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Using Maps with a Garmin device

There are many maps shown on this website, mostly showing routes for various tours. These maps were constructed beforehand, with the view in mind of finding a relative safe way through complicated high traffic areas. They make use of local bike maps, rides graphed on bikely, google satellite and street view, and various blogs and other material from the internet. The best way to make use of these is to put them on your garmin device, then have it guide you as you do the tour. It really makes a remarkable difference. You won't get lost, and will spend a lot less time hunched over maps. We have used this technique to ride through Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle. I would say about 90% of this has involved quite pleasant low traffic riding.

Anyway, it is pretty easy to make use of bikely maps on your garmin (edge 605 and 800 are the only models that I know anything about). Open any map that interests you on bikely (i.e. www.bikely.com) - for example, open this link in a separate tab. It will show you how we went from LA airport to Irvine.

Now click on the sharing tab, then download gpx, and save the file that is offered to your computer somewhere. This will be a text file with a bunch of xml in it. This is the information you want to put into your garmin. As an aside, you can also load this file into other mapping software, for example Qlandkarte.

Now connect your garmin with an usb cable to the computer. The garmin will appear, looking like a standard usb key, with folders and the like. Copy the gpx file from your computer to the GARMIN/GPX folder on your edge 605, or the GARMIN/NewFiles folder on your edge 800. If you have a microsd card in the garmin, it will appear as a separate device. Don't use it, use the main Garmin device to store your route.

Disconnect the device from the computer, and start the Garmin. The ride you just saved will turn up in the 'saved rides' option in the 605, and the Courses option in the 800.

Once you get to the ride location, you can tell the Garmin to navigate using your saved ride. To make this work best, you should alter a couple of settings. Set the Garmin so that north is always at the top of the map (otherwise the map will change erratically as you ride, making it impossible to follow). Then -very important- turn off recalculation. Then the Garmin will simply display your ride on the map and show you where you are relative to it. Then it is quite easy to follow. If you don't do this, the Garmin will drop your ride as soon as you stop for coffee, or otherwise get off course, and keep trying to find its own way to your destination. Your map is then useless.

Incidentally, you don't need to buy expensive Garmin maps. Openstreetmap maintains a digital world map, thanks to contributions from everyone everywhere. Creating a world map is kind of an ideal collaborative project. In any case, much of it has been tweaked to make good bike maps. An exhaustive selection of Garmin maps are available from the open street map wiki. If you want to customize your map (for example, if your Garmin won't open your microsd card - or you just don't have a microsd card), use the Lambertus site to get a map that fits into your garmin without the microsd card.

Once you have one of these maps (i.e., you have something with the extension .img that you got from one of these sites), rename it GMAPSUPP.img and put it in the GARMIN folder of your device (if it is small) or of the microsd card if it is bigger.

Finally, once you have done all this, you can draw your own bikely maps. My only word of warning, it is very time consuming.

A loop from Vancouver to Seattle and back

Here is a tour from Vancouver to Seattle, then back through Port Washington and Victoria. I just realized that bikely is no longer responsive. So the maps are being refreshed.

  1. Vancouver to Bellingham. 87kms Steady rain on the day in August we did this. Nonetheless, a great ride. Apart from a bit in White Rock, low traffic.

    View the ride on Google Earth


    View Tsawwassen to Bellingham in a larger map

  2. From Bellingham to La Connor. 57kms. More rain. Despite this a great ride. Begins with some climbing, then passes through pine forest and parkland near highway five. Almost no traffic, which is why it seems sensible instead of the route along the ocean. Ends in the farmland (flat) in the Skagit Valley.

