8/25/2015

GeigerRig Introduces Nano Technology to Their Pressurized Hydration Pack Engine


I was first introduced to GeigerRig's pressurized hydration packs two years ago at Interbike during a demonstration of how their Hydration Pack Engine works.  I wanted to put one of their hydration packs to the test and see how it performed so I contacted them and they sent me one to review.  I used it for an entire Summer on numerous gravel rides/races, mountain biking and commuting to work before writing my review.

Their pressurized Hydration Pack Engine, plug and play connectivity, ease of cleaning and quality of the pack itself made it the only hydration pack that I continue to use.  When I was contacted by GeigerRig earlier this year about trying their new Nano Technology (Nano Drink Tube) I was very interested in doing so.

The short video below explains how GeigerRig Nano Technology works.


I received a GeigerRig Lightweight Rig hydration pack made with Heavy Duty 840 Ballistic Nylon, the new Nano Drink Tube and a 2L Hydration Pack Engine.   The small size of the Rig pack would turn out to be a perfect choice for gravel racing and mountain bike rides for hydration only and not carrying gear.  The Rig is big enough however to hold the 70 oz. Hydration Pack Engine and some energy snacks for the ride.  The plug and play connections on the Hydration Pack Engine and the Nano Drink Tube had me ready to use the pack in no time.


The Nano Drink Tube is one-third the diameter of standard drink tubes at only 4mm.  Because the Hydration Pack Engine is pressurized, this tiny tube has the ability to deliver fluid at a fast rate.  There is no control flow on the end valve (shown above) but it does have a Flow-control gate (shown below) that can be positioned anywhere along the tube for easy reach.  This Flow-control gate allows open flow, moderate flow and a drip setting depending on which I prefer.  


The tube is easily routed to a desired position making it perfect for biking.  The Poplock locking clip helps keep the tube in place by attaching to clothing or pack straps.  Once the pack is pressurized with a few pumps of the Power Bulb I'm ready to put the end valve in between my cheek and gum and set the Flow-control gate to the desired flow rate.


The end valve is small along with the tube so talking and breathing while using it is not a problem.  I like the flexibility of the Flow-control gate where I control the fluid rate.  Usually on hot days I will set it at a drip or moderate flow that keeps me hydrated without having to think about it.  During a break in the ride or when I need more fluids I will adjust to an open flow until my thirst is quenched.  When not in use I will simply tuck the tube end under the shoulder strap connector so I can quickly grab it when I need to hydrate.

GeigerRig's pressurized hydration system pack with the Nano Drink Tube keeps me hydrated throughout the ride.  With the flexibility of the flow rate, I just ride and get the right amount of fluids I need. 

The GeigerRig Rig Hydration Pack, Hydration Pack Engine and Nano Drink Tube are available on the Geigerrig website and at select dealers

Disclosure:  GeigerRig provided the review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.

Penn Cycle & Fitness
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Save on Trek Bikes plus get up to
$200 in free bike gear with a new
Trek Bike purchase between 
August 20th-31st!

8/19/2015

MORC's Second Annual Fundraising Gala Coming Up October 3rd


The Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists will be holding their Second Annual Fundraising Gala, the 2015 MORC Masquerade Ball on October 3rd, 2015.  This year they are throwing a party to celebrate their recent IMBA Bronze-level Ride Center designation.  Funds raised from this fun event will help MORC improve and expand upon its current trail system "To become one of the first major metropolitan areas in the world to secure 100 miles of singletrack!"

The 2015 MORC Masquerade Ball (yes, masquerade masks are to be worn!) will be held on Saturday, October 3, 2015 from 7:00PM to 11:45PM at Surly Brewing Company in Minneapolis.   

"This year we're pleased to announce Surly Brewing as title sponsor. In addition to committing to this event, Surly Brewing is supporting MORC volunteers and trails through unique fundraising & membership drive events, truly going above and beyond to support our community!" - Kristin Clark, MORC Gala Coordinator.

The event will feature a silent and live auction, event speakers,  hors d'oeuvre & dessert items and some great Surly beer.  New details to be announced soon.  More information and updates can be found on the 2015 MORC Masquerade Ball Facebook Event Page.  Tickets can be purchased online by visiting the 2015 MORC Masquerade Ball ticket page.  Purchase your tickets before September 1st to receive Early Bird ticket pricing.

Penn Cycle & Fitness
http://penncycle.com/sale/trek-summer-sale-2015-pg1620.htm
Save on Trek Bikes plus get up to
$200 in free bike gear with a new
Trek Bike purchase between 
August 20th-31st!

8/08/2015

Twin Six Wednesday Night CX Kick Off August 26th


Twin Six Wednesday Night CX starts off the early cyclocross season with seven weeks of racing at Aquila Park in St. Louis Park starting August 26th.  "These races will be organized, structured, low key early season races.  A great time to try the sport as a beginner or a chance to work out the kinks for those returning for the new season."  These are not USA Cycling races so results will not be sent, points will not be earned and a USA Cycling license is not needed to race.

