  God knows I’ve tried to like you, I just can’t.  It’s not you, it’s me.  I just find it impossible to like anyone but myself.

I think I must have opened a business Facebook account, or maybe I’ve set some setting where it shouldn’t have been set, or maybe I broke Facebook. 

Anyway, I’d like you if I could…it just ain’t happening.

The Velo Hobo

Categories: Going off topic

2013 in review

December 31, 2013 Leave a comment

The Velo Hobo stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 53,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 20 sold-out performances for that many people to see it. Once again, my post on Polk Salad is the most read thing I’ve ever written.  Really? Polk Salad? I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves the poisonous polk plant.  Here’s a link to learn more about this wild and wooly weed:   Eating Wild Things: Polk Salad

And follow this link to read 2013 stats: Click here to see the complete report.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!  See ya in 2014.

Categories: Uncategorized

Featured Riders: Julie and Mark

December 15, 2013 2 comments

Julie and Mark, two cycling adventurers from England, sent this along to share with The Velo Hobo readers.  Read their epic experience along the TransAm on their Crazy Guy On A Bike journal.

“My husband and I cycled the Transam and some of the Pacific coast this year from April to Sept on a Hase Pino Tandem. The ride was a dream of ours which we worked hard to make happen. We didn’t want to wait until we retired to fulfill our dream as you never know what is around the corner. The tour was very challenging, especially on our bike of choice, but we have wonderful memories that will last as long as we live. We had to give up our jobs to do the ride which was kind of scary, but we have no regrets. The best thing about the ride was the people we met and the kindness we received. We learned a lot about touring on our tour, the main lesson we learnt is how much the weight you carry greatly affects your enjoyment of the ride. All future tours we will be going as lightweight as possible.”

 Here is a link to our journal:

Thanks Julie and Mark for the contribution.

Julie and Mark

Categories: Featured Riders

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