Building and Maintaining Back Health

I would not have been able to enjoy my recent bike camping trip if I hadn’t improved my back health. When my back health was worse, sleeping on a mat in tent each night made it worse. Multiple days of tent camping would only compound the problem.

Here’s my story of how I got bad sciatica then recovered and made some changes to keep my back healthy in the future.

 

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Counting Cows: Our Favorite Family Bike Touring Game

To pass the time while we were riding my wife taught the rest of us a car game she learned growing up in Vermont. The game involves counting animals you see along the road. The game itself is now near extinction as a car game with the amount of driving that now happens on interstates and in cities.

She knew the game as “Bury your Pooches” or just “Pooches”.

In her childhood version,

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Announcing “Let’s Go Family Bike Camping” Book

Saving turtles. Swimming in lakes. Sleeping in a tent. Seeing the countryside from the seat of your bike. Family bike camping trips can be positive and lasting experiences. “Let’s Go Family Bike Camping” is a book to help families get started. Half the book is full of stories and photos from my own initial trips with one toddler and later two kids aged 5 and 8. I share our failures and fears as well as our successes and joys. The second half of the book is full of tips with ideas for your trips. It includes tips on planning, gear, entertaining the children and more.

See the full list of planned chapters below. Not yet written chapters are marked as TODO. Feedback on tips to include or that you’d like me to cover are welcome. At the bottom of the page is a form to subscribe to email updates about the book— the list will only be used for that purpose.

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How my Marmot Precip and Membrain waterproof breathable jackets failed

I’ve been a loyal customer of Marmot’s waterpoof, breathable rain jackets for several years. I’m on my third (or fourth?) Marmot rain jacket currently and my wife and daughter have them as well. Everything wears out eventually. Here’s what happened to our most recent ones.

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Review of Extreme Bar Mitts versus original Bar Mitts

New for this winter bike commuting season are Extreme Bar Mitts. Like the original Bar Mitts the Extreme Bar Mitts are like mittens for your handlebars that stay on the bike. You operate the controls inside of them, possibly with additional gloves or mittens on.

dropping child off at day care by bakfiets, 35F and raining

I have long, thin fingers and tried many pairs of gloves and mittens looking for something that would keep my fingers warm for cycling. When I finally found Bar Mitts they made a huge difference for me, allowing me to ride at colder temperatures or with greater comfort than anything before. In typical winter conditions I could use lighter gloves– and sometimes no gloves– inside the Bar Mitts, allowing me to more easily and safely operate the shifters and brakes. I’ve been using the original Bar Mitts about four years.

Recently Bar Mitts sent me their new Extreme Bar Mitts model to try and it has finally been cold enough to put them to the test. I was concerned that Extreme Bar Mitts would be too warm, since I already found the regular Bar Mitts sufficient for me down to about 0F when paired with fleece-lined wool mittens.

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Review: 2013 Yuba Mundo vs 2014 Xtracycle EdgeRunner 27D

By: Don Galligher

This review compares the 2013 Yuba Mundo cargo bike with the 2014 Xtracycle 27D EdgeRunner. My daughters have named our matte black Yuba “Black Pearl”. The Xtracycle is named “Baliwick” after a butler in the Princess Sofia cartoon.

Xtracycle EdgeRunner
Xtracycle EdgeRunner
Don with a load of bikes to recycle

Yuba Mundo

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The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 3: The Bike

A design opportunity is emerging for a long-distance electric vehicle that weighs more than a bicycle but less than a motorcycle. Ebike hobbyists are leading the way.

Last September I made a 240-mile journey by electric bike from Ithaca NY to New York City and back. The trip was not that remarkable in itself. No records were broken; there were no physical or mental challenges that needed to be overcome. In fact, that was the point of the journey: to show that a long-distance journey by electric bike could be easy and enjoyable. Part 1 of this series compared long-distance bike and car travel in general. Part 2 described the trip itself in detail. This Part 3 describes the modified touring bike I used to make the trip. What’s surprising about my bike is not how technologically advanced it is, rather the opposite. My bike is an electrified steel frame Nishiki Cresta touring bike from 1982 with a BMC rear geared hub motor.

Long Distance Ebike Design Criteria
What would the ideal long-distance electric bike look like? First of all let’s define our terms. By long-distance I mean Continue reading The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 3: The Bike

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 2: The Trip

In Part 1 of this blog post series I described the context of my journey to NYC last September. I made the trip to demonstrate the feasibility of long distance travel by electric bike, and the People’s Climate March provided the perfect opportunity. This second part describes some details of the trip itself, then indulges in a vision of the future of long-distance biking.

One of the first mistakes I made was trusting Google maps to come up with a good route. In the past I’ve used the “bike button” on Google maps to show me bike trails along my route. For example, on a trip to Washington D.C. I was able to travel two-thirds of the 350-mile trip on scenic bike trails (in particular the C&O canal). Google recommended traveling south through Pennsylvania and then east through New Jersey, and promised a few rails-to-trails along the way. It looked good on the map! What happened in reality is that Continue reading The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 2: The Trip

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 1: The Context

Author Laurence Clarkberg sets out from Ithaca to New York City, a 230-mile trip.

The question of the century is “How can we make vehicles that use less energy than our automobiles but have the same functionality?” Electric cars are a step in the right direction–they use about a tenth of the energy of gasoline-powered cars. However, the technology exists to go even further: electric bikes use about one one-hundredth the energy of gasoline-powered cars. But do ebikes have the same functionality as a car? For example consider long distance travel, meaning travel on the order of hundreds of miles. Can an ebike do that? Of course not, right? Last month I made a long distance trip on an electric bike in order to answer that question and discovered that the answer is Continue reading The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 1: The Context