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Go, Go Golden Circle! Biking the Golden Circle with BOB

Ker-PLINK !

Another broken spoke. My heart sank. My bike tour was going nowhere fast, and it had barely even begun. I had too much weight on two cheap wheels, too flimsy for a Clydesdale like myself. I needed a trailer.
Author Wesley Cheney at the start of his six hundred kilometer Golden Circle ride through Alaska, British Columbia and Yukon, before hooking up with BOB.

I felt my goals were modest enough: I wanted to bike the “Golden Circle” from Haines, Alaska, through the Yukon Territory and British Columbia and back to Skagway, Alaska in less than four days. I would be crossing two major mountain passes and riding six hundred kilometers on the Haines Highway, the Alaska Highway, and the Klondike Highway. I could not afford to have spokes breaking. It would be three hundred kilometers between bike shops and gas stations. I only had one emergency spoke with me.

Admittedly, it was a problem partially of my own creation. I was riding a Trek Alpha 1.1 entry-level road bike. If I’d read the fine print on the warranty, I’d have seen that I exceeded the maximum recommended weight. But I’d been hesitant to ship my favorite touring bike from Virginia to Alaska for my first season as a bike tour guide. I didn’t know if I’d really need it. Instead, I bought a used rental bike from my shop. And promptly started breaking spokes.

Ker-PLINK!

If I was going to make it any farther than the ferry dock in Haines, I was going to need another wheel. I didn’t have the time or the funds to buy another bike, even if there were any 63cm touring bikes available, anyway. (Did I mention that I’m almost always the tallest guy in any room?) But there was a BOB Yak Trailer for rent at Sockeye Cycle Co. And I had ridden many miles with a BOB in tow before.

The BOB Yak Trailer is amongst the most versatile of bike trailers, and a worthwhile investment for cyclists who need to get the groceries or go five hundred miles.

I bike by the seat of my pants, literally. The feel of my bike comes through my seat, through my pedals, through my handlebars. Different roads, different trails, and different bikes all feel distinct and different.  If I really want to get in touch with nature, I ride my skinny, high-pressure tires down a rutted gravel road. There’s nature, pounding my palms and soles mercilessly. The same holds true for carrying loads on bikes. The location, size, and volume of cargo directly affect how a bike feels in motion. To the seat of my pants, cargo carried in trailers is more stable and less tiring than cargo carried on bike racks. And carrying cargo in a backpack is even more of an exertion than carrying cargo on a bike rack.

Larger than Life: Touring with a bike trailer spreads the load out, making it less taxing on both the body and the bike to ride long distances with cargo.

Bicycles are physics in motion. And carrying cargo on a bicycle is an act of compounded physics. In addition to balancing myself atop two wheels, I’m also balancing a static load. The higher that load is above my pedals and wheels, the more work I have to do. Lower loads are less work. Handlebar bags and baskets are great for quick access, but when they’re overloaded they make a bike harder to handle, both in motion and standing still. Watching my bike flop over on its kickstand and spill a couple of smoothies over a couple of sandwiches made me swear off handlebar baskets once and for all. Feeling my shoulders ache under the pinch of overloaded backpacks was one thing, but it was another matter to feel the wind gust and jerk bulky backpacks. It taught me that it’s not just the weight of a load that matters, but also the volume. Biking is like sailing. Air resistance is everything. Tucking down into my drops lets me pedal faster into a headwind. The location of loads makes a difference in how the wind feels. Higher loads place the center of resistance to the wind higher on the bike, and require more work, making the bike more finicky and twitchy, and leaving me craving more burritos. Whereas lower loads are easier.

 

Cargo on the Down Low: The OMM Ultimate Lowrider Rack is a great option for lowering the center of balance on a touring bike, and keeps the weight evenly distributed.

