I got in touch with the folks at Banjo Brothers several weeks ago to suggest that they get their stuff in some Alaska bike shops. We're fairly well-supplied up here, but short on options for gear like messenger bags. A few e-mails later, they sent me a bag to test. It arrived on Saturday when the temperature was 8 degrees and I needed to stock up on milk and wine. Coincidence? Mmm, probably not.
I rode to the store and hauled everything home with room to spare. It's a big-ass bag. Should be fun to use, and make errands much easier. I took it out again Sunday pick up a couple of things and shoot various photos that'll be helping fill the blog over the next week or two.
I don't believe in skimping on important gear, especially winter equipment. But that doesn't mean I won't go cheap when cheap works. I've wanted a pair of poagies, or handlebar covers, for several years but couldn't bring myself to spend $100 or more for a pair from the bike shop. Acting on a tip from a fellow winter rider here in Anchorage, I recently went to snowmobile shop and picked up a pair from Polaris for $32. I saved 68 bucks and my hands are warm as hell. Sweet deal. I've even switched to a lighter pair of gloves because my hands were sweating inside the poagies.
After years of struggling with my already-frost-damaged toes, I also went cheap and simple on footwear this winter: I pulled off my beloved Egg Beaters for the season and replaced them with Zu Zu's platform pedals from Sun/Ringle. My Sidi shoes stay by the indoor trainer and, outside, I wear my 9-year-old Sorel pac boots.
I'm running my Nokian tires on Sun Rhyno Lite rims (with XT hubs) that I bought used from a friend. They're downhill rims, which means they're a bit wider than x-c wheels and help maintain a decent footprint for the 2.1" tire.
My winter bike is a 1992 Trek 7000 that I rebuilt after buying the frame from neighbor for $35. I'll be happy go back to my high-tech, full-suspension mountain bike next season, but right now I'm loving the simple, frugal approach.