17 January 2017

Watching the Santos Tour Down Under-Tour Tracker is your Answer

I don't know about you but I find trying to watch any cycling (in the USA) or non-mainstream sports a challenge.  I started to see what was online or to see if there was an app that I could used to follow the race.
I was able to find the Santos Tour Down app by Tour Tracker. This is a free app that you can download from Google Play or itunes (see link below). What do you get for free? You get live coverage such as stats, news (which is like a feed every few mins. You also get a profile map and a course map. The video is delayed and starts at 9:00 p.m. EST
You also get stage details and teams and riders.
I am pleased with that and feel that I get what I am looking for and can enjoy an evening of cycling to end a long day. Last night I was having an issue with the video freezing up. So i figured i would email the app support link. I figured in a day or two the app might get updated to fix the issue. That was not the case at all. I received an email back from Tour Tracker that they also had seen the problem and within 30-45 mins I was watching without issue. During the night the app was updated! I was very surpise with the quick response.
I hope to be able to provide some information in the future of how best to watch cycling. If you have had success with apps or online cycling coverage please leave a remark below
Following the Santos Tour Down Under on Tour Tracker! Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.thetourtracker.tdu iPhone: http://itunes.apple.com/app/id930796407

28 December 2016

The 10 essentials

If you do a search on the 10 essentials you will get more articles on the subject than you could read in a life time. The articles for the most part list the same items.

The Original List :

Sunglasses and sunscreen
Extra clothing
First-aid supplies
Extra food

Then down at the bottom of the article they will list other items to carry. It might be listed as nice items to take or something like that.
Then there is;

The Essential System :

Navigation (map & compass)
Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
Insulation (extra clothing)
Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
First-aid supplies
Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
Repair kit and tools
Nutrition (extra food)
Hydration (extra water)
Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)

Which are different words for the same 10 items.

Now if you did that same search but looked at the images tab you will see that folks carry far more than the 10 essentials when they are talking about just the 10 essentials. I don't think a Hatchet and a 8 inch fix blade knife is part of the list. But let’s face it, we just like gear!

So how is my post about the 10 essentials going to be any different than the other 10 thousand other articles out there on the subject?

Mission or activity dictates the gear. I want you to think about the 10 essentials in three parts. 1) System base list 2) Level and 3) Time

Let’s just start with the "Mission or Activity dictates the gear". If you are going out to get a 1 hour mountain bike or road ride, do you need the same gear for 5 hour ride?

Do you need the same gear for a 1 hour hike as you need for a 4 hour day hike?

The answer to both of those questions is Mission or activity dictates the gear. Using the parts 1) System base list  2) Level  and 3) Time

System Base List:

I like the system base list concept because it allows you to be able to adjust the list based on your mission or activity.

You pick and choose items for a essential category. Let’s take the essential category of fire. As a system it let's you take waterproof matches or if you like a mini lighter or maybe a fire kit that has a few matches, a striker and a fuel tab.

Remember mission or activity dictates the gear! If you are on a 1 hour bicycle ride on your local park trails or on the road then you don't need any items for fire. You should leave this essential category out of things to carry. Only carry what you need.

I have given it a lot of thought and I do not understand why either list has sun protection on it. I guess since moutaineers made the 10 essentials list back in the 1930s it was more of a concern. I thought at first that this would be better applied under first aid or should not be on the list at all. Then it hit me! It should be renamed as just protection. In this essential category it would cover sun protection but would also cover insect protection and chafing protection.

It might be a day where the sun is not out but the insects are bad or its black fly season. You would not need sun screen you would need insect repellent. So my system based list is going to change from sun protection to just protection. I guess I could have come up with a better name, but that's what I am going with for now.


This is more of a military concept for mission essential equipment.  I believe we can adopt this same concept for any of your outdoor pursuits.

Level 1. This is the clothes and equipment worn by the individual. Examples of these items are your hat, jacket, belt, socks and boots. It would also include items from our essential list such as fire essential category (Carrying a lighter in your pocket). You might also carry the navigation essentials on you and not in your pack.

Level  2. This would be items that you would need for your short term activities. By short term I mean from 1 hour to a full day but your are not staying overnight. Examples would be that the items need from the system base list would be carried in a day pack.

Level 3. This would be items that you would need for long term. By long term I mean that you would be staying overnight or multiple days. Examples would be that you would carry these items in a backpack or panniers

In the scope of this post you would only be concerned with level 1 & 2.

When I was in the infantry we would carry our ruck (backpack) on the approach and then we would drop or cache our ruck before moving forward to the objective. I carried a small pack that was called a buttpack. This small pack might have some food, a poncho and some other items that I would need. But one day I got cut off from my main pack for 3 days. I learned from that point to have the items on me that I would need to survive. 

You might not get cut off from your main pack like I did but the point is to have the essentials on you.


