Archive for the ‘Our equipment’ Category

Frisco, Colorado — Day off

A view of Main Street in Frisco, Colorado

The Manager at Wilderness Sports in Frisco, Clay Schwarck, explaining the intricacies of Shimano pedals

We got Sallie’s bike taken care of today with fabulous help and service from Wilderness Sports in Frisco, Colorado.  They got a Shimano Deore crankset shipped in overnight from Salt Lake City, and had Sallie fixed up by 4:00pm today.  The credit goes to Zach, the tech that spotted the bent small chainring yesterday.   The gearing on the Deore will be more appropriate for loaded touring, so Sallie will get a lot of benefit from lower gears too.  She’ll probably leave me in the dust.

Zach at Wilderness Sports - excellent wrenching. My cousin Lee's husband in the back left overseeing the exchange.

Brian from Ft. Worth meeting my cousin Lee. Exchanging information with other riders is an established and necessary tradition.

We encountered two young men, Brian and Cody, the other day in Hartsel from Fort Worth, Texas that were doing the Great Divide Trail.  The Great Divide Trail is a mountain bike trail that runs from Mexico into Canada.  These fellows rode from Mexico to Salida, Colorado last year, and they were striking out to complete their ride this year going to Bannff, Alberta Canada, and then on to Vancouver.  We will intermittently cross paths with the Great Divide route during the next several hundred miles, and it was interesting to speak to a pair right away.  Today while running errands, we saw Brian coming into the post office at Frisco getting ready to ship some of his gear back that he decided weighed too much for the need.  That’s pretty common.  In fact, I was doing the same thing – that’s why I was at the post office.  I’ll need the lighter load to keep up with Sallie and her new gears.


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Scott Thomas Lawson

Scott Thomas Lawson

Scott Lawson, of Evergreen, Colorado was killed in a collision involving a drunk driver on November 19, 1998.  Scott was 18 years old at the time of his death.

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Sallie’s gear test

Fairplay, CO to Frisco, CO

Miles: 36

Total so far: 2,817

Good morning at Fairplay!

We woke up to a 36 degree morning in Fairplay.  Rather than hang out by our picnic table making breakfast wearing everything we own to keep warm, we dressed in everything we own, packed up, and went across the street to a convenience store for breakfast.

Leaving Fairplay on their bike path

We hit the road early, knowing we had a short day ahead of us.  We coordinated with a cousin of ours who has a vacation home in Frisco to spend a day off in the company of relatives, get some maintenance done on the bikes, and the ever necessary laundry load or two.

Mount Bross as seen during our ascent of Hoosier Pass

At the highest point of the Trans Am. No, it's not all downhill from here.

We summited the highest point of the Trans-Am today, topping out at 11,542 feet, crossing Hoosier Pass.  The climb was really nothing too challenging, as the grades going north were not too steep, and we already ascended to within 1500 feet.  The descent was full of switchbacks and the grades on that side were considerably steeper.  After the pass, we went through the towns of Blue River and Breckenridge, before gaining a bike trail that took us all the way into Frisco.  Colorado has these fabulous bike trails in this area.  When we resume riding the day after tomorrow, the same trail will take us to Silverthorne, some 15 total miles of bike trail riding.

The descent...

Breckenridge ski area. The snowpack was very heavy this winter.

The bike path between Breckenridge and Frisco

(The following may be a little bike-technical for some)

Sallie has been having trouble dropping her chain when working in and out of the small chain ring (granny gear).  The trouble started very intermittently after some of the steep hills in Tennessee and Missouri.  I’ve pretty consistently accused her of operator error, as I’ve checked the stop settings, and was satisfied they were correct.  Today we went in to a very good bike shop here in Frisco, Wilderness Sports, and the shop tech spotted a bent small chain ring.  She has a Shimano 105 crankset, and it’s just not been able to handle the stress we’ve put it through.  Sallie overpowered her gear.

I have to ask Sallie to pass on this coffee in the future. It's too hard on chainrings!

Rather than straighten this chain ring, or order a new one, we’ve opted to replace the entire crankset with Shimano XT.  That should hold up to my sister’s power output!  The one hang-up is we’ve had to order one shipped from Salt Lake with 170mm cranks.  The parts should be in tomorrow, and that won’t cost us any delays.


Tomorrow is a rest day for us at Frisco, Colorado.  Dedications will be resumed when we continue riding. Meanwhile enjoy one more picture from this beautiful country.

