#30daysofbiking day 2

Okay, so I came to this whole ride your bike every day for 30 days thing a bit late (more than halfway through), but I dig the idea so much I thought it would be worth jumping onto.  I’m wondering if a #30daysofrunning is in my future?  Followed by #90daysofphysicaltherapy?

I’m so glad I did.  I just had one of the best short rides of my life.  Conditions were perfect (there was nothing good on TV… ), the sun was low in the sky, and I found one of my favorite roads ever.  It’s short, which is the only thing wrong with it.  It winds its way down into a little river valley and then trundles along twisting and turning.  There were trees, and houses.  Nothing special, just comfortable little late 60’s ramblers that had been well kept.  You got the feeling that people were happy there.  There was an old couple sitting on a bench watching the stream flow by.  It was lovely.  Normally, my “happy places” don’t have so many people around, but this one qualified.

Here’s the route:

http://www.mapmyride.com/route/us/wi/st%20joseph/342127163290566975

I took the fixie.  Only forgot it wasn’t a fixie once.  Turns out your instinct to stand up and coast to absorb a bump is wired very differently from the “my legs are tired so I will stop pedaling”  circuitry.  I have managed to turn off the latter pretty successfully over the last ~20 miles of fixie-acclimatization, but the former surprised me.  Makes my tentative plan to take a fixie off road one day seem even more inadvisable.

Anyway, I found out that I am going to have to be especially careful around wildlife.  The bike is so quiet, I snuck up on a squirrel so successfully that it got within a foot of my front wheel before it scrambled out of the way in a furry and energetic fashion.  This is the second time that’s happened.

Obligatorycameracontent: I brought the Olympus XA, which fits perfectly in the new CamelBak I got recently.  Click on the image to go to Ken Rockwell’s thoughts on the camera.  The XA and I go way back.  It was my first camera, and I acquired it by kicking a rock on the trail while we were  on a hike in Big Bend National Park in Texas (it was the Windows trail, if I’m not mistaken).  Turns out it wasn’t a rock, it was an Olympus XA that somebody had dropped.  We asked all week at the ranger station whether somebody had asked about the camera, but nobody had, so it became mine.  The only thing wrong with it, besides a dent in the back and lots of grit, was a missing shutter button.  My dad cleaned it up and I used it for many years, but I don’t know where it ended up.

I found my current camera at an estate sale for $10 (on Ebay they can go for $150, but that’s just people hoping to prove PT Barnum right again).   I love the manual control you get.  It has everything you need, and nothing you don’t.  The viewfinder is great, and it takes good pictures.  Perfect for travel.  With practice, you can operate it more or less one-handed, making it perfect for rolling pictures.  I’m not brave enough on the fixie to do this yet, but I can on a bike with a freewheel.

Mini-review of new Camelbak:  I bought the CamelBak Octane 18X at our local REI when I got Owen’s bike.  Two things sold me immediately:  It weighs nearly nothing, and it has stash pockets with zippers on the waistband.  I put the iPhone on the left and the camera on the right, and you barely know they are there.   This will also be useful for gu/gel packets, though I doubt I’ll carry them next to anything electronic.

The back gets a bit sweaty- it doesn’t have the off-the-back features of the more sturdy frame-type hydration system (my old Deuter Race Air is the gold standard in this regard), but the Camelbak hugs your body and feels like a piece of clothing rather than an external pack.  So far, it’s been very comfortable and has worked well mountain biking and on the road.

It took Camelbak (and everybody else, for that matter) forever to get the bite valve right, but now they have.  NO drips.  Ever.  They’ve also nailed the length of the hose- it never hits your leg, even when you’re hunched over on one of those Quasimodo-style climbs.  Believe me, I was hunched today.

There is plenty of space to stash gear, and you never have to worry about it puncturing the bladder- they are in separate compartments.  As a bonus, the zipper at the back unzips and allows the bag to expand.  This is great because hydration packs tend to resemble footballs when they are stuffed with gear.  They feel terrible on your back when they are like this.  Yesterday, the pack took my soft shell very nicely without going all football-y.  Full marks for storage.  For me, it’s the perfect blend of a wearable pack that can handle a decent amount of cargo.

Problems:  There are a lot of fairly unruly strap-ends.  They are pretty lightweight, so they aren’t as bothersome as some, but I’m going to have to figure out how to get them restrained.  I guess this pack is more meant as a daypack for hiking, so maybe it’s my fault for using it in the wrong way.  (But it’s so *light!*)  All of the buckles are a proprietary design that’s not the same as the typical fastex buckles.  They work well, but are slightly more sensitive to alignment when you buckle them.  Also, I worry about durability.  Standard Fastex buckles are bombproof; any knockoffs or redesigns that I’ve seen have ended up failing at some point or another.  These appear to be fairly lightweight, and could be fragile.  Best not to step on them

Overall, I’m very happy with the pack so far.  Much as I hate to admit it, I like the color as well.  You can’t go wrong with yellow and black.

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