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.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road February 2015 Vol. 3 No. 2

We started January stumbling out of the gate. It took an extra week to get our Internet connection restored. When we did though the month took right off. We destroyed our previous one month page view record and surpassed 1000 for the first time in our history. We did in fact top 1100. I don't believe it is a fluke either. We've been growing and improving steadily.

One change that I hope is noticed is the addition of Pico's Cycle Shop. There is a panel in the right hand column showing top selling products for cycling from Amazon. I'm not happy with how it is showing and will likely set up dedicated buttons for the store. If you look closely at the Page List you will see it added there as well. That will give you access to the full store where anything related to cycling available on Amazon can be accessed and purchased. That's what I want my readers to be able to get to easily. Right now I don't think getting there is intuitive enough. It is fully functional though so if you have some shopping to do for your cycling, enjoy yourself. We want the site to be as entertaining and useful to our readers as possible.

In This Issue

(Click the links or just scroll down)

I Want to See the World

Iohan is back this winter. Jack Hawkins reviews his latest tour. There are links to Iohan's film of the tour as well. It is pretty incredible and worth watching. This in my mind is not to be missed. I embedded the video links at the end of the article. A new experience and I don't know that it looks that professional but the links are there. The content is what really matters.

It Begins

This is a continuation of my big tour story line. I talk about that first day on the road. It was more adventure filled than it was supposed to considering the preparation that went into it. I survived though and was under way.

Choosing a Touring Tent

Shelter while touring is a must. Here's some tips on how to chose the solution that's right for you, learned from cold hard experience.

Trudging Through the Snow

Being a young year round newspaper delivery boy out in the boon docks is not always easy, especially when the weather turns cold.

A Winter Cycling Microadventure

Andrew Hendrickson joins us this month to bring us a cold weather cycling story of his own. Great story with great pictures. Hopefully we'll be hearing more from Andrew in the future.

That's it for another month. Jack ran into some technical issues writing this month. Weather (we got clobbered by a blizzard) and car trouble got him separated from his subject material. Not everything this month could go easily.

Thanks to all our readers for a record month. We're hoping to continue earning your interest. We will continue to work hard to improve the quality of our product here. I wish we had the time to fix everything overnight. We continue to be a work in progress.

Until next month happy cycling!


I Want to See the World

By Jack Hawkins
Photos: Iohan Gueorguiev

Iohan Gueorguiev is a friend of mine on an extraordinary mission to cycle from Alaska, to
Argentina. The first part of Iohan’s journey, from the shore of the Arctic Ocean, to British
Columbia, is documented in a self-produced film entitled, “I Want To See The World: The

To first understand the journey, one must see this film! I have met Iohan in person and he is
truly a one-of-a-kind character. But even I cannot fully appreciate what he has done, until that
is, I watched this film.

Iohan uses a GoPro camera to film, a “selfie stick” of sorts to film while riding (a rather baffling
feat to someone like myself, who couldn’t balance an orange on a flat surface). The quality of
the camera is extraordinary, and therefore the quality of the images is also extraordinary. But,
the majority of the hard work comes from Director, Producer and Cameraman (as well as
intrepid cyclist), Iohan. He chooses his shots well, his timing for pulling out the camera and
pressing the record button is impeccable.

Iohan’s camera skills are what make the film, and his ability to pedal and film at the same time
is incredible. It adds so much to the film. During the first part of his journey, he is able to
capture every aspect of life in Northern Canada. From the brutality of the winter
storms, to riding on six feet of ice (while riding on the Ice Road in Tuktoyaktuk), to the
kindness and generosity displayed by the people of the North. He is also able to capture
some truly beautiful scenery. A side of the North often unseen and untouched by the rest of
the world.

He meets plenty of interesting characters along the way, from ice road truckers who are
astounded at the journey he’s taking, to everyday families when he reaches British Columbia.
Iohan worked for the summer planting trees in Prince George, B.C. During his time there, he made
plenty of new friends, worked hard and when he got the chance to take a ten-day break in the
middle of summer, where did he go? The open road, of course.

He decided to take a ten day siesta from Lillooet, to Bella Coola and back. And this is perhaps
the most stunning part of his trip (thus far) that’s been captured in terms of the surreal, and
stunning scenery. Once again, the GoPro shines as a masterpiece of film-capturing-kit, but
Iohan chooses the moments to capture perfectly. Capturing the true beauty of British
Columbia, and interactions with animals, like when he says, “Hi.” to a huge grizzly bear, or
catches cattle and deer in full flight, running wild and free. Or chance meetings with a fox on
the road

The movie is filled with some delightful moments of generosity, some truly stunning moments
where you cannot help but wish you were there too, and some moments of utter hilarity,
where you are literally laughing out loud. For example, Iohan getting stuck in the snow on a
snowmobile, his encounters with wildlife, and good spirited humour at the direst of

The movie’s soundtrack is a soft, ballad-esque one, featuring songs mainly comprised of soft
vocals, and an acoustic guitar. The songs themselves come from several different artists,
although several songs featured are from fellow round-he-world cyclist, Kevin Downey.
Whose a singer/songwriter that has just completed his own round-the world trip.

The movie ends with this telling quote from Iohan:

“Just like the end of a movie, I find myself somewhere on a sandy beach, staring at the
sunset. But this isn’t over. It’s just the start. I am not stopping in Argentina, I’ll be going around
the world. Somebody asked me, ‘why am I doing this?’ I couldn’t come up with an answer. I
still don’t know why. But I loved every kilometre of it. The highs and the lows, the sunshine,
and the storm. The solitude, the unknown, and the absurdity of it all. I have a little bit of
ignorance, naivete, and stubbornness that have always put me in difficult situations, but I
know that things will always work out in the end. Maybe one day they won’t. But, until then,
my goal is to see the world, my motivation ­ the kindness of strangers, and the beauty of the
wild. And my home is on the open road.”

The credits roll, following a shot of the Maptia Manifesto. Iohan places the website URLs for
his chosen charity, and the logos of the companies that have helped him to make the journey
a reality. And boy, am I glad they did.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. 11/10, two thumbs way up. And I wish Iohan nothing but the
best on the rest of his journey, which rumour has it, will continue later this year.

Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2 of the film.

It Begins

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano and Dale Coker

The last week before actually leaving for my bike tour was a blur. I had to vacate my dorm room at the college because all summer students were required to leave campus in preparation for the new fall semester. I ended up camping out on my landscape supervisor's couch for almost a week before leaving.

I also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in a small ceremony that part of my family attended. My dad had rented a small U-haul trailer to transport all my stuff that wasn't coming with me on the bike. I had to pack all that stuff and did a lousy job of it. I heard about that from my mom for quite awhile after my return home.

I'd already done two dress rehearsals for the first day of riding. I knew the route by heart. I had a planned campsite. Everything I needed along the route, I knew exactly where to get it. What could possibly go wrong?

Well for starters I could start later than I planned. I left the South Marengo apartments where Dale my supervisor lived on time and rolled over to the college student centre to say goodbye to a few friends. Saying goodbye ain't easy especially since we were from all over the world and I might never see some of them again. I talked to Darryl one of my best friends at college for a bit before making myself leave.

Riding conditions were not bad at all and some of the time got made up. I elected to walk up part of the Santa Susanna Pass because I didn't want to exhaust myself on the first day out. In spite of the head wind, I figured to make my goal a little after dark. Not ideal but not major problem.

The route started in Pasadena, California and basically cut straight west to the Pacific Ocean. La Canada, La Crescenta, Sun Valley, San Fernando, Simi Valley, Saticoy and Ventura would all be along my route. My objective for the day was a rest area part way between Ventura and Carpenteria. I didn't make it.

Just as it got dark I got a flat tire three or four miles short of my goal. This was unexpected because I had installed Mr. Tuffy tube protectors in the spring and hadn't had a flat since. I had no light (didn't plan to do anything in the dark) and as a result I couldn't repair it. I walked my load until I found a secluded corner I could sack out for the night.

Not a good campsite. The ground was too hard to put stakes in so my pup tent ended up being used as a ground sheet for me and my sleeping bag. My campsite was also on or near a large ant colony. Fortunately these were not biting ants. One of the first ones I discover though crawled into my ear. I slapped the side of my head stupidly trying to encourage him to leave. I just confused the little guy and I was asleep before he scrabbled his way back out. I had a miserable night's sleep.

First thing I did at the crack of dawn was repair my tire. A big thorn had holed the tube just beside the puncture resistant barrier. I thought those were a terrific idea because it reduced flats to almost zero. Part of me does understand the redneck urge to throw glass bottles out of fast moving cars hoping to see them explode into a million shards against something hard. The cyclist in me fumes about that idiocy. Some places I've toured I got flats at a rate of three a day. It gets old really fast.

From there I cycled to that original objective and ate my breakfast. I survived the first day on the road.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Choosing a Touring Tent

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

The first tent I ever took bikepacking, I bought with my own money as a teenager. At that time no one was taking my cycling ambitions seriously and I don't think my family was in a position to give me sound advice on what to buy anyway. It ended up serving me for years even though in many ways it was hopelessly inadequate. The price was right though. Considering it only set me back about twenty dollars, I got a lot of mileage out of it. Using it, taught me a lot of lessons, the hard way.

This article isn't aimed at selling you a specific brand or model tent. I think it is more useful to talk about broad consideration and let the reader choose what will work for them. Everyone has different needs.

1)  First point I'll make is non-negotiable. If a tent cannot be erected without sticking tent pegs in the ground avoid it. This was the biggest failing of the tent I used for so many years. More often than not the ground was too hard or rocky for the tent pegs to penetrate without bending or breaking. When the ground was really soft and it got windy out, I would end up wrapped in my collapsed tent. A lot of nights my tent was really just a glorified ground sheet, an extra layer for the rain to soak through before I started getting wet. Trust me on this one. Get a pop-up or I'll have to tell you, “I told you so,” when you figure this out on your own.

2)  How many people will be using this tent? Riding solo is simpler than riding with a group. How much space do you need to be comfortable? How close together are you willing to sleep with your possibly sweaty tentmates (baby wipes are a great invention, when bathing, for whatever reason, isn't an option)? Do you want a vestibule where your bike can sleep inside as well? There are a lot of things to consider when determining the size and layout of the tent that will be right for you. I would consider a wide variety of tents before settling on the right one.

3)  How much weight can you carry? This is always a consideration when touring by bicycle. My recommendation is to choose a tent that is as light as possible and still fulfils your minimum needs. If you're looking for big time luxury, stay in a motel.

4)  One final consideration is quality. My little tent was a lot tougher than I expected it to be for the price. On the other hand I've used tents that were done in one season. Check the reputation of the manufacturer and try to find out as much as you can about the model you want to buy. With the Internet it is easy to find people with the experience and knowledge you need to make a good choice.

There are other on the road housing options. Some riders will travel with a credit card and carry next to nothing in the way of equipment. I've done a one week tour where I never set my tent up once. I stayed with friends or motel rooms for the entire trip.

Hammocks are a viable option although there are places where you might have trouble finding something adequate to tie to. They are a comfortable option. There are also all weather sleeping bags that are meant for use outdoors in the weather. They're expensive but you don't have to set them up.

However you choose. I hope this article has been useful and you have an enjoyable tour whenever you happen to be travelling.

Trudging Through the Snow

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

When I was eleven years old, I got a newspaper route and started making a little bit of money. I did it for two years and my route was not for the faint of heart. Part of the route was in the village I grew up in but extended out into the outlying area. I went on Google maps and calculated my route out at approximately seven kilometres.

During the spring, summer and fall I rode my bicycle every single day except for a few really bad weather days where my dad gave me a lift. That was a very rare occurrence. Those were the easy days. The biggest challenge was out running some of the local dogs. There was this old recluse living along my route who had three dogs (at least) that he controlled with a club. I wish that was an exaggeration.

Winter is when things got difficult. I rode my bike whenever physically possible. It took forever on foot and I dreaded the days that I had to do that because I'd get home late and fending off those mutts was a bigger challenge. I started carrying a big thick stick when I had to walk through there.

I remember poking snow and ice clogging between my wheel and the fenders with another stick. One cool thing was being able to use snow drifts as bicycle stands. Often didn't have to lean my bike up against anything. I also remember getting cold and tired.

That being said it wasn't all that bad. I built stamina that allowed me to play competitive sports after that. Something I don't think I would have enjoyed as much. I still ride in the winter to save money on gas when I can and to get exercise. Winter riding is tough but it isn't the impossible feat of masochism most non-winter cyclists think it is.  

A Winter Cycling Microadventure

By Andrew Hendrickson
Photos: Andrew Hendrickson
I was itching to do something—itching for the road. Being confined at a school 3,000 miles from home just wasn’t doing it for me. So what would be better than a weekend bike trip? 
My friends… Ah, they don’t understand. “Why would you do this?” “You’re crazy!” “It’s cold, man!” Sorry, I gotta go.
I look at the map and pick out a spot. The top of a mountain—how cool is that? Too cold? I don’t care. I’ve just gotta go. It’s only 35 miles away; I should have no problem making it in a day.
And so I set off. Oh, the joy of being out on the open road again, with the sun at your face, and your cares to the wind! This… This is life. 
I make my first discovery of the weekend: ear warmers not only keep your ears warm, but also reduce wind noise, better enabling you to hear traffic. Hmm… That might be helpful. I keep wearing them, even as I warm up, taking off other layers to compensate.
I begin to tire. I stop to eat. Can I still make it to my destination on time? It’s a toss-up. A straight 50/50, as I see it. Better keep peddling.
Fortunately, this part of Virginia is relatively flat, and I’m making good time. Peddling up, speeding down.
Ah, the mountain. Hmm… I have a couple hours till sundown, but only six miles left. Can I make it?
I push on, now walking my bike. The road is steep. I’m exhausted. But exhaustion is fun when it comes after work.

The road is steep. I push on. I’m exhausted. Finally! I’m past pavement! Yes! I’m finally in the "wilderness."
I’m exhausted. I push on. This is one of the steepest roads I’ve ever surmounted. But I’m making progress, right? I’m almost there?
There’s no way I’ll make it. I’ll push on for one more hour. 
Somewhere to camp. Where…can…I camp…? Where…can…?
The road…no…flat…camp…
Yes! An abandoned side road!
I’m 4 miles from the top. I set up camp. Well, I’ll finish off this mountain tomorrow. Hey, why not have a campfire?
I learn that potatoes are hard to bake on a fire without foil, and I don’t have the patience to learn correctly. Ah, well, a half-baked potato never killed anyone. 

Fires are wonderful, but I must sleep.
I wake up slowly. It was a little cool last night, but not too cold. I was fine, but if I go up higher I might need more protection against the cold. Not to fear: I have warm pants I've not worn yet. 
I’m in no hurry. I eat poorly cooked lentil soup. I’m the world’s greatest cook, can’t you see? Will I have enough water to get me through the weekend? I’ve used half of it already, and I’m barely a third of the way into my weekend. 
I hit the road. I’m in no hurry. I’ve only got 4 miles to go and all afternoon to do it.
Man, this hill…will make a person breathe. This…hill will… Is it…maybe… possible…today…not…make…top…?
Even pickups crawl past. Hey, I wonder… Could I catch a ride? 

He stops. “Wan’ a lif’?” “Sure, if you don’t mind!” “Wan’ a col’ beer?” “No, thanks.”
I get in. Glorious bliss. To sit in a vehicle!
He tells me about the place. There used to be 40 families up here, including himself. But the roads are a pain in winter. Two people live up here now. The rest of the houses, a church, and a school were burned down over time. By hippies? Not likely.
In no time, we’ve covered three and a half miles, saving me as many hours. The road ends. We unload. I thank him. He wishes me well. Just a quick three quarters of a mile, and I will have made it! Finally, I’ve got time. No rush.
I’ve gained 2,300 feet of altitude on this trip already, with only 300 left to go. I can do this!
After a quarter mile, the road levels off. Finally I can ride again!
The air is colder. I put on more layers. 
Finally, I see my destination. I’ve arrived! 

Relief. I write a note. I scout out the place. Cool! There’s actually a high-volume spring here! My weekend has been saved. Time to relax and take it easy.
I’m getting cold. I put on every layer I’ve got. A hat, ear warmers, my light jacket with a hood, a down vest, a wool shirt, a long-sleeved cotton shirt, a poly t-shirt, gloves, jeans, insulated pants, socks, shoes. I make another discovery—my watchband is so large it can be worn overtop of my shirt/jacket complex. 
I’m getting cold. Man, this is concerning. The sun doesn’t even go down for over an hour. How cold will it get? Will I be able to survive the night?
I frantically begin running about collecting firewood. Everything is wet. Nothing lying on the ground will burn. At least I’m not freezing now.
I build up a pile. I pour gas on it. I light it. It burns…for a moment. It goes out. I put more fuel on and relight it. Now I’m really getting worried. There’s not enough fuel to start a fire in the morning. I must get this to burn! 

Frantically, I do everything I can to get it going. I gather dry weeds. They burn quickly. They burn, b! ut how can I get the large stuff burning?
I prod the fire. I add small fuel. I run and grab more. It’s intense. I must get this fire burning!
Finally, it’s going. 
Wait… Has the larger stuff caught? Will it go out again?
Back at it. 
Ok, finally. I’ve done what I can. It’s burning. It should be alright. I’m warm. I can relax. 
You know, if I can’t get a fire burning in the morning, what in the world will I do to keep from freezing up here? What if it’s too cold? Hot rocks? Worth a try... Hot water? Way better. 
Good thing I have a spring. 
I boil some water. I pour it in my military-grade Camelbak. I’m glad I have good leather gloves; the scalding water just runs off my hands without effect. 

I boil more water. I fill up my second Camelbak. I start to suck out the excess air, quickly discovering that the plastic fumes burn my mouth. No way I’ll drink that water… I put them inside my sleeping bag.
I boil more water. I top off my Camelbaks, as I’d spilled so much.
I boil more water. I secure the lid of my pot and add it to my collection. 
Crawling into bed, I discover my feet are almost too warm. Almost. Eventually I drift off to sleep, with a rock for a pillow. 
I wake up dreaming I am in a sauna. I’m beginning to feel the cold, though I’m not cold yet. The water was boiled over 8 hours ago, so it’s now barely warm—but not cold. The temperature outside is around 25*F (-4*C). It’s windy, but I’m sheltered from the wind. I go back to sleep. I’m in no hurry. I can take it easy just a little longer.
I get out of bed and am suddenly too cold to do anything. Only one solution—I run to the top of the mountain, half a mile from here, and 300 feet higher altitude.
The top is windy, cold, and uninspiring. But it’s the top! It’s taken me 3 days to get here, but here I am!
I go back, I pack up, and I head down the mountain. Do I have enough time?

Flying down at 10-20x my speed of ascent, I quickly pass my campsite from the night before last. 
It's warm down below, and I'm soon removing every layer of clothing I can without losing decency. 
Ah, the exhilaration of a shared narrow road. Just don't get into a wreck over me, ok?
Traffic is heavier than I remember, which bothers me. 
So lovely. So charming. The quiet country road, the almost busy country highway. I'm in love. 
I'm making good time. I get a shirt caught in my chain. Guess I should have secured it better. I meet a Santa and elf giving out presents to random kids. 
Familiar sights. The cairns along the road, the Mennonite nursing home… I'm nearing my journey’s end. 
I'm back…with a solid hour to spare. 
I'm falling in love with the road again. With soreness. With cold. With exhaustion. With hunger. With discovery. With adventure.