    Bellingham to La Conner on Google Earth


    View Bellingham La Conner in a larger map

  3. La Connor to Snohomish. 79kms. The ride to Arlington is on fairly quiet roads. The best part is just after highway 5. It is very nice until you get near Arlington, where traffic increases. Arlington had a good grocery store with place for a picnic on the path. Just after Arlington, there is a very bad stretch, with heavy traffic an narrow roads (maybe find a bypass). The bad section is 87th avenue leaving Arlington. After you get up the hill the road widens, so it isn't so bad. Then after a kilometer or so, you will meet the brilliant Centennial Trail which leads all the way to Snohomish. At the very end of the trail, on the left (going south) there is a pretty good coffee shop.

    La Conner Snohomish on Google Earth


    View La Conner to Snohomish in a larger map

  4. Snohomish to Seattle. 60kms. It is amazing really, that rides like this are possible. Bike into the biggest city in the Pacific Northwest, not really any traffic problems at all. The busy streets near Highway 5 had good shoulders. Otherwise, the route is mostly either off road, or quiet, even in downtown Seattle. There is a foot bridge at Chittenden Lock, just before you get downtown.

    Snohomish to Seattle on Google Earth


    View snohomish_seattle in a larger map

    On Bikely

  5. Bainbridge to Port Townsend. 74kms. Oddly enough, a pretty tedious ride. Traffic is heavy near Bainbridge, though the shoulders are good. The rest of the way is two lane, relatively quiet highway, rolling hills. A great lunch spot at Port Gamble. Right at the end, there is a nice and very scenic bike path, leading down into the Port.

    On Bikely

  6. Port Townsend to Port Angeles. 88kms We actually stayed in a B&B in Sequim half way through this ride. After the ride on a busy and fast moving highway out of Port Townsend the route becomes really nice. Time your exit from Port Townsend to miss the ferry traffic, and go early, the first stretch isn't so bad. But there are no shoulders, and the traffic is fast. Sequim is nice, you can pick up the Olympic Discovery Trail long before Sequim (look for the green shaded area just off the main highway on the southern part of Sequim Bay). In between, Highway 101 has generous shoulders.

    On bikely

  7. Port Angeles to Vancouver. Take the fast ferry to Victoria, then the lochside trail to the ferry back to Vancouver.

Southern California Tour

bike_in_desert Here is a tour through Southern California done in early March. The remarkable thing about this tour is how much of it was bike friendly. Most of the beaches in LA have dedicated cycling paths. The ride through Camp Pendleton is nearly car free. The longest ride from Borrego Springs to Palm Desert was along quiet roads through the desert, wide shoulders on the interstate, then cycling paths nearer Palm Desert. The only tip I have for this ride is to avoid Washington Blvd in Palm Desert. Incdientally, we rented a van at Palm Springs airport to get the bikes back to LAX.
  1. Saturday, March 6, Marina del Rey to Newport Beach, 90kms. Mostly bike paths along the ocean. The afternoon winds become quite strong. On a bad weather day, as this was, the wind seems to come from the south. We faced a strong headwind along the beach all afternoon. On nice days the wind comes from the north or northwest and will be at your back. I wouldn't want to do this tour in the opposite direction though.

    One unexpected highlight of this ride was a path through a preserve in Irvine near the end of the ride.

    On Bikely
  2. Sunday, March 7, Irvine to Oceanside 96kms. The first part of the ride was along a bike path that followed the San Diego river (I think it was the San Diego river), which was very pleasant. The last part of the ride, along the old highway 1 and through Camp Pendleton has to be seen to be believed. This is the most bike friendly ride I have ever been on. u irvine, san juan capistrano, pendleton

    On Bikely
  3. Monday, March 8 Oceanside to La Jolla 42.1 km

    On Bikely
  4. Tuesday, March 9, La Jolla
  5. Wednesday, March 10 La Jolla-El Cahon 78kms, ferry ride, silver strand

    On Bikely
  6. Thursday, March 11 El Cajon-Julian 70km 2% all day climb
    Map on Bikely
  7. Friday, March 12 Julian - Borrego Springs 50 kms Descent into Desert - Last bit on this map
    On Bikely
  8. Saturday, March 13 Borrego Springs - Palm Desert 113kms desert
    On Bikely
  9. Sunday, March 14 La quinta Palm Springs 23kms car rental back to Dana Point for bike boxes. This isn't the ideal route. Follow the road just on the north side of Highway 10, then follow the local bike paths north of the airport. The maps are available on the web.
    On Bikely