I added time because your essentials will need to change with the amount of time that your mission or activity takes.  This will mostly effect nutrition and hydration.  The longer you are out the more food and water you need to take. Example, on a 1 hour bike ride you might only need to carry one water bottle with you. If you are to ride 5-7 hours then you might need two water bottles or a hydration system and energy bars.  You also might need some cash to stop at a store to purchase more water and food.

I did not want to add pictures to this post because I did not want folks to get wrapped up on the gear in the pictures. I want people to think about the essentials and what you need to have with you to have an successful and safe outing.

I will do a follow on post on the system base list concept and what the  gear would look like for level 1 and level 2 set up.

11 December 2016

Doyles River Loop, Shenandoah National Park

Jones Run Trail
A trip to Shenandoah National Park was well overdue and this was to be a daddy and daughter hike. For one reason or another we have not been able to make the trip. This past October we made it out for a day to catch the fall colors. We might have missed the peak by a couple of days but this trip did not disappoint . 

Are plan was to do the Doyles River Loop. Which is a 6.5 mile loop with about 1400ft of elevation change. You can make a long circuit hike which will put you at almost 8 miles. The trails in Shenandoah National Park are well maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) and my map and guide one this hike was their guidebook Circuit Hikes in Shenandoah National Park 13th edition 1990. The level of detail that the guidebook provides is all I needed to navigate the trail. 

We parked at the trailhead of the Jones River Trail. During the fall color season you want to get to your trailhead by 9:30 or you will find yourself dealing with a full parking lot. The above picture is Jones River Trail just before you get to your first water crossing.

Old growth Tulip Popular
Following the Jones River Trail I was surprised to find old growth Tuip Populars. They are massive and tower the forest floor. We took our lunch just up the trail from where the Jones River and Doyles River Trail meet. 

Doyle River Trail
In the background is Cedar Mountain Elv 3330. This is on Doyles River Trail  about halfway up from Jones River Trail . On both trails you will find a couple of waterfalls and on Jones River you will find a couple of pools to enjoy in the summer time. 

It always seems that I learn about the history of a place after I have been there than to know about it before I go. This hike was no different. The picture below is Browns Gap Road. Construction of the road started in 1805 and was known as Browns Turnpike. During the Civil War this was an important route and was used by Stonewall Jackson to get his troops across the Blue Ridge on many occasions. 

Browns Gap Road goes all the way across the park. I enjoyed this part of the hike so much that I want to go back to hike this road across the park. It is amazing to me that a road that is 216 years old is in such great shape. 

I called it the Rhubarb Highway on our hike because it ran down the side of the trail forever. 

Browns Gap Road

I don't know if it was because I had not hiked it the park for so long or that it was a daddy and me day hike or what. But this hike was one of the most enjoyable that I had been on.

19 October 2016

Bikewright Workshop Project- Diamondback Apex- Phase one Completed!

Bikewright Workshop Project-Diamondback Apex -First Test Ride

At last phase 1 of the Bikewright Workshop Project is complete and I set off for my first test ride. If you are new to the blog go here to read about how this project got started. My process might be wrong or someone else might have used a different method than I have here, but this makes the most since to me.

 First off I was not a 100% that this frame was going to fit me. I purchase the frame off of an on-line auction site. I had to go off the measurements that were list and match that up to what I was already riding. Sure, not all the measurements matched up and it was kind of of wait and see approach.

There were a couple of different challenges to this build which impacted the whole process. I did a lot of research about touring/mountain touring/trekking and bikepacking. That open up a big can of worms or in this case choices, What type of gearing did I want? Double or triple crank? What type of shifters? What racks will I use? There is no right answer to any of this!

Once I had the choices figured out. The next question is, will it work together. More research on to understand what works and what does not. Are the shifters going to work with the derailleurs? Is the handle bar going to work with the stem?

One last challenge was cost. I wanted to keep cost down as much as I could. Not that I wanted to go the cheap route, but a purpose built one. Sure I would have liked to tried an Alfine hub, but I could not have justified the cost over the benefit of such a hub.

What was the test ride like? I am totally amazed at how well this bike fits me and how well it handles. The bike is just a blast to ride. So much so I am thinking about racing in a Mostercross race in February on the bike. One because I think it would be fun and two nobody would be riding anything like it.

Here is the build list:
Frame:                                            1989 Diamondback Apex Tange Chromoly Double-butted Tubing

Front Fork:                                     Chromoly Straight Blade Fork with mid-fork rack eyelets and braze-ons

Wheels:                                           32 Spoke WTB Dual Duty Rims and WTB Grease Guard Hubs

Tires:                                                Bontrager Connection 26X1.75

Brakes:                                            Cane Creek SXC-5 Brakes and SRC-5C Levers

Crankset:                                         Truativ Team Stylo 44/32/22

Derailleur (rear):                               9 Speed Shimano XTR

Derailleur (front):                              9 Speed Shimano Deore M590

Shifter F/R:                                       9 Speed Mircoshift Bar End Shifter BS-T09

Cassette:                                           9 Speed Shimano XT

Chain                                                9 Speed KMC X9.93

Handlebar:                                        Origin 8 Gary II Bar

Stem:                                                DiamondBack L130mm, D22.2mm, C25.4mm

Headset:                                           No Name 1"

Bottom Bracket:                               Tange 68X113mm

Seat Post:                                         Gipiemme 26.6mm

Saddle:                                             Selle Anatomica

Phase II will be the racks and bags and other hardwear that I will need for camping out.

