Adventure


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Pack it up, grab some friends and roll out! There’s something magical about a sub 24 (under 24 hours) bike camping trip. It takes just as long to make a list, check it a thousand times and talk to everybody about the stuff they’re taking, need, don’t need, wish they had, wish you had etc. etc., packing up the bike, making sure it’s secure and stable and checking your list again than it does to actually ride, camp and ride back! So what’s the point? Why put so much energy into such a short ride? Because it’s. A. Blast. It feels like a mini family vacation; you let loose and get weird like nobody’s watching. And for those that take longer bike trips it’s a way to test out new gear, packing philosophies and general bike set-up in a safe environment. In case something fails, you’re not miles from nowhere trying to figure it out. It happens in a flash so enjoy every blurry second of it. At one point we were sitting in the middle of a country road staring up at the starlit sky chatting about whatever was on our minds. It was pretty and perfect.

SO, WHAT DID WE RIDE AND PACK?

The beauty of the these short rides is the freedom to pack as little or as much as you want. Riding with at least one other person is a good idea in case you forget something important because It’s likely your riding partner will have it.

Tanner was pulling a trailer behind his fixed gear Miyata! One tough cookie. He simply packed his tent, sleeping bag, pad and a comic book – he also hauled beer for us – Easy, fast, no frills. It’s a perfect example of making due with what you got!  Dylan and Alex packed just as light too. They both had their gear packed on the handlebars (Dylan rode his SS Krampus and Alex his Twin Six) keeping the weight up front and stable. They packed their sleeping bag, pads, pillows, extra clothes and tools. Alex had coffee, cup and some hidden bottle rockets too. Matt (bike not pictured) rode his Ogre packed with his tent, sleeping bag and ukulele. Matt is sort of uncanny, he can sleep in temps that a wookie would cower at. I’m surprised he actually brought a tent. I packed the Ice Cream Truck for the apocalypse: tent, pad, pillow, tools, bug spray, clothes, Toms, saw, stove, coffee, coffee cup, hard-boiled eggs and of course, fireworks. All necessities, right? Especially the fireworks.

It’s all about fun

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We stopped three times on a 20 mile ride. Three times! We stopped once on the bike path, once at a bar where we saw another rowdy group of Madisonians on a ride. And once in the middle of a country road. We drank, laughed, stumbled and shot off fireworks. It was 14 hours of shenanigans and I can’t wait until we do it again. Pack it up, grab some friends and roll out!

-Mitch

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1187If I could sum up RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) in one picture, this would be it…for me. Is RAGBRAI a race? A Party? A slow ride? Fast ride?  It’s all of those things. It’s whatever you make of the seven day ride across NOT FLAT Iowa. One thing’s for sure, it’s a blast. You meet new people, see old friends, elevate yourself and conquer new challenges, eat food; lots of food, drink beer, see new towns and most importantly, ride your bike!!

RAGBRAI is not easy, it’s rolling hills, sometimes very steep hills, heat, rain, lot’s of people (up to 20,000 during the popular days!), and not short; about 500 miles total with the longer days being around 80-85. You have to make sure to keep hydrated and fed. Bonking is no fun. No fun at all.

 

Our loaded bikes

There’s something liberating about a self supported ride. You can play by your own rules and make time to do whatever you want. John and I split up day one and didn’t see each-other until day four and it was great for both of us. I learned that RAGBRAI is personal for me. It’s time to be exactly who I want to and take my time or hurry up or stop for two hours – which I did very often – or talk to people or be alone. I think John felt the same way. I know this year was one of his favorites.

But riding bagged doesn’t come without it’s challenges. By day four, my gear was water logged and I just wasn’t having much fun. I decided to unload my front and rear bags and ride only with the frame bag. It was again, liberating. A good choice. A choice that increased my fun and kept me rolling with a smile on my face.

So what’s on the bike?

John brought the kitchen sink. Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and pillow, clothes for everyday, tools, food (for every day?) gadgets and gizmos… I don’t know what else but if you think of it, he probably had it. His bike was quite impressive to look at, that’s for sure.

Up front I had all my camping gear: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and pillow. I also had two water bottles, sun block, toothpaste and brush and handy nutrition. Finding the tiny item isle wherever you choose to shop is key. In my opinion, the smaller the better.  On the center of the bike I had food, tools, first aid, coffee, money and fireworks. At the rear-end I had clothes, camp stove, boiling pot, baseball hat and slippers. Coffee mug too.

Trying to keep stuff dry

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Camping is part of the RAGBRAI experience. You begin to love and hate your tent. By the end of it you’re a pro at setting up and breaking down. Trust me, you get to know your tent well. Things also get progressively more wet. As each day goes on clothes get more sopped and sultry as they fester in their bags. By night six my entire wardrobe was suspended in trees, draped over my tent and hanging from my bike. It’s all part of the deal. It’s something I’d love to figure out…keeping everything dry!

