My Bike World

    View my cycling blog for interesting stories and other photos.     
This is a link to some Thailand bicycle information over my 3 year visit. 
Here is my explanation of dealing with flat tires 
Tips for riding with others 

Buying a bicycle

The are a variety of bicycles available for many purposes. Most have a lot of flexibility in their design. The typical bikes you find in a bike store are general purpose bikes and you just shop for the right price. You can always run out of money shopping at a bike store. My preference was always a good quality used bike. It's not as big a commitment and there are lots of used bikes that people have barely ridden.

Categories of bicycles:

  1. upright handlebars/regular frame
  2. racing
  3. tandem bike
  4. folding bike
  5. electric bike (shudder)
  6. trike
  7. mountain bike
  8. hybrid
  9. 3 speed
  10. cross
  11. fat tire

Budget Considerations

Don't buy or plan to buy all these items. I just want to share a list of things that you may be interested in. When budgeting remember there are a lot of accessories that are available. Examples of accessories are lights, fenders, helmet, bags, jerseys, shoes, shorts, lock, sunglasses, racks for the bike, racks for the car, mirrors, water bottle cages, etc. You can always run out of money shopping at a bike store. I don't use all the items in the list, but some people want it all and a bag o' chips. Over the years I have tried things like gloves. I don't really need gloves. No special socks. I have found the shoes, jersey, shoes make enough of a difference to warrant getting them. I wear glasses so I don't get the special sunglasses - well, I got them but tend to not wear them. One essential is the floor pump. I religiously pump up my tires on every ride to manufacturer spec. Some of my tires go up to 145psi! Get a pump. In bold in the list below are the essentials. Any of these items can be circumvented. You can even borrow a bike. Don't let these budget items keep you from enjoying cycling.

Categories of budget items:

  1. clothing
    • shoes
    • jersey
    • socks
    • gloves
  2. maintenance
    • pump
    • lubricant
    • spare parts
  3. repair/tools
    • tire tools/levers
    • portable allen wrench set
    • tube repair kit
  4. safety
    • reflective material
    • helmet
  5. accessories
    • racks
    • fenders
    • bags
  6. modifications
    • saddle
    • different handlebars
    • special bar tape

poem from Cycling Lore:

Here lies the body of William Grey;

Who died defending his right-of-way;

He was right, dead right, as he sped along;

But just as dead as if he'd been wrong.



Rain Gear

Riding in wet weather can be miserable especially if you're not prepared. There are some options that will help you be more comfortable. Fenders and rain gear help. Without fenders tires will create a powerful stream of water pointed directly at the rider. Fenders are important especially if it's colder. Mainly I use a rain poncho for riding gear. The poncho allows a bit of a breeze that helps to keep from overheating. Otherwise if it's warm I just allow myself to get wet. I also allow for a helmet cover to moderate heat loss. Your head loses more heat than any other part of your body. Sometimes I'll just wear the helmet cover and no other rain gear. The only other rain gear I'd recommend are shoe covers. There's nothing worse than a pool of water in your shoes. Wearing a full rain suit is NOT recommended. You'll get hot and sweaty. Guaranteed. You'll either get wet from sweat or rain. If you're worried about getting cold wear wool. Wool maintains a lot of its heat retention even when wet.

Side note on rain safety - leaves on wet pavement can make you fall! Rain washing across the pavement can leave sand and gravel which are also hazardous. Be careful out there.


Tires are a relatively cheap way to improve your performance in riding. Performance is not just racing faster, but also pertains to making it easier to carry groceries home or haul the kids around. Tires perform two functions - potentially reducing resistance in travel and soaking up rough road surfaces. My recommendation in terms of comfort is to shy away from heavy shock absorbing systems and just get a nice set of bigger tires. Something to keep in mind when shopping for a bicycle is what size tires (and fenders) does the bike frame accommodate? You can't squeeze big comfortable tires and fenders into a racing frame. You're limited by frame clearance and brake clearance if you've got rim brakes. Although bicycle racers will invariably choose very narrow high pressure tires because they reduce resistance the resistance is only significant in the 1000's of miles racers ride a year. I had decent performance on my fat tired bike which offered much more comfort. I recommend the comfort.

Special feature

With the picture below this is a good time to talk about fork rake. The front fork of the bicycle steers. Fork rake impacts steering. When I was a kid I built a bike with long forks like an Easy Rider. I had a bike I converted to a sting ray bike with a banana seat and high handlebars. I saw the easy rider images and I wanted to build a chopper bicycle for myself. All I needed was those long forks. We had just taken down an old swing set at the time. I took the cross bars from the end of the swingset and cut them off. With a little pounding I was able to get those bars over my front forks to extend the forks about two feet. It actually worked pretty well to get the desired effect but I realized there were some physics involved that make steering really weird. The bike was great for show, though. An example of weird forks is the tandem below. Not only is the fork rake extreme but it's longer and the fork tube is at a funny angle. Most bikes fork tube is almost upright. If you steer pretty straight while riding this won't make much difference but if you have to make quick adjustments it will throw your balance. Most of the time you wouldn't come across this kind of issue. These bicycles are unusual.

Another unusual feature on bikes is the drum brake I've found on some old tandems. I had an old Peugeot tandem with Phil Wood components. The rear Phil Wood hub had an internal drum brake in addition to the rim brake. Since tandems have two people braking can be an issue. Two rims doesn't always provide enough stopping power.



If we talk only about comfort we'd be riding bicycles that have sofa seats and air conditioning. If we lean toward effectiveness we might be standing up with no seat leaning over lying parallel to the ground. There's got to be a compromise to make reasonable accommodations for those who are not in the Tour or the Giro. In standard machines commonly on the market that leaves us seat, handlebars and tires as our go to for determining the kind of ride we're going to undertake. Let's start with handlebars.

The main types of bars would be upright or racing. They're the common ones. The tape or grips is incidental and can be swapped out with minimal effort or expense. Sitting upright with upright bars the downside being that you catch more wind. Another downside is there is more pressure on pedals and saddle. So there will be more effort to do the ride because of the increased wind resistance and the possibility of discomfort because your weight is more likely only distributed between rear end and feet. One of the upsides of upright is that it won't impact your lower back because you don't have to hunch over. On a long ride or under the conditions of a race the wind drag can make a big difference. Even on a sporty ride where you want to catch another rider that wind drag is significant.

Extreme comfort might be had with a recumbent bicycle. A recumbent is a bike where you recline in a seat that is very comfortable and large with a padded back. They tend to be very pricey unless you find a good deal used. I tried one recently called a Quetzal Misterio. It has underseat steering which is fine balance wise but the design of this one was terrible. When I turned my handlebars it hit my legs. I could not get going. Some of the recumbents have a LOT of gears - like 125 gears. They have up to three gear clusters with 3 to 8 on a cluster. One I remember had a rear cluster with an internal hub gear set. It's all very creative but I would worry about getting parts for such a complex machine in the future. The big downside with recumbents (or 'bents in the lingo) is going uphill. Climbing on a regular bike is natural. When you come to a hill you automatically stand up when you're out of gears or you just need that extra power. You cannot do that with a 'bent. You lose that leverage. Comfort 10/10. Leverage for the climb 0/10. The Quetzal Misterio seems to be a bike everyone wants to sell... cheap. Always low mileage.

Frame fit

The bike size is essentially based on your height. You can ride bikes with various sized frames but for comfort and performance you want a bike that fits well. Two measurements to track are the reach from saddle to pedals and the reach from saddle to handlebars. The first gives you optimal power in your legs. The second gives you comfort in your back, arms and hands while you ride. You can ride a bike that is a range of sizes but over time you'll realize that the right fit makes a big difference. At 6 feet I have ridden a frame as small as 48 CM but my best fit is 60 CM. When you stop the bike and stand over the top tube you want a little room between you and that bar for safety. It's an important measure.