The same load carried in a trailer will be more stable than carried on a bike. When it comes to moving cargo on a bike, two wheels are good. But three, or more, wheels are better. Moving my cargo from my back and my bike to a trailer made all the difference in not only the amount of energy required to ride but also decreased the strain on my bike. The biggest difference was in the number of flat tires and broken spokes that I had to deal with. I already weigh over a hundred kilo. I’m big enough to be mistaken for a (svelte) linebacker. My spokes don’t need the added stress of extra weight. By moving my cargo to a trailer, I removed weight from my rear wheel, moved the center of mass below my bike hubs, and lowered the center of wind resistance. Furthermore, I was able to carry bigger loads, both in terms of weight and volume. The only trade off was that I was carrying more deadweight. Even empty, a bike cargo trailer weighs at least twice as much as a pair of panniers and a set of racks.

BARGAIN GEAR ISN’T ALWAYS A BARGAIN

You get what you pay for. Buying a bike rack at a big box store may be easy on the wallet, but it doesn’t make for reliable gear. If you’re only using a bike rack once a month or once per season, then it may do just fine. But if you plan on loading your panniers every day, carrying groceries home, bringing books to class or paying the rent by delivering food, then you’ll want to invest in a quality rack.

The Ortlieb Touring Rack R2 is a sturdy, affordable option that beats any bargain bike rack in the long haul.

 

PLINK!

The replacement spoke sang as I plucked it on the truing stand at Sockeye Cycle. I swapped the skewer on my rear wheel, set my wheel back in the dropouts, and mounted a rental Yak B.O.B. (Beast of Burden) trailer onto the rear of my bike. With my spare clothes, bivouac sack and food transferred from sitting high over the rear wheel to sitting down low behind my bike, I now had a more stable ride, and I was stressing my rear wheel less. Four days and six hundred kilometers later I was exhausted, but happy that I’d made the switch. I only wished that I’d done so sooner.

When I finished my own private odyssey a few days later, I unclipped the BOB trailer and lickety-split, I had a little, lightweight road bike again. Unlike a cargo bike or a touring bike that is always loaded down with racks, the BOB Yak is easy to detach and store when it’s not needed.

And, it looks darn cool.

A rainbow stretches over the Haines Highway and the author’s bike during his self-supported Golden Circle bike tour with a BOB Yak trailer.

Author Wesley Cheney leads bicycle tours in Alaska and Virginia, blogs at The Kilted Writer, and delivers freaky fast sandwiches in the off-season.

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Bikes of the Klondike Gold Rush

“White Man: He sit down, walk like hell.”

That was how one Native Alaskan described Ed Jesson riding a fixed gear bicycle down the frozen Yukon River in the winter of 1900. How a man with practically no supplies and the simplest of bikes could ride over a thousand miles in the dead of an Arctic winter boggles our twenty-first century minds until we remember that for Ed Jesson, and hundreds of his fellow Klondike “wheelmen” (their name for themselves) there was gold, “haunting and haunting, luring them on as of old.” Jesson was racing from Dawson City to Nome, Alaska in the hope of being amongst the first to stake a claim on the gold-laden, frozen beaches of the Bering Sea. More so than any Olympian cyclist, the Klondike wheelmen were chasing the gold. They also were fueled by a quaintly Victorian faith in the bicycle. Pierre Berton wrote in his seminal Klondike Fever that “the velocipede was to the 1890s what the television set was to the 1950s…Such was the faith in the bicycle that thousands were prepared to believe that this was the ideal way of crossing the mountain passes.”

Gold Rush Wheelmen pose with their “wheels” behind a dog sled, circa 1900.

Fast forward to 2017: For more than a dozen years a new breed of intrepid winter cyclists have tackled the challenge of riding the Iditarod and other arctic trails. And while technology has certainly advanced in the intervening century, technology doesn’t replace tenacity. The self-titled “stampeders” of the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush were nothing if not tenacious. (Although it’s entirely possible that our historical view is skewed, since only the successfully tenacious had the subsequent opportunity to record their acts of derring do. Before they were able to pen memoirs, the unsuccessful wheelmen of the North froze to death in blizzards, or were swallowed up by rotten ice.)

Jeff Oatley, right, poses with his wife Heather Best at the start of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest trail from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Whitehorse, Yukon.

