We’ve been in Iowa the last few days to speak at the Iowa Bicycle Summit about bicycle tourism. After the summit, we hung out for the weekend to check out the Iowa Bike Expo and RAGBRAI route announcement party. We haven’t ridden RAGBRAI ourselves and have only heard stories of its size and general craziness. Both the Expo and RAGBRAI party were well attended and it was a great chance to take a peek into Iowa’s own version of bike fun!
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In this vid, we review the Carsick Designs Rack Sling, an open topped sling bag that functions similarly to Xtracycle Free Radical bags. The slings can accommodate loads that won’t fit in regular panniers. In the few weeks that we’ve been testing them, I’ve put everything from a standard backpack to a 1×1 LED video light to our fishing gear in the sling. Watch the vid and see it in action on our Bicycle Travel Channel.
Our latest Oregon Scenic Bikeway is up! This one is located in the Southern Oregon Coast and really gives a unique way to experience the Oregon Coast. You get a mix of windswept views as well as following the Elk River through a river gorge into the coastal range! Check out the route here.
In this video we review the SOMA Fabrications Supple Vitesse tire. The Supple Vitesse, as the name implies, is an amazingly smooth and fast riding tire. It’s 42mm width means that there is tons of air volume to provide suspension. Unlike tires just a few years ago that were wide, but prioritized flat protection, the Supple Vitesse offers great ride quality. I’ve been riding it for the last few months and have enjoyed it over varied terrain, everything from paved road rides to mixed terrain rambles up in the Verdugos, Griffith Park and Forest Park here in Portland. Watch the vid for the rest of our thoughts and don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube Channel!
Some might find it strange to know that despite a lot of the content we put up online via our website, Youtube Channel and other various social media feeds Laura and I both do a fair amount of analog journaling. We spend a lot of time online, so it is absolutely refreshing to brain dump thoughts using a real pen and paper. When we travel, although we may take a tablet or laptop depending on the trip, everything goes down on paper first. In fact, those dogeared notebooks with rough sketches, misspellings and coffee stains are among our prized possessions from our travels. There is something about that slow tactile experience of writing something down that seems to better set a memory than merely typing it down on a bright glowing screen.
It is interesting to see my preference over years for journaling tools. Looking at my pile of notebooks, there was a period when I exclusively used thicker Moleskine notebooks. But now, my preferences have changed towards simple staple bound mini notebooks. I think there is something about the fewer pages that not only makes it easier to carry, but also takes the pressure off of always having something ponderous to say before writing it down. The smaller notebooks, for me at least, feel more like every day users and I therefore use them every day.
There is also something satisfying about filling up a small book and starting a new one. Like most, we started with the ubiquitous Field Notes brand notebooks. They are easy to find and come in some nice themed editions. I was particularly fond of the Expedition Series because of their water resistant paper and dot ruling, but found it hard to find a pen that wrote well on the slick paper. I gave up at one point and just started using a mechanical pencil with those notebooks.
The Midori Passport is a current favorite for carrying multiple notebooks.
Being a mini notebook power user, I started looking for a way to carry multiple notebooks. Typically, I will carry three notebooks with particular purposes on a trip (journal, fishing notes, sketchbook). This led me to the Midori Passport. It is a beautifully simple notebook system that consists of a leather cover and a series of rubber bands to hold multiple notebooks in place. The paper, although wispy thin compared to FieldNotes, is actually of a much higher quality especially if you use fountain pens. The problem is that the Midori uses slightly smaller notebooks and refills aren’t as easy to find and few stores (if any) carry them locally. Though, we did find that Scout Books, a Portland based notebook maker, offers their notebook in a passport size which works perfectly with the Midori. Scout Books make a great refill alternative for the Midori, but I found the paper was a little too absorbent for fountain pen use. The local art store started carrying notebooks by Fabriano and in particular EcoQua mini notebooks which are my current favorite. They are the same size as Field Notes with dot ruling, but the paper is much better and works well with fountain pens. There is far less feathering and bleed through with them.
I write all this to say that analog journaling can be an endless rabbit hole in of itself but it is pleasant to have some nice tools in the journaling process. Part of the impetus of creating our latest Youtube video, was to give people a simple way to try out multiple notebooks without spending too much on specialized leather cases.
While my personal taste for specific notebooks and pens may change, I think I will probably always analog journal in some shape or form. I’m curious, do you journal with pen and paper on your trips? What are your favorite tools and how do you organize them? And lastly, what are YOUR reasons for analog journaling when it is so easy to do it on a phone or tablet?
Since paring down our touring kit, we’ve become real fans of small panniers. These Arkel panniers are probably the smallest we own (definitely the lightest) and are more like a bikepackers pannier than anything else. Amazingly, they are also fairly affordable for the pair. Watch the video to see how they mount and our thoughts on them.
We are just wrapping up 3 weeks of being on the road on a sort of Northern California bicycle tourism study tour. We’ve been staying in countless motels and in this vid, we show our travel coffee setup we use when we aren’t camping. It’s a great portable setup if you’re on a trip where lighting a stove probably isn’t the best choice!
The Great Shasta Rail Trail has been on our radar for the last few months. When it is complete, it will be an 80 mile rail trail through some amazing Northern California landscape. 37 miles are currently open to the public, the remaining miles have some challenging construction challenges with several bridges that need to be maintained. In this video, we ride a portion that starts near the quaint former timber town, McCloud, CA.
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We are currently on a road trip with our bikes from Los Angeles back to Portland. We made a quick stop in Redding to check out the local cycling scene and talk with bike advocates. Redding is an interesting bicycling destination with lots of great riding (that no one knows about!) and great fishing. Of course, I had to throw a line in and try a little #bikefishing in town!
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LA has a pretty interesting and vibrant bike culture and one of the cool local events is #LARiverCampCoffee, an informal weekly meet up of coffee and bicycle aficionados. We’ve been hearing about this local gathering for the last year on Instagram and finally got a chance to check it out first hand. In this video we interview Errin Vasquez to get a little background of #LARiverCampCoffee as well as chat with some folks to get their take on this bike and coffee phenomena. If you enjoyed this interview and like our new video content, let us know by subscribing to our Bicycle Travel Channel!