If you have ever wanted to give cyclocross racing a try, this is your chance.  Entry fee is only $15 and registration starts one hour before the first race each week and ends 15 minutes prior to race start.  Start times will change each week as daylight decreases so check the flyer and don't be late.  Advanced race will be around 60 minutes, Intermediate 45 minutes, Beginner 30 minutes and Newbies (8/26 & 9/2) for 15 minutes.

Course layout changes each week and will be done by that week's sponsoring shop.  Sponsoring shops include:

8/26 Angry Catfish
9/2 The Fix Studio
9/9 Now Sports/Synergy
9/16 Fulton/All-City
9/23 One On One
9/30 Penn Cycle
10/7 Omnium Bike Shop

Central Lakes Trail
http://www.centrallakestrail.com/
Get out and enjoy the beautiful gem known as the 
Central Lakes Trail
Central Lakes TrailGet out and enjoy the beautiful gem known as the Central Lakes Trail

8/02/2015

Putting Together a Compact Tool Kit


Having a good compact tool kit is the key to getting you out of most mechanical problems and fixing flats to get you up and rolling again. This kit may not be needed most rides but the peace of mind that it gives when you are 30 miles away from home or your vehicle is priceless.  Even if you may not know how to use some of these items, simply having them along for the ride can still help you out.  Cyclists are friendly people and there is a good chance that one will stop if you are experiencing a problem and having the right tools for the job will help them help you. 


My kit contains a spare tube, a tool/parts bag, chain lube, CO2 cartridges and a digital pressure gauge.  The photo above shows the contents of my tool/parts bag.  This small bag keeps my items neatly together and is easily transferred from bike to bike depending on which I choose to ride.  These tools and parts will help me continue my ride whether I get a flat, break a chain, bend/break a derailleur hanger or need to do some wrenching on my bike.


The most common problem cyclist experience is a flat tire.  To repair a flat I carry a set of tire levers, spare tube and CO2 cartridge/inflator combo.  I use the Air Chuck Elite from Genuine Innovations because of its super compact size and ease of use.  For most rides I bring along only one tube (for century rides I will carry two) and keep it in the box or a ziploc bag to keep from it from rubbing or causing abrasions caused by jostling around in my seat or frame bag.  When only carrying one tube, having a Park Tool Super Patch Kit is my backup in the event of another flat.  On my fatbike I also have a frame pump which comes in handy for quick pressure adjustment or if a 20 gram CO2 cartridge isn't enough to fill those big tires to the desired pressure.  To read air pressure I like the small size, backlit digital readout and swivel head of the SKS Digital Airchecker.  I use it before every ride to make sure my tires are inflated to the proper pressure for the conditions I will be riding.


Something that happens to mountain bikers and gravel enthusiasts more than road cyclists is a sidewall tear in a tire.  A dollar bill, empty GU packet or Powerbar wrapper can be used to boot a tire so you can get to your destination or finish your ride.  To learn how to boot a tire, watch the video "How to Fix a Torn Sidewall on Your Mountain Bike".


For quick chain repair I carry a Park Tool Mini Chain Brute Chain Tool and a master link for each of my bikes.  This way I can transfer my tool bag from bike to bike and have the necessary link I may need.  These items don't take up much space in the bag and will save me in the event of a chain break.  This chain tool is also useful for sizing a new chain.


A very necessary part of my tool kit includes a set of Fix It Sticks Replaceables.  This compact multi-tool has saved me on numerous occasions and has the torque and leverage to get the job done.  I've used them for everything from tightening a loose cleat and changing my saddle height to working on my bikes in the stand.  For more information on this wonder tool, read my post Product Review: Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition & T-Way Wrench.

I carry a spare zip tie for securing brake and shifter cables to the frame.  During cold weather these zip ties become brittle and break leaving your cables dangling.  A compact bottle of lube for those really dusty rides (gravel/singletrack) will help keep your drivetrain running smoothly.

And finally, in the event of a crash that can bend or even break a derailleur hanger, having a spare in the tool bag can be a lifesaver.  Replacing a bent hanger will bring back that smooth shifting by aligning the cassette with the upper and lower jockey wheels.  Watch the video below to learn how to change a derailleur hanger.


A toolkit containing these items will save you from the long walk of shame back to the car or having to call someone to come pick you up.  Put together your own compact tool kit, learn to change a flat and how fix the most common mechanical issues you may face and you will never be stranded again.

