Swift Campout ft. Surly Krampus- Video

I decided to do a little S24O bike packing trip on ye olde Surly Krampus and my set of Blackburn Elite Outpost bags. I got to my destination and come night fall, let’s just say it wasn’t an ideal sleeping situation. Wicked high winds and a few too many passing cars and motorcycles made it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Usually I would’ve just stuck around, but I had work the following day and homework due as well.

I made the decision to do a late night ride back home, so we’ll say I took a few hour nap before heading home 😉 Spoiler, I know…still enjoy the video though if you want to see what gear I used!

#eatwellbikeoften

Riding to Indian Lake County Park- Video


I’ve had a few days off between my old job ending and my new job starting. I decided to do a ride that I’ve started several times, but never completed because honestly it was a pretty boring route to ride solo. Thankfully my old co-worker Simone had reached out to see if I was riding yesterday and she joined me for the 40 mile loop to a local outdoor hot spot, Indian Lake County Park.

The route goes up the Highway 12 bike path which goes North of Madison up towards Sauk City. The trail itself terminates before you actually reach Sauk City, which is a bit sad. I’m hoping more land easements will come to connect the entire route to make it more direct. The nice thing about the trail is it is a great way to access some beautiful state natural areas and parks such as Devil’s Lake State Park, Indian Lake, Pafrey’s Glen, and the Merrimac Ferry with its quaint views.

We took the Highway 12 trail up to its end on Raul road, which we found was named something different than what was on our map. Raul took us across Highway 12 and around to Matz road, which spit us out right on Highway 19 across from Indian Lake County Park!

The park was absolutely packed when we arrived, no surprise there as it seems people are finally rediscovering the outdoors thanks to the Covid 19 pandemic. A bit frustrating as someone who enjoyed these places prior to the pandemic, but happy that it will hopefully encourage the state to invest in more natural areas and do some upgrades to some places that need a serious face lift.

The restrooms were open thankfully, so we took a snack/bathroom break, filled our water bottles, and rolled back home. On the way home we stopped into my new home shop Wheel and Sprocket. I needed some more nutrition and ended up picking up some Floyd’s of Leadville CBD recovery gummies as well as some new flavors of Stroopwafels from GU. It also gave me an opportunity to look around the shop and get familiar with some of the products we carry and see how busy the shop was still on the weekends.

I ended my ride in a local park where I shot a good portion of a sort of chat to the camera style vlog. I do a little taste test of the snacks I picked up, talk a bit about life, and a little bit about some of the new gear I’ve been trying out. I’m looking to experiment more with this style of video to add a bit more of my personality versus just talking about a product. We’ll see if I can keep up a regular schedule. It may be tough with starting the new job and I start a new Marketing course through my school this week as well.

Next weekend I am planning on doing a sub 24 hour overnight as a part of the annual Swift Industries Campout event. Almost all of the state parks are booked up, but know from past excursions that if you bike or hike into a state park, you can’t really be turned away. The other option would be to just stealth camp somewhere in the area, which shouldn’t be too difficult as it gets darker early and I’m planning on testing out my bivy set up and bringing my hammock as a back up.

Assuming the weather cooperates, I’ll try to capture that adventure on camera as well!

As always thank you for reading, watching, and supporting the site. Stay safe and sane and of course…EAT WELL, BIKE OFTEN!

Cassandra

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One Chapter Closes & Another Begins!

I’ve been waiting to make this announcement as I wanted to respect my current employer, Fitchburg Cycles. Tomorrow is my last official day there though and I feel it’s time for me to update those who give a care on where I’ll be headed!

I’ll be joining the team at Wheel & Sprocket Middleton as a Store Manager. I’m nervous and excited for the new opportunity. I’ve spent a cumulative nearly four years working with Edwin and the folx at Fitchburg Cycles. I considered it my home shop, even when I wasn’t physically in the shop working. I’ve held many events there, took on a lot of responsibilities that kept the shop running (purchasing, social media management, and running the sales floor), and learned so much from my time at the shop. It was a bit of a revolving door of employees during my four years there, but will for sure miss my most recent co-workers.

It will be a bittersweet ending of my time there, but I know that it was time for me to move on. For those who aren’t familiar with Wheel & Sprocket, they are a Midwestern regional chain that was founded in 1973. Chris Kegel was the longtime president of the company until he sadly passed away in 2017. I had the pleasure of working with Chris during my time at Saris managing the silent auction and assisting in planning the annual Saris Gala. I also had ties to Chris and his family during my time as a board member for the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation.

Throughout my time at Saris and the Bike Fed I had met Chris’s daughters  Amelia and Tessa as well as his sons Noel and Julian. Noel has taken over as president of the company while Amelia heads up the events and marketing. They’ve grown as a company within the last few years with expanding to new markets such as Middleton and Evanston, IL. They’ve also been expanding and updating their locations in and around the greater Milwaukee area, making for clean and modern looking shops.

It’s nice knowing that while they are a “chain store” that they are still owned and run by the Kegel family. Wheel has a great reputation outside of their shops for giving back to the community. They sponsor a number of local charity rides, started the Chris Kegel foundation which provides funding for cycling infrastructure projects, and they donate funds to a lot of cycling non-profits. Their ride support is always a welcome site when rolling up to a cycling event as they always have great mechanical support.

My hope is once our world gets back to normal after COVID that I’ll be able to join an event or two as it’s always something I’ve enjoyed while working in bike shops.

chriskegelfoundation.org

Another aspect I’m excited about with heading to a new shop is I get to work with some new brands. I have a lot of love and respect for the brands I worked with at Fitchburg Cycles, but I will get to now sell brands like Salsa and All-City who make some fun bikes and products I’ve been a fan of for many years.

