On Sunday I ran from Bloomington, Indiana to Nashville, Indiana, had lunch with some friends and ran home– a 37 mile round-trip in an almost 44 year old body. Here are seven insights I learned from the experience.Continue reading Seven Lessons Learned from a 37 mile run
The Black Diamond Distance 8 and 15 packs recently came out. My first impression of the Distance 15 is that it could be a strong contender to de-throne the Osprey Daylite as a favorite run commuting pack. My first impression of the 8L was that it was obviously too small to hold a laptop and other stuff I need. I’m sending it back unopened.
About the Black Diamond Distance 8, I’ll briefly say this: It costs about the same as the Distance 15, it weighs about the same as the Distance 15, but it carries only about half as much. The Distance 15 comfortably handles with small or mostly empty loads. The Distance 8 is more of a single-use product while the Distance 15 while find users around town as well as on the trails.
When I’m packing two kids and myself on a cargo bike for our Mother’s Day Off bike camping trips, I often target the stove and tableware as equipment I can leave at home for a single overnight trip. The equipment can still fit with us on the Yuba Mundo, but simple is nice.
Here are some make-ahead, family-friendly recipes to save time and gear for camping trips.
These recipes and lots more tips and stories for family bike camping will be in my upcoming book Let’s Go Family Bike Camping. You can sign up to be notified when it’s released on the site.
Oatmeal Banana Bites
This recipes contains the primary ingredients I like to have for breakfast anyway– oatmeal and bananas– but in a more portable format. Although they are quite healthy, they look like cookies. So my daughter thinks they are a treat when she doesn’t otherwise like to have oatmeal. These took me about 15 minutes to put together and were ready in about 30 minutes from start to finish. I even managed to fit in making them after arriving home from work and before heading out for a quick overnight bike camping trip. The recipe comes from Dreena Burton’s Cookbook Plant-Powered Families, one the cookbooks we are using to find meals are kids enjoy that without eggs or dairy. The recipe is vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and oil-free!
- 1 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free certified oats for gluten-free option)
- 1 cup oat flour (use gluten-free certified oat flour for gluten-free option)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ – ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup pureed overripe banana (roughly 2 large bananas; see note)
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract or ½ –¾ teaspoon vanilla bean powder
- 3 tablespoons nondairy chocolate chips (optional, can substitute dried fruit; see note)
We don’t stock oat flour– I just whiz some rolled oats in our blender for a few seconds to create some.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sea salt, and nutmeg. Stir through until well combined.
- Add the banana, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips to the dry mixture, and stir through until combined. Using a cookie scoop, place 2-tablespoon mounds of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 13–14 minutes, until just firm to the touch and a light golden on top. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.
- Banana Note: Use an immersion blender and a deep cup to puree your bananas (this is easiest, but a blender or small food processor will also work). It produces a very liquefied mixture, not like what you can get through mashing. Idea: Try adding raisins, chopped dates, or chopped dried banana in place of the chips
Recipe yields enough for snacks and breakfast for a parent and one or two cycling children. For context, a normal adult oatmeal portion
would be about 1/2 cup of oats, and this recipe includes 4 times that.
Even Keel Trail Bars
These calorie-dense no-bake trail bars were designed for backpacking– packing the most amount of calories into the the least weight. They are also recipe my whole family enjoys. Consider these as a Clif-Bar replacement for mid-day snacks or even a meal replacement. Credit for this recipe goes to the hiker named “Bigfoot” who got the recipe from hiker “Even Keel” whose mother mailed him these bars on the trail. Thanks, mom. Search for “No-bake trail bars” to find more variations.
In my test the recipe made about 20 small bars, enough for our family our four to have each have two or three small bars for a breakfast, with eight bars left over for other snacks. For a two person single-overnight, consider cutting the recipe in half.
Our kids loved helping to make these. This increased their investment in trip and their excitement about adding the sweet, chocolately creations they helped make.
Beware the bars are a little sticky– probably not the best choice to eat straight out of a handlebar bag while riding!
- 1 cup Peanut Butter
- 1 cup Honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup finely chopped nuts (we tried pecans)
- ¼ cup wheat germ
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 4½ cups oatmeal
- Almonds for topping (optional)
- Mix together peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract in a large bowl
- Add remaining ingredients and mix them in.
- Lightly spray a pan with vegetable oil.
- Press mixed bars into pan
- Cut into bars
- Press almonds into the top of the bars- close enough to get an almond in each bike
When we were planning our recent family bike tour, one of our big decisions was whether to use a bike trailer to carry one or two children in or to just use a cargo bike at home.
After seriously considering a bike trailer, we ultimately to just use a cargo bike instead. Here are some we considered in our decision.
I would not have been able to enjoy my recent bike camping trip if I hadn’t improved my back health. When my back health was worse, sleeping on a mat in tent each night made it worse. Multiple days of tent camping would only compound the problem.
Here’s my story of how I got bad sciatica then recovered and made some changes to keep my back healthy in the future.
To pass the time while we were riding my wife taught the rest of us a car game she learned growing up in Vermont. The game involves counting animals you see along the road. The game itself is now near extinction as a car game with the amount of driving that now happens on interstates and in cities.
She knew the game as “Bury your Pooches” or just “Pooches”.
In her childhood version,
From my experience bike touring, here are the top tools to use to plan and navigate a bike route:
Saving turtles. Swimming in lakes. Sleeping in a tent. Seeing the countryside from the seat of your bike. Family bike camping trips can be positive and lasting experiences. “Let’s Go Family Bike Camping” is a book to help families get started. Half the book is full of stories and photos from my own initial trips with one toddler and later two kids aged 5 and 8. I share our failures and fears as well as our successes and joys. The second half of the book is full of tips with ideas for your trips. It includes tips on planning, gear, entertaining the children and more.
See the full list of planned chapters below. Not yet written chapters are marked as TODO. Feedback on tips to include or that you’d like me to cover are welcome. At the bottom of the page is a form to subscribe to email updates about the book— the list will only be used for that purpose.
I’ve been a loyal customer of Marmot’s waterpoof, breathable rain jackets for several years. I’m on my third (or fourth?) Marmot rain jacket currently and my wife and daughter have them as well. Everything wears out eventually. Here’s what happened to our most recent ones.
New for this winter bike commuting season are Extreme Bar Mitts. Like the original Bar Mitts the Extreme Bar Mitts are like mittens for your handlebars that stay on the bike. You operate the controls inside of them, possibly with additional gloves or mittens on.
I have long, thin fingers and tried many pairs of gloves and mittens looking for something that would keep my fingers warm for cycling. When I finally found Bar Mitts they made a huge difference for me, allowing me to ride at colder temperatures or with greater comfort than anything before. In typical winter conditions I could use lighter gloves– and sometimes no gloves– inside the Bar Mitts, allowing me to more easily and safely operate the shifters and brakes. I’ve been using the original Bar Mitts about four years.
Recently Bar Mitts sent me their new Extreme Bar Mitts model to try and it has finally been cold enough to put them to the test. I was concerned that Extreme Bar Mitts would be too warm, since I already found the regular Bar Mitts sufficient for me down to about 0F when paired with fleece-lined wool mittens.