Three northern wheelmen stand out: Ed Jesson, Max Hirschberg and B.H. Svendson. Each faced mechanical hurdles that would defy tax their counterparts a hundred years later. In 2003 a team of three cyclists profiled in National Geographic attempted the same journey, and found that “the cold does weird things.” At forty below zero tubes spontaneously deflate, grease freezes and tire pumps explode. Even today, crashing a bike in the frigid cold risks snapping cranks and pedals. Rubber tubes and tires freeze solid. Bike chains snaps. Riding the Yukon is not for the faint of heart or the ill-prepared. When Ed Jesson broke a pedal on his bike in 1900, he first carved replacements out of wood, each of which only lasted a day. After buying nuts and bolts, he was able to hack a more durable pedal out of sheet metal with the assistance of a local missionary.

BH Svendson and his fully-loaded arctic bike.

Jesson, Hirschberg and Svendson traveled light. Just as modern, minimalist touring cyclists rely upon their credit cards to buy a hot meal and a warm bed, Klondike wheelmen carried “pokes” of gold to buy services at the road houses that were stationed every twenty miles or so along the trails they were using. Hirschberg wrote,

“My poke held gold dust worth $1,500 and my purse contained silver and gold coins. Next to my skin around my waist I carried a belt with $20 gold pieces that had been stitched into it by my aunt in Youngstown, Ohio, before I had left to go to the Klondike.”

In 21st Century terms, Hirschberg was carrying over $40,000. Even at the exorbitant prices of the Gold Rush, he was adequately covered.

And they weren’t breaking new trail, either. They were following the tracks packed down by dog sled teams. While their tires look comically narrow to us today, less than an inch and a half wide, they fit perfectly into the grooves cut by the sled runners, giving the men an easy trail to ride. Jesson wrote,

“The sleds had scraped most of the snow off the [icy trail], and left it in fine condition for the wheel as the rubber tire stuck to this trail very well and all I had to do was look out for the icy cracks, which were very numerous.”

The Klondike wheelmen traveled with a bare minimum of gear. Jesson records that,

“The day I left Dawson, March 2, 1900 was clear and crisp, 30 degrees below zero. I was dressed in a flannel shirt, heavy fleece-lined overalls, a heavy mackinaw coat, a drill parka, two pairs of heavy woolen socks and felt high-top shoes, a fur cap that I pulled down over my ears, a fur nosepiece, plus fur gauntlet gloves.

On the handlebars of the bicycle I strapped a large fur robe. Fastened to the springs, back of the seat, was a canvas sack containing a heavy shirt, socks, underwear, a diary in waterproof covering, pencils and several blocks of sulfur matches. In my pockets I carried a penknife and a watch.”

Bikes stand in a snowbank in the Yukon.

“For most of Yukon history, bicycling was a means of winter transportation rather than a competitive summer pastime,” wrote John Firth in Yukon Sport: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, “The greatest risk was severe frostbite. The advantage was the cost.” Keeping a team of sled dogs alive in the frozen north required an enormous expenditure of time, resources and money. While folks thought Ed Jesson “was crazy for riding a wheel,” especially since he owned a good dog team, he countered that he didn’t have to cook dog food for the bicycle at night, and on especially good days he could cover one hundred miles: three or four times farther than a dogsled.

Today’s fat bikers do not have the benefit of riding well-packed trails, or finding a warm roadhouse every twenty miles along the trail, and are forced to carry far more gear on bikes far bigger and heavier than those of the Gold Rush wheelmen. In 2003 National Geographic published an account of three cyclists who followed in the tracks of Ed Jesson and Max Hirschberg from Dawson City to Nome, and found that they couldn’t compete:

“Obviously things have changed,” Kevin Vallely, one of the fat bikers, said. “There was much more traffic on the trail when he traveled, but [their] speed has stunned us. It’s possible, I guess, but we’re a little suspicious…This is incredible—possibly too incredible.”

As Robert Service, bard of the Yukon, wrote,

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
      By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
      That would make your blood run cold.
The Wheelman who set the Whitehorse-Dawson record.