California Ride

California Tour

  1. Sunday - Guerneville-Gureneville via Healdsburg - 56 kms
    5 Seasons River Village Resort and Spa
    14880 River Road Guerneville, CA USA 95446
    Phone: 707.869.8139
    Highlights for non-wine drinkers -
    Stumptown Brewery
    15045 River Road, Guerneville,ca
    Bear Republic Brewing Company, 345 Healdsburg Av, Healdsburg
    View the map on Bikely.com
  2. Monday - Guerneville-Petaluma - 63 kms

    Metro Hotel and Café
    ‎Address: 508 Petaluma Blvd S
    Petaluma, CA 94952

    View the map on bikely.com

  3. Tuesday - Petaluma-Stinson Beach - 56kms

    The Sandpiper - Lodging at the Beach
    1 Marine Way P.O. Box 208

    View the map on bikely.

  4. Wednesday - Stinson Beach-American Canyon via SF Ferries
    38kms to the ferry, 10km from ferry dock to hotel
    View This map on the bikely site.

    Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa
    3600 Broadway Street, American Canyon, CA 94503
    Hotel Website
    Toll Free: 1-888-798-3777

    Map for the second part:

    Map on Bikely.

  5. Thursday - American Canyon -St Helena 53 kms

    El Bonita Motel
    195 Main Street St. Helena, California 94574

    Map on Bikely
  6. Saturday - St Helena - Santa Rosa 56 kms

    Hotel Larose, 318 Wilson street
    Santa Rosa, CA 95401 US

    Map on Bikely

  7. Sunday - Santa Rosa - Guerneville 36kms

    Map on Bikely

A Bike Tour from Vancouver to Friday Harbour

I have to admit that, apart from the local rides I do all the time, my favourite north west coast rides are in Washington State. There seems less traffic, everything is a little less commercial. In any case, this describes a bike tour from Vancouver to Friday Harbour on San Juan Island. I can't really imagine a better place to go for a short bike trip. The riding on the island is super, the drivers on the island are pretty respectful of bikes, and the restaurants and coffee shops are great (though most of them are in Friday Harbour itself).

The route goes from UBC to the Tsawwassen Ferry terminal, ferry to Swartz Bay, 5km ride to Sidney, then a ferry to Friday Harbour. I'll stick mostly to logistics. It didn't occur to me when I went on the tour to take an useful pictures, so it is mostly descriptive.

Unfortunately, there are some problems involved in getting to Washington state by bike. One of them is the Fraser river, or rather the tunnel they decided to put under the Fraser river to take the millions of SUVs that pack into the Victoria ferry everyday. Bikes aren't allowed through the tunnel, and no one in their right mind would ever try to ride a bike through the tunnel. This means either a bus ride (the bus from Richmond to Ladner has a rack on front that fits two bikes), or a ride in the 'shuttle'. The shuttle is a big passenger van with a trailer on the back with room for 8 bikes.

The shuttle runs April until October. Information is available at this bc government website. It is a really nice thing that there is a service like this I guess, but it means you have to plan your trip to arrive on time for the shuttle. Waiting for the shuttle isn't very pleasant (though there are coffee shops about 3 kms away). One of the great things about biking is not having to go by a schedule, so this is a bad part about the trip, unless of course, you enjoy watching endless streams of cars driving into the tunnel on their way back from the mall.

The plus side is that you'll probably meet some other cyclists while you wait. On our way out we meet a couple of young guys who had just bought new road bikes. They had ridden up from Kitsilano, and were headed out into the country south of the river for a day of riding, which sounded kind of idyllic. On the way back we met a young lady who, again, had just purchased a new road bike. Her wheels had about 6 spokes each, which didn't stop her from adding a couple of heavy panniers. I guess spokes are getting stronger (which gives me a great idea for another trip to the bike store).

