These past few months we’ve been pretty active as WarmShowers hosts. No fewer than six bicycle explorers have taken shelter under our humble roof. Brett pedaled south to our door from the Jersey shore with an outlandish claim to not know Snookie. Following Brett were Kosta and Eric, two college friends reunioning together with a bike tour. Hot on the heals of Kosta and Eric were two French Canadians, Normand and Dominique. These two very experienced tourists stayed two days with us and cooked us a wonderful meal before heading out. Our last visitor was Kerri, who is taking some time to meander the world by bike.
If you’ve not considered becoming a WarmShowers host, give it a think. You’ll meet some wonderful fellow bike tourists!
With great reluctance I sit at the keyboard to pen this post. It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing, I do; I love it. But something has gotten in the way; blocking the creative juices and keeping me from doing the very thing that makes abnormal me feel normal.
What’s clogging the creativity conduit keeping all the weirdness locked inside? It’s the keyboard, the computer, the whole internet thing. And WordPress, Goddess bless their wretched souls, tweaking this and that as if it weren’t tedious enough to upload posts.
So with or without your permission, here’s my remedy. My New Year’s resolution is to write 52 letters to 52 people in 52 weeks. I’ll use real ink and real paper, and a real dictionary for spill chicking. What a concept. I’ll use real saliva to seal the envelopes and even though we haven’t needed to since the 80’s, I think I’ll lick the stamps too. My audience will number one a week; family member, friend, bill collector, whoever.
So what will happen to The Velo Hobo? I’ll post pictures of the wonderful travelers who take refuge in our home and maybe a few bike related photos of my own. With no real pressure to be clever and witty, maybe I’ll post more. Maybe not.
Thanks for putting up with me, and as always, thanks for reading The Velo Hobo.
There’s a cool scene in the movie The Great Waldo Pepper where two barnstorming pilots pass each other in the sky and decide to land in a nearby pasture to have a chat; two kindred spirits just stopping to say hello. Bike tourist can relate very well to this. A person on a loaded bike isn’t a stranger, but another adventurer out adventuring.
On a long desolate stretch of sand-swept highway last May, my wife and I spotted one of those familiar specks far off in the distance; the ones that seem to be wobbling in a loaded touring bike kind of way. You know what I’m talking about. That tiny speck grew and grew until it had become a full sized bike tourist.
Jack Day, to celebrate his 70th year, was out touring 7,000 miles. Starting in Des Moines, Iowa he biked to Key West. Then rode back along the Atlantic coastline heading for the Canadian border where he’ll meander his way back home.
Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!
Camping on the Outer Banks of North Carolina can be a challenge. A dispiriting wind blows here like no other place, picking up sand and blasting everything in its path with equal disdain. In this treeless environment the wind plows through unchecked for miles searching out its next victim and cyclists are easy prey. Imagine battling a horrendous headwind for forty miles, arriving at a coastal campground mentally and physically exhausted, then trying to pitch a tent while being pelted by sand.
Here are a few tips for pitching a tent in windy conditions.
First, site location. Try to pick a spot with some type of wind break. This last trip out my wife and I were lucky enough to find tent sites just behind small sand dunes. If you can’t find a naturally occurring wind break you may be able to make one by up-ending a picnic table on its side.
Tent selection is another consideration. If you have the choice, go with a smaller tent. When tents are strung taut with tent poles they become kites and smaller kites are easier to control. We were using a Big Agnes Seed House 2; a small free-standing tent with a low aerodynamic profile. It was a good choice, easy to pitch in the wind and never gave us any concern of blowing down in the middle of the night.
Tent positioning is as important as site location. Obviously position the door away from the prevailing wind direction. We witnessed several poorly positioned tents inflate and blow apart. Don’t be shy about asking for help, or offering to help your tenting neighbor.
Be careful with loose stuff sacks. Loose everything for that matter; socks, underwear, maps are all fair game to rogue winds.
Lastly, anchor well. If your tent comes with those skinny bent rod type stakes, consider changing them out for bladed stakes. Rod stakes will never hold in the sand. Bring extra line to tie the tent to a solid object, like a picnic table. You can also make anchors by filling plastic shopping bags with sand and tying off to those.
Do you have any pointers for tenting in high winds? Leave a comment.
Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!
Since I’m too lazy to blog anything lately…here’s a post from a reader. DoubleD sent pictures of his Surly Pacer…great job on the build!
“Here are a couple of pics of my Surly Pacer. My son (19) wanted to build up a bike so the Pacer frame was purchased.
Components are Shimano Sora, a good choice to me for dependability and good looks, my old Brooks Pro (Presoftened – it says so on the saddle!), Mavic Open Sport rims and Sora hubs. My son built the wheels and although it was a time consuming effort as it was his first ever build, the results have been good.
Bars are Nitto Randonneur and are too narrow for me. I have a Nitto Noodle bar that is two cm wider that will replace it.
Cassette (11-28) and chain are SRAM as recommended by my lbs being the cheaper but equivalent in quality to the Shimano I was going to buy. Seems to match up well.
I remained faithful to the Specialized Armadillo tires (700-28) as using them has caused my tube changing time to be increased from two minutes on the side of the road to something like 10-15 minutes, not including the snack afterwards. I’ve not had a flat but once in the 5 years I’ve used Armadillos. Love em.
The Pacer only has about 300 miles on it so far and I still have some tweaking to do (saddle movement, bar height, stem) but have already fallen in love with it. I love the Sparklboogie blue against the black components and the triple chainring (48/39/30) is fantastic. Most of the time I stay in the middle ring and spin. Oh joy!
I’m torn now as to which horse to ride – the Long Haul Trucker or the Pacer. I have found the perfect bikes for me.
Attached are a couple of pics. Not the best photos but I try.
You live in a beautiful part of the country. I envy you the hills to climb on your bike and the beautiful views seen from the top and the remote hiking trails.
Love your blog,
So how dumb do you have to be to stick something in your mouth that has “stinging” as part of its name? Well pretty dumb according to my wife, but growing up a poor kid in Southern Appalachia we ate all manner of weird things, and were happy to get it. Nettles were one of those weird things. Yep, they really do sting. Not so much as to cause you to drop to the ground writhing in pain, but enough to make you let go. Honestly I enjoy being stung by nettles. I find it exciting, almost electrifying, to a point. Usually when my throat starts to swell shut I know I’ve had enough and I get up, put my clothes back on and stop wallowing in it. Then I pick some of the plants that have not been too wallowed and bring them home to cook. But no such luck today. The search continues!