 

Wesley Cheney leads Klondike bike tours for Sockeye Cycle Co. in Skagway, Alaska. He earned his Eagle Scout Badge with Troop 216 in Springfield, Vermont, biked from London to Rome via the Route Napoleon, sailed with the USS Kearsarge to Equatorial Africa, earned a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy from Old Dominion University, completed the final Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200km Brevet, and most recently delivered freaky fast sandwiches for Jimmy John’s in Norfolk, Virginia. He regularly contributes questions to The Thomas Jefferson Hour, plays the ukulele and the flugelhorn, reads the New Testament in German, and prefers to wear a kilt.

 

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The S24O

Riding The Route of the Condor was one of those reckless bar-talk ideas that wouldn’t normally have got traction beyond the hangover. Like most beer-charged plans, it should have been added quickly to the graveyard of other wonderful yet fantastical ambitions such as unicycling the Pan American Highway, or cycle touring the Kamchatka Peninsula. Yet somehow it sticked, slowly gaining momentum with none of the original inebriated party wanting to back down. And so it was that I found myself this February rolling very early away from my front door in Santiago, Chile. My two friends and I puffing away up the ski resort road by the beams of our bike lights. Our sights set on a real S24O test piece.

The S24O (that’s bikepacker for “sub 24hour overnighter”) is the bread and butter outing of bikepacking trips. The rules are simple: head out from your front door taking charge of food, water and shelter until playtime ends 24hours later. Our bikes that morning were loaded with everything we thought me might need, and several items we hoped we wouldn’t. In the handlebar bag was a sleeping sack, Therm-a-rest mat, bivvi bag and warm jacket. In the gastank bag were the tools. Food was stashed in the seat post bag and a gallon of water sloshed around the half-frame bag inside a bladder. Almost everything would be used before the clock ran down.

The Route of the Condor is a rite of passage ride. It is a modest 32miles in length, but climbs and then descends 6000′ of dirt mountain pass. Its remoteness demands complete self sufficiency. The altitude and exposure to the elements mean you have to be prepared for a cold night if someone takes a tumble. And the name itself – La Ruta del Cóndor – refers to the 80-year-old carrion birds with their 3-metre wing span who sail overhead, waiting to swoop down on unfortunate souls. Our ambitious plan conceived during a night on the liquor, suddenly was a serious and sobering reality.

Yet we had set out. And as anyone knows who dares to do what their fears try to deny them – this is more than half the battle. We turned onto the dirt at La Ermita and entered the Valley of the Covarrubias River. As we cleared the first few rolling miles of meadows and horse pasture, a familiar and liberating feeling came upon us. Even on a short S24O it is possible to slip into that dropping-out-of-society sensation. For a sort while you will be answerable only to yourself. You will not be bound by emails, or phone. You will not worry about making good time, or keeping it or even having it. Instead you are a rolling autonomous entity. Open to the sensations that come blowing on the wind.

Slowly the verdant greens of the lower slope were smothered by the cactus and talus streaked Andean foothills. The air thinned and intermittently crackled with electricity from the overhead pylons for which our dirt track was originally built to service. Time spooled out. Switchbacks zig-zagged above us like a seismograph reading, reducing us to a concentrated silence. Climbing on a fully loaded bicycle can be tiresome if you choose to let that feeling in. But whilst intimidated by the task ahead, we did not yet wish it all to be over. And in this way the switchbacks passed without difficulty ever turning to hardship.

Around noon, three Chilean cowboys came whooping over a ridge, driving their cattle. At over 8000′ above sea level we had now climbed into a rarely visited rock-scape, where only the hardiest snakes and wiliest condors could pick a living. It was unclear where these men had come from, or where they would spend the night. Perhaps they thought the same about us. But as we rattled up the last climb, with water and sleeping gear stowed safely in our bags, we knew we could weather any problem we came up against.

Well, almost. The issue didn’t present itself until late in the afternoon. We had reached the top of the pass around 3pm and briefly sought shelter in a ditch. Here we shared fruit and shouted silly stories into the wind. Any apprehension about not making it down by nightfall was shaken off, and any doubts about our good sense in attempting the ride were finally put to rest. The descent was rutted, and dusty and slippy and fantastic. Stray weeds burst from the middle of the track, thwacking against the frames as our bikes burst downhill. Layers of curious sulphur flashed in the rock bands like trapped streaks of sky. And clods of baked earth burst under our wheels in the lower folds of the cooling mountain.

