The Pedalshift Project 062: Colder weather bike touring

As the temperatures dip, I test out a new sleeping bag… how does it handle colder weather bike touring? Plus, my dog Belle Starr joins me for an overnight, plus connections and more!

The Pedalshift Project 062: Colder weather bike touringHey it’s the direct download link: The Pedalshift Project 062: Colder weather bike touring (mp3)

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The Journal: colder weather bike touring + more

Riding with Belle Starr

  • Last night of DST
  • 5 miles down trail to Leopards Mill H/B campsite (one I hadn’t stayed at before)
  • Outward Hound backpack did great and so did BelleFound she likes to stick a paw out – still was stable and fine
  • Check out the video!
  • Had a battery issue with my phone so did an extra RT to get my charge cable
  • Cold but not freezing night went well with Belle… have a review in gear talk about the new sleeping bag
  • She did great with “distractions” like trains and deer
  • We’ll try it again! Want to test the trailer option and see how long I can ride with her before fatigue sets in… assume I’ll need more frequent breaks.
  • I have a video up on YouTube plus newsletter subscribers got a Tour Journal as the bonus pod this month!

Katy Trail

FOTS Todd Tillinger from Helena, MT

Just wrapped up my first self-supported bike tour, an 8-day 7-night trip across Missouri with my old friend Mark who lives in Kansas City. Our goal was to ride through urban KC to the rural town of Pleasant Hill, where the new (and not quite completed) Rock Island Trail begins and runs to Windsor, MO. That’s where the RIT intersects the well-known and well-traveled KATY Trail, and where we would turn and use the KATY to cross the rest of the state. It took two full days and over 103 miles to reach the KATY, and given the urban and rural detours it was an adventure. Luckily the weather was fabulous and we were soon on the KATY. The next 5 days were on the KATY, all the way to the very eastern end at the old rail stop of Machens, MO, just a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River and Illinois. We caught the Amtrak out of suburban St. Louis in Kirkwood, rolled off the train at Union Station in KC, and rode the last 16 miles to Mark’s house to finish the tour. All told, it was 8 days, 7 nights, 383 miles. We camped 5 nights, friends put us up 1 night, and we camping cabin’ed it at a County Park on the night after our one rainy cold damp day’s ride. I am attaching a few pictures for your information, and to let you know that the 237-mile long KATY is a great way to introduce someone to touring and a great way to spend a week if that is all you have. Towns are reasonably spaced, supplies and way are easy to come by, there are restaurants and inns if that’s your thing, and camping is easy to find off-trail at city parks, nature areas, or RV parks near the trail. The KATY itself is a long, linear state park so they don’t allow camping on the trail but that was not a problem at all.

One more thing: the 47 mile section of the Rock Island Trail is scheduled to be complete after this winter. But there are still some impassable sections, such as bridges over streams that are missing or surfacing that is nonexistent. That 47 miles from Pleasant Hill MO to Windsor MO actually took 60 miles, and two hours longer than expected. The lesson: be flexible, be self sufficient, and always carry lights. We ended that day (and three others) needing to use our headlights to ride and to set up camp. Good old fashioned type 2 fun!

We left downtown Kansas City last Friday Oct. 21, and returned Friday night Oct. 28 via the Amtrak River Runner (with roll aboard service). Thanks to your tips, I knew to buy the train tickets in advance and make the bicycle reservations. That was essential, and I am glad we did!


Shelli Snyder is doing much, much better. Her fund is over $100k and we played a small part in that…

Go read more about her progress on the GoFundMe page.

Gear Talk

Hyke and Byke Sleeping Bag

  • 32 degree down bag for under $100? Gave it a shot!
  • GREAT footbox
  • Stayed warm at about 40 degrees using it as a quilt so I think 32 is legit.
  • Seems well built and compacts nicely. Will do my best to keep it lofted and use it in some colder weather this winter.
  • If you’re in the market for a winter bag, this seems like a good value.

Electronics on tour

Rob Pupke from the great Empire State of New York…

One subject I’d like to hear covered on a podcast would be electronic equipment. Phones, computers, GPS, cameras…? What is absolutely necessary? What is nice to have? What about charging? Apps? Maps? How do these things work when your cell signal is gone? I hear you mention various things about electronics while covering other subjects, but I feel it is assumed that everyone is fully up to speed on these subjects when I listen. I’m not a Luddite, but I don’t know the ins and outs of traveling with electronics, and how they can be helpful in remote areas.


Follow up on alcohol stove fuels

Hey there, I started listening a few months ago and enjoy your podcast. I am a fellow cyclist, however have yet to ride a bike packing tour but I will in the future and find your podcast helpful. I am an avid backpacker though and have done several backpacking trips. Just a quick note for your alcohol stove that you were fueling with the “Heat” made for cars, this product is Isopropyl alcohol and has additives for automotive use, you are correct it does not burn very good at all in an alcohol cook stove. The ideal fuel for an alcohol backpacking stove is “denatured alcohol” which can be found at hardware stores in the paint and finishes department (used for cleaning brushes etc.) This very pure form of alcohol will burn super clean and a small stove will boil 2 cups of water an under 10 minutes easy. I carry this kind of setup for backpacking and t is very light, yes I do the minimalist thing.

Chip Lang
Troy, NH

Followup… I was in WalMart the other day getting epoxy for an unrelated project and lo and behold there was an enormous can of denatured alcohol for 4 bucks! Now I know where to get it I might do some more experiments… thanks for the heads up!

Pedalshift Society member Chris on riding in Ohio

Just thought I’d send you a note and say thanks again for the podcast, it has been a huge motivator for me to start getting things together to start touring and bike camping. Here is a photo of my old mountain bike after being re-purposed into my first touring bike. Ditched the flat bars for drop bars, switched the knobby tires for some Schwalbe Marathon Pluses, and got the rear rack and panniers on there. Took it for a 20 mile test ride today on the Ohio to Erie Trail (which is conveniently only two miles from my house), just to get a feel for riding a loaded bike with the extra weight. Other than a 15 mph headwind on the first half of the ride, everything went great! … The weather and lack of daylight is working against me getting any trips in this fall, but I’m already looking forward to planning for next spring. Thanks again for the show and the website!

Chris in OH

modified mtb as touring bike

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The Pedalshift Project theme is America courtesy of Jason Kent off his self-titled solo album. Check out his band Sunfields‘ album, Habitat, wherever cool music resides.  I heard Jason’s new album in January and it is AWESOME. More info when that drops!