Monday, November 28, 2005

New gear

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.


George said...

Those Banjo Brothers message bags are sweet.

I like you handlebar covers. Can't beat the price.

DT said...

Do you ever find that your gears are useless up there, being it's that cold? We've had King hubs freeze up and freewheel in both directions, the same goes for singlespeed freewheels, and also just having derailleurs ice up and be unable to switch gears. And all this just in Washington, I can only imagine Alaska!

Tim said...

My bike functions pretty normally in winter, but I don't ride in conditions as harsh as many up here. My winter rides are generally not more than an hour or two long, and in relatively "warm" weather. When the temp hits -10 and colder, I'm generally more interested in my fireplace and a bottle of wine.

I know people who have had components freeze up on them. Most hardcore riders up here avoid that problem by repacking hubs, headsets and bottom brackets with thin grease, or even light oils such as Tri-Flow or WD-40. The oils can't thicken up enough to stop the components from functioning. They replace more parts that way, but they keep them moving before they wear them out.

A lot of folks also keep mechanical complexity to a minimum. Singlespeeds are very popular with winter riders. I know one guy who swears by old-school thumbshifters from Everybody has their tricks.

My biggest problem is brakes; my old Trek doesn't have disk brake mounts, so I'm stuck with rim brakes until I decide to buy a new winter frame, or at least a new fork that would allow a disk up front. In the meantime, I try to avoid riding through any water that could freeze on my rims.

gwadzilla said...

careful with too much weight in the messenger bag
especially on snow
personally I feel that the single strap bag is not good for any significant weight
a six pack sure
a case....
no way

the cycling versions of the classic double strap back pack seem to be the most sensible for actual riding
better for the back
as well as more stable

gwadzilla said...

if you re-read the comment by my fellow east coaster (actually cycling team mate and friend) you will clearly see that DT is hinting at the fixed gear is the ultimate winter bike

who does he thing he is?
sheldon brown?

gwadzilla said...

oh yea...
I invested in some Lake Winter Mountainbiking Shoes a few years ago
they help me with my rides
but my rides are never long
not even in the summer
races tend to be longer then my rides
as a father of two I seldomly can justify too much time away
so the races are more of an event then just a ride with my buddies
get to ride harder than I would if I were just hangin wiht the fellas

Tim said...

I agree with your take on messenger bag load issue, Gwadzilla. I've been experimenting with it because I've read of many others using them for all sorts of things, so I've been curious. The weight wasn't a big issue as far as ice goes, but it was definitely a comfort issue. For serious loads, nothing beats my Yak trailer.

DT's one of those fixie nuts, eh? Never tried one myself. I love gear options. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am One With the Granny Gear. Besides, I have too much invested in knee repairs. :)

daveIT said...

Did you pick those up at AK Power Sports? I was looking to get some and didn't even think about a snowmachine shop.

Tim said...

Yup, I got 'em from Alaska Powersports. Hard to beat the deal. I rode to work this morning when it was 7 degrees -- my toes got a bit cold, but my hands were fine.

Fritz said...

That first photo in this post is cool. How did you take that? From the top of a truck or something?

Tim said...

No, I just stood on the ground and shot it with the little digial camera I carry on rides.