Whilst I was lucky enough to have a proper bikepacking setup (see previous post) my friends muddled along with pannier bags and rucksacks

The village of El Alfalfal was where we realised our mistake. Night had all but fallen, and in our enthusiasm to keep riding we had run out of both daylight and mountain slope to make camp. From the first household there spilled raucous cumbia music and the light from a naked bulb. The neighbourhood feel disconcerting and the chances of safely throwing down our bivvi bags for a few hours sleep unlikely.

But as so often happens when you take a chance on the unknown, events seem to conspire in your favour. A hesitant inquiry about sleeping in the front garden of a local store led to dinner, beers and a space being cleared for three tipsy cyclists to sleep in the shed. Early the next morning we closed the 40mile road loop around the mountain. Despite the renewed soreness in our heads, we lost no time along the way in planning our next 24hours of freewheeling adventure.

Check out this mega 3D fly-through of the Ruta del Condor, created by the photographer Brendan James.


Call for comment

  • Where could you get to from your front door on an S24O?
  • Ever found good things come your way when you get out on your bike?

Matt Maynard is a British cyclist, writer and environmentalist. He is based in Santiago, Chile. Find more of his adventures on Twitter, Facebook and at his website matt-maynard.com

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A Brief, Illustrated History of the Bicycle at War, Part 1: Boers on Bikes

This is the first post of our 6 part series, Bicycles at War.

Part 2 The Great War

Part 3 The Bikes of WWII

Part 4 How the Bicycle Won the Vietnam War

Part 5 The Swiss Army Bicycle

Part 6 Bikes in the Cold War and Beyond


“A Bike, A Bike, My Free-State for a Bike!”

The utility of any invention is most tested when it is put to war, and the bicycle is no exception. Like any invention, mankind was quick to press the bicycle into making war. After all, here was a vehicle that gave a man the mobility of a horse, but for only the fraction of the cost, fodder and water. Never mind the steam train, the bicycle was the true Horse of Steel.

French bicycle couriers in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War would not have looked much different from this pair of American chaps.
French bicycle couriers in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War would not have looked much different than
this pair of American chaps, wearing kepis and messenger bags.

The first alleged use of the bicycle under fire came during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when messengers rode high-wheeler bicycles, carrying dispatches from headquarters to troops and back. But the new technology was not sufficient to keep Emperor Napoleon III from being personally captured in battle, losing his army, his war and his throne. And the nascent French bicycle industry, primarily based at the heart of the fighting in the northeast province of Alsace-Lorraine, was practically destroyed by the war. Prior to the war, France had been the technological leader in the bicycle industry. After the war, the British bicycle industry gained ground, led by Birmingham Small Arms, aka BSA, and began selling bikes around the world.

BSA bicycles and tricycles, alongside namesake rifles and pistols, were exported to the other BSA- British South Africa. At the height of the British Empire, the independent republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State (in what is now northeastern South Africa) were wealthy thorns in the side of British hegemony. The two states had been founded by Dutch farmers, or Boers, who had fled the first British invasion of southern Africa almost a century prior during the Napoleonic wars. The Dutch Boers were every bit as freedom-loving as their American cousins, and were in no small part dissatisfied with the British abolition of slavery. When first gold and then diamonds were discovered in the new, independent Boer states, tensions rose as British immigrants began to flood into the Boer gold country. When war broke out in 1899, the British army in South Africa was at least four times bigger than what the Boers could field. Recognizing that they could not win by numbers, the Boers turned to tactics. But like their freedom-loving, bigoted Confederate cousins in America, they were doomed to fail in a total war against an industrialized foe.

Founder and leader of the Boer bike scouts,
The Original Tweedster: With a sweet mustache, a tight tie, a bandolier, a bicycle and a Mauser rifle, Captain “Danie” Theron was hipper than any Brooklyn Fixie Freak, and worth One Thousand Pounds Sterling, dead or alive.

