Northern Tier 2010

August 3, 2010


Filed under: Gear, Minnesota, North Dakota, Section 04, Section 05 — Henry Scott @ 2:00 pm

To Fargo’s credit (and my very slight disappointment), I didn’t see a single reference to the Cohen brothers film today. It is still one of my favorite movies, but Fargo has a resurgent downtown, and there was lots going on without living in the movie’s shadow.

Our ride to Fargo was quite different than our entrance to Minot, the last major town we visited. The winds were at our backs, we didn’t have any mechanical problems, and we covered the 32 miles in excellent time. It was a beautiful day in Fargo. We started with a big breakfast, and I avoided the all-you-can-eat pancakes — another significant departure from our layover in Minot.

After breakfast we went to the fantastic Great Northern Bicycle Co. bicycle shop. The staff were amazing, and they went to great lengths to make us feel welcome, including storing our belongings while we walked around, giving thoughtful advice and directions to do the things we needed to do, and providing expedited service on Seth’s wheel.

The shop itself is in an old train depot, complete with an excellent coffee shop. One of the employees, Judith, remembered meeting Tom, the westbound cyclist we encountered a few days ago in Minnewaulkan, when he came through Fargo. They’ve kept in touch, and Tom had told her we may stop in. She realized who we were from Tom’s description, and we had a great time chatting.

Unfortunately, however, I was a bit preoccupied today, and I spent much of my time in Fargo dealing with an ailing camera. I packed up my Canon S90 and sent it in for warranty service — it cannot get satisfactory focus on distant objects any longer. It has been heavily used since I got it last Christmas, but I’m still disappointed to be having such problems already. Hopefully Canon will repair it under warranty.

Even if they do, however, that leaves me without a camera for at least for a couple of weeks, so I ended up buying a replacement (the Canon 1300IS). It is amazing how long simple tasks such as printing a letter, preparing a shipment, and just getting around take when one has few resources at his disposal. I was glad to be doing something relatively fun rather than, say, looking for a job.

From Fargo we pressed on into Minnesota and are camped for the night in Hitterdal. Tomorrow we may reach the headwaters of the Mississippi, something I’ve been excited to see since my colleague Andy recognized my route would bring me near.


July 15, 2010

My Bed

Filed under: Gear — Henry Scott @ 7:00 am

I love thinking about gear, so I was pleased when Steven asked to hear more about how things are working out in the comments. So, as I get time, I’ll try to make a few posts about the stuff I’m using. After the bike, which I described in my first post (and is working out incredibly well — I can’t think of anything I’d change), I’d say my sleeping gear are the next most important items.


June 22, 2010

Final Overnight Tune-up Ride

Filed under: Gear, Preparation Rides — Tags: , — Henry Scott @ 10:15 pm

I joined my friends Matt and Bruce for another overnight ride to Potato Creek State Park last Sunday. The bike is very nicely dialed in, but I still need to get smarter about how I pack, and definitely more efficient at pitching my tent! But, overall, I feel ready. If I just set aside an evening to tweak my packing I should be all set. My legs feel great, and I think that is the most important thing.

Two brief gear updates: I tried using the E-Werk to directly charge the iPad during this trip, and I was very disappointed to see that very little charging occurred. I’m not sure why that is the case. That said, I’ve also learned that charging a “hot” iPad is very bad for it’s battery, which has me thinking that perhaps I’d be better off using the APC battery to store energy and charge the iPad overnight.

In other news, although my iPad Camera Connection Kit still hasn’t arrived, my friend Matt’s did, and he’s letting me test it — he’ll even let me take it on the trip if mine doesn’t arrive in time. So, this post, including the photo of Matt and Bruce at Potato Creek, is being done entirely from the iPad — pretty cool!

June 18, 2010

iPad is Here!

Filed under: Gear — Tags: , — Henry Scott @ 8:43 pm

Believe it or not, but I got a small grant funded to buy an iPad and a Camera Connection Kit for this trip, and the iPad arrived today. The key part of my proposal was that the iPad would allow me to do some preliminary photo processing en route instead of waiting until I return to deal with hundreds, if not thousands, of photos featuring the geology of our national parks for my course on the subject. I’ll also use it for maintaing this blog (I’m composing this post on the iPad).

The iPad should be perfect for this trip due to its small size, light weight and convenient charging via USB — I can keep it charged via the E-Werk!

Unfortunately, the Camera Connection Kits are backordered, but hopefully mine will arrive next week.

I have plans for another overnighter this coming Sunday, and I look forward to seeing how well charging via the E-Werk works out — more soon!

June 12, 2010

Keeping Upright with a Clickstand

Filed under: Gear — Tags: — Henry Scott @ 1:52 pm

For reasons that I can’t quite explain, I’ve long been turned off by kickstands. Depending on my mood, I may complain about their weight or potential for coming loose, but the fact is that good kickstands work well and are extremely useful. Perhaps I made an early association between good bikes and a lack of a kickstand. I’m not sure, but for whatever reason, I don’t want one. That said, I would like a good way to keep my bike upright and stable — even when fully loaded — and that’s where the Clickstand comes in.

June 10, 2010

Busch & Müeller E-Werk: Power on the Go!

Filed under: Gear — Tags: , , , — Henry Scott @ 7:26 pm

Busch & Müeller E-Werk Power Converter (image from B&M)

I built my LHT with a hub dynamo not only to power my front and rear lights, but also because I was intrigued by the possibility of charging other electronic gadgets as well. I’ve been aware of people building their own DIY kits for this purpose for several years, but I haven’t been quite that motivated. In the past year or so, however, a few commercial products have become available — or at least been announced.


Overnight Shakedown

Filed under: Gear, Preparation Rides — Henry Scott @ 2:18 pm

My friend Matt and I did an overnight ride to Potato Creek State Park last Sunday (June 6). He’s preparing for a tour from DC to Pittsburgh along the C&O Canal Towpath / Great Allegheny Passage — the same route my brother and nephew just did. He also has a Surly LHT. The picture at left is of him on the road. I forgot to bring my camera, so this was taken with my new prepaid Verizon cell phone (an LG Accolade 5600); not a great picture, but not bad either for a $20 phone.

We didn’t hit the road until close to 6:00 p.m., but due to the time of year and our far-westerly position in our time zone, we were able to easily cover the 20 miles and set up camp before dark. We each cooked simple meals (he was trying out his new Jetboil stove) and had plenty to eat.

This was my first night in my new Big Agnes (BA) Emerald Mountain SL1 tent with my new BA Air Core sleeping pad, BA Yampa 40°F sleeping bag and Sea to Summit Reactor sleeping bag liner. Everything worked very well, but even without any rain there was a lot of condensation on the underside of the fly. That said, none of it got into the tent.

The bike rode better than I expected with the weight, but I need to make some minor tweaks in how I pack the gear.

We got on the road just after 8:00 a.m. the next morning, and I was in my office by 10:45.

The Bike

Filed under: Gear — Tags: — Henry Scott @ 11:54 am

Despite already having a few good bikes, I decided to build up a dedicated touring bike for this trip. I initially planned on buying a “complete” Surly Long Haul Trucker, but ended up getting just the frameset because I prefer linear-pull brakes (“V-brakes”), wanted to use a front wheel built around a hub dynamo, and I wanted last year’s frame color: truckaccino. Special thanks to Pete Colan and the Spin Zone crew for lots of advice and getting me set up with the frame and many of the parts. I’ve also had some great help from several folks at Outpost Sports and Scott Kelsey from the Avenue Bicycle Station.

See below for component details.

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