Tag Archives: Z-gear

August 2013

August 9th

  • I decided on a cassette, the Sram 12-28. Mostly because I think pushing a Z gear of  30×28 will be close enough to a 1 to 1 ratio that I don’t really need a 30t or anything bigger in the back. And when I look at the spread, the 12-28 lets me keep the 16t I’m used to having between the 15 & 17t, but i trade my 21&23 for only a 22t, and on the top end I gain a 28t to resort to when that 25t is not enough. Also it’s a few bucks less than the Shimano Ultegra 12-30t.
  • Speaking of cassettes, I saw a 11-42t 11 speed on the market. I get that its for a single chainring up front but the look of it is ridiculously bad.
  • My friend picked up a Solio BOLT battery pack/solar charger. He showed it to me and said he liked its performance. Small, light, not a ton of money. Might look into getting one for myself later. But for now the components still needed are headset, stem, bars, seat post, cables, & bar wrap in order to get rolling.
  • The thought of going to Interbike and learning about more companies making things in North America. But i’ve never been to Interbike
  • In the future I need to keep track of days I resort to my Z gear. So I’m making a new tag and hash tag #Zgear


August 12th

I’ve made my photo project idea concise enough to talk about it with friends. But still there is a lot to it. Besides all the parts I’d need help with there is the reasoning behind wanting to do something so involved. And of course there is the debate of should I make it a big project I have people helping me with, or should I just do nearly all of the work on my own and keep it to a manageable size.

And its that last part that makes me even wonder if I should even set out to publish anything. For some reason I still come back to the idea of just going on tour. No charity. No blog. No big projects. Just get on my bike and ride. Take pictures, write in my notebook, eat food and sleep in my tent.

To counter that. I want to do something good. I like having a project. I want to take pictures. I want to see new things and meet new people. I feel connected to people who work jobs making things we need. I want to tell some sort of story about why they are important.

But I’m scared. I don’t want to fail. I worry I won’t get into the factories and work spaces to meet the people I want to meet. I worry about so many things. Too many to try to list them.


August 13th

A few things arrived. New cassette but i had to file down a screw on my hub so it could fit. A few things for my daily rider. And  news that my frame might be going in the jig next week. good news.


August 20th

Might be ordering some Snow Peak stuff thru an associate. Looking at tableware things.

Sometimes it feels like a very long time will pass before I leave on another extended bike tour. So much time that it is very possible something unknown could pop up and derail the whole thing out of my future. I guess I shouldn’t think that way..

Need to remember that you land where you look.


August 24th

For some reason I bought an adapter for this old Nikon mount Tokina RMC 135mm f/2.8 lens I was gifted so I could use it with my Canon. That was many months ago. I’ve not shot one picture on film with it yet but I’m gonna start now. Compared to the Canon EF 135mm f/2 its small and light and free. Although no AF and a stop slower.


August 28th

Yesterday I saw a book by August Sander and I was really impressed. This guy did in Germany what I wish I could do here. Many decades ago and on a different continent but I am inspired. I look on the web for inspiration via web searches for images & articles, on sites like CGOAB, twitter and personal blogs but I also see links to way more. facebook, instagram, youtube, vimeo.. there are so many but what is the longevity of them? in 10, 20 years will any of it make it to the surface? Books. I should think about a book.

This August Sander book is titled Face of Our Time and it has an introduction by another person followed by 60 portraits with simple titles. That should the goal, not instagram followers or youtube views. I don’t care about that shit but it is important to lots of people, including some of those on tour. I want to talk with people and make friends. I want to print pictures and hand them to people, or send them in the mail.

My problem is that I am also here using the internet as a way to share, there are difference but it is really just that I’m small time and I like it that way. Money can be made from a busy website. videos and instagrams can funnel hits from other areas on the web to a site of your own. One making money. I get that there are checks to be made from this kind of shit but I think what I want from touring is to be free from that.

I’m going to stop trying to describe this stuff. Just to say, I want to ride my bike far, but to one day come back. And I want a full notebook along with many many pictures I think are good enough to show.

still no welding to happen yet..
still need to sew that other pannier..
not going to Interbike.

109 flat km in granny gear

Sept. 11th Day 42
Today started ok. A walk across the street for a gas station coffee. Standing under the gas pump shelter thing I could see the shadow of a flag atop it. The wind looked to be going my direction again.
When I rolled out I looked up and it was at a right angle to my direction. So so.
But I didn’t really pay attention to direction as much as the angle of the road at the point I was along it. A couple blocks later the road curved right into the wind. And stayed that way all day.
Nothing happened today other than pedaling into a Z-gear head wind. No excitement.
I did see one old man on a touring bike riding with the wind. He didn’t stop. I did look but didn’t see anything that looked like sleeping bag or tent. And from the looks of him he didn’t know how to set a tent up or was on a day trip. But I’ll never know, he didn’t stop to talk.
Later, on a long straight between towns, I noticed a pair on touring bikes aproaching. I stop. Looked like the one in front was pulling a child. He was, but that’s all I could figure out from him just riding by. By time the second person (fully loaded) passed me I didn’t even feel like waving. But I did. I think that people touring as a duo who don’t stop to say hi to people touring solo are wack. These people had the wind on their backs all day and still can’t find the time to stop and chat for five minutes.
I don’t really need the attention, I’ve been having a day long conversation with the wind. That’s gone pretty much like me saying “fuck you wind” and the wind saying fuck you even louder. I don’t like wind. I’d rather climb a hill in no wind than have wind on my back. Now today I’ve had nothing but flats and unstoppable, direct headwinds all day. So yeah, fuck you wind.

Rode from Rimouski to Rivière-du-Loup.

At night (8pm) I found a crappy place to set up the tent and ate some cheap food before bed.

If I had waited 15 more min to set up I might not have been spotted by a clerk of the store I was camping behind as he took out the nights trash. I explained I was just a traveler and would be gone in the morning. He seemed to understand.

I scouted the spot mostly because it seemed protected from the wind (in the corner of an L), and away from average foot traffic.

The wind is still whipping after 9p. The trees are making all kinds of noise. And a loose dumpster door or latch is banging around just as much.

But my tent is only swaying just a little. For now I’m good.


X, Y, and Z-gear kind of day

Sept 8th. Day 39
From the wind I woke up kind of early but slowed down the get up part because I figured the market might not be open before 7.
At about 7:15 I was ready to roll. But the market wouldn’t be ready till 8:30. 8 thirty?
Did an unnecessary backwards loop out of town. Lots of major road construction and a bad lack of signage. What’s and extra 2km? I would crack 3800 before the day would be over.
I stopped at the next towns Gaz station. Coffee and two muffins.
I just drink coffee black now but I should go back to milk for the calories. It was drank before I was gone, muffins too.

What do I remember about today? Well it was sunny. And I was dry. But the whole day was headwinds. Strong.
And there were hills. Too many to count. 100km of them.
I saw two tourist early. Riding with the wind. And lightly packed. Just a simple pair of panniers each, nothing extra. Waved but they did not stop.
Whatever they didn’t even look tan.

Then another, a bit later. He had a trailer. With one small bag and nothing on the bike. Strange to bring a trailer for what I could fit in one rear pannier. But I never got to ask, he didn’t stop either.
I was thinking over the last week I’d probably meet lots of other tourist around the Gaspe. But in the last few day and seeing none, not any since entering Quebec, I began to think I might be the only one.

Today I knew I’d have less distance than normal. It was one of those hell days where seeing 10km on the speed thingy would make me happy. I was in the X gear on the downhills the wind was so bad. I could be in the Y gear on the flats. But the rest of the day, on just about any incline, I’d be Z’ed out. Last gear. Stand up if you have to.

I rolled down one hill that was protected from the wind and hit 79km/hr. But at the bottom was all the wind I’d missed.