It was in the lead up to hostilities that Boer Captain Daniel Theron (a distant uncle of actress Charlize Theron) first proposed a bicycle corps. While the British had the imperial resources to ship horses by the hundreds of thousands to BSA, and subsequently ride them to death by the tens of thousands, Captain Theron recognized that the Boers did not have such resources, and that horses must be saved for combat. Boer cycling champion JP Jooste accompanied Theron on a trip to to the capitol of Pretoria to pitch their idea, and pointed out in a briefing to a general that, A horse must sleep and eat, while a bicycle needs only oil and a pump before it is ready for action. To which the general replied that a bicycle neither kicks nor bites, to boot. Jooste was challenged to beat a man on horseback from Praetoria to Crocodile Ridge, a distance of 75km, and did so, setting the ground for Theron’s decidedly unconventional kommandos.

Theron’s efforts were initially met with widespread, conservative skepticism. The burghers, or land-owning white citizens, had been raised on horseback, and were reluctant to allow new-fangled contraptions to take the place of traditional horses. They viewed the cyclists as geeky cowards, trying to avoid combat. Theron at first was limited to organizing a messenger brigade, the Vrystaatse Rapportrijders, or “Free State Couriers.” But, “as soon as the burghers saw that the despatch riders could not be stopped by rivers, heavy roads, hostile patrols, or even enemy bullets, they gained a new respect for the corps.”

Vrystaatse Rapportrijders, or “Free State Couriers.” Members of the Boer communications brigade
entrusted with military dispatches pose with their bicycles.

After the free riders proved that the bicycle was both reliable and cheap, Theron was able to establish the TVK, or Theron se Verkenningskorps (Therons Reconnaissance Corps). Theron trained an elite group of a hundred scouts on bicycles, many of which were probably riding (BSA) Birmingham Small Arms bikes from (BSA) British South Africa. Scouts on bikes were able to infiltrate behind British lines and report back without being detected. Theron solved the thorny problem of frequent punctures by fashioning tire strips from rawhide leather, a problem that led British soldiers to discard their bicycles by the hundreds. The riding conditions would have challenged 21st Century mountain bikers: The veldt itself is covered with a thinly growing thorny scrub, just ridable for bicycles, but prevalent of punctures to all but the stoutest tyres. The roads and tracks are quite practicable, but very bumpy, and abounding in sandy patches where sideslips are the rule and riding is difficult, and are intersected with watercourses over which the wheels bump heavily. Nevertheless, with strong machines and careful riding, the bicycle is a most useful method of progression, though across country the horse has undoubtedly the advantage.

While the horse and rider may have had an advantage in ideal terrain, they were also conspicuous, hungry and thirsty. A man on horseback could see for miles on the treeless veldt, and also be seen. Being lower to the ground, cyclists were able to travel long distance unobserved across arid land, and were not nearly as thirsty in the process. In fact, one of Theron’s principal targets of surveillance were the watering holes and paddocks that British troops depended upon to water and feed their horses. Theron’s tactics became so disruptive that a price was placed on his head by the British high command of a thousand pounds Sterling for capture, dead or alive, the equivalent of nearly a million pounds in 2016.

British bicycle troops in South Africa perform a Boer-style ambush after dismounting from their bikes.
British bicycle troops in South Africa perform a Boer-style ambush after dismounting from their bikes.

Recognizing the technological advantage of the bicycle, the British soon raised their own “Cape Cyclin
g Corps,” which was likewise tasked with surveillance and dispatches. Colonel Robert Baden-Powell, who later became the founder of the Boy Scouts, (an elite paramilitary organization, in the immortal words of Red Dawns Colonel Bella), understood the importance of the bicycle, and traveled with his own folding bike. Bicycle messengers were assigned to transport carrier pigeons, as the birds preferred bicycles to horses. And a New Zealander bicycle squad even chased down and captured a contingent of Boers on horseback (presumably the horses were thirsty and hungry).

British troops traveling by train were subject to ambush and booby trap, creating a need to patrol the tracks. Australian forces deployed to BSA built their own four-wheeled, eight-seat bicycle for just such a purpose by bolting together several bike frames and replacing the pneumatic tires with railroad wheels. As with any bicycle, it allowed them to travel quietly and closer to the ground, allowing them to be on the lookout for covert Boer kommandos and demolition charges. The eight-man squad could dismount more quickly from their bicycle than they could from a locomotive, and in a pinch they could also tow a trailer equipped with a Maxim machine gun. Their “war cycle” could also accommodate a stretcher between the bike frames for carrying the wounded back home.