Looking up a valley between two 14'ers - Mt. Bross and Mt. Lincoln

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All that bike stuff

Sterling, KS to Larned, KS

Miles: 55

Total so far: 2,295

Sunset last night near Sterling, KS

We are riding touring bikes.  These are different than the average “road bike” one sees at bike shops these days.  It would be rare for a bike shop to stock touring bikes as they are not the lightweight steeds the market craves these days. Featherweight carbon fiber in racing configurations will not hold up to what we are doing.  Carbon fiber can hold a heavy rider, but when touring panniers are placed on a lightweight bike, odd things take place because of the significant change in centers of gravity, and the geometry of the bike.

Sunrise near Sterling, KS this morning - we were already on the road

These bikes are steel through and through.  They have to hold up to heavy loads placed in odd configurations, and treated roughly.  I am riding a Co-Motion Americano Co-Pilot.

Co-Motion Americano

A bike specially configured for touring from the same steel tubing and components used in Co-Motion tandems (a tandem is a single bike built for two riders).  This bike has couplers that allow the frame to be taken apart.  The bike breaks down and fits in an airline compatible suitcase.

Sallie is riding the venerable Trek 520.  This is a model of touring bike that has been around for 30 years or so.

Trek 520

Hers is only about five years old, and reflects improvements in design and components consistent with modern bikes.

Although these have  all the appearance of a “road bike”, the gearing and associated components along with the brakes are actually from the mountain bike world, allowing very low gearing for pulling steep hills with heavy loads.  Both of these bikes have “old school” bar-end shifters that allow room for handle bar bags that will not interfere with shifting cables.  We are running 700×32 Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires.  These are a touring favorite and are pretty bomb-proof.

Our bikes have front and rear cargo racks from Tubus, and our panniers (bags) and handle bar bags are manufactured by Ortlieb.  We weighed my bike the other day on a digital scale used for deer at 78 pounds fully loaded (without the rider, of course).

Maintenance-wise, we’ve done pretty well so far.  I had to replace a freak broken spoke on my front wheel at about 600 miles into the ride (for you mechanically inclined out there, I say it was a freak thing because it not only broke on the front wheel, but it broke inside the nipple at the threading.  My wheels have 40 spokes each so they do not often break).  I’ve had to true Sallie’s rear wheel once, and lube some clicking pedals.  So far that’s it.  Cyclists NEVER like to mention the “F”-word while still riding lest they jinx themselves, but to date, we’ve not had any flat tires to repair.  The credit for that goes to Schwalbe for making such a tough touring tire.

Kansas today



Early morning shadow play

Arriving in Larned, KS; Agenda: Have lunch and go to the pool.

100 degrees? Great pool! (Trans Am cyclists are invited in for free)


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Jason Curtis Barnett

Jason Curtis Barnett

Jason Barnett was killed by a drunk driver on May 14, 1997.  Jason was from Elkhart, Kansas.  An impaired driver failed to secure his trailer.  It became detached and went into the oncoming lane causing a head-on collision.

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Cuba Landing, TN to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, TN

Friendly horn taps: 1

Miles 66

Total so far: 1,366

Starting the day through the abundant forests of Tennessee

Tennessee is known for their dogs.  The kind of dogs that live out here in the country and just love to chase cyclists for sport.  We’ve certainly had our share so far and today was no exception, except we had an exceptional day at keeping them at bay.  We use whistles.  Coaches and referee’s type of whistles.  Fox 40 “Sonik Blast” whistles to be exact.  They are loud and piercing.   Just what dogs respond to best.

We'd break out of the trees into these wide open spaces - very pleasing to the eye, yes?

A lot of touring cyclists use some sort of dog repellent — pepper spray, mace — things like that.  To be effective, the dog has to be pretty close, and I’m just not sold on the idea that’s a good policy.  Today we had over 15 dogs take a run at us and we stopped every one of them in their yards with a blast or two on the whistles.  We had one put the brakes on so hard while he was running out of his driveway that he may have scraped a weeks worth of pad off his paws.  I’m not sure why the whistles work — and they don’t work on all dogs all the time, but today for instance we had a 100 percent success rate at keeping the animals in their own yards, and that pretty good for a Tennessee country dog.  It keeps them from getting out in traffic too.

Note the line at the bottom of the sign -- there's probably more to that story


Tomorrow’s ride is dedicated to Dawn Murillo

Dawn Murillo

This is my wife Dawn who was the best mother she could be to our son Nicholas.  She was hit & killed by a drunk driver on Halloween of 2010 in Moline, Illinois while trick or treating with our son Nick, age 8.  It’s been hard on all of us who knew her but really hard on our son, Nick.

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