Here is my favourite route to the ferry. The shuttle pickup and dropoff locations are marked with little red and white x's. These are just beside the river.

It isn't so evident from the map, but after the shuttle drops you off, don't take the main highway towards the ferry. There is a road just a little east of the drop off point which leads to a dirt path that will take you under the highway and into a very nice park in Ladner. Then you can follow my route, or take Arthur drive back to the highway and on to the ferry (there is a generously wide bike path along the highway right up to the ferry terminal). The ride through Delta is really nice. The ride I have marked has less traffic than Arthur drive but no bike path.

One difficulty with the schedule for the shuttle is that it drops you off about 45 minutes before the ferry leaves. One option is to stop for lunch in Ladner, which you pass through if you follow the route I suggested above. The other is to try to make the ferry. This is what we did. This is tight unless you are riding like a road racer. There is bound to be a headwind (probably quite a strong one), and if you take my route, there is a chance you will be stopped by a train (the Arthur drive route, which is recommended as the bike route on the Delta bike map, has a bridge over the train tracks). The fastest way to buy a ticket at the terminal is to go through the kiosks where the cars buy their tickets. Even if you are fast enough, you are unlikely to make the initial loading since they let bikes on the ferry before cars. If you are late, they let you on, but you have to weave your way through all the cars to the front of the ferry.

Here is the map of the ride that goes from the Swartz Bay ferry to Sidney. As you can see, it is about 6 kilometers.

There is usually only a single ferry each day from Sidney to Friday Harbour. The schedule for the Sidney to Friday Harbour ferry is available from Washington State Ferries. It currently appears that the ferry runs all winter, though when we went it appeared to be a summer only event. The winter ferry schedule seems a bit more bike friendly. The ferry we took left Sidney at 6PM, which gets you in around 7:30. As it worked out we had time for dinner (in the micro brewery - though the beer wasn't so great) in Friday Harbour before setting off on a 10km or so ride to the bed and breakfast. However, we did learn in our subsequent travels that this ferry is often quite late. A non atypical hour delay on the ferry would have meant riding to our hotel in the dark. Anyway, so much for the logistics.

San Juan Island

There are two aspects of riding on either Lopez Island, or San Juan Island that makes them more pleasant that riding the Canadian Gulf islands. The roads are wide and well maintained, and the hills are pretty easy. Basically the worst hills in San Juan were like going over a typical overpass in Vancouver. The main road from Friday Harbour to Roche Harbour has a very good bike path along the side, so though the traffic in a little faster on this stretch, the biking is still good. There is a bike shop in Friday Harbour that looked okay - we didn't go in because I was in the midst of remaking my bike at that point and I had grown averse to bike shops.

I won't give detailed routes to follow on the island, it is more fun to make them up yourself. The two maps that are linked below show two segments of road that I thought were more or less perfect cycle routes - car free, flat, great views, pastoral. The Pear Point Route brings you back into town at a very nice coffee shop. View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com and View Interactive Map on MapMyRide.com.

The main attractions on the island are a series of state and national parks along the edge of the island, so a typical outing is a longish, but very enjoyable ride through farming country followed by a hike along the seashore. There are only two places to find food and drink. Friday Harbour, is obviously one. That isn't much help, since it is pretty remote from all the nice parks you are likely to want to see. The other is Roche Harbour, which appears to be a place with a bunch of time shares and a marina. In any event, there are a couple of nice restaurants there.

One of the nice surprises for us was an arts festival that happened on the weekend we were there. Along with the usual craft displays, there was a lot of music. In most cases, the price reflected the quality, but it was still fun. Apparently Steve Miller has a house somewhere on the island, but if he was playing at the arts festival, we didn't hear him. We narrowly missed s concert by the California Guitar Trio, which happened the day after we left.