Here are the before and after pictures of us; just as happy at the finish as we were at the start . Just a bit more greasy and gross. RAGBRAI will make you a bit goofy, it allows you to lower you guard and let loose. I loved (not) doing RAGBRAI with John, I hope we do many more and we hope you do too!

Mitch

Maybe it’s the Midwest in me, but when I’m out in public I make an effort to smile and nod at people.  Especially when riding my bike, I wave to fellow cyclists, dog walkers, and even joggers or runners.  I guess, inately I want to acknowledge that we are all humans sharing this world.

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So many times in our lives, we take possession of things that are not really ours.  That biker is in ‘MY’ lane, that driver took ‘MY’ parking spot, that person took ‘MY’ last jelly filled donut at the grocery store.

In the end, we’re all in this together.  When I ride around and see people out, it just makes me happy that people are enjoying the world; utilizing the same parks, trails, sidewalks, and roads that I’m using.   These things aren’t ‘mine,’ they are ‘ours.’ So I wave, nod, or smile.  We all need to get to work, get to appointments, and pick up groceries, we might as well just try to enjoy it instead of being grumpy.  I will tell you, one leads to a more fulfilling life.

 

–Earl

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I am really excited to announce that I will be representing Bell Helmets as a Joy Ride Ambassador for 2016! The program was founded to inspire AND enable female mountain bikers, of all levels, to ride and to ride more often.
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First thing first, why do we need women’s only events and rides?  As someone who has been working in a male-dominant industry, who had very few female friends up until the last couple of years, rides regularly with “the boys”, and is pretty content with it. Really, what is missing? Women have a lot of shared experiences because we are all women and we face similar challenges negotiating life. We have similar experiences from childhood and our relatively gendered upbringing. Our friendships are a kinship that is different than of those with the guys. When it is just women we make the rules. Society likes to be kind of judgmental towards women and occasionally it is nice to be judged a little less, especially when trying something that can seem kinda scary.
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My hope is to ENCOURAGE women to give mountain biking a shot. I want to provide resources and support to make every ride a positive experience. There is one too many stories of the dreaded first time mountain biking that ends in tears..one being mine. For me riding has become empowering. I am the first to admit I don’t have all the skills, I still jump off and walk my bike when I’m not feelin’ it, but riding your bike up rocks and over roots is undoubtedly an awesome feat that I would love to share!
Seriously tho, I just want to ride my bike and get rad, maybe there is some girl talk in the woods, then drink wine!
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We post ride and event information on the Revolution Cycles Facebook page  and the She Shreds Facebook page.
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Any questions feel free to email Amber at sheshredsmadison@gmail.com

-Amber

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It’s happening this Saturday!  Group ride leaves from Camrock Cafe at 2pm. There will be beer from Surly Brewing available for all you thirsty folks with prizes and games available to everyone!  We’ll be there with some fun activities for all to partake in.  Members of CORP  can also enjoy their annual party beginning at 5pm at the cafe.  Come, be jolly, and let’s ride some fat tired bikes!  More info here!

**Closing at 2:30pm on Sat 12/5**

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I got into cycling about a decade ago and right off the bat, I felt this surge of independence.  There was no parking hassle and I got excercise everyday.  It felt mentally and physically uplifting to use the power of my own legs to do one of the most essential things in life: transportation.  I will admit, when I first got into bicycles, I rode fast.  Just making the world a blur as my pedals spun as fast I could get them to.  Back then, for me, it was about the fastest time to get to my destination with no real goal other than I was just so excited to get on my bike.

Today, I’ve changed my tune a bit.  Still, everyday I acknowledge the great things the bike does for me, just at a much slower pace.  What I realize now after riding and helping people with bikes for ten years is that cycling is an experience.  Whether it’s getting ready to blast up hills in the Driftless area or prepping your panniers for groceries, every ride has it’s purpose.  That purpose can be exploration, commuting to work, exercise, or recreation with friends.  For us bike shop employees, we must encourage people to have a great experience on their bikes.  To remind them that cycling is good for our minds and bodies as well as for our community.  But most importantly, we want you to notice how beautiful the world is.  That there is an inherent difference between how you experience life in a car verses on a bike.  We want you to get excited about riding just like we do everyday.

Next time you swing your leg over your bike, I want you to be conscious of your senses.  Take in a big breath of cool fresh air.  Feel your heart pumping faster.  Notice the colors on the trees.  Wave to a stranger.  Take a detour maybe to a new cafe or restaurant you’ve never been to.  Even notice that smile that you’re making.  These are things you can’t necessarily do in a car.  This is how I choose to experience the world and why I continue to leave my car keys at home.  Don’t be a ‘pathlete,’ enjoy every second and know that you can do and enjoy a lot in life on a bike.  Eddy Merckx said it best, “Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”

–Earl

One of the greatest things about cycling, to me, is the simple joy of getting out of the house and going places under my own power. Whether it’s riding to work, running errands or just rolling downtown to meet friends for a beer. It’s more relaxed and more fun than driving and faster than walking.

