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

Double D and his Surly P

August 9, 2013 2 comments


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,

Categories: Gear

Not Eating Wild Things Today: Stinging Nettles

May 19, 2013 2 comments

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!

Categories: Eating Wild Things

Surly Pacer with Parking Brakes? Why?

May 18, 2013 5 comments

Categories: Gear

About Bar Stools and Brooks Saddles

April 5, 2013 11 comments

Buying a Brooks takes a leap of faith.  They’re pricey. You can expect to spend about a hundred bucks for the B-17.  That’s quite a bit to spend on something that doesn’t come with advertising hype, no strategically placed gel or cut outs to prevent the dysfunction of erectiles.  Also, when you first sit on the thing, you’re overwhelmed by the urge to send it back with a nasty letter.  It takes time and miles to break-in the leather.  You have to lie to friends and family and say “oh this thing so comfy” so they don’t make fun of you for buying hundred year old technology.  But before long, about a couple of hundred miles, the thing becomes a pleasure to sit on.  Like a well-worn sofa, it conforms to your back-side like no other saddle can.

Brooks saddles are a lot like bar stools.  With bar stools, the more you drink the more comfortable they become.  With Brooks, the more you ride the more comfortable they become.

If you’ve just bought a new Brooks and are scanning the web to see if your sore butt is normal…it is.  But keep the faith, it will get better, and then you’ll ride nothing but Brooks.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!

Categories: Gear

Leatherman Style CS Review

April 1, 2013 5 comments

Need a pair of small light-weight scissors for your bike’s first aid kit?  Sure you do, and if you’re like most folks you need a good first aid kit as well.  And what about tweezers for your bicycle related tweezing?  And wouldn’t it be nice to have a finger nail file so you don’t scare away little children after a few weeks on the road?  And a tiny eye-glass screw driver combination nasty fingernail crud digger-outer?  And a carabineer in case you need to repel out of a helicopter with your bike across your shoulders?  And a bottle opener?  (You know if you’re injured you’re gonna wanna drink.)  And a knife to cut your Power Bar into bite size pieces?  What if I told you, you can have all this for less than twenty bucks and only 1.4 ounces?

leatherman closed

“Shut up, less than twenty bucks and only 1.4 ounces?  Are you serious Velo Hobo?”  Yep and you heard it here first, or you’ve heard it somewhere else and I’m telling you again.  Either way, it’s true.  The Leatherman Style CS is a good pair of small scissors with other useful stuff attached.  Carry it on your keychain and toss it in your first aid kit.  All Leatherman tools, even this ultra-light micro tool, come with a 25 year warranty.  Wow.

leatherman open

Categories: Gear

Surly Pacer – Pragmatically Cool and Nothing I Wasn’t Looking For

March 30, 2013 19 comments

I’ve developed an allergy to carbon.  Lycra too but that’s another story.  Needing a replacement for my aluminum and carbon Specialized Sequoia, I just could not bring myself to spend hard earned cash on another bike that will need replacing after only a few decades of hard use.  I wanted a bike I could ‘ride hard and put up wet’ as the cowboys say.  I wasn’t looking for a feather-weight racing bike; I don’t race.  I wasn’t looking for an overly-built truck-cycle either.  I have a dedicated touring bike.

Pacer on a tree

The first bike I took a serious look at was the Surly Pacer, a no-nonsense steel old school roadie.  At first glance I was sold.  The Pacer had none of the design features I wasn’t looking for, such as silly space-age materials, goofy aerodynamic shapes or ‘technological advances’ in bicyclery.  It’s a bicycle, not a Mars Rover.

Being the thrifty fellow I am, I ordered the frame through Bryson City Bicycles (support your local bike shop!) and set about stripping parts off my Sequoia and bolting them to the Pacer.  Andy
(BCB’s co-owner and head wrench) was a great help and did the more complicated parts of transplant procedure.  This is the second bike I’ve done major work on and the most important thing I’ve learned is: I really hate working on bikes.  On my first rebuild I pressed my own headset, installed a bottom bracket and even pulled my own crank, and as fun as that may sound, I just found it too tedious.

Pacer in a tree

The Pacer frame weighs about 4 ½ pounds and add 2 pounds more for the front fork if you choose to ride with one.  That’s 6 ½ pounds for folks in Alabama.  24 1/2  pounds completed; not a feather-weight, but not bad for a bike with no fear of pot holes, room enough for 32c tires (28c with fenders), braze-ons for fenders and even a pump peg.  The pump peg alone is worth the price of the bike.

The Pacer’s color, ‘Sparkle Boogie Blue’, is not as crippling ugly as the Traveler Check’s ‘Brown Low’.  Out of the box it’s not very attractive, but built up with shiny things attached I think it works.  I’ve added a set-back seat post and a stem from Velo Orange.  And of course the saddle is my old worn in Brooks.  Andy dressed up the cables, chopped the steering tube down to size and generally made the thing ridable.

Tree under a Pacer

The Pacer’s ride is snappy and responsive with its tighter geometry and narrower tires compared to the Travelers Check (Cross Check) but not as snappy as a more modern style ‘racing’ bike.  The front fork rake seems forgiving of road vibration but admittedly not as cushy as the Sequoia’s carbon and “Zert” inserted fork.  The Pacer will allow me to run a wider tire that should more than make up the difference if I choose, but really, I’m not so delicate that road vibration is an issue.

The Pacer seems to be manufactured solid, with clean welds and a good paint job.  I’ll do a more comprehensive review after a few thousand mountain miles but my initial impression is very positive.  This is a great bike (frame) at an affordable price, practical and unpretentious.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!

Categories: Gear

Featured Biker Hiker Egor

March 8, 2013 2 comments

Egor beside White Blaze

World-wide-wanderer Egor dropped by to rest his blistered feet and seek refuge from a snowed under Appalachian Trail. Originally from St. Petersburg Russia, Egor is more of a citizen of planet Earth than any one nation and has explored extensively around the globe. Most recently he was touring by bike from Miami to the west coast when his knee blew out in Texas. Egor related waking up in his tent unable to walk. Eventually he was able to push himself along on his bike till he found shelter with a Warm Showers host. Doctors told him he needed a $25,000 operation (welcome to America!). Unable to pay, doctors gave him some magic pills and told him to rest. After a few weeks of rest and American-Magic-Medicine, Egor decided thru-hiking the AT would be better for his knee than bicycle touring (ahem).

About eighty miles into the trail, the unpredictable snow storm we get the first week of every March here in the mountains of North Carolina dumped over a foot of snow on the Appalachian Trail. Faced with freezing to death on some un-named mountain top, Egor decided visiting The Velo Hobo was the lesser of two evils and hitch-hiked to what passes around here as civilization. Following a couple of nights sleeping indoors, Egor hit the trail again. We wish him well as he hikes north into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and beyond.

Thanks for reading The Velo Hobo!

Categories: Featured Riders

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