 

Web Software to Use on Your bike Blog

It is fun to record your travels by bike. In part, it is just to remember where you went and what you liked about it. On the the other hand, if you are on a very long tour, cross canada say, or even cross russia, a lot of people will be interested in how you are doing and will want to know that every thing is going well. It is a good idea to update your location and other information as you go along just to keep them informed.

There is lots of software available to help you do this. Following other peoples blogs is one way to learn about this. These blogs vary. I think the one I enjoyed the most is at Andy Ganner's blog. This is a sort of comic novel about a group that traveled by bike across Russian in 2001. There are probably many more. (Another one I found funny was this one by Edward Genochio).

In any case, the first thing you will want to be able to do is to show people where you are. The way you do this is to use Google maps. They provide an API that will allow you to draw one of their maps on your webpage with a little flag that will illustrate where you are. I won't try to explain how to use it. You need to ask for a key from Google for each web domain in which you want to display maps. The best way to learn what to do is to look at their instructions. This is the method that was used to shows the maps on the Russia Crossing page on this website. This isn't much help when all you want to say is that you just arrived in Calgary. However, if you are riding through Carnduff Saskatchewan, or Syropyatskoy Russia, it really clarifies things.

Once you set this up, the problem you will discover is that the map api requires that you provide pretty accurate longitude and latitude numbers for your location. I suppose that gps devices are pretty common now. If you have a gps device, then you could enter your gps location every night when you visit the internet cafe.

I always thought this was a little creepy. If you set up your web blog with a google map, then record your location every night, you are advertizing to the world that you are in a remote place with nothing but a bicycle. Yet you are rich enough to afford a gps device. This doesn't seem wise. Of course, your blog isn't really public - only your close friends and family are actually looking. This always reminds me of my cat. When he wants to hide, he sticks his head under a cover, then figures no one can see him because he can't see anyone.

In any case, another way to figure these latitude an longitude things is to use the following excellent website. I am not sure exactly who to attribute this excellent website to. It provides a google map. You click on the map, it gives you the latitude and longitude, which you can then put on your own map. Of course, to use it, you need to know the name of some exotic location. This isn't really a problem in Carnduff. It can be in remote parts of Russia.

The next thing you want to do is something like this:
Local Time in Toronto

Click for Toronto Forecast

The idea is that where every you happen to be, you can display the time there, and what the weather is like. These are very straightforward. If you aren't familiar with them, the time and date website will not only give you instructions, but actually give you the html code to put on your webpage. Exactly the same thing applies at the weather website. The only complication with using these two things, is that you have to alter the locations manually by looking up the appropriate codes for your location, in order for them to give the right times and forecasts.

Finally, for shorter tours, there is a really useful website at mapmyride.com. This is based on google maps. There are gazillions of rides marked out on this website and you can make up your own rides and contribute them. Here is a ride around Vancouver:

This is pretty neat. If there is a downside to this website, it is that it can be very slow. You might already have noticed that putting a map on your webpage makes your webpage just as slow.

A Bad Idea - Converting an Old Mountain Bike into a Modern Touring Bike

For some reason I decided it would be a good idea to convert the cross canada bike (CCB) into a modern touring bike. It seemed kind of pointless to have the bike just sit there - its only function, to take our visitors on exhausting 5km rides around town. This is a bike that had made two major bike tours, flown about 10000 km in airplanes, and even done a bit of mountain bike racing (in its original unmodified form). How hard could it be? The plan was to use a lot of the extra parts for road bikes that I have lying around, and use them to retrofit the bike. Big mistake. This little article is a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of trying to change a modified mountain bike into a road bike. Though the bike is now pretty nice, and works flawlessly, the excercize was definitely not worth it. It would have been better by a bunch to buy a touring bike.

The mountain bike pictured here shows you more or less what the CCB looked like pre-renovation:

This isn't exactly the same bike, though the frame is the same size and brand. As I recall, the original bike cost around $600, though I modified it pretty extensively as time went on. The post renovation version, the reall CCB, is in the next photo:

In the end this is a pretty nice bike, more or less just what I wanted. I have used it on three weekend tours.

So what happened along the way? To start, there is one obvious reason not to convert a mountain bike - wheel circumference. Despite the fact that we all think we understand tire size -either 26 inch mountain bike wheels, or 700c road bike wheels, tire sizing is extremely arcane and complicated. If you are interested, here is the link to Sheldon Brown's article on tire sizing. The point is that a mountain bike 26 inch wheel has a smaller diameter than a 700c racing wheel. That means smaller circumference, so more rotations of the wheel in a given distance. This means more tire wear.

My cycle computer manual gives the circumference of the 26x1.25 tire that I have on the bike as 195 cm. A 700x25 wheel has a circumference of 210 cm. What this means is that on a 60km ride (6 million cms if I have the right number of zeros), my wheel revolves 30,769 times, as compared with 28,571 times for the 700c wheel. This makes 2198 extra revolutions per ride. This hardly makes any difference on a mountain bike ride, but over a long tour, this will wear out tires faster. Even if you don't travel cross canada, this is going to make a difference.

Of course, I knew enough not to try to put 700c wheels on a 26 inch frame. The main problem, apart from clearance, would be that the brakes would be in the wrong position. I think they would push directly into the spokes, which would stop you really well, once. But 26 inches is okay. They actually make 26x1.25 tires, which are pretty svelte, but still wide enough to work well on cinder paths, and the slightly rougher road conditions one tends to encounter while touring. The wheels I had were supposed to work. All I should have had to do was to change the tires.

So, as you can see, the main change is to replace the mountain handle bars with drop bars, and the shifters with modern lever shifters (the brake lever also shifts gears). A little tape to wrap the bars, no problem. The first difficulty was that the brake levels on road shifters don't pull the cable enough to make v-brakes work - it is basically impossible to keep the lever from bottoming out when you brake. So the v-brakes had to be replaced with cantilevers. Now, cantilever brakes were something I should have had in abundance, I had replaced so many of them with v-brakes - which on a mountain bike, are better in every way. Of course, knowing this, I had thrown out all the obsolescent cantilevers some time ago. So back to the bike shop to buy a new set of cantilever brakes. The plus side of all this is that the canti brakes I found are a lot nicer than any of the old mountain bike cantis.

.Next, the shifters. The CCB is pretty old. It was already being replaced when we took it on a tour of New Zealand in 1995. As a consequence, the cassette in the rear was the 7 speed version. Now, it may be that it is possible to find modern road levers that are compatible with a 7 speed cassette, but I couldn't find one. The complication in all this is that a 8 or 9 speed cassette won't fit on the hub that is made for a 7 speed cassette. So I bought a new wheel (and transferred the old rim, which was in very good condition, onto another bike).

With the new wheel, bars, brakes and shifters, we went for an extended tour or Richmond. In case you aren't familiar with Richmond, it is flat, unlike the rest of British Columbia. As far as I can tell, I did the whole tour (around 50kms) without shifting gears, so everything seemed to work after a little derailleur adjustment. Next trip was to a place with hills, at which point it became obvious that the only way I could get the derailleur to stop complaining and skipping, was to select one gear, adjust the read derailleur, then leave things in that gear. This solution was sort of like buying a broken watch, it worked every once in a while. Back to the bike store to buy a new real derailleur. A 7 speed derailleur isn't compatible with an 8 speed cassette - each click of the shift lever shifts the derailleur just a bit too far for it to align properly.

