Even though summer is at its hottest, now is a good time to think about cooler weather touring, as well as cooking gear. I have used, and still use, almost every backpacking stove known to cyclists. I have never tried the heat ring type stoves, due to their cost and a few other factors. Like not being able to understand the design and function of all the parts. Some of the new stoves and cooking equipment are quite alien to someone used to cooking over alcohol stoves and Sterno based cookers, as well as isobutane units like the Primus.
I am currently considering the Camp Chef Stryker 100. This is because it does most of what the Jet Boil does, for less. Also, because my employers gave me one for a service anniversary. This blog does not rate having anyone wanting to send me merchandise for review, and I wouldn’t let that change my opinion if they did. I admit that I have a lot of love for the way I cook on my old, second hand/historic/thrift shop cooking gear. But I do need to lighten the load, and carry some gear worthy of the class act the Schwinn Passage represents.
After the unfortunate butane stove incident of last year (when it didn’t show up), I have been sort of looking for a system cooker. The nice thing about the Camp Chef Stryker 100 is that it nests into the pot, and fits together into a compact whole when ready to cook. It has one of those heat rings integrated into the pot, making it faster to boil. This saves on the number of fuel canisters you have to carry, and savings in overall weight. It may just solve many of my traveling and cooking problems, and make things easier.
The nice thing about such a stove is that they can efficiently simmer, something wood and alcohol stoves can’t do so readily. I also need to carry less in the way of fire making gear, as well as pots and other stuff. Here’s the specs, by the way.
Weight: 19.4 oz (not including fuel)
Pot Volume: 1.3 liters
Dimensions: 9 in. x 5.25 in. x 5.25 in.
I always thought of Camp Chef as somebody who made barbecues and heavy car camping stuff. But this seems tailor made for the cycle camper. It might be a bit heavy for backpacking, but I don’t think it is much heavier than any other system, and it’s a lot lighter on the wallet. Like any other of these systems, the pot itself is insulated so you may pick it up. It also has a handle, which locks the lid on when all the gear is nestled within. That makes a compact and efficient bundle.
Well, that was a short search. After a couple of days from my last post, a bicycle I thought I had missed out on wound its’ way back on to a forum I look at often. Sometimes things just happen if you let them. The seller was great, and he even met me halfway. That makes things pretty convenient. The bicycle was all he said it would be, and he had a lot of good pictures as well, so I could see what was for offer. It’s nice to know what you are getting into with any long-distance transaction. It also helped me plan what I would get for components to update the bike. I like to sometimes keep things period correct, but this one is getting improvements, like bar end shifters.
The bike is, marvelously, a Schwinn Passage. Again. Because it’s the best touring bike I ever owned. And I think this one, being in better condition, will outperform the last. I also have some better components. For the bottom bracket, I’m updating to an Octalink series, because I can use one tool for crankset removal and repair. Which lightens the load. I’m looking at some Shimano indexed barcons, and a Deore rear derailleur, as well as a Tiagra front derailleur. We may go from 15 speed to 21 as well. Indexing makes that more capable and accessible. It all sounds good thus far. I can accomplish this without a lot of need for parts from elsewhere.
I intend to add some Blackburn racks in silver, as that’s what the Schwinn catalog had in 1986. Most of the group set is in silver, so this should all look good. The wheels I have in 700c touring are silver as well. I think I’ll start with 700×28 Panaracer Paselas. Fenders may be in black, to go with the navy blue and silver scheme of the bicycle, but we’ll see what silver looks like. I just think it may be a bit too much. It may come down to a question of balance here. Still, I’m pretty thrilled what a few bucks and a trip across Northern Illinois has gotten me here. Worth the time to get this, and now worth the time to get this right.
I think I may have to seek a full-on touring bicycle, as I have mentioned recently. I’m still making attempts to straighten the frame of the Raleigh Sojourn, but I think something maybe a little older would be nice as well. I hardly ever see a touring bicycle in this area. Those I do see belong to others. People don’t let go of such bikes in this area. They keep them and they remain in the condition they were bought in. usually like new. I think this is because cycle tourers tend to keep things in top shape. It provides something to do in camp when traveling. It is also due to the fact that all touring bikes are quite a substantial investment.