Probably the greatest way to enjoy this aspect of cycling is by bike touring, covering dozens, hundreds or even thousands of miles by your own muscle power. The challenge for a lot of us, though, is finding the time for extended trips, or the money for specialized equipment that we may only get to use once or twice a year.

This is where the S24O comes in. “S24O” is short for “Sub-24-Hour Overnight,” a term that was coined by Rivendell Bikes founder Grant Petersen, although the idea has been around forever. Basically, one heads out after work in the afternoon or evening, spends the night outdoors, then rides home in the morning (or afternoon, or whenever you need to be back). It’s less a tour than a chance to get outside for an evening and have a mini-adventure. Because you’re not spending a long time on the road, or covering huge distances, you don’t need a ton of gear, and what you do have doesn’t have to be super-light or high-end. It just has to be good enough for the night. It’s also pretty low-risk, since your time outdoors is measured in hours, not in days or weeks.

A few of us at Revolution Cycles have been talking about getting out for some overnight trips for a while, and this September we finally managed to sneak out for a couple of Sub-24s. Most recently, we got together with a bunch of our friends and took the Glacial Drumlin Trail out to Mud Lake where we spent the night at Sandhill Station State Campground.

One of the coolest things about this trip was seeing the sheer variety of bikes and gear setups. From John’s expedition-ready Salsa Fargo, with a full complement of racks and bags to the simple backpack full of gear carried by one of our regular customers.

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Jeff brought his touring bike and trailer, making it easier to buy some adult beverages and firewood before we reached the campground

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But the most popular setup seems to be a 29”-wheeled mountain bike with large handlebar, seat bags and a frame bag.

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I like this setup a lot, as it allows you to setup just about any bike for a trip, regardless of whether or not it has braze-ons and fittings for traditional racks and panniers. Furthermore, if your trip involves mixed terrain or off-road trekking, it keeps the weight of your gear centered and less likely to snag on vegetation than a traditional pannier setup. I’ve been experimenting with my own setup and decided to try the traditional rack-and-pannier approach with a small front rack to help balance the load and manage the light-but-bulky stuff like my sleeping bag and tarp. 089

I chose to use my singlespeed cyclocross bike because it was easier to put a rack on than my mountain bike, and I’ve had those panniers sitting around for about 15 years and only used them a few times. Fortunately, this was a pretty flat ride, so the lack of gears didn’t hurt me, though I wouldn’t have minded a bit more upright riding position for this sort of trip. Again, this is part of the benefit of the S24O, since it’s only going to be a couple hours of riding, you don’t need a touring bike, just a way to carry your stuff that you can put up with for a couple hours (a basket, a big messenger bag, whatever) and you only need the most basic of camp gear. If you want, you can leave after dinner and get home before breakfast so you don’t even need to cook. You don’t need extra clothes except for a jacket in case it gets chilly and if the weather is clear and the bugs aren’t too bad you can even skip the tent. Our ride out was a blast! We left the shop a little while before sunset and were able to get through the worst of Madison traffic before it reached full dark. In Cottage Grove we hopped on the Glacial Drumlin trail which, thanks to a super-bright moon and a bit of early-autumn chill, turned out to be an extremely pleasant ride. Everything went perfectly until we got off the trail in Lake Mills, and back onto the road…

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Due to a few navigational complications, we missed the turn in the dark and had to loop around a few times before getting to the campsite. Hey, bonus mileage is good for you, and we were in good spirits when we finally rolled in and joined our colleagues who had taken a detour for firewood and snacks! There was fire, there were marshmallows, there was food and beverages, and most importantly, there was all the fun of a night with your buddies around a fire.

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Then we got some sleep. In the morning those of us who had to open the shop got up bright and early headed back towards town while those bastards, our friends who had the morning off,  slept in and missed out on a gorgeous misty morning ride home.

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After some much needed coffee, we were able to get to work on time with enough life left in our legs to make it through our Saturday of working.

For the early crew, our adventure lasted about 15 hours, from 6:30 on a Friday evening when we locked the door and rolled out till about 9:30 Saturday morning when the first of us arrived to get Revolution ready for business. Because we run a business that’s open 7 days a week, and most of the staff has our days off staggered, it’s nearly impossible to arrange for a more traditional bike tour, even for a weekend, where we get to hang out with each other outside of the shop. By getting together for a S24O, it was possible to get some outdoor time with a great bunch of co-workers and friends in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

If you’re interested in trying your own S24O adventure, or joining us on one of ours, there are a lot of resources on the internet to get you started, including Grant Petersen’s blog on the rivbike.com web site. Or you could simply come on down and talk with us! 

-Matt

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