Some Wonkishness On Bike Gearing

A long and longwinded post just to say that you’re not stuck with the gearing choices that you’re bike came with and that if you have a “road bike” you might want to consider lowering the gearing. 😉

A while back Guitar Ted wrote a post that mentioned that what we think of today as road bikes are really road racing bikes. You see that road racing focus cary over into other non-racing road bikes, or as I like to call them Good Basic Transportation, in a  few ways (mostly bad ways), the most noticeable of them being bike gearing (high) and tire widths (narrow).

Bike gearing is measured a few ways. I usually use speed at cadence which gives you how fast you’ll be going in a given gear at a given pedal cadence. Bike gears are denoted by how many teeth they have in them, always starting with the chainrings (gears in front)  and going from highest gear to lowest. For example: when I bought my bike it’s highest gear was a 50/11, meaning that the biggest chainring had 50 teeth and the smallest cog (gears in the back) had 11 teeth. Using speed at cadence we can see that pedaling as fast as I can, about 120RPM, with the bike in its highest 50/11 gearing I’m traveling at about 44MPH. There’s a bit of a problem with this as once I hit about 20MPH I generally coast. So… About half of my bikes gearing potential was largely unused. 34/32 was the lowest gearing on the bike meaning that I had to maintain about a 5MPH pace to stay in a high enough cadence to pedal comfortably, which is pretty much impossible to do while going up a steep grade with a trailer full of camping kit or groceries.

Like most “road” bikes my bike was way over-geared for how I actually road it and by “road” bike standards it came from the shop geared a little on the low side. After about 2 years of riding my bike with too-tall gears I got sick of it and headed down to my local bike shop to brain storm up a setup that was geared appropriately for the speeds I ride at and how I actually use my bike. You can see the results of what we came up with in the photos above. 44/34 up front and 12-36 in the rear. This means my bikes gearing “spins out” at about 36MPH, which is plenty fast for me. With a bottom gear of 34/36 I can spin at a comfortable rate up almost any hill whilst bringing home my groceries. It also means that where I previously wasn’t using a large chunk of my gearing I now use all my gearing which makes for more comfortable riding and means that I can ride further.

This change in gearing as been a huge improvement and didn’t even wind up costing me all that much, so win, win, win.


Posted in bikes, Getting Around Using Pedals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boiled Cider

IMG_1826Another post for the simple, healthy, and hearty foods file. Boiled cider is just dead simple. It’s exactly what it sounds like, freshly pressed cider that’s been boiled down by about 2/3’s so that it becomes a sweet and apple-y flavored syrup. Boiled cider is  a wonderful sweetener for fall and winter cooking. I usually add a few mulling spices and a little glub of honey to mine to up the flavor a bit.

Posted in baking, Food, living skills for tumultuous times | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hurricane Michael

With the latest news on Global Climate Change spelling out a near certainty of large scale disruptions to normal life and the national debit sitting at around $21,600,000,000,000 we can no longer afford to rebuild areas, like the Florida’s panhandle, that are repeatedly hit  by large storms and will be affected by sea level rise.

It’s time to start mapping areas to be bought out and returned to a natural state as things like King Tides, flooding, landslides, and wildfires destroy them. This doesn’t just effect places like Florida or SoCal, Wisconsin has seen increased flooding  and storm intensity in recent years and we have many smaller towns and villages next to rivers that need to get moved uphill and away from those rivers or just bought out and closed down.

A strategic retreat from low-lying areas that will uproot thousands (millions?) of people and a system of relocalization  is a tough thing to think about, but we’ll be better off starting that process now while we still have the time and resources to do it in a well thought out and orderly manner. If we don’t do it now people will depopulate high risk areas  later on while running for their lives. The first option, while not pretty, is the better option.

Posted in living skills for tumultuous times, Relocalization | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mediation AKA Roto-Rooter For The Mind

There’s plenty in the news and world today to keep your nerves a bit on the jangly side of things and your flight or flight responses just a little bit on even when they shouldn’t be. When I start to get jangly,  having a hard time concentrating for long periods, and always feeling a little bit “on” one of the tricks I turn to is mediation. Usually, I’m just at home and I don’t use any kind of app or online stuff. I just concentrate on my breathing: breathe in for a slow four count, hold my breath for a four count, and release it on a slow on a four count. Five minutes or so of this in the morning and evening for a couple days in a row usually calms things down and brings my focus back. It would better if I just did it every day, but I’m terrible about doing it regularly. With all the news and hub-bub going on lately I was extra distracted this week, so I did a longer than normal session this morning and it worked like a charm. I’m feeling calm and grounded and my head’s not full of all sorts of nonsense anymore. Ah, much better.

Posted in living skills for tumultuous times | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Squash Soup With Apples and Sage

The days are getting shorter, leaves are changing colors, and the weather’s turned cool and close. Which can only mean one thing: we’re definitely headed into fall. Or as I like to call it: how much food can you make out of apples and squash season. Apples and squash are big favorites of mine. I’m trying to do at least some of my eating seasonally and locally and, at least around here, that means lots of apples and squash are on offer. The pic is of soup made with local apples, apple juice, honey, and butternut squash, plus a little salt and sage that I have no idea where they came from. Easy-peasy to cook, chop stuff up, put it in a pot and let it cook down, then hit it with an immersion blender and eat. And as always, the squash and apples were on sale for cheap!

Posted in baking, Food | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curing The Cheap Meat Blues

I usually do The Ethical Meat Thing and buy my meats at the farmer’s market or from a local butcher shop or a food co-op that focus on well raised local meats. But, I can’t always get to those places and I’m a sucker for things that are on sale in bulk for cheap. The last bulk purchase was a big pack of boneless pork chops. The chops weren’t the highest of quality so I whipped up a salt cure with lots of spices, rubbed a couple of the chops down after breakfast and let them sit in the fridge until dinner time. Fried them up and they were yummy. It’s amazing what salt, sugar, some spices and some time to sit will do to a piece of meat. This version came from Good Meat, which is well worth picking up.

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The nights are getting longer and oil’s headed for $100 a barrel


As gas gets more expensive it makes sense to do some short trips on foot and with the shorter days coming up some of those trips will probably get done in the dark which is, totally, not a problem at all if you invest in a couple good flashlights. Plus, living in America where getting around under your own power isn’t always easy it helps to be able to light your own way sometimes. And, hey, the power goes out sometimes.

Flashlight wise, I seem to have drifted to the brands Thrunite and Streamlight, but there are other makers of similar lights, Fenix and Surefire come to mind. That top light (Streamlight ProTac1L) has logged a ton of use over about 4 years and is still going strong. Well worth the $40 or so that I paid for it and at just over 3 inches long and 2 ounces it’s easy to alway have with you and at 275 lumens it’s plenty bright to help cars see you and for you to see your way home from the coffee shop or corner store.

There are blogs and YouTube channels that completely geek out about the details of flashlights like these, I encourage you to look towards them for the gritty details. I do think a couple higher end flashlights are fairly indispensable pieces of kit for those of us trying to do some of out outandabouting under our own power.

Posted in Kit, Lighting, outandabouting | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sorta Bread

Today marked our first cool fall weather day of the year. With overcast skies and the occasional drop of rain there was none of the second guessing about heading out of my apartment without a windbreaker and long sleve shirt that I’d been doing for the last couple of weeks.

Soda breads aren’t something I make very often, but today’s cool weather and our recent turn towards fall had me in the mood for some nice warm bread. Soda breads are great as not only are they tasty, they’re also rather foolproof and quick and dirt cheap to make. Fool proof as in today’s soda bread was whipped together in a rather ad-hoc fashion, came out of the oven looking more “sorta bread” than soda bread, and still managed to be light, tasty, and wonderful.

As with most things on this blog there are already tons of recipies and resources out there for soda breads, so I’m not going to rehash all that here. But, if you’re looking to give some home baking a try soda breads are a good place to start. And please don’t be shy with the caraway seeeds…


Posted in baking, Food | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fall Equinox Chores

Fall is here, so it’s time to dig out the wool socks and Bean Boots and get everything polished up and water-proofed.


Posted in Chores, Kit, shoes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ride it backwards challenge

Hello blog, I’m back.

I’m a big fan of the blog  Guitar Ted Productions  (he actually updates his blog regularly!) and a while back he mentioned liking to sometimes ride his tried and true routes backwards. I gave that a try tonight with this loop west of town. I usually ride the northern section, which is full of rollers first. That puts you on the dead-flat Chippewa River Trail for an easy 12 mile cruise back into town.

Riding this backwards was a trip. You think you know the route, but with everything backwards the hills hit you differently, the views are different, and where you normally know, without thinking about it, when to burn energy and when to conserve it you now have no idea. I rode a lot slower and used a lot less energy than I could have as I was worried about having a bunch of climbing at the end of the ride. Riding routes backwards is a good little trick for keeping things simple and fresh ride wise and I think I’ll be using it more in the future.

Posted in Getting Around Using Pedals, outandabouting | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment