Category Archives: Bikes & Cycling

Everything to do with bikes and cycling.

Using Bike Lights During Daytime? Why Cyclists Shouldn’t Be Shy About Flashing

Do you think bicycle headlights and taillights are just for night rides? Think again.

by Tamia Nelson | March 22, 2018
Originally published in different form on January 28, 2014

The months between the autumnal and vernal equinoxes are a time of short days and long shadows. This has important consequences for cyclists who venture onto public highways. The low winter sun poses the greatest danger. Late in a March day, an impatient motorist driving toward the fiery orb hanging just above the western horizon is sure to be all but blinded by the dazzling light. There’s almost no chance she’ll spot a cyclist in the road ahead of her in time to swerve or brake.

Are you feeling lucky today? It’s a question I often ask myself before pedaling away.

Of course, we cyclists are forced to rely on the kindness of strangers for our very survival all year round. Motorists who are alert, competent, and well-disposed pose few problems. But not every motorist embodies these happy qualities.

OK. What can cyclists do … Continue reading »

Devices and Desires Redux: The Facebook Follies

‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

by Farwell Forrest | March 19, 2018

A bitter harvest? It sure sounds like it. A swelling chorus of insiders are affirming what we’ve long suspected, that Facebook is harvesting the most intimate details of our (once) private lives and then turning a blind eye when their lovingly curated data is used to target political ads and influence the outcome of national elections. Facebook’s flacks deny this, of course. But maybe you don’t find their “hear no evil, see no evil” shtik convincing. (We certainly don’t.) Or maybe you’re simply tired of letting a bourse of billionaires decide what you should read and see and do. If so, why not “go commando”? Drop Facebook, leave tweeting to the birds, and start rediscovering the real world, in all its untidy, unfiltered splendor.

That’s where we come in. Tamia Nelson’s Outside and Back in the Same Boat are celebrations of freedom—freedom to go where YOU want, do what YOU want, and see what YOU want. Canoeing, cycling, hillwalking… … Continue reading »

A Clean Bike is a Happy Bike

Bikes are versatile beasts and will carry you through fine weather and foul. But they’ll protest if they’re not kept clean. A dirty bike—specifically, a dirty drivetrain—will eventually wear and give up the ghost. So, cleaning your faithful steed after each filthy ride will be rewarded with improved functioning and reliability for the long haul.

by Tamia Nelson | March 18, 2018
Originally published in different form on May 5, 2016

Bike Maintenance Article on

Ideally, bikes should be completely cleaned, checked, and lubed after every dirty ride, but in reality this isn’t always possible. Cleaning a bike is a time-consuming and messy job. When you return tired and hungry from a dirty ride, it’s too easy to roll the bike into the garage and forget about it. The trouble with this is that you remember quickly enough the next time you turn to your bike, usually when it’s inconvenient to give it a well-deserved cleaning. Maybe you spray the drivetrain with WD-40 or drip some lube over the rusty, grubby chain and ride away to the sound … Continue reading »

On Keeping a Journal: Fixing Images on the Emulsion of Memory

Alexander Mackenzie did it. So did Henry David Thoreau, Mina Hubbard, Raymond Patterson, and Sigurd Olson. And you can, as well. In fact, if you canoe or kayak—or if you just take an active interest in what’s going on in the world outside your door—you’d be foolish not to. Curious? Then read on. Tamia will tell you all you need to know about keeping a journal.

by Tamia Nelson | March 16, 2018
Originally published in different form on May 21, 2002

When Colin Fletcher smashed his only camera, far down a trail in the depths of the Grand Canyon, he cursed his luck. After all, he was walking through country he’d probably never visit again. Before long, however, his spirits had soared. He discovered that he’d escaped from the “tyranny” of photography. “Instead of stopping briefly to photograph and forget,” he later wrote, “I stood and stared, fixing truer images on the emulsion of memory.”

The emulsion of memory… It’s a wonderful turn of phrase, isn’t it? But there’s a problem. Unlike … Continue reading »

Nashbar’s Stand By Me: Compact, Inexpensive, and Durable

A bike stand simplifies routine maintenance like chain lubing and adjustments to the drivetrain. But not every cyclist wants a costly full-sized shop stand that takes up a lot of floor room. Is there any other option? Sure there is, and it will cost less than topping up your car’s gas tank.

by Tamia Nelson | March 5, 2018

A bike stand is a handy addition to any cyclist’s home tool kit, even if the most involved task you perform on your bicycle is to clean it and lube the drivetrain after sloppy rides. More ambitious home mechanics will find a stand handy for brake and derailleur adjustments, bottom bracket work, or any other task where it helps to have the rear wheel off the ground. And while a full-sized shop stand makes many jobs a lot easier, not everyone can devote floor space to a large stand, or pay what it costs for a competent model. There is an alternative, though. It’s small, capable, and cheap. I bought one back in 2008, and amazingly, it’s still available. … Continue reading »

Batteries Not Included: The Virtues of Simplicity

It might be April. The ground under the cedars is almost bare, the town roads are turbid rivers running between low dikes of salty slush, and a foraging blackbird is flashing scarlet epaulettes at anyone bold enough to approach him. It might be April. But it’s not. The snow will return. The New Model Climate may be making Canoe Country winters shorter than they used to be, but it hasn’t stopped the wheel of the year from spinning round. Winter will stay with us for a little while yet. And winter has lessons to teach us about our dependence on technology, as this tale from another time and place makes clear. So imagine there’s a winter storm headed your way. Because sooner or later, there will be.

by Farwell Forrest | February 23, 2018
Originally published in much different form on March 6, 2001

I s I write this, a major winter storm is threatening the mid-Atlantic coast. Some parts of the country, places where a couple of inches of snow usually bring traffic to … Continue reading »

Self-Reliance Revisited: Why Does the Slave Embrace His Chains?

Having explored the downsides of bucket lists in an earlier article and then waded into the murky waters of device-driven commercial media last week, Farwell now turns his attention to the devices themselves—and to the effect they’re having on how we experience our world. Do you think this doesn’t have anything to do with canoeing? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. That’s Farwell’s notion, anyway. Why not see what you think?

by Farwell Forrest | February 16, 2018

I don’t suppose that anyone reads Emerson anymore. I know I don’t. No, that’s not true. I didn’t. But I do now. And only now do I realize what I’ve been missing. My belated foray into the thickets of Transcendentalist literature began prosaically enough. I was chasing down the source of a quote I’d seen in The Complete Walker, and the search took me to one of Emerson’s most celebrated essays: “Self-Reliance.” I found the quote I was seeking in short order, but I also found a lot more—an exhaustive, eye-opening discourse on the worm … Continue reading »