I had a great old touring cycle once, at and before the start of this blog. It was a 1980’s Schwinn Passage. It got a bit too noodly, due to the weight of myself and my touring load. It also had the background of many miles ridden both by me, and its’ previous owner. One of the few examples I have seen where a bicycle frame wore out. Nothing against the bike. I had received it in poor condition. I tried to restore it as best I could. It gave me many miles. More, far more, than my moneys’ worth. Old bicycles from the 1980’s are not by any means fragile. And Schwinn was trying to reclaim the quality bike market. Many of their better bicycles were made of Columbus(Tenax) or True Temper tubing.
So I keep my eyes open for another Passage, or an older Specialized Expedition, another fine touring bicycle from that era. I am not above, for a more modern tourer, heavily modifying the Dawes Eclipse City bike. The upright handlebars are a poor fit in my case. But I can see it being a very fine winter bike and tourer with those crazy trekker bars from the old Raleigh City Bike tourer conversion. We just keep remaking these same elements until they all find a bicycle they can work well on. Sometimes a bit of experimentation is all that is needed. Factories turn out bicycles for the mass consumption of many. But each bicycle owner has to make that bike fit them in a way that rider needs.
Back to the folding bikes. Again. I was given this the other day. It’s a Fuji folding bike. Not one for sale, you had to collect points from Marlboro cigarettes for this one. That made you part of “The Marlboro Adventure Team”. A fellow at the bike co-op said his folks got all sorts of camping gear from Marlboro for points. Because cigarettes and the great outdoors go so well together, I guess. I can’t say. This is one of the few affordable mountain bike options for big guys. So often this is a neglected part of the market, but you have to concentrate production where the greatest number of people will buy something.
That being said, the earlier versions of this bike were quite heavy. This one is no lightweight.But it is 4130 Cr-Mo. It’s beefy, so us fellows who may be a bit “husky” can ride them. Nice someone in the folding bike business thought of this. The fold is at the bottom, instead of in the middle, and the top pivot is built midway along the top tube. That helps the bike bear greater weights than a single downtube folder with a door hinge type folding mechanism. The seat tube(!) locks everything in place. That’s a pretty sharp idea. It doesn’t fold up as small as other folding bicycles, but it is a lot bigger, and runs 26″ wheels.
I have plans for this bike. Complex plans. I think some stripping of the ad-hoc paint job will be required. I will then paint the whole frame black or dark brown, and add racks and fenders, as well as nicer components. I won’t succeed in making it lighter, just better in terms of fit and function. I may also go with some high rise bars to make it more upright in riding. No problem with the seat post, there, as seen in the pictures. It’s a small frame, but a lot bigger than almost all folding bikes. True, among 26″ folding bikes, the Montagues, and the Schwinn/ Montagues are probably better and lighter. But this is pretty good for the dimes instead of dollars bunch.
I got out and rode yesterday. I took the Trek 600, known for its’ speed, (at least comparatively) and hit the road. I got a ways from home, but the heat was dragging me down a bit. I always carry water with lemonade mix in it in this weather. It helps me stay hydrated. It also tastes pretty good, and has some vitamins in it. It’s nice to have something along that helps replace some of what you sweat out as you ride. It’s best if you like the taste of it as well. You may wind up drinking a lot as you ride. Always carry more than you think you’ll need. You may have a breakdown, or want to extend your ride. Or it may get hotter or more humid as you go along.
I also like to dress really coolly. I use either moisture wicking clothes, or regular old cycling gear. In hot weather, sometimes I just use cycling adapted shorts and a white shirt or western style shirt. By cycling adapted, I mean cycling underwear with chamois with regular shorts. They are quite convenient. They are also less showy than spandex shorts. At my age, every time is a time for modesty in clothing and gear. I also find that sometimes cycling clothes are the best thing for it. It all depends on the situation and the weather. I am also one of those guys who wears a cycling cap under the helmet, just to keep perspiration under control, and out of my eyes.
The Trek 600 did a fine job out there on the road. The modifications to the bike have made it really comfortable and fun to ride. I added brifters and wider rimmed wheels with a bigger cassette, as well as a longer cage rear derailleur. That makes the bike more versatile among the hills and dales around here. As I rode along, the heat was getting to me, because I think the humidity was also rising. I noticed a bit of darkness to the south. As the sky was already mixed with clouds and sun, I realized that it was cooking up an air-mass thunderstorm. I beat it for home. A few minutes after I arrived, it cut loose with a huge downpour, as well as thunder and lightning. I was glad I had the extra speed the Trek can provide.
It finally got hot around here this week. It’s taken a long time. Anymore, I seem to have to soak this up as much as I can as a hedge against winter. I usually ride early in the day, hydrate often, and ride easy. But it’s nice not to have to ride in a coat, dodge snow and ice patches on the roads, and wear gloves or bar-mitts when riding. I’m also not stuck with an aluminum bike, as my steel ones would get damaged or rust or corrode with all the salt added to the roadways around here.
Not that I mind the salt, it keeps dangerous things from happening on the snow and ice. The nice thing this year is that spring lasted all the way from April through most of June. Last year, it was cold until the first week of June, then it turned to very hot weather immediately. I think spring was confined to Saturday morning. But things also cooled down rather quickly, though gradually, into August. But weather follows its’ own patterns, and you take the cards you are dealt.
Hopefully, our fall here in Central Illinois will also be long. That will give even more time for bike rides and associated fun with bikes. Mostly, this weather just calls for some changes to ride times and the amount of fluids carried. Ride locations vary as well. I usually tend to stay on the trails in the worst of summer heat. The nice thing about rail trails like ours is that the trail often has trees growing along the right of way, left over from the railroads.
I do ride with fenders in the summer, because mulberry trees grow well along the trail, but that means they also drop messy berries on the trail. That can make a real mess on the frame, tires, and sometimes even the chain and derailleur. Fenders do a good job of deflecting this and other detritus, as well as the often tropical style rainstorms that seem to puff up out of nowhere on a summers’ day. But summer is here to enjoy, and I hope you do so, and bring the bike along.
I think I am putting a few bikes into storage. They are too good to sell, their frames hold parts that are invaluable, or at least necessary for other rides, and the room just isn’t there for them all to be built up. I may sell or trade a few, but the bicycle market is rather flat where I am. The co-op is going well, and that is good for many people in the area. Those that need a bicycle to get to work, now that our local transit company has been changing schedules, can get one, inexpensively.
The co-op came along at an opportune time, just before the transit system cut off some routes that had been served for years. People found themselves having to get themselves to their transit. A bicycle is certainly cheaper than a car. A second hand bicycle costs very little, especially if you work it off by volunteering to fix other bikes at the co-op. Many communities have this service. It is useful here for many reasons.
The Constitution Trail offers traffic free cycling along about thirty six miles of trail. It goes throughout the whole geographically large community, in both cities. It offers amenities along its’ length, like fountains and tool stands and an amphitheater reached only by the trail. Another good reason are the many social venues and arts opportunities easily reached by bicycle, as well as the many ways both cities make cycling easier. Good cycling shops and resellers also help both Bloomington and Normal keep the wheels turning on cycling.
I have my work cut out for me. I think the Corso may have to donate a few parts to the Falcon. It’s ride quality is okay, but I bet if I were lighter it would be even better. And I could use its’ Campagnolo wheel set, if I were lighter. The Miyata Ninety will also get stored, as will the Rusty Follis. They are incomplete now, and may stay that way, as the Dawes fills the need the Miyata Ninety was going to fulfill. Univega Supra Sport will be completed, but the Raleigh Sojourn may get highest priority. That can be an all sorts touring bike. Its’ frame is at the same level as the Trek 950, so perfect for touring.
Vintage and veteran bicycles of quality and how to preserve them for future generations, with a particular interest in the French 'constructeurs'. Please note all images are my copyright unless otherwise stated, and may only be used with my express permission.