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!
We met Chase almost a year ago at FrostBike. He and his wife Tami had plans to open up a new bicycle and coffee lifestyle shop in the heart of Los Angeles Art’s District. We got a chance to get an exclusive look at their new space a few days ago. Even though the shop is still under construction, we could tell immediately from the space that it is going to be a big hit. Check out our interview with them and follow them on Instagram or sign up for their newsletter to keep track of their progress!
Up, Down and In-N-Out
Distance: 12 miles
Elevation: +1932 feet
Riding Conditions: Some road riding, mixed terrain, fire roads
Ideal Bike: Gravel bike, touring bike, mountain bike, fat tire road bike
Tire Size: Recommend at least 32-35mm, 40mm ideal
GPS: Ride with GPS link
After a busy and successful Bicycle Tourism Conference, where we made some great new acquaintances and reconnected with colleagues we headed South via Amtrak to where I grew up in Los Angeles. Whenever, we visit with my parents, I’m always excited at the opportunity to do some riding since they live just a few miles from Angeles Crest Forest and the Verdugo Mountains. Of course there is a bit of irony, since I remember in high school feeling bored because there was “nothing to do” in the Sunland/Tujunga area. This was before I discovered bicycling. Now, when we visit, its a bit of a cycling vacation if you can believe it.
One of our favorite short rides to do is what we’ve dubbed the “Up, Down and In-n-Out” ride because just as the name implies, there is a lot of climbing and descending ending conveniently at an In-n-Out. The Verdugos have been “discovered” the last few years since the interest in mixed terrain riding/gravel grinding has become popular. We enjoy it as a great short ride to stretch the legs and enjoy an awesome 360 degree view when the wind patterns allow.
What I personally love about it, is that it is this natural oasis right smack in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. There are some deep almost forested pockets where you can imagine for a second what this area looked like before the freeways and strip malls. It is a great ride for mental health when you’re tired of the urban jungle that is Los Angeles.
Here is a route that we’ve plotted from the In-n-Out on Foothill and Lowell. The first 2 miles (and last 2 miles) are on city streets, but the traffic seems to be fairly light and there are good sight lines and passing space. Once you cross the gate and hit the off-road portions it is essentially uphill until the top. In short order you’ll be tested with a punchy 15% ramp that lasts a few hundred feet. Once you get past that there is some (but not much) reprieve. Most sections hover above 7% with some more stretches in the 10-12% range. There is no traffic, so you can go as slow as you need. There are portions that are pretty rutted and sandy so you have to be a bit more present to navigate those parts. This is definitely a 30mm+ sort of ride with 42-45mm being optimal, but if you are a skilled rider you could do it with 28mm tires.
You’ll know you are near the top when you see the radio towers. A lot of the ride is fairly sun exposed, so on a hot day it pays to have at least 2 water bottles. Once you make it to the towers, you can enjoy a flatter section on the ridge with amazing views of downtown Los Angeles in the distance. There is a little area signed as Plantation Lateral that makes for a good picnic with a bench that could not have been better placed. Once at the top you can explore some more, or if you’re hungry by then, ride down hill and head for the In-n-Out!
This is a great ride if you only have a few hours and want some traffic free climbing in or if you want to break in your new gravel grinding machine. It is also a great introduction to the riding in the Verdugos if you’ve never ridden there before (and did we mention there is an In-n-Out at the end of the ride?) Sunland/Tujunga will probably never be a true cycling destination, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some true gems hidden in the San Fernando Valley.
(Check out our blog post about our visit to the Verdugos back in January 2014)
We’re about to hop a plane today to head down to San Diego for the National Bicycle Tourism Conference (#biketourism2015 for Twitter folks) in San Diego. It should be a fun and informative conference and will give us a chance to connect with both our bicycling and tourism colleagues. From there, we’re going to the Los Angeles area to ride the Verdugos, visit with family and celebrate my birthday (yay!).
From there, we are on sort of a road trip (with a car unfortunately and bikes in tow) making our way back to Portland, Oregon. We have rough plans to stop in Redding, CA to do some #bikefishing with some locals then stop in some Shasta area communities to interview folks behind the new Great Shasta Rail Trail. We’ll be posting on our various feeds (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and if you want to meet up or give us suggestions of what to check out, let us know!