Sunday, November 22, 2020

Coffeeneuring 2020 - Seventh Cup at the Fishing Pier

Focusing on Gratitude

I'm trying to be positive in a world upended by chaos, by concentrating on little things, like being thankful for still being able to ride a bicycle. This is at the root of who I am as a person: I find joy in moving slowly, smelling leaves, listening to bird calls, gazing at Lake Champlain in all its year-round moods. Isn't it amazing that a simple machine can provide so much joy?

Thank you bicycle! 

And thank you MG for hosting the 2020 Coffeeneuring Challenge.

7 full cups of gratitude:

  • Special time with son exploring area's mountain bike trails
  • Spending time with a cycling friend
  • Personal comfort in solitude 
  • Grateful to be living near water
  • Ample time to explore our new community and autumn's colorful foliage 
  • Very thankful for any sunshine on my face
  • Gratitude for the power of two wheels

The Place: The Fishing Pier
Date: Friday, November 12
Drink: Barry's Tea with milk and sugar
Observation: When the temperature drops below 50F, thankfully the hordes on the Greenway disappear.
Total Miles: 15

Monday, November 16, 2020

How to Revive Beloved Panniers

Before and after images: at left, original Overland system: top hooks with straps and tension buckles (and tiny rings that are supposed to hook under rack)  - difficult to use, though secure once placed. At right, the improved replacement Lone Peak system: locking top hooks with easier to remove common bungee and hooks.

Both Lone Peak front and cavernous Overland rear panniers have been rugged companions for both my husband and myself on a yearlong trip. Since then for local commuting and occasional short tours, we've worn out the smaller and easier to use Lone Peak pair, because their top hooks lock onto the rack - a brilliant design - but are easy to remove, using typical bungee and hook design secured to the rack bottom.  

Before tossing panniers (and helmets) I remove any hardware to repair future projects or to keep our existing equipment in decent shape. My husband needs rear panniers. Good panniers are expensive. I discovered that Lone Peak still sells their wonderful parts so in conjunction with a few pieces in my stash, I drilled additional holes in the rear bags, and with a lot of patience, I replaced the difficult Overland system with new Lone Peak hardware.

After a good wash, the Overland panniers look almost new!

High quality, made in USA, 1994 Overland panniers, We own a third back up pannier (the 4th was attached to a bike that was stolen) and another set of locking top hooks should we need to press an additional pannier into service.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Coffeeneuring 2020 - Sixth Cup at Battery Park

This photo says it all: sunshine and a perfect Lake Champlain view.

Benches for everyone.


Sporting a new longer length, windproof jacket and toasty, lined helmet.

Tea and dumplings. I like that the new coat has a two-way zipper. 

Round two: teatime at North Beach, sheltered from the wind.

Focusing on Gratitude

When the colder weather sets in, exacerbated by multiple cloudy days, it's a gloomy time of year. An extra boost of vitamin D often helps take the edge off - that - and getting outside as much as possible during the day. I'm very thankful for any sunshine on my face, especially this fall!

It was a blustery 35F degree afternoon. And so, I bundled up, testing a new jacket, winter helmet, newly completed handlebar bagalong with a return to riding the Dahon for the first time since July. I picked up tasty Hong's Dumplings and picnicked at Battery Park, one of Burlington's prime Lake Champlain vistas. It turned out to be a tough location to avoid the wind altogether, so I gobbled my lunch, sipped tea, then headed towards home, with an impromptu detour to sandy North Beach where I found a relaxing, sheltered spot to finish my drink. 

Ah, thank you sunshine. I'd needed your kiss.

The Place: Battery Park
Date: Friday, October 30
Drink: Barry's Tea with milk and sugar
Observation: After a hiatus, I love zipping along on the versatile, highly maneuverable folder.
Total Miles: 17

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Dahon Boardwalk DIY Custom Handlebar Bag

One of the main reasons I created a custom handlebar bag for my Dahon is because my particular model, a Boardwalk from 2003-4, lacks an integrated front truss block. I would prefer a Brompton- or Tern-style type of luggage option secured to the frame, but it is not possible without a built-in frame connection. But I had an idea. Much like the current snack bag/water bottle solution and rear panniers, which both are easily removeable, I knew I could also construct a front bag that would take advantage of the elongated handlepost, distribute more weight up front, plus have similar properties for portability (train travel, stowing inside a vehicle, etc.). I purposely avoided adding a front rack to keep the bike as lightweight as possible.

I used a purple Jansport laptop case for basic structure, but because of small carrying capacity, it was necessary to add additional pockets - thus the "rucksack" idea to include top zipper flap, lower easy to reach pockets plus one rear pocket to hold tent poles or whatever I could stuff in there. I used one buckle (gleaned from an old helmet) that's easy to clip, and with a long enough cinch strap who knows what else could be tucked onto the exterior?
I also required further prerequisites - enough to make my head spin - but I view those challenges as an opportunity to further customize the bag: a space to carry tent poles, plus include easy-to-open pockets and fasteners (I have weakened, arthritic thumbs). In the back of my mind I'd like enough cargo space to tour on the Dahon and to maximize it's potential, the items I needed was more upfront capacity. 

Thus, this was my first project that required multiple drawings and revisions. I eventually settled on a rucksack style in the front, and daisy chain webbing (for maximum attachment points) plus one pocket in the rear to hold tent poles. 

The purple colors are slightly mismatched (and do not photograph accurately) but I suspect all will fade in time. Once removed, the bag also doubles as a hand bag by simply attaching a shoulder strap to D-rings (as shown in upper right image) .
Over the course of a month, I finished, pausing in between steps to make sure I sewed each step in the correct order. As with other projects, I place the bike near my sewing space for continual adjustments and measurements. 

I experimented with stuffing items inside main pocket to understand volume.

I also checked out how including tent poles will work. They fill the curvature of handlebar nicely, one of the funny little aspects of the Dahon's bar. without compressing space in main pocket. and do not stick up dangerously high, approximately 4".

A side view for overall impression. Not too big visually, but extends capacity on a folding bike.

I tested the capacity on a recent Coffeeneuring outing, happy there's little sway without additional hook and loop fasteners - but the option is available should I need to add more attachment points in the future. Because most of the weight is suspended from the handlebars, I probably wouldn't lug more than 5 pounds, but that's 5 pounds less on the rear wheel!