Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road is an online cycling magazine. It is intended for writers and riders who want to share their on the road cycling stories and pictures. Submissions that follow our guideline are gratefully appreciated. See the appropriate page in the site menu. Will publish the best of the best each month. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @PicosCycling.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road August 2014 Vol. 2 No. 8

Jack and I were both crazy busy this month. In spite of that and a nightmare problem with getting pictures to post correctly on the articles, August 2014 is published on time.

Changes to my personal schedule should allow me to take advantage of a few ideas I've had for our webzine. We are excited about the possibilities.

In This Issue
(Click on the titles to view)

June Bug In My Eye

What happens when you're roaring down a hill on your bike and you take a June Bug in the eye? I found out the hard way. Why I wear shades while riding and keep my mouth shut riding past swamps.

Spending the Night in My Hennessy Hammock

Jack's current tour housing of choice. Here is a review of the product after some field testing.

Difficult Century

Most of my century rides have been enjoyable at some level. This one was unplanned without preparation and wasn't much fun.

Our first webzine book review. Jack reviews Tom Allen's book. We will likely do more cycling book reviews in the future. I think they can be very helpful to both beginning and experienced rider.

Recently a cycling friend at work came out at the end of his shift to find the bike rack empty. Someone stole his ride. I take the time to discuss the ins and outs of bicycle locks.

Looking forward to another month of cycling and writing. Still hoping to get regular material from other writers but we are doing well. Until next month pedal on!

June Bug In My Eye

File:June bug in nature.JPG

June Bug Photo credit: Oecherbaer Wikimedia Commons

By Pico Triano

Love struck and running hot down a long clear downhill stretch of road. Whether I was paying close attention or not, I don’t think I could have seen this one coming. My girlfriend at the time was staying with an elderly woman in Altadena, California. We were both attending college in Pasadena where I stayed in a men’s dormitory. We’d talked pretty late in that Sunday evening and I hopped on my bike and headed home from her place so as not to droop too badly in class the next morning.

Her abode was well up the base of Mount Wilson and I chose to make my decent on Lake Street. Four lanes wide with almost no hint of traffic and nothing to slow me down, I flew down that hill until just a little past Charles S. Farnsworth Park. Somewhere out of the night gloom a June bug appeared and hit me hard in the right eye. From sighting to impact I had time to blink and that was it. Through the fierce pain, my eye streaming tears, I thought for sure I was going down hard. I needed all four of those lanes just to stay on the bike. Whether a miracle or just plain desperation, I managed to regain control and pull over to recover. While it smarted something fierce, I was lucky. Ripping down a hill at that speed, I could have suffered a detached retina. I don’t bruise easily though so I didn’t even go to class the next day with a black eye.

The above example is just one way insects can be an issue for cyclists. Since my June bug experience I usually ride wearing sunglasses or cycling goggles. No bug at any speed in the eye is fun. They don’t taste very good either. While flying down a hill or riding past a swamp, it’s best to keep your mouth shut unless of course you need the protein.

While you’re riding stinging and biting insects usually aren’t an issue. They either can’t keep up or can’t hang on long enough to cause any worries. There are exceptions though. I did get a yellow jacket caught between my fingers once and it stung me before I mashed it to a paste. The problems happen when you stop. A lot of biting insects are attracted to sweat and you’ll have plenty of that.

On day trips or short jaunts you don’t usually have to plan much for those carnivorous little beasties. On a tour though it is a different story. It’s best to have some kind of insect repellent. Even if you have a good tent to sleep in you’ll need some protection while you set it up. I remember ribbing a friend who came back from a weekend tour just covered with bites.

Spending the Night in My Hennessy Hammock

I've finally bitten the bullet and bought a camping hammock. I elected to purchase a Hennessy
Scout Classic from Hennessy Hammocks in the US, they're a great company with a long­standing reputation of making great hammocks. They even graciously offered me their "Prodeal" discount of 50% when I told them about my upcoming cycling tour across Canada.

The Scout Classic that I have chosen is Hennessy's "original, non­asymmetrical model", since
Hennessy sell their hammocks based upon a certain height and weight limit, I was easily able to
select the right hammock for me ­ and boy, did I get it right! The Scout Classic has a weight limit
of 150lbs, and a height limit of 5'8" tall. Since I'm around 125lbs and 5'6", that was the one for

I was initially very sceptical of hammocks ­ in general, as shelters, and especially as permanent
shelters that could be used over the long­haul, on an expedition such as my own. My father
purchased his Hennessy Hammock in late 2013, and immediately fell in love with it, after literally
his first night of sleeping in it... I also tried to sleep in it, but found it to be far too uncomfortable
and discarded the hammock as the shelter I would call my 'home' next year.

But, after many discussions with my father, and a friend of mine who also has a hammock ­
although he has an ENO hammock from another American company, Eagle's Nest Outfitters. And both of their arguments were persuasive enough for me ­ and they made total sense. And so, I contacted
Hennessy Hammocks, having decided against buying an ENO, their staff were most helpful and I
was able to quickly ascertain which hammock would be best for me. I ordered and paid for it,
and it was shipped with utmost expediency to my door.

The Scout Classic comes with attached mosquito netting, a detachable rain fly, support ropes,
and a stuff­sack. Hennessy also provides, as standard, two 42" webbing straps to hang your
hammock in the trees, and an extra­large set of snakeskins, which slide over your hammock
when you break camp (see pictures below).

When it comes to hanging your hammock between two trees, many will use the ropes that
comes with the hammock, which is fine. But, I chose to use an alternative system which allows
for far greater adaptability and adjustment. This hanging system uses two carabiners that I
purchased off Ebay and "Atlas" slap­straps from Eagles Nest Outfitters ­ these are tree­hugging
straps provide you with fifteen adjustment loops per­strap. They are sold as a pair and cost me
$30 (before shipping), directly from ENO themselves ­ although they can be found on Ebay.

Using the carabiners and slap straps, I'm able to put up my hammock in about five minutes, you
simply put your strap around a tree, sliding the one loop at the end, through one of the other
loops and pull ­ that's one strap in place, do the same for the other tree ­ you then attach your
slip your carabiners through the roped loop on both ends of your hammock ­ attach each
carabiner to a loop in your slap straps, depending on how far apart your trees are (there are thirty
to choose from, so adaptation and adjustment isn't a problem).

After setting it up, I simply left it hanging in the snakeskins until dark, before swinging in, laying
back and relaxing before slipping into a deep slumber, only to be woken by the occasional car
zooming past ­ you know those ones which lead you to believe that the driver is compensating
for something...

I was amazed, and pleasantly surprised by just how comfortable the Hennessy was, both to
sleep in, and to lounge around in. The mosquito netting didn't allow for a single mosquito to break
through and begin it's raid on my bloodstream, I was kept warm, comfortable, and

I did take the hammock away again, this time for a weekend to a far more beautiful and
picturesque location than my back garden, I set it up and managed to sleep for a while in it the
last night that I was there.

This is without doubt the shelter that I'll be taking with me on next year's cross country tour.
Brilliant work, Hennessy Hammocks!

About the Author

Jack Hawkins is a freelance travel writer and touring cyclist. Originally from the UK, he swapped one seaside town for another in 2006, and has been living in Canada for eight years. Jack has always had a fondness for writing and after graduating from Bonar Law Memorial High School in Rexton, Jack decided to pursue a freelance writing career, and implemented his love of cycling into his work shortly after a chance-meeting in 2013 with a fellow Englishman who had cycled across Canada.

Jack currently writes for this webzine, but is also a monthly contributor Mike's Bike Shop's E-Magazine, "The Rider's Edge". He recently worked on and published a series of thirty-one articles for revered bicycle touring guru, Darren Alff, for his website: http://gobicycletouring.com/. Jack also writes articles, journals, gear reviews, and interview pieces for his own website - http://jackonabike.ca/.

Difficult Century

By Pico Triano

For me, these were the worst circumstances for starting and completing a century ride. At the time I didn’t see any other choice. At least I was healthy and rested.

I arrived in Cornwall, Ontario on a quiet Sunday evening with my bicycle, some basic camping gear and my small personal woodworking toolbox. I would be starting a new job on Monday. By the end of the week I hoped to have found an apartment. No rush on the apartment, I’ve lived for extended periods in my camping gear before.

Trouble started when I went to a campsite I had prepared in advance on an earlier visit. Big lesson learned here. Don’t ever make a trail to a wilderness campsite just out of sight near a roadway or in this case a recreational trail. I do not understand why some people can’t walk another two blocks to use proper bathroom facilities. My campsite had standing puddles of urine. My campfire ring had just given them something to shoot at. The smell can well be imagined.

This forced me to improvise. I ended up sleeping more in the open than planned and that night someone stole a couple of my packs. Only time in all my cycling that has ever happened.

In the morning, I went to my new job where they apologized for not being able to get through to me, but the job had fallen through. Could things get any worse?

I called my fiancé in Quebec and asked her what she thought I should do. After some discussion we decided I would head for her place in Farnham, Quebec more than a hundred miles away; no warm up preparation and minus a few items of important equipment.

By the time that was all decided the day was well wasted. I made my way closer to my objective. My campsite for that night was way off the road, deep in a wildlife conservation area still under construction. Only disturbance that night were the ducks laughing at me all night.

The following day I crossed the St. Lawrence River at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and made my way across the eastern townships. It was more tiring that I was used to but that wasn’t the worst part. The worst was blowing a tire and realizing that my patch kit was in one of the packs that were stolen. I had some rubber cement and a patch but I didn’t have tire irons. I improvised using the handles of my eating utensils. Thankfully I succeeded. Later I tried it again just for fun and put several holes in my tire tube. Miracles do happen.

I arrived in Farnham exhausted. I got to sleep in the room next to my fiance’s with my future mother-in-law patrolling outside my door. It all worked out. I found work, got married and lived happily ever after.