Later rolling down another I slowed as I made way through town. I look to the water and in a park space I see two more tourist, looking more loaded than the earlier ones, I wave, the woman waves, I slow and U turn in the street and as I get to be back where I can pull into the park, was just a couple second later, I look and see their backs as they walk to the water.
I just did another U and kept going.
What do they need me for? They have each other.
I felt kind of crappy after that.
I kind of wanted to stop in general but then I just kept riding thinking about how alone doing this can feel sometimes.
Of course more hills. But on the next hill I see another loaded tourist facing me. I slow and as I’m about to stop I see that she is stopping too.
Maybe the first thing she said was “you’re gonna be happy, it’s all flats ahead”
I went to her side of the street to talk. She was on her 5th day.
Talking to her was rejuvenating. Much like the last um, encounter was deflating.
We had things in common like drinking gaz station coffee. Put a Loony in the machine for 9oz. Enjoying the past couple days sunsets. She knew what it was like to tour, conversations in your head, packed well but shit strapped outside the bags too.
The best part was she was friendly. She smiled and laughed. Very pretty. The only thing that could make it better was if we were going the same direction.
I asked for a photo. She told me about landing in a ditch when I asked how her tour was going.
Totally the best part of my day.
But I had to chase a carrot. I fucking shook her hand and said goodbye.

She was right just a couple more hills and then flat for the last 30km of my day.
The wind never stopped.

For the slowest avg speed day of the trip I still did 121km.

And yes, another splendid sunset.


Gaspé day

Sept 7th. Day 38
Even though I went right back to my old ways of staying up late and didn’t really go to bed till after 1am I still woke up to my 7am alarm.
Make some oatmeal. Tidy up the kitchenette. Double check I’ve got everything. Return the key and hit the road. My host wished me well and made mention of the big hill just out of town.
He was right about 2pm into my morning I hit a steeeeep hill. But I picked a spot ahead to stop and look back. And holy shit it was cool.
Ride more to the top and a ripper down. Had to slow because of a rock slide on the route 132. But one lane was open and I didn’t have to stop.
In the next town I stopped for dirty gaz station coffee. Also bought my first? Red Bull of the trip and a muffin in plastic. Was pretty based after that but the views were sick at a rate of one per half km. So I had nonstop a bunch and take photos. Otherwise I’d have made it to Gaspé in no time.
Some good flats and a few hills too.
Hit a nothing town with the name Douglastown on the way. And stayed on the 132 into town versus the short cut way.
Gaspe was just a place. But look away from the town and it was rad. I bought food first. And a guy on his way in talked to me. That was cool because it feels like days since the last time.
I was parked right by the door though. Not to get attention but because there was an outlet by the soda machine and I wanted to play music on my iPod while I ate my food. It was 500 of Greek yogurt.
Leaving there I rode over a bridge into more of the downtown Gaspé. Spotted a McD and tweeted out a few things after checking the email.
Bank. 50US got me 48,03CA.
On the hunt for a laundry, I rode hills and a circle only to come back the the spacious but mostly vacant motel and ask to use their laundry room. No problem.
Walking around the corner I saw a guy sitting and smoking a pipe. He had tattoos on his face and he looked like he had been a traveler for a long time. I tried to talk to him but he spoke French. I think he said he was not a traveler. I rolled my bike to the washer and walked back with my camera but he was gone. Why did I wait?

Only my way out of Gaspe I stopped at their second photo exhibit. The. Further to another flat bridge. And around and into the park. Some hills. Like “first floor, going up” then “second floor, going up” then maybe back to mez before seeing the third floor. After and bit of that the messing around was over. Big climbs.
But the odd thing was they were over before I knew it. It sucked and I was in my Z gear but I thought it would be hell for hours. Nope, a couple of climbs then a long down hill to the water on the north side. It was winding and had some up scoops but there were some very pretty landscape to be seen. And then like a surprise that is Friday when you were sure it couldnt be more that Thursday I rounded a turn and there was the lighthouse that’s everyone was talking about. Looking good to the sun was setting and pushing good light right onto it. And pretty clouds behind making the sky look like a magazine cover.

But I couldn’t take photos for ever. A lady walking her dog who I’d passed way back was now in front of me again and making me look slow.
Riding with the water on my right but now a new body of water.
Riding into the sunset. West.
Riding to find a camp spot.
Riding past sunset
Riding up a hill to see more bright sunset colors on the horizon.
Riding past having the energy to ride.

All I wanted to do was find a spot

I did find a spot. Not a good one but I needed to set up and make dinner.
I think I’m very close to the water. Could be just over the rock barrier I’m next to in this undesignated gravel lot. Very close to the street too. No cover except a lack of light.



Arms tired from holding bike straight

Day 29
I woke up early, 6am. The wind was so bad my tent was tipping up. I thought a bad storm was getting near and thinking to maybe stake it down and hope for the best. I even got out and grabbed the ground tarp under neath and turned the tent 90 degrees to be closer to the building and have a less exposed surface area.
Laid back down and though about a day in the tent. But looked out again and saw no sign of rain. So I changed my mind. I packed it up and went to get coffee. Sitting in Tim Hortons I figured I’d head toward the bridge. A couple old men sitting there said the weather called for a lot of sun and a lot more wind. 100km/hr around noon. I rode the 210 back to the 1 in stupid wind. Riding at about 9km per/hr at times. Seriously I was in my Z gear on a flat road it was so bad. I had trouble even holding the bike up and keeping it straight. But what was I gonna do, I had to get somewhere. I stopped for lunch at Busters Diner on the 1 near the 3. Good grilled cheese, hash browns and another coffee. More wind to Charlottetown. I wifi’d it up there and really just sat around eating all my snacks. Nobody really was talkative. I even asked about a camping store to buy stove fuel but was told Canadian Tire??
I looked on my iPod for a camp store. Found one for on my way out of town. I ran out of laziness so I started to move West. Stopping at a outdoor outlet for a bit on the way. I did see the Canadian Tire so I went in for a look. I had slept behind one once but never been in.

Dang man its like a giant K-mart of the North. And they had my stove fuel. Fuel is the only non edible thing I’ve bought on this trip. The fuel was not the only thing that I liked but I have photos of the other things.
Rode by the camping store, stopped in, chatted with a guy there about Arkel bags. They had a good selection. I had not seen them in person before. Didn’t buy anything.
Rode the coastal route toward the bridge. Long and windy with no real places along the way. My goal was Victoria by-the-sea. I was told friends of a friends owned a chocolate store there. But rolling in just after 7pm, they were closed. I was hungry and didn’t have dinner in my bags yet. Find store.
I go into a cafe on the same street. Walk in and it’s like a restaurant. No I don’t want a table for one. Sorry I just need to ask where is a store to buy bread, a grocery? The guy was not nice and just points. A girl there tried to help but just seemed to suggest a different store. So then the guy points in two direction real fast and says “there is a store that way and that way”. He was no help at all but I said thank you and walked out. The problem was there was nowhere else around to ask and I was zapped tired. I just sat in a chair near the front and closed my eyes for 10 min. When I opened them a cat was sitting next to my hand and a man was walking down the street. He said something to me so I asked for directions to the store. He gave me good and easy to understand directions.
Just then a lady opens the front door and hands me a roll in a napkin. She said “just something in case the store is closed” she walked back in as I said thank you. I said thanks to the man and grabbed my bike and walked away. I opened the napkin and there was a roll and a butter packet. Something about the stress of the the scenario, tired, not being helped and then a witness to all that going out of her way to do something, even a single dinner roll. It got to me.
I ate it and it was enough to get me the 2km to the store. On the way the sun light on this one church was just right. Kind of the photo I’d been waiting for.
Made it to the store and as I made the last turn toward the front door I saw 2 other touring cyclist. I said hello. And Eric responded. I said hello to the other one but he was quiet. I learned they were not really together. Just by chance. Then three, by chance, seems very rare to me.
Before long Eric and I were chatting and then the other was gone. I didn’t even get his name. Odd but Eric said he spoke very little English and that he started in Vancouver.
We went in to buy our food. After I asked where he was camping. He had me look across the street with him at a flower bed in some grass yard or something. I told him he should camp behind a church with me. He’d been on the road for two months and not yet thought to camp behind a church. But from his stories he meets many kind people along his journey. He is very likable.
We rode to the same church I had photoed and the back yard was a fine camp spot. We made dinner and shared stories. We talked about staying in touch with friends and through that I learned that he didn’t know what a PB & J was so I promised to make him one in the morning. The mosquitos were very bad so after dinner I went into my tent for the night. Tired. Only 110km but all in the head winds.
Tomorrow I’ll try again for some chocolate. Then see what I can do about getting over the bridge. Back in NB I hear there is a nice beach not far to the north. Maybe a swim. Not that I care as much as I did a week ago but still no showering. Smelly.