Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cool stuff!

One of the biggest problems that we had last time we toured was dealing with the panniers on the bike.  It seems that no matter how you position the bike, what you want is on the other side!  For instance, we stop for a bite to eat, and the bike is leaning against the side of the cafe, just outside the window (so we can always keep an eye on her!)
You can see how it would be difficult to get at anything stored on the right side of the bike.
Well, Roger wants to look at the map, and of course, it's in the side zip pocket of the back pannier, but ON THE SIDE LEANING AGAINST THE BUILDING!  Of course.  And if we make a point to put the bike against the building the other way next time, then we are looking for our cell phone chargers. AND THOSE ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE!  If we need to pull out a jersey or a layer, you can bet it's on the bottom of the pack, necessitating a bit of rearranging and repacking.  When we toured the last time, I actually came up with the Murphy's Law of Bicycle Touring, which goes like this:

The thing you want is on the other side of the bike.

And its corollary:

The thing you want is at the bottom of the pack.

There was also this little problem of the bike twisting around and falling over.  This happened because the front panniers put more weight on that front wheel, so if you are not holding the bike and front wheel securely, it will spin around and next thing you know, the bike is falling over.
Watch out for that front wheel flop!
Some folks refer to this as "wheel flop" and it was a real problem for me.  Since of course, I would try to hold the bike away from the wall, lean over it and reach for the item I sought, at which point the front wheel would spin, and the bike would start to fall over.  At maybe 80 pounds with the gear and all, I had a hard time keeping it upright.

So the combination of these two things have had me scratching my head in the years since our trip to Tahoe.  I thought for a while that we would make use of the strap we had for loading the tandem onto the car-top bike carrier, as it holds the front wheel true while you load the bike, but we sold the carrier and since the strap is integral to making it work, we really had to pass it along to the new owner.

Enter the "Clickstand"!  This nifty little gadget acts like a kickstand, but mounts high on the bike, above its center of gravity.  This keeps the torque from damaging the bike, and according to the web site, should hold up a fully-loaded tandem.  We will see about that!  For the time being, though, I am delighted to say it seems we have finally found a solution for problem number one.  With the Clickstand, we can position the bike a bit away from the wall, and still have access to both sides of the bike.  Best thing about it, it's made like your tent poles - so it has a tension string inside, and the pieces pop into place when you open it, and the whole thing folds up to about 8 1/2 inches long.  Easy-peasy!

The second problem, that of wheel flop, we are addressing with a nifty little bungie-like cord that has a ball on one end of it.  I didn't get it into the photo, but imagine one of those small elastics that girls use to make pony-tails.  We'll position it around the front wheel and the tube, and that will keep the wheel from flipping around.

So, with these two cool little gadgets, we hope to take care of one of the most annoying and irritating aspects of the tour, because:

f.  it doesn't do you any good to carry something along if you can't find it when you need it.

Friday, March 18, 2016

To infinity - and beyond!

We thought it would be fun to have jerseys made for the trip. So here's the design that we ordered today.

The back of the jersey has a photo that I took while we were riding in Colorado - last summer, I think.

And, we added the address for our blog so if folks are curious about our trip, they can snap a photo of us and go check out our story!

I thought it would be fun to have our names on the jersey, because maybe that will encourage folks to say "hello" and cheer us on.  Like when we were watching our son-in-law at his Ironman Triathalon.  We cheered and shouted encouragement to people when we saw their names, whether we knew them or not.

The front has a stock image from the Voler catalog that should be recognizable instantly to anyone - the Golden Gate Bridge with a California Golden Poppy in the foreground.

So we can respond quickly to "where're you from?" and point to the last phrase ("To infinity - and beyond!") when someone asks "where're you going?"!

Making us travelers of the universe, I guess.

Dream Scene

When I woke up this morning, Roger told me he'd had a dream last night about our trip.  We had just begun the trip, and for some reason, on the first night we found ourselves in New England.  He didn't know why we were there; after planning our initial route for some time starting in California we just somehow ended up on the East Coast.  Anyway, we didn't have anywhere to stay.  Why we weren't camping, he couldn't say.

I found a hotel for us to stay in the first night.  They had a special $75 rate, and that sounded good to me.  But, there were no rooms at that rate, apparently. So we were staying a luxurious, lavish suite, and when he asked how much it was costing us, I didn't know.  I guess I didn't ask, or the hotel wouldn't tell me!  But it was a very beautiful, old-style inn.  That much was clear in his dream.  To top it off, Roger had lost his wallet, so he didn't know how we were going to pay for the room!  (I guess in his dream, I did not have my wallet either - as if!)

Then he got concerned because we had told everyone we were going to do this months-long trip, and here we were having to bail on it, and everyone would know, because I was keeping a blog and had told the local newspaper I would be posting a weekly update . . .  I guess the thing to take away from all this is that we actually do have some anxieties about what we are undertaking.  Even if we think we are pretty good at problem solving,

e.  sometimes our problems follow us into our sleep!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Shopping for swimsuits

Hard to believe that our cross-country trip would include shopping for a swimsuit - particularly in January.  But's that what I was doing several weeks ago, when I found myself in possession of one of those $5 coupons from Kohl's.  (They PAY me to shop!)

I went in thinking that I would find a T shirt or some socks for a couple of bucks, and get out of the store in a few minutes.  But there was a big rack of swimsuits, and it occurred to me that the one I usually take camping had given up the ghost, so I dove in and started trying to find one for the trip.

You see, you have to have a swimsuit for when you need to do your shower/clean up right there at the campsite.  There isn't always a shower in the campground, but we have a solar shower (bag with reflective surface; gets warm enough to shower without screaming) and sometimes you just change into your suit, hang the bag on a tree limb and get sudsy right there at your campsite.  Then you can air dry in your swimsuit and it all works pretty well.  I already have a nice swimsuit, of course, but you don't want to carry a nice swimsuit 10,000 miles.  You need a cheap, lightweight and fast-drying suit - the smaller the better - so that it will be ready to pack up again in the morning. And that's not the type of swimsuit that I would wear on an outing to the beach with my friends!

What's worse than shopping for a swimsuit?  Most women would say "shopping for a swimsuit in January"!  And knowing that looks don't matter all that much, but it does have to fit, and it should be pretty lightweight so as to dry quickly, and easy to get into and out of in a very small tent, while at least covering the basics - well, that eliminates a lot of choices and sort of screams "two piecer" and that means, these days, a bikini.  So there I am, trying on a dozen bikini bottoms, hoping for one that will do the job, and of course these are on sale, so there are no tops to match.  Even that's not too much of an issue for the camp-suit, since it's really only going to be worn under extreme conditions, but still - a girl wants to look good!

I finally found a black bottom that wasn't too skimpy, and figured I could wear it with the brown top from my old suit.  I'll think of it as "two toned."  So, there's one problem solved!  And that leads to the next lesson, I think:

d.  everything you do has something to do with the thing you want to do.