Pre-packing for the European Bicycle Tour

OK! It’s finally here! I woke up at 745am today (which is VERY early!) and finished the last of the packing.

Today, I leave my home in Suttons Bay, MI and head to Ann Arbor for a tailgate weekend with my family. From there, my parents drive me out to a northern Chicago burb, and I stay there Monday night.

The next stop is to meet up with Kristen and her family about 30 miles south. It’s farewell to my parents, then an evening in Chicago. The next day, Wednesday, we leave for Madrid!

Here is the current route that’s been planned so far:

View Larger Map

We will train to Alicante from Madrid on the 19th or 20th, depending on what works best. Because we’re late in picking a date, we’re forced to pay a premium and ride First Class. Not so bad, really. We get fed + showers. I’m not complaining!

One of the things that I found when on the tour of the Thumb was that I carried way too many books! I was reading “The Sunfood Diet” by David Wolfe on my iPhone (which is now dead, thanks to a canoeing accident with Max :), “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and some small stuff. I brought along a book on Spain, a book on edible mushrooms in Michigan, and a journal. LOTS OF SPACE.

I looked into a Kindle 2, because I’ve heard so many good things about them. The price had dropped to $299, and I decided to get one.

I got it in yesterday loaded a majority of my books (in PDF, converted for free) onto it. It’s awesome! I’ll update about how I’m liking it, but at this rate, it’s my best leisure purchase yet!

I was also lucky enough to stumble across some great people at who helped me with issues with my case and converting files. They are really a great group of people!

Quick stop at Oryana to grab some crystal deodorant and a veggie juice.

More later. Gotta run! Goodbye Suttons Bay!

How to Add a Picture to your Avatar on Blog Posts

You know that little picture of someone’s face next to their post on a blog? That’s their ‘avatar’. There’s a global movement around to standardize the images that people use on their posts, and its very simple to set-up.

Your first step is to head over to to get your avatar setup.

I go here because I don’t know what password to use. Gmail is already part of this Globally-Recognize-Avatar movement (Gravatar). Just get the password sent back to your email, or create a new account.

Then, once you’re on, you can upload a picture of yourself.

How to edit your gravitar avatar photo

How to edit your gravitar avatar photo

When you comment on my blog posts, and on any other posts online, it asks you for your email address — which is never seen by the public. What is actually happening is that they are sending out a request to see if you have an avatar tied in with the email address. This way, it’s easy to post on blogs to add comments, and when you put in your email address, it personalizes everything.

You can also set up more than 1 email address, each having the same or different pics. I have one that is more professional, and the other that is more ‘outdoorsey’.

Good luck! Comment below and let me see you!

I Quit my Day Job!

That’s it! I’m done.

Last night I finished my final weeks bartending in downtown Traverse City.

It’s crazy and unnerving to leave a great place to work. I was working 30 hours a week, mostly evenings, and making anywhere from $100-200 a night. It wasn’t amazing money, but the work was fun and I met a lot of great people.

Speaking of great people, some of my friends that I met at Ginger came in last night. They didn’t know it was my last night, but it was great to see them. Fred and his family, Mark and his wife, Travis and Mrs. Kershner, it was a fun night.

I was out by 1am and shