Finally have my 2013 Specialized RockHopper 29er mountain bike.
I am very happy with it, even though it was on the lower price range at $800, it’s a great quality bike that will last me a long time I’m sure! I’ve had the bike for week now and I’ve already ridden it about 75 miles. This bike is definitely going to get a ton of use! I am a little bit disapointed with the grips though, they’re very comfortable but are already starting to wear down where my thumbs are. Other than that everything is holding up nicely. There’s a few things I really need to buy for it though. Today I bought a water bottle and holder so I don’t have to carry a backpack with me! I also picked up a small 69 cubic inch saddle bag to hold various things like; wallet, keys, tire patch kit, first aid supplies, tire levers, chain links, multitool.
Since I bought the bike with the intention of doing some rather long distance rides, I’ll be looking into panniers as well, I want something that’s a decent size to carry my clothes, random odds and ends, and probably food. Also preferably insulated so if I want to ride over to the super market I don’t have to rush back with cold items. Plus the insulation seems to me like it would aid in keeping things dry. Like I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be towing my kayak with the bike too. I plan on keeping the bulkier items like; the Hammoch, sleeping bag, fishing gear, and things of that nature in the kayak when in tow. When I’m just going for an overnight ride I’ll strap those items to the luggage rack that’ll support my side bags. I may also look for another small bag kind of like a saddle bag to hold a spare tube or two and maybe a tire. I’ll also definitely need a small pump for quick flat repairs on the road. I’m really looking forward to organizing all these things on the bike when I get them. I’ve been reading about lots of people who travel the world all the time. It’s got me thinking, is it possible to just go around the world having fun (for me, going around on my bike)? I know there are programs where you work on farms with families that will put you up and give you a few bucks for your efforts. Has anyone used this type of thing to live around the world? Sounds like it would be an absolute blast! I’m sure I would meet some incredible people and learn tons of different skills along the way. Europe definitely sounds like the place to start a bike your, they cater to cyclists better than anywhere else I’ve read, although Australia and New Zealand are great places for cyclists as well. Who knows where the bike will take me. What sort of adventures have you biked on?
So this weekend I went out, test road the 2 bikes I have been looking at for the last 5 months, and put down a few bucks to hold the last in stock Specialized RockHopper 29er!
I’m super excited about this bike for many reasons. The biggest reasons are; saving on gas, getting in shape without having to run, and getting back to something I used love. Before I got my license I road my bike everywhere! I had a single speed redline BMX bike. Tough to pedal uphill, tough to maintain downhill speed gain, super uncomfortable to pedal sitting down, and not great for going long distances. The furthest I remember riding in one day was 20 miles each way to the “mountain bike” trails and riding probably something like 7-8 miles of trails. A few of my friends made the ride on bmx bikes but most of them were on mountain bikes. The bmx bike handled the trails ok but not great. The mountain bike I will soon own is going to be pretty good on all but the tightest trails and will also handle nicely on long rides. I’m hoping the bigger wheels will make each mile a little easier than on a 20″-26″ bike. When I took it out to test ride it I only got to do a couple laps around the shop but I could tell the bike was definitely for me. The brakes are super responsive, the riding position was very comfortable, the ability to lock the front forks while riding seems convenient, and it felt pretty solid on the gravel/grass area I rode on. I definitely plan on doing some long distance rides with this bike, hopefully frequently, so the front fork lockout feature will be a wonderful thing! Also with this bike, I intend to tow around my kayak on a trailer system either from WIKE trailers or I’ll build something similar. The biggest advantage to this will be not having to carry my kayak a mile or two down to launch at this one spot I really like. What I currently do is drop my kayak in about 2 miles away and paddle over. That wastes a lot of time that I could spend either fishing there, paddling around looking at the wildlife(this spot is the quietest area with the most to look at), or biking through all the scenery. I think being able to ride my bike and then go kayaking will be great on those longer distance rides. If nothing else it will serve as a secure area to hold my camping gear, clothing, spare parts, etc. I’m absolutely a beginner when it comes to long distance riding so any advice will be greatly appreciated. As far as spare parts and tool kit, I’m planning on taking these items; two spare tires(probably going tubeless right away), a few chain links, 2 cables, a few spokes, hand pump, spoke wrench, chain tool, a few various wrenches for fixing on the road, and of course, duct tape. I’ll have my new bike within a month, hopefully sooner though, so check back to see what I think of the bike once I get to ride it for a few miles. Also check back for the trailer idea, I will probably end up building my own to save some money but who knows. If anyone have any input on trailers or distance riding, I’d love to hear from you, shoot me an email Sean.Dziedzic@gmail.com.
Kayaks are a fantastic way to connect with the outdoors. I think the two biggest advantages of kayaks are their size, and their price. Yes I know some kayaks like rockpool or tiderace kayaks for example go for $3000+ but there are a plethora of options for under $1000, or even under $500. It all depends on what you intend your kayaks purpose to be and what features you really want. If you’re looking for a touring kayak you’re probably going to want something that’s long, smooth, narrow, and has ample storage space. Most people who get touring kayaks are using them in the ocean so searching for a sea kayak is a great way to do research on these. In the summer/fall 2011 issue of Kayak Angler they have a small article about Kayak Kevin. He’s a kayak fisherman who likes to take long distance trips. The kayak he uses is a sit on top ocean kayak manta which is heavy and slow, but it works well for him and plenty of other people I’m sure. Ocean kayak makes an incredible product and I’m sure his will last him a very long time. That just goes to show that any kayak can work for long distance, you just have to work with it. If you’re looking for fishing specific kayaks you’re going to find their price to be around $1000 on average fully set up. Jackson kayak makes quite a few kayaks for all sorts of purposes including fishing and they really work with you on what will work best. Other angler specific kayaks include; Wilderness Systems, Hobie Kayaks, FeelFree Kayaks, and the list goes on. Something I think is innovative about the FeelFree kayaks that definitely sets them apart is their wheel in the keel. It’s simply a plastic wheel in the rear of the kayak to allow you to roll it through the parking lot, down the trail, or in your driveway at home. Great design feature from them! One thought on fishing kayaks for anyone with a low budget or anyone who just can’t bring themselves to spend $1000+ on a kayak, build one. Something everyone used to have to do. Kayak fishing hasn’t always been a big thing. It wasn’t until somewhere around the early 2000’s that you could even find info on the sport let alone gear. Nowadays there’s magazines, competitions, forums, and people everywhere fishing in kayaks. So how do you build a fishing kayak? First place to start is with the kayak you can use any kayak you’d like, a cheap one from a sporting goods store, a nicer one from a more specialized outdoors store, or a really nice one that you’ll find in a kayak specific store. There’s only a few things that you’ll need to do to take a day tripper kayak and make it into a fishing day tripper kayak. You’ll absolutely need at least 1 rod holder, although I’d get 2-3. I currently have 2 flush mount rod holders on my kayak.
Another type of holder is one that can be clipped around the cockpit which is great if you don’t want to drill holes. The cheapest and most helpful upgrade would have to be a paddle clip, if your kayak doesn’t come with one, so you’re not fumbling with your paddle and trying to reel in a fish. Anchors and anchor trolleys are very helpful when fishing in windy conditions or in a strong current. A lot of people really like drift socks for slower currents. Everyone I see who fishes from a sit on top kayak has a milk crate in the rear with a few rod holders, tackle box, radio, and other gear bungee corded down. If you get those few items, which costs less than $100 easily, you’ll be ready to fish all day with no issues. There is definitely other things that are nice to have. If you’re fishing in the ocean you may want a gaf or a lip gripper. Some people like nets but I see no need for them really. Another great thing to add to any kayak is either a flag or beacon so you’re visible to boats. If you’re going on long distance trips a compass is a good thing to invest in, make sure there is no metal around where you mount it though. And there ya go, a kayak that is fishing ready and safe for probably $400-500 if you get a half way decent kayak to build off of.
I try to take good care of my kayak and you should too by washing it after most uses. I just use some car washing soap and give it a good scrub down. Depending on the kayak you may need a specific type of soap but it works fine for my kayak. What upgrades have you done to your kayak to make it better for fishing, touring, or general day tripping?