7/21/2015

Dirty Girl Adventure Gravel Ride Welcomes Women To Try Gravel


Ride Like a Girl Cycling is hosting a women's only gravel ride that is a great opportunity for gravel veterans and newbies alike.  The Dirty Girl Adventure Gravel Ride takes place on Sunday, August 23rd where it will start and finish at the House of Coates in Coates. This free ride is a 30 mile trip that will take riders on a variety of surfaces including gravel, sand, dirt, mud and pavement through some beautiful countryside.


Ride starts off from the House of Coates and goes into UMore Park taking riders past old buildings and 4 and 5-tower coal power plants that were once part of the Gopher Works Ordinance Plant during WWII.  From there it takes riders into the Vermillion Highlands on gravel roads


 Next up is the Minimum Maintenance Road that leads to a short ride on pavement followed by a long stretch of gravel. 


A 2-mile stretch of pavement brings riders to gravel again on Blaine Avenue which turns into a 1.8 mile stretch of "No Motorized Vehicles" doubletrack through the woods and fields of UMore Park. 


Finally, a half mile doubletrack "No Motorized Vehicles" road through the woods that puts riders out on Co. Rd. 46 for a one mile paved ride back to the House of Coates.


Cyclocross, mountain and fatbikes are recommended for this ride, though road bikes can be used with wider tires (32c and larger).  Bring the necessary water needed as there are no places along the way to refill.  Cuesheets, gpx and tcx files will available in the weeks before the ride for navigation of the route.  Rider support will be provided by the Penn Cycle Support Ambulance.

Stick around at the House of Coates after the ride for burgers, beer, prizes and giveaways.  RSVP on the Facebook Event Page by signing in to Facebook and selecting "Join" so the necessary arrangements can be made by the House of Coates and for ride support.  Once again, this is a women's only ride, sorry guys.

7/09/2015

Summer Minnesota Gravel Events

Gravel racing season traditionally has been in the Spring and Fall but with the growing popularity of "riding gravel", Summer events have seen an increase in number in recent years.  In addition to established Summer gravel events, several new ones have been popping up over the last year or two including a couple of new ones this year.

Image Credit: Dirt Bag
The Dirt Bag Gravelfest takes place on July 18th in French Lake, MN.  This free event is the second running of the Summer version of the Dirt Bag (takes place in October each year).  Two courses are planned for this year's event, an 82 mile long course and a 30 mile short course.  "All riders will start on the short course and the long course riders will continue on through the Start/Finish area to the North and West before looping back onto the short course again."  Postcard registration is now open and race day registration will also be available.  Stay up-to-date with event details by visiting the Dirt Bag website, Facebook page and Facebook Event page.

Image Credit: Jim Smith

The Dirty Lemming is a Summer gravel tradition put on by Jim Smith in Watertown, MN.  This year's running of the Lemmings will be on July 25.  Two course options include 100 km and 100 mile routes.  This is a free event limited to 100 riders, postcard registration is required and space is still available until the cap is reached.


The Gritty Goose Gravel Grinder is a new gravel event this year.  It's a free ride that takes place on gravel roads near Monticello, Maple Lake and Buffalo on August 1st.  The route will be 65 to 70 miles with almost 2,000 feet of climbing.  Online registration is now available.  "You'll have to ride it to find out why its called the Gritty Goose."

Image Credit: Tour de Save Facebook Page

The Cannon Valley Velo Club is holding its 12th annual Tour de Save on August 1st at Riverside Park in Northfield, MN.  In addition to the 10, 25 and 62 mile road routes, this will be the second year for the 100 km gravel route.  Online registration is available until noon the day before the ride.  Registration fee is $25 and a fundraising goal must be established.  Updates for the ride can be found on the Tour de Save Facebook page.



The Heck Epic is a two-day (August 22-23) bikepacking staged event that starts in Two Harbors and travels North to Ely where you will camp for the night before returning back to Two Harbors on day two.  Distance covered will be about 220 miles.  Online registration is now available until a rider cap of 100 is reached.  Entry fee is $100 and covers dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday when in Ely, camping facilities in Ely and a pint of beer at the Friday night registration meeting.  Updates for the Heck Epic can also be found on the Heck of the North Facebook page.


The River Valley 100 returns for its second year on August 30th taking cyclists through the scenic river valleys around Mankato in South-Central Minnesota.  This free event consists of both paved and gravel route options and is non-supported.  For those looking to ride gravel, a 100 km gravel ride and 100 km gravel race are available.  The gravel race will consist of 3 person teams.  Registration is required and space is limited.  There are two ways to register, online or by mail.  Deadline for gravel racing registration is August 23rd.  Updates can also be found on the River Valley 100 Facebook page.


The Cyclists of the Laurentian Divide and Giants Ridge are bringing back the Legendary Laurentian for a second year in Biwabik, MN.  This is a multi-surface "gravel' event of 50 miles that takes place on September 5th.  Registration is required and will be available on the day of the event.  The $20 entry fee includes lunch and door prizes.