Phase III will be frame work and paint

If you have questions please commitment below

11 October 2016

Bikewright Workshop Project-Diamondback Apex at the LBS

This workshop project has taken me longer than I figured it would and I guess some of that has been by choice. There are so many ways that I could have gone with hubs, gears and other parts that it all can be overwhelming at times.

There have been times that I wondered if I should have done this project. Would the time and money been better spent on a new adventure bike?

Over the weekend I tried to install a brand new Tange bottom bracket. After a couple of tries I figure that I need the bottom bracket chased. Since I don't have the tools for that, I needed to enlist my local shop do do that job for me.

I think I might have had my above question answered today by the shops mechanic. After I told him what I needed done I got the feedback I was looking for. He said I like it! I like the bike and Cane Creek  brakes levers!

I feel like if the shop mechanic likes what you are building and he tells you that, then you are doing it right. He gets to work on everything from crap bikes to the latest and greatest.  But with working on a project bikes like this is just different. There’s putting new life into a old frame. There’s figuring out how to get new or used parts to work together. Most of all is it going to ride like you have been planning.

I hope by this time next week I can share pictures with you of the mock-up and a report of its test ride.

30 September 2016

Project- DIY Slingshot

With all the responsibilities with being an adult, it is fun sometimes to seek our inner kid. I feel that the bicycle does this. As a kid our bicycles let us get that first taste of freedom and the adventure spirit. Today as adults we ride still seeking that freedom and adventure that we found as a kid only if its for an hour or if we are lucky a weekend trip.

I notice on some other blogs or just pictures posted on the web that some folks had slingshots with them on bikepacking trips or bikepacking/touring camp out events. I figured it was time for me to be like the cool kids (adults) that are on the popular online blogs and get a slingshot.

Now there are some cool looking slingshots what you can purchase online but I am not going to pay the Hipster price of $20-$40 for a slingshot. I thought back to when I was a kid we would have just made ourselves a slingshot from a tree branch. I set off one weekend to do just that and it was a cool 1 hour project.

** Disclaimer here** I am not an expert slingshot builder and what I am sharing is how I built my slingshot. You can also research how to build DIY slingshot on the web get other methods. Also remember that a slingshot is not a toy. It becomes a weapon with a rock in it. Also please read about the laws in your state about slingshots.

 DIY Slingshot
Look for a good hard wood branch that has a nice fork. I used a branch from a Dogwood tree. I found that the Dogwood just had better forks than the Oak trees in my yard. When you cut the branch from the tree make sure you cut it longer than you need. You can trim everything up later.

The next step in the process is to dry the branch out. If we just let the branch air dry it would take months to dry out. But with one modern day appliance we can take what would take months to about 8 minutes.

DIY Slingshot

Wrap your forked branch with a rag to protect the microwave. *Note to self, do not use a red shop rag like in the picture. The red will bleed onto the branch.* Use a something that is white. You will want to only cook the branch for 30 seconds with a 1 minute rest time between each 30 second cook. You can catch to wood on fire if you cook it for longer time periods. You will hear the water that is in the branch sizzle and when the sizzle is gone the branch is dried out. This took about eight 30 second cook times to dry my branch out.

The choice is up to you to leave the bark on or not. I think it looks better with the bark off. I just used a pocket knife to do this.

DIY Slingshot

Next I took a round file to cut a grove around the branch. This is where the rubber band or tube will go.

DIY Slingshot

 Go to the BB gun and slingshot section of your favorite big box sporting goods store and there you will find replacement bands for slingshots. The replacement bands should cost you about $4. You could also go to your home improvement store and you can find rubber hose to make the bands from. Three feet will run you $3. Then you will have to source some leather for the rock pouch.

DIY Slingshot

I used a binder clip to hold the band in place so I could wrap one piece of cord around the band to make the loop. I used one white cord from a piece of 550 cord. Each inter cord can hold 35 pounds.

 DIY Slingshot

There you go! One DIY slingshot. Fits in the back of my Wingnut Pack.


18 September 2016

A Look at the 2016 Banff Mountain Radical Reels Tour

Friday night I went to go see the 2016 Banff Mountain Radical Reels Tour. Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation has bought the Banff Mountain  films to the county for over 25 years.
Going to this show I had not seen a trailer of the films being shown. Eleven films for over two hours for $5! What a deal.
Go here to see this year's trailers here
Showdown at Horseshoe Hell was my favorite. Any film that has Alex Honnald does not disappoint!