Tag Archives: hauling

Minnehaha pannier long-term review

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I snagged one of these Minnehaha canvas utility panniers last year (on sale at Restoration Hardware – weird, right?) and have put it through daily rides since then. Minnehaha touts the “Utility without a utilitarian look”, which I think means it doesn’t look super sporty like the Ortliebs and others. It passes my can-I-take-this-into-a-meeting-at-work test. They retail for $64.99.

The design is simple without frills. Black canvas, leather fastening strap, one interior pocket, 2 top hooks, and a shoulder strap.

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With a 13″ laptop, pants, a shirt, spare tube, and a paperback book, there was still a little bit of room for lunch. It’s by no means a large pannier, but I’ve adapted my grocery runs to fit this bag for the last year, except when I ride the xtracycle (and buy way too much — economies of scale).

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The rear profile shows the approximate volume of the bag, which is to say it’s much slimmer than my bargain-bin Nashbar pannier (nicknamed “The Tumor”) by this guy.

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The interior pocket is big enough to fit a tube, phone, multi-tool, and a candy bar. During a downpour, I put my cell phone in it, and it stayed dry. On that note, the pannier isn’t waterproof, but Minnehaha says you can use a trash bag as a waterproof liner. I spray the pannier with some Nikwax before it rains, and it seems to help the rain bead and roll off a bit.

The upper mounting hooks have stayed put, but I lost the lower bungee-hook thing, so I replaced the hook with a cheap carabiner. Before I replaced the hook, I learned the hard way that the pannier will bounce off without a lower mount. Oops.

Overall, I’ve been pleased with the bag, and I think it’ll see a few years of good use. It’s great around town, good for an overnight bike camping trip, but not stout enough for a long tour.

For roughly 3 times the price, the Philosophy bags take canvas panniers to a new level – waterproof, made in US, touring-grade mounts. The Minnehaha pannier is a great place to start.

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Wald basket tribute

Wald basket appreciation day

The Wald basket has a functional elegance that’s rare for something so affordable. Almost any other method of carrying stuff will cost you more. A rack and panniers, a saddle bag, a huge messenger bag. Since 1905, Wald has been making bike stuff in the US. Yeah, that’s right, before the Ford Model T came out.

Having front basket storage has been incredibly handy these last few weeks, and I’ve kept my camera, snacks, lock, and any other commonly-grabbed items in it. On the xtracycle, I can’t complain that I need more capacity, but I can appreciate having storage within reach while riding.

Cheers, Wald.

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Joys of Hauling

I love riding with big stuff.  I feel a sublime satisfaction when moving big things via bike instead of by car.

I sold a mountain bike frame and a tube amplifier head on ebay, and both things went in big boxes for shipping.  Then I needed to get the stuff to the shipping store a mile away.  The shipping store is on my way to work, and I don’t have a parking pass, so I loaded everything up on my Burley trailer.

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The vacuum tubes, separately packed, are on top of the tube amplifier head.  The tall box holds the bicycle frame.

Riding with this much weight requires more effort, but not as much as I’d have thought.  In retrospect, disc brakes would’ve tamed my descent of the Denton St hill, but I managed to stop before the stop sign at the bottom.

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Having reached the shipping place (on University), I sent my stuff off and rode to work with the empty trailer.

And of course, not wanting to make an empty trip back home from work, I stopped by a coworker’s house and retrieved some fence posts that he didn’t need.

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100 lbs, 100 degree heat, it’s easier than you think.

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Ray Roberts S24O

That’s “Ess two four oh”, in case you thought the last digit was a zero.

An S24O is a “Sub 24 hour Overnight” bike camping trip, and the term was coined by Grant Petersen, of Rivendell Bicycle fame.

If you have to work for a living and don’t have summers off, bike camping is easier to fit in, and the easiest way of all is with Sub-24 Hour Overnight (S24O) trips. You leave on your bike in the late afternoon or evening, ride to your campsite in a few hours, camp, sleep, and ride home the next morning. It’s that simple, and that’s the beauty of it. You can fit it in. It requires almost no planning or time commitment.

For this S24O, we rode from central Denton out to Ray Roberts, and we camped in the Isle Du Bois campground.  That campground has nice, large, secluded campsites which border the lake.  You can walk 30 feet and be in the water, which feels exquisite during the summer.  Our route was about 17 miles each way, and it’s fairly flat with a climb up the lake dam near the park.  One of our campers climbed it just fine on a single speed mountain bike, so it can’t be that bad.