When the bike is the right fit and the saddle the right height your leg will extend to produce power all the way to the bottom of the pedal stroke. You won't get full power if your leg is cramped at the bottom of the pedal stroke. That is the most important measure. Second most important is the arm reach to the handlebars. Especially as you get older you don't want to be doubled over while you ride. As a racer that is expected but for pleasure or even commuting to work it's preferred to be more comfortable. The only other measure in fitting a bike is the handlebar width. There are options especially for racing bars on the width of the bar.





It's difficult to explain but after a few days in the saddle, I fall into this trance, a place not in the future or past but kinda in the now. It's quiet, the hum of tires on the gravel or pavement is my music-----this is my job. I collect roads. This is what I do for a livelihood, my... true career----my real career. This is my drug of choice. Roads, no two are alike, each has it's own personality. Kinda like women, they're all beautiful in their own way and there is never enough of 'em. Love 'em all. Every road has it's own sound, it's own smell----no road smells bad, just different. I'll take a road kill any day compared to an exhaust pipe. Any road can fill up your senses if you can open up to them. Some are more desirable than others. Any road is better than no road.




The Top 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From Bicycle Touring

December 19, 2011 by Darren Alff

Bicycle touring has taught me a lot over the years. As a long-distance cyclist, I’ve learned how to ride a bike in all sorts of road and weather conditions; how to adjust, repair and rebuild a bicycle; and how to navigate a course across both paved roads and backcountry trails. But some of the larger lessons I’ve learned from my bicycle touring adventures are things I carry with me not just on my travels, but in my regular life as well.

1. Find Your Motivation. The Importance Of Having An Inner Fire

For many first-time bicycle travelers, it is the goal of riding a certain distance that motivates them the most. While riding a certain number of miles/kilometers on a bicycle tour is a good goal to have, the people who have the most success with bicycle touring tend to have other motivations outside of the distances they cover each day. This is why many cyclists who travel for years on end tend to care less about the total distances they have covered and instead care more about combining their cycle touring expeditions with other interests, activities, hobbies, and passions.

The longer you choose to travel (or the bigger your goal in life), the more you will realize the need for a true inner flame – something that resonates with you to the point that when things get tough, you don’t just give up and go home, but instead, press on toward that one big thing that has been pushing you from the start.

In other words, I’ve learned that there has to be some kind of meaning behind your bicycle tour, in just the same way there has to be meaning behind any big goal you set for yourself in life. The bigger the goal you set, the more motivation you need in order to make that dream come true. Wanting to reach the finish line is fine, but having a reason for wanting to reach the finish line in the first place is even more important.

2. Why Not Now? Not Tomorrow. Today!

When it comes to setting big goals for yourself, like going on a long-distance bicycle tour, it is easy to push those things off to some distance point in the future. We are often times led to believe that big goals, because they are so big, taker longer to accomplish and therefore need more time to plan, prepare for, and execute.

But setting a big goal for yourself (like a bicycle tour or otherwise) doesn’t have to take years or even months to come to fruition. Making something big happen in your life can be done in a super short amount of time if you simply make the decision to start working toward that goal right away. Not tomorrow, but today!

Bicycle touring, like life, is simple. Set a goal and start moving toward it. The sooner you start moving toward that goal, the sooner you’ll reach your destination. So why wait? Start now!

3. There Are Few Things You Truly Need

Traveling the world with just a few pieces of food, clothing and gear in your possession tends to do that to you. It makes you realize that, despite what society tells us, we don’t need a whole lot of material goods in order to be happy.

Every time I’ve returned home from a long-distance bicycle tour and found myself back in a house full of stuff, I’ve been forced to think, “Why exactly do I have all these things?” After all, if I can travel for months on end and have no need a big-screen television, an electric can opener, or a expensive reclining couch, then why do I need those things at all?

Bicycle touring has not only taught me what items I truly need in order to survive and be happy, but it has allowed me to see that the things that make me most happy in life aren’t actually things at all, but experiences that can’t be bought, broken, manufactured, stored, or stolen.

4. Want Something? Ask For It

On my early bicycle tours I started asking strangers for help: help with directions; help with finding a place to stay; help with getting my next meal; etc. Of course, it didn’t take long for me to realize that if you ask for something, and you ask enough times, you can usually get whatever it is that you’ve been asking for.

Most people never even ask for the things they want in life. The problem with this approach, however, is that if you never ask for the things you want, there’s little chance of you ever getting it.

This is why some men are so successful at dating beautiful women. They aren’t successful because they are necessarily better looking than other men, drive a fancy car, or are even better at asking women out. The reason they have such a good success rate is simply due to the fact that they ask more women out on a regular basis (compared to men who are too afraid to ask women out at all) and therefore have better odds of having their advances accepted.

While it used to be that I asked for directions and free places to stay on my bicycle tours, today I ask for much larger things and, after a little asking, usually get what I want. I encourage you to do the same. If you want something, ask for it!

5. Not This Or That, But Both

Most people assume that you can have one thing or another, but not both. As children many of us were taught that there are certain limitations in life and that having everything you want just isn’t possible. Nowadays, I’m not so sure how true that is.

During my early years of bicycle touring I used to say that my dream job would include being able to travel the world, work, and do the things I love all at the same time. But the people around me didn’t seem to think my dream was possible.

“The two ideas are contradictory,” they would say. “You can stay in one place and make lots of money, or you can travel the world and be poor. But you can’t do both.”

Today, however, I’m living that impossible dream and thousands like me a doing the same. I’ve designed my life so that I can travel the world, work from anywhere, and do pretty much anything I want. I have freedom, time, and money.

But how exactly was I able to achieve this?

The way I made it happen was by abandoning the idea that I could only have one way of life or the other, and convinced myself that I could have it all. My bicycle tours have enabled me to look for opportunities everywhere I go and now I’m constantly asking myself how I can have not just one or the other, but both.

6. People Only Care About Themselves (But Not Always)

In my University economics class my professor told me, “People are selfish. When it comes time to make a decision, people will always make that decision based upon what is best for themselves and their family. They don’t care about you, the time you’ve put in, or the mouths you need to feed. They only care about themselves!”

It’s a terribly negative thing to say, but it is true much of the time – especially when you’re talking about business.

Over the years, however, I have met hundreds of individuals on my travels who have helped me in one way other another and expected nothing in return. While most of these people have offered me simple directions, a kind word, or a meaningful conversation, others have given me a free place to sleep for the night, a warm meal, and even cash money to be used on my travels.

Sometimes I get a bit depressed thinking about how selfish the world can be, but then I think back to my bicycle touring adventures and the gracious individuals I’ve met along the way and I am reminded that not everyone in the world is out for themselves. There are good people out there and the more you travel, the more you come to realize this.

7. Don’t Worry. Relax. Have Fun. Go With The Flow

Life can be complicated and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Coming from the traffic-jammed streets of Southern California, I know how stress can ruin a life well lived. Especially when you’ve lived that way for so long you forget that life doesn’t have to be all stress and worry – that you can choose to live however you want and design your days accordingly.

Sometimes stress and worry are used as a sort of excuse we give ourselves for living lives outside of our true desires. It is this stress and worry that supposedly holds us back from accomplishing our goals and prevents us from going after the things we truly want in life.

But bicycle touring is a great way of breaking free of the stress and worry that so often accompanies us in our normal lives. Getting out in nature, exercising, slowing down, and simply having the time to reflect on our existence is often times all it takes to be reminded of just how important it is to to stop worrying, relax, have fun, and go with the flow.

8. Communicating With Other People Is Easy (And Difficult)

It used to be that I was super shy and afraid of everyone, but bicycle touring has changed all that. Nowadays I can go just about anywhere in the world and talk to anyone I meet and get along with them, feel safe, confident and poised.

While travel has made me realize that most people in the world are very similar and generally want the same things in life, the experiences I’ve had while traveling have also worked to separate myself from the masses.

In much the same way that actors and actresses tend to marry one another because they work in the same industry and therefore understand what the other person is going through… or the same way war veterans feel safe telling their stories to other war veterans, but struggle telling those same stories to their friends and family back home… I too, after several years of International bicycle touring, have come home from my travels and realized that while it is easier for me to get along with other people, I have a hard time connecting with those same individuals on a deeper level.

Bicycle touring is an incredible way of learning, changing and growing. But if you return home from a long trip by bike and the people around you have done little learning, changing or growing themselves while you’ve been away, it can be difficult to fit back in to the life you once knew.

While this is probably one of the small negative aspects of bicycle touring and world travel, it is a good thing as well, because when you meet another person with similar interests and experiences, you tend to treasure that person all that much more.

9. Never Quit. Just Change Course

Believe it or not, I’ve quit a couple of my bike tours over the years. I didn’t quit because I was exhausted, however, or because I failed to plan out my trip properly. Instead, I quit (or changed course, rather) because I realized that I was no longer pursuing my original goal. I had accomplished what I set out to achieve and it was time for me to head in a new direction.

This happens sometimes and it’s okay. Many bicycle travelers set out with the goal of riding a certain distance on their bicycles (around the world perhaps), but after riding for days, weeks or months on end and doing pretty much the same thing day after day, the act of riding a bicycle for long distances doesn’t seem as exciting as it once did.

The same can be said for any goal you set in life. Sometimes, after you get into it, you realize that the goal you set for yourself is no longer the goal you wish to achieve.

It is at this point when some people pack it up and go home, and others simply set a new goal for themselves and continue on their way.

Bicycle touring has taught me to never quit on a whim, but instead to think long and hard about what my motivations truly are, and that if need be, I should set a new goal for myself and head in a different direction.

10. There Are No Rules

Whether you like it or not, we are living in a society that occasionally tricks us into believing that certain things are true, when in reality they are not. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from my travels by bike is that there really are no rules – not in bicycle touring or in life.

Just because one person (or even the whole world) does something one way, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow suit. You can be, have, or do anything you want.

Want to ride a unicycle around the world while wearing a bear costume? You can do it! Want to quit your job and move to Mexico so you can surf every day. You can do it! Want to start a business or non-profit organization that changes the world. You can do it!

Bicycle touring has taught me that if you set your mind to something, starting working at it, inch by inch, pedal stroke by pedal stroke, day by day, sooner or later, you’re bound to reach the finish line.

Dream big, embrace being different, and go after your goals with all the passion you can muster. That’s what bicycle touring has taught me.



Some of my many Bikes thru the years

This is a picture of Sheldon Brown, one of my heros I never met but

distinctly remember receiving an email from business correspondence.

His knowledge of bicycles and enthusiasm touched many lives through the web and in person.

He died of MS. During his last years he was unable to bicycle - which, of course, was his passion.


Views of me in the dark with my reflective sash. In the photos the sash shows up great.


Views of the bike with the big, fat Continental Contact tires 700C X 54mm. Converted to inches it's about 2.1"

They're quite an interesting change from 35's. I could only find one fender that will fit so far. It's a 60mm wide fender byPlanet Bike - the Cascadia.

I got the seat off a 70's Raleigh and it's turned a beautiful color. The bag is a Minnetonka that I got for half-price at Restoration Hardware. Someone from one of my bike lists advised us of the great deal.

The yellow bike below was one the loaners NASA offered to travel around campus. They have a cool design. Instead of chain drive they have shaft drive like a car. I'm not an advocate of this choice but it has a coolness factor.

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