Raccoon River Valley Trail Tour

Can you mix business and pleasure?  We certainly are gave it a shot and it worked out pretty well!  We had some business to attend to up in Iowa, so we took a look to see what our biking options in the area would be.  Turns out not far from where we were doing a little work was the Raccoon River Valley Trail.  Located just to the west of Des Moines, the trail makes a loop, which for bike touring away from home is a nice way to get back to the car and not have to back track.

Map:

RRVT Map

We arrived on Day 1 and parking was pretty packed out for what turned out to be a really nice weather weekend.  Because of this, we decided to park at the local HyVee grocery in Waukee since they are open 24 hours and right next to to the trail.  Some of the trail follows along side a highway, which didn’t make for the best views, but soon turned into corn fields, small towns, and beautiful countryside.

The highlights were the all paved trail ways, either blacktop or silky smooth concrete, and the joys of small towns to explore and spend time around local folks.  One highlight was happening upon a small town car show going on in the downtown streets.  We camped just off the trail at a small camp ground and had only 4 or so other campers to share the area.

All in all we made the 80 mile loop in two days.  About 50 miles the first day, and 30 miles day 2.  Had great weather, no problems, and continued to refine the setup.  Enjoyable ride and here is a video of the sites:

Topeak Road Morph G Bike Pump

Everyone with a bike truly needs a good bike pump.  There are literally thousands out there and all have their pros and cons.  I was looking for something that was relatively light weight but still reasonably fast at inflating or adding air to my tires.  Something I could actually use more often than just those random emergencies.

I chose the Topeak Road Morph G Bike Pump.  It was a good blend of usability, portability, and value with regards to cost.   It is available on Amazon:  http://amzn.to/2tlXUhQ and was just under $30 in cost.

I think it is the perfect solution for my bikepacking and bike touring needs.  Here is a quick video of my review.

Bike Touring Tent Setup – Eureka Midori 2

When I looked for bike touring tents, I wanted something with more room than most 1 man tents would accommodate.  I was interested in room inside to store my gear should a blowing thunderstorm arrive as we are famous for in the Midwest.  Because of that, I chose a 2 person tent and was looking for something that was a good compromise of size, weight, and price.  My choice was the Eureka Midori 2.

I never did quite get a video completed on the setup of the tent as my prior video focused on un-boxing, weighing, and the basics, but the weather was unfit to take it outside and setup.  I finally got around to getting it outside, setting it up, and shooting a video.  Here is  the quick and dirty on setting up this tent:

 

If you are interested in the other video on the un-boxing, weight, etc….here is the link to that video completed a bit ago.

 

I’ve used the tent on one overnight bike tour and so far, I’ve been pleased.  Time will tell as I use it more.  I should get a chance to use it this weekend as I take off for another short tour up in Iowa.

Trek FX 3 1500 Mile Review

Is it a fitness, hybrid, or touring bike?  The Trek FX3 for me has become the perfect hybrid of fitness, touring, and bikepacking.

As I’ve continued to put miles on the Trek FX 3, I’ve found that it meets the needs of a lightweight touring bike for me as well.  At first, the bike was just for fitness, but as my buddy kept suggesting that we do a bike trip, the thought of turning it into a touring bike began to enter my mind.  However, I didn’t want this to become a heavy laden classic touring bicycle, I wanted a hybrid of both bikepacking and touring that would allow me to still take advantage of the light weight design of the FX 3.

Enter my assembly of what I have currently.  Here is a short video of my current setup and the pieces I’m using.  I hope you enjoy.

Trekking – Butterfly Bars

Handlebars.  They are almost as controversial as anchors among sailors haha.  Everyone has their favorite and what works best for them.  When it comes to hand positions and being able to switch up your hands, trekking bars are arguably one of the more flexible that still give you the ability to have a moderately upright riding position.

While I’ve not made the switch, my buddy Jerry has been using them now for some time, and I thought it would be a great time to do a little review of his experiences.  We dive into why he decided to make the switch, the pros and cons, and get a peak at his particular setup.

Trekking bars – Click here for an example