Eight Men, Four Wheels, One Machine Gun: The Boer War Cycle sped along at 50kmh on railroad tracks and over land.
Eight Men, Four Wheels, One Machine Gun: The Australian “War Cycle” sped along at 50kmh over
railroad tracks.

The occupying British army understood the capacity for bicycles to be deployed in asymmetric warfare; a mandatory licensing program was initiated, and lights were required at night: “No person may ride or have in his or her possession a bicycle, tricycle, or automobile, unless the machine has been duly registered at the Commandant’s Office. When a machine is registered, a numbered metal plate will be issued and must be attached to the machine in a conspicuous place. Cyclists passing a Guard or Sentry will do so at a pace of not more than 6 miles an hour and will dismount if ordered to do so. A lamp will be carried on any machine when ridden at night between sunset and sunrise.”

First They Come For Your Bicycles: the terrorist threat posed by bicycles was so great that the British confiscated them en masse.
First They Come For Your Bicycles: The occupying British South African army confiscated 500 bicycles
from Boer Citizens in Graaff-Reinet.

Sadly, Captain Theron’s bicycle did not prove faster than a speeding shell. While scouting on his own in the latter days of the way, he reached the top of a kopfe, or small hill, only to find seven mounted British soldiers on the other side. He quickly opened fire with his rifle, killing four outright, and wounding the other three. Unfortunately, the artillery battery that the troops had been accompanying heard his shots, and saturated the hilltop with fire. We do not know his dying words, but we can only hope that they were thus,

“You can have my bike when you pry it

from my cold, dead hands.”

Just one more flat tire...members of the British South African army bicycle corps fix their bikes in camp.
Just one more flat tire…members of the British South African army bicycle corps fix their bikes in camp.
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PCH Tour: There

The complete blog series on this tour:
Bike Tour Preperation: Part 1 Destination, Part 2 Training, Part 3 Pack Up!
PCH Tour: There, Biking Back with Burley, The Good, The Bad and The Burley

After months of training, buying gear, and preparation; the day finally came when James and I were ready to embark on a jaunt up the Pacific Coast.

The trip started out very rocky, or sloshy to be exact. We arrived at the train station in L.A. at 9 a.m. on December 17, 2008. We wheeled our Burley Nomad around like luggage and went into a secret back room (with voice activation and a pin pad) to pick up our bikes. It was drizzling, but nothing of a deterrent really; we were ready to ride. Now, we had to get from the LAX train station to Route 1. The light rain had turned into heavy rain accompanied by strong winds. Headed north in 40 mph winds and vertical rain pelting you in the face like small pebbles, this was definitely a first day to remember. We were lucky enough to eventually find the Malibu RV/campsite, and were crossing our fingers that the Nomad stood up better than we did being tethered for hours on end with hurricane-like, elemental fury. To our surprise, most everything was dry. Some things got wet from the water that splashed up from underneath the trailer, but the washer/dryer set up at the RV park was nothing short of a miracle, and ultimately saved my toes from frostbite, and both of us from hypothermia.
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Spoke and Word

Spoke and Word.comLike you, we’re all avid bike blog readers here. I personally read as many as I can find, big and small. If someone took the time to write about it, it gets added to my Google reader. Of course, I have almost 1,000 unread messages and over 40 blogs in there, but that doesn’t stop me from adding more. Sometimes, though, the well read blogs tend to be a little incestuous, referring to each other over and over in a constant link-feeding frenzy, which can make it hard to find some of the new voices out there.

We wanted a way to make it easier to find those new voices, so we’ve done something about it. Starting now, there’s a new content sharing site out there: Spoke and Word! Just like the bigger sites of its ilk, like Digg, Spoke and Word lets users submit and vote on stories, but it’s better. “Why?”, you ask. Because it’s just for bike-related content, you pedal-pusher, you!
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