Kelsall Lake

Looking for a bit of fun and adventure finds Angela and I heading north out of town and up into the high country to parts unknown. We packed the truck with bicycles, packrafts, hiking paraphernalia and some snacks. About halfway up Marinka’s Hill, we stop to gawk at the Northern Takhinsha/Southern Alsek’s baring their blue and stoney ice in the spectacular late summer light. I have never seen these peaks so devoid of the previous winter’s snow. The result is visually striking; the glaciers are on full display and the rocky summits piercing the deep blue hue above. Once past Three Guardsmen, it is decided a paddle across the mystical Kelsall Lake is in order, and soon we are bouncing the truck down the 4WD track to it’s shores.

Once in the water, a pleasant paddle two or three miles to the inlet stream that feeds the lake comes around and we stop for lunch and a swim on the sandy beach below the glacier of Kelsall Peak. Back in the boats, a great wind swells up and we fight the lateral rollers all the way back to the truck and happily scurry back over The Pass and head back home.

Kelsall Lake-1

Takhinsh/Alsek Range

Kelsall Lake-2

Bare Ice

Kelsall Lake-3

Happy To Call This Place My Home…

Kelsall Lake-4

Mountain Hemlock

Kelsall Lake-5

Kelsall Lake-6

Getting Boats Prepped

Kelsall Lake-7

The Enchanting Kelsall Lake

Kelsall Lake-8

Kelsall Peak and Glacier

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Kelsall Lake-14

Angela Fires Down A Burrito

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Kelsall Lake-20

Brrrrr…

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The Revolution I

Sometime back, I purchased an overpriced piece of electronic gadgetry to transform Dyno Hub power into 5.5 Volt USB power to keep cell phone and Ipod charged while on long bicycle adventures. The item in question was called “The Plug”. It was made in Germany, was overpriced, and had the ridiculous design protocol that required it to become a permanent part of one’s bicycle. This was not OK.. I redesigned “The Plug” to fit in an external casing and could then be utilized anywhere or on any bike. It was, however, extremely heavy and bulky. A short while ago the guys at Bright Bike Labs sent me a product called the “Revolution “. It is a product they came up with to provide the same thing that The Plug offers.. at half the price and a quarter of the weight (after my conversion). I have now mounted it to the Ogre and have removed the supertanker known to me as The Plug. It is light, simple, and most importantly, it works!  I will be leaving next week on a 4000 + mile pedal through The Yukon, Alaska, and the Northwest Territories, and will be relying on the Bright Bike Revolution to provide me with a fully charged Ipod and Cell phone at all times. After some miles, I will be reposting on the Revolution for an update on it’s perfomance, so check back!

Revolution II Revolution I Revolution III

Trying to get Ready..

Yes, I am trying to get ready to leave for Alaska. I mean, besides working, riding bikes, tying up loose ends, handling predetermined obligations, doing maintenance on the truck, doing research, creating itineraries for both myself and for Angela, studying maps, altering and customizing gear and equipment, experimenting with gear ratios, gathering phone numbers and addresses, creating equipment lists, and last but not least, trying to get fit.

Besides these things, I am trying to get my head around this trip. It is a task easier said than done, and here’s why:  Big trips are no stranger to me; I’ve been on plenty. Here’s another one, no big deal, right?  In the past, generally speaking, I have lived, primarily, in areas where I would consider the landscape, the people, the mentality, and the environment to be somewhat easy on me; meaning that it had always been conducive to promoting health, fitness, and relaxation, all the while allowing me to pursue athletic activities that kept my mind and my body sharp for such adventures and expeditions.  I have been, recently and currently, in the city now for 19 consecutive months. That is far longer than a person like me should ever have to be in the city. I don’t do well in said places. In the past, embarking on trips such as these has been a relatively simple affair, since my mind and body were already tuned for these notions. Here and now, it is far different.  I feel like europe might have felt in 1946, ragged and weak, yet placing one foot in front of the other in an attempt to move forward with it’s goals. Bear in mind this is only an analogy, and I do not place any amount of lightness on what Europe must have endured during the decade following WWII, as I was not there and hopefully will never experience the sort of suffering those people went through. I am merely attempting to demonstrate my own state of mind after planning another “big” trip after living in the city for 19 months straight!  That’s all.

The closer I get to the departure date, the more together I feel, ironically enough. May 6th, that is now the date. I am going to drive to Mt Shasta, and hopefully, meet up with my old time friend, Dennis Belillo, for a stomp up the old peak for a bit of excersise and good times. Then off to Bellingham to see my friend Ben Hainie, and then on the ferry to Skagway on the 17th.

I loaded up the bike yesterday for a fully loaded (the bike, not me) pedal around the area.

It must have weighed in at 150 lbs. That’s with food and water. Too much? Yes, probabely so, but so it is… Only 25 more days.

Fully Loded

“The Plug II” Made Better

%22The Plug%22 Case

A while back, I posted a photo of an upgrade to the USB/Dyno Hub charger “The Plug”. It was a case made to allow use of “The Plug” without a complicated and permanent install on the bicycle. It allowed the freedom to swap from bike to bike. It was crudely made from copper, PVC, and silicone. I have now created an upgrade to the upgrade by creating an all copper version that has been sweated together with silver and then sanded to give it a smooth feel. It is a clean looking unit now, that is solid and functional. I will be selling these to anyone who may want one in order to help finance this blog and the adventures it contains.

If you are interested in one, please send me:

1. The Plug

2. The wiring

3. The proprietary star nut adapter to allow the wiring to pass thru the unit

4. The wiring fitting that came with your dyno hub

5. 40 bucks-includes shipping

6. Leave a message here or email me and we can work out the details.

$ 40.00 gets you the plug case with the plug installed and wired, plus return shipping.

The Rivet Pearl

IMG_8023Like many other cyclists, over the years I have ridden and experienced many different saddles on many different bicycles; sometimes connected to seat posts with varying degrees of setback, length, and stiffness. The vast variety of sensations these experiences created, allowed me to know the difference between what I consider to be a poor saddle,  a good saddle, or even a great saddle.

I have been riding Brooks saddles with a great amount of success for quite a long run. Some time back, I purchased an outstanding B17 Select. This is an upgrade from the standard, featuring thicker leather and hand pounded rivets. Alas, the Salsa Fargo that it was affixed to was stolen, and that was that. When I built my Surly Ogre, I replaced it with an “identical” saddle, paying a full retail value of 200 bucks for another B17 Select. At first glance, this baby seemed exact. A week later, after maybe 200 miles, the saddle looked as tho it had been mounted to the bike for thirty years, and was soft like an old pair of work gloves. Brookes gave me an RA number, but the thought of going through the hassle was more than I could bear; I put the saddle on another commuter, and began looking for a non Brooks alternative…

…Enter Rivet Cycle Works.  While at the bike shop, wrenching away one fine afternoon, Debra Banks, owner and proprietor of said company, and I, struck up a conversation. Debra was there to show some of her new saddles to John Boyer/Edible Pedal. After hearing of my Brooks woes, she handed me her solution in the form of the Rivet Pearl Saddle. It featured leather that one dreams about on a saddle, thick and uncompromising, yet with the ability to become a supple pillow for one’s arse over time. It also features a cutout on the top to allow pressure to be alleviated from said anatomy. The sides of the unit, unlike a Brooks, are folded under the saddle, and riveted in place to a nice stainless plate that you can see through the saddle’s cut out. This prevents the saddle from “splaying” outward. The thought behind this is that a splayed saddle will eventually chaffe the legs and groin. A nice feature I believe. However, the riveted underbelly, and it’s ensuing cause and effect, make this saddle seem a bit narrower than something fairly wide like, say the B17 or a Velo Orange touring saddle. This gives the saddle a nice, slim, low profile feeling that most will enjoy. Honestly, it felt a bit like a Brooks Pro, but more comfortable. Furthermore, it also features Ti rails that are much longer, and therefore have more adjustability than a Brooks, A VO, or a Cardiff.

The saddle is light too; at 460 grams for the Ti version, The Pearl is light enough to go on any bike where comfort is king. Rivet also makes a chromoly version for less money and more weight. The saddle I have is an Au Natural- plain leather. It is a look that I desire, and it is starting to turn a nice deep color that is an indication of the saddle approaching it’s sweet spot in regards to being broke-in. Apparently, these saddles also come in black, burgundy, and white. Rivet claims that the colored models need no leather treatment, as the dying process waterproofs them adequately. They recommend treating the Au Natural version, but, personally, I have never been fan of treating saddles. I am however, a fan of fenders and saddle covers for riding in the rain.

After 600 miles of riding on the Rivet Pearl, I can now say this: It is light, medium feeling in width, firm, yet supple feeling, and made with the best looking leather I have seen on a saddle in years. If you are looking for a durable, yet comfortable saddle alternative to the usual suspects, the Rivet is definitely worth a look. You can see and test one in person at Edible Pedal in Sacramento.

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