This is getting ridiculous, but it continues. Next ride, stuff is working until I drop the chain on the front chainwheel to the middle ring. The old chainwheel on the mountain bike crankset is slipping. This isn't too big a problem, I'll just get a new chainring. If you ever buy a chain ring, you have to specify two things - the number of bolt holes (four on most mountain bikes, 5 on road bikes), and something called the BCD, or bolt center diameter. The bolts on the chainwheel form a circle, the BCD is the diameter of that imaginary circle. Again from Sheldon Brown, I learned that you can measure the BCD by measuring the distance between the center of two adjacent bolt holes, then multiplying by 1.7. I did this, checked the BCD against know sizes on the internet, then marched off to the bike store. The owner of the bike store really likes me for some reason. He didn't believe there was a chainwheel of the size I described. I searched everywhere on the internet to find a supplier, couldn't.

Ah well, it would be nice to have one of those new cranksets with the external bearings anyway, they are a lot lighter. Furthermore, if I put on a compact road crank, I would have a nicer set of gears - maybe use the bike for longer road rides as well. So I bought the beautiful crankset with a compact 48 tooth big ring. This one actually worked for part of a ride until the bolts on the small chain ring began to scrape the chainstay. I think you can see from the picture how small the clearance between the inner chainring and the chainstay became with this road crankset.

The bottom bracket shell on modern bicycles is 68mm wide on both road and mountain bikes. The distance from the center of the frame to the middle chainring on a road triple is 45mm, while the mountain bike middle ring should be at least 47.5 mm. So there seemed to be a solution, just shim out the external bearing by 2.5 mm. There is a risk in doing this, since the thread in the cartridge bearing is somewhat less engaged. I was willing to take a chance on this, since I am very light, and don't generate too much power. This didn't work for the reason that is illustrated in the following picture. The crankarm is within 2mm of the chainstay, which will hit the chainstay when it is under pressure, and which will make my heel hit the back of the chainstay. Back to the bikestore for a standard crankset (I forgot to check the crankarm length on the new set, so this was more problems, but for another time).

Surely, the bike must be ready. There is just one remaining problem. I had replaced the fork with the old steel fork that came with bike originally. This one had been cut (weight obsession) to get the bar height right on the original mountain handlebars. This means the bar tops on the new road bars were in roughly a good position for riding. Riding on the hoods, or reaching out to use the road brakes was a bit of a stretch. Also riding in the drops was now uncomfortably low for me. I experimented with a couple of shorter and higher rise stems, but these didn't work. Short stems have a couple of disadvantages - they make the handling very quirky (or at least make it very different from what I am used to), and make the steering very unstable at high speed. So a new fork was in order.

After a lot of searching, I managed to find a carbon fibre rigid mountain fork on the internet. The thing that sold me on this as a decent idea was that the weight of the carbon fork was approximately half the weight of the corresponding steel fork. During the summer, I had met rider who had purchased a very expensive carbon touring bike, and was planning a heavily loaded and long tour with it. This meagre information was sufficient to convince me to do what I wanted to do in the first place and get the carbon fork.

One of the amusing things about the carbon fork was dropping by bike stores to see if they had any such thing. One mechanic on commercial drive was pretty scathing about it - I think he felt that buying a carbon fork of any kind was like buying a convertible car - something for people with an overabundance of money and a shortage of hair. In any case, he let me know what an idiot he thought I was (maybe he has a point judging by the story I have just told), then offered to sell me a great steel fork. He said it was very expensive and high end, though I am sure he just took it off a department store bike that a zombie had brought in. Unlike standard cromoly forks which are mixtures of different metals, this one was pure natural steel.

In any case, the bike now works fine. Here is the list of parts:

  1. Brake Shifters
  2. Carbon Fork
  3. crankset
  4. rear wheel
  5. cassette
  6. cantilever brakes
  7. rear derailleur
I'd guess the cost at around 600 dollars, though you could price it on Nashbar or another internet site.

Cross Canada Ride

The webpage for the ride across canada has been moved to canada_crossing.php

UlaanBaatar

Here is Nathan's Blog describing their attempt to travel between Irkutsk and UlaanBaatar. Apparently Zack, Sally and Nathan have met up with Damien and Sarouche in UlaanBaatar. The latter two are going on with their ride. Zack, Sally and Nathan are not accompanying them.