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The route out there is beautiful, and once you get north of Loop 288, the city unwinds into grassy fields and a wide shoulder to ride on.

nice, WIDE shoulder

nice, WIDE shoulder

I think packing for bikecamping is easier than packing for car camping, because you can’t haul as much on a bike, and it’s harder to endlessly capitulate over which shoes to bring (and then end up bringing all the choices).  Since you’ll only be out for a day or so, you won’t need a cooler or much cookware.  We usually bring a burrito for one easy meal, and I usually pack a sandwich for a simple, no-cook breakfast.  The simple comforts/needs are the most appreciated.  As always, we made  Bookish coffee in the morning, just like at home, ground by hand.

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Zassenhaus turkish coffee mill, unbreakable french press

Isle Du Bois campsites at Ray Roberts are not directly accessible by car, so they’re quiet, easily accessible by bike/foot, and you won’t have headlights/sound interrupting your quiet camp experience.  Except for occasional trolling fishing boats and buzzing recreational watercraft, it’s pretty quiet. Even in the dead of summer, the water is refreshingly cool, so bring swimming clothes.

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I liked our route, which used the northern half of the Greenbelt trail.  Wide tires are nice for this kind of riding (I use 28c-35c), but our friend Cooper came along with us on skinny road tires and did just fine.

At a minimum, you’ll need a rear rack to carry some stuff: tent, sleeping pad, food, clothes.  A front rack is also nice, because it can even out the load and make the bike easier to handle than if unevenly loaded.

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After a long mid-morning swim, we packed up and rolled out.  Efficient bike camping generates minimal trash which can be easily hauled out.

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On the return ride on the Greenbelt, we stopped at the Old Mckinney bridge.  It’s a 100+ year old dilapidated structure, but the main concrete piers tower over the shallow creek.  I think the sign said that Bonnie and Clyde had used it as an escape route, but I can’t find any mention of that in historical text.

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There’s a gas station on the return route, in case you need water, snacks, or a pear tree.

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Denton Pedicab Service Proposed

Over the years, Denton locals have consistently mentioned the idea of having pedicab service to the downtown and university zones, but until now, we haven’t heard of any proposals reaching city staff desks.

Christine Niblo, Denton resident, proposes to provide pedicab service to the downtown area. In the Operational Outline document, the services/benefits are succinctly summarized:

Denton Pedicab will:

  • provide clean, emissions-free, affordable transportation to the central Denton area, including UNT, TWU, and the downtown square
  • enhance the visibility of the downtown square to newcomers, particularly university students and their parents
  • help reduce the parking burden at and near the downtown square, thus enhancing the downtown experience for Dentonites, tourists, and business-owners
  • enhance the unique and friendly downtown Denton atmosphere with an attractive and locally-owned novelty
  • provide opportunities for community businesses, organizations, and individuals to charter pedicabs for special occasions and events

Christine reports that she’s submitted her proposal to Denton city staff, and she says she included examples of regulatory ordinance from other cities which have pedicab service.

I’m currently still awaiting the City’s verdict about the legal standing of a pedicab operation in Denton.

The proposal document touts the many ecological benefits of pedicab service, which fall in line with the city’s stated goal of increasing transit diversity and reducing single-occupant vehicle use.

Because pedicab operation is sustainable, the opportunities Denton Pedicab will provide to the community will be long-lasting. No natural resources will be depleted in order to operate pedicabs; therefore, their operation will not be affected by the price of oil, or state emissions standards. No pollution or waste will be caused by the operation of pedicabs.

Denton Pedicab will take great care to employ sustainable practices in all facets of its business, thus optimizing its potential for longevity. This includes, but is not limited to, the use of recycled, renewable, natural, and eco-friendly supplies like paper and cleaning products; as well as a commitment to serving the local community and economy.

Denton Pedicab will offer inspiration and vision to the community by bringing this service to the area at a time when the current transportation paradigm is shifting away from fossil fuels and petroleum-based products. Denton Pedicab will bring the City of Denton one step closer to the sustainability that is so desperately required by these transitional times.

The pedicabs to be used are manufactured in America by Main Street Pedicabs, and feature stout design and safety features like turn signals and 12V lighting.

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recycle electronic junk by bike

I can’t find much to like about big box stores, but Best Buy just announced a really intelligent electronics recycling program.  They claim to adhere to some pretty high standards, and this is way beyond the pay-for-nice-electronics program that Radio Shack offers.  

The intelligent part is that they give you a $10 gift card to offset the $10 cost of recycling a TV (under 32″) or monitor.  They just used a recycling program to get you to walk into a brick-and-mortar store, with a gift card in hand, during a severe recession.  No small task.  

By comparison, the City of Denton electronics recycling program is more expensive ($15 for a TV/monitor), farther away from the city center (especially by bike), and only open M-F 7-4 Sat 7-12.    

I just bought a nice Burley bike trailer.  Someone give me a TV or monitor to haul to Best Buy, seriously.  Sound perilous?  It’s not.  The Denton Rail Trail goes all the way to the Best Buy entrance.

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