"Giants Ridge is holding a gravel/mtn. bike event on Sat. Sept. 5 at 10 AM.  Back in the 80`s and 90`s we hosted a mtn. bike race and with the development of our golf course  the event went away. Cycling is back at the Ridge in a big way with the Mesabi Trail, Mesabi Tour, TRAM,  gravel, rides  and now the `Legendary Laurentian`, a 50 mile event held on our XC trails , Forest Roads, and Snowmobile trails.  This `untimed tour` should be a great challenge as well as a very inexpensive day of riding, plus you`ll get a burger and a beverage at the end, as well as door prizes.  Keep the rubber side down and we will see you in September!" - John Filander, Director of Winter Sports at Giants Ridge.

Image Credit: Joshua Stamper

The Gravel Conspiracy is an adventure ride taking place on gravel, dirt and Forest service roads along the North shore.  Dates are September 11-13.  To quote the Facebook event page this is a "Three day Gravel Adventure from the Canadian border to Duluth. Expect 200-250 miles of gravel, dirt, and doubletrack. No Sag. You can stay in 5 star lodging or you can dirtbag it in the campgrounds. No cost to participate, but the bus ride costs $40. Registration is limited to 75 participants."  Registration is required and for more information visit The Gravel Conspiracy FAQ page.


The Back Forty F**k Festival is an 80 mile gravel grinder taking place September 12th in Denmark Twp. just North of Hastings, MN.  Described as "part burning man part gravel grinder" on the website, this isn't your normal gravel ride.  It would probably be best to visit the website and read the full description of the ride and its rules of competition.  Registration is free and can be done by sending an email to the event organizer.

Image Credit: Derek Chinn

The Inspiration 100 is a 107 mile gravel race in its fourth year and starts in Garfield, MN on September 12th.  This is a free race and registration is done by postcard only during the month of July.  Registration is capped at 135 racers.  Updates can be found on the Inspiration 100 Facebook page.

These events are unsupported (except Tour de Save) so bring everything you will need to get you to the finish.

6/29/2015

Product Review: BackBottle

From Fix It Sticks creator Brian Davis comes the BackBottle, an innovative new design for the water bottle with a unique shape that cyclists will come to love.  It's not your standard bottle, but one that was carefully thought out and designed with an ergonomic shape that fits perfect in a jersey pocket.  After a successful KickStarter campaign that achieved its goal weeks before the deadline, the BackBottle is now available.
  
"The BackBottle combines a bottle and a hydration pack into one small, portable package.  Last year I went on lots of long rides and was constantly having to adjust my route for gas stations and stops in a three hour ride.  I had the idea then, but the tipping point was at a cyclocross race when I was told no hand ups were allowed, even for water. With no cages on my cross bike, I got to work.”- Brian Davis


The shape of this bottle is the key that makes it so user-friendly.  I have used a standard cylindrical  water bottle in my jersey pockets before and spent time fumbling with trying to get it back into the pocket after taking a drink.  This is not a problem with the BackBottle.  The sloped pointed bottom makes it easy to slip back into my pocket in one smooth motion.  The BackBottles's flat back with raised ribs for air flow keeps it from rolling and feeling uncomfortable against my back.  After a little while I didn't even notice it was in my jersey pocket.


One design feature I really like about the BackBottle is the raised portion with lip that is on the lower half of the bottle.  This lip sits just below the jersey pocket seam to prevent it from being ejected while riding rough terrain.  I have done a lot of mountain biking and riding gravel with the BackBottle and it simply stays put, I have never lost one and had to double back to pick it up. 


The wide opening is easy to put ice cubes into but the cap could use a redesign.  When the Backbottle is filled with liquid it won't stand up like a traditional water bottle so it must be laid on its side resulting in a small amount of water slowly leaking from the nozzle.  Other than this the BackBottle is a great design that works as intended.  I use a pair of them in my jersey pockets for times when a hydration pack may be more than I need for a ride or one as a backup for those long rides with a hydration pack.  Cyclists that don't like to wear a hydration pack, don't have bottle cages or race road, mtb or cross will really like this product. 

Specifications
  • 18 ounces of capacity (.53L or 530mL +/-) 
  • 3 ounces in weight when empty 
  • 8.5 inches long and 3 inches wide 
  • 53mm diameter opening (easy to add ice) wedged and ergonomic for easy one-hand operation manufactured from squeezable LDPE plastic made from recyclable components (packaging #3, bottle #4, cap #5) 
  • 100% BPA free 100% 
  • Made in the USA 
  • flat back minimizes roll when climbing or sprinting raised ribs on the flat back allow airflow 
  • top-shelf dishwasher safe

The BackBottle is available from BackBottle.com for $12 and shipping is free for U.S. orders.   

Disclosure:  Fix It Sticks provided the review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.
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