I’ll still get the opportunity to sell Liv and Giant, which is exciting and they are wonderful bike brands. Some other brands that will be new for me to sell include Ortlieb (some of the nicest pannier and bike packing gear on the market), Kuat racks, Terra Trike, Tern, Yuba, Felt, and another 4 lettered brand that lots of people know. I shall not name them at this time due to their association with the police bike issue, so I’d just rather not go there. I’m trying this whole if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It gets me into a little less trouble, but for those who know me…I’m pretty candid about my thoughts and opinions on things.

The opportunity is awesome and I’m excited to getting my feet wet with learning their systems, the new products, the new brands, and meeting a new customer base! I know some of my existing regulars will likely come see me at the new shop and I look forward to exposing them to some new offerings as well.

I don’t know that I’d write much about my day to day job as I tend to like to just talk about my bike, reviewing products, and the rides I’m doing. If anything cool pops up though I’ll be sure to share about it.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading and as always EAT WELL, BIKE OFTEN!

Cassandra

Bike Repair Resources- Front Derailleur Adjustment

What?! Another blog entry so quickly? I know, it’s amazing and also a thing called scheduling. I’m trying it out, so don’t think I’m just going to start posting on here every day or something like that 😉

Alright, so we talked about rear derailleurs in my last post. Rear derailleurs seem to be the majority of the cause of shifting issues due to the whole pesky derailleur hanger and the fact that rear wheels seem to get a lot of things caught in them. Also, bikes tip over pretty easily or get placed on their drive-sides way too often in transport.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a fair share of front derailleur issues. Ever have a chain fall off mid shift or mid ride? Yeah, that was likely your front derailleur misbehaving. Those pesky buggers are what keep the chain from going too far inside or outside on the crank’s chain rings. There’s also this new way that Shimano has you setting up much of the newer road and mountain bike front derailleurs that make mechanics want to tear their hair out when doing new bike assemblies or doing a drive train update on a bike.

Ever try to place a 1cm square piece of metal with an even smaller piece of double-sided tape on the back of it on a very specific spot on a bike frame in a very tight spot? Yeah, it sucks. I have tiny hands and I still have to use a tweezers, a 2mm hex wrench, and sacrifice a gallon of cold brew to the cycling gods to hope I don’t drop the damn thing for the 1000th time.

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The bane of every bike mechanic’s existence.

Needless to say front derailleurs are not my favorite. LONG LIVE 1x! Well, unless you live in an area with mountains or in the Driftless region of Wisconsin like I do, then you learn to love your double chain rings, no matter how many times you swore when you were assembling your new bike.

Luckily I’m not the one doing the educating on how to set up a front derailleur, I’ll leave that up to our friends at Park Tool and trusty Calvin. The man I’ve had to utilize on many a tricky repair to get me out of the weeds.

This video goes over how to properly set up and adjust a front derailleur. I should advise that this video doesn’t go over the newer installation of the Shimano front derailleurs with its evil tiny metal squares for frame protection, but they do have a more in depth guide that they link to in this video if you are in need.

Hopefully this will help you in order to keep your chain from falling off mid ride or at least get you to ride safely until you can bring your bike to your favorite mechanic for further diagnosis or repair.

I’ll keep posting resources like these for additional common bike issues that can be tackled by even the most novice of cyclists.

Derailleur adjustments and knowing how to do brake adjustments are great places to start in your D.I.Y. efforts to become a better bike mechanic. Stay tuned for more awesome resources on how to keep yourself riding!

Stay safe and sane everyone and…EAT WELL, BIKE OFTEN!

Bike Repair Resources- Rear Derailleur Adjustment

I’ve heard it thousands of times from patrons walking into my bike shop. “My gears are messed up.” or “I can’t shift into my ___ gear.” or “My chain shifted into my wheel.” Usually it’s some complaint about gears not working on the bike and the person not knowing what to look for, how to fix it, or even understanding how gears work on a bike.

I figured it would be a good time to share some of my favorite resources on how to do a little D.I.Y. maintenance to save riders from a trip to the bike shop or at least be able to do a quick adjustment while out on a ride until they can visit their favorite bike mechanic!

Park Tool has one of THE most comprehensive repair guides they print annually as well as an amazing YouTube channel that covers almost any problem a cyclist can come into contact with on a bike.

This particular video shows the famous Calvin of Park Tool explaining in depth on how to properly set up and adjust a rear derailleur on a bike. The rear derailleur is in charge of moving the chain up and down the rear cassette or freewheel on a bike for the smaller, incremental gear changes that happen on a bike.

The shifter located on the right hand side (if you are located in the US at least) is what is connected to the derailleur via a long cable that is enclosed in a length of housing on the bike.

I’ll just go ahead and save you some reading and post a link to the video as it is incredibly helpful for the budding mechanic.

Part of me posting this is that I’ve been considering hosting one on work basic mechanic workshops this winter to encourage more women-trans-femme and BICPOC (black, indigenous, people of colour) folx to learn mechanical skills.

The cycling industry has traditionally only catered to cis-gendered white men, which has not only been represented in much of the cycling marketing, but also has been the primary base of employees found at bike shops.

The world is finally catching on that just as many women want to ride and that cycling is an activity that all folx can enjoy. Representation at the shop level is important and fosters a greater community of riders.

With the off-season rapidly approaching I hope to share more in this series and continue some of my reviews of mass produced cycling bags as I think it’s nice to have information out there on more commonly found products as there’s a lot of info on high priced-niche market bags.

Nothing wrong with those options, but not everyone has access to them! Stay tuned and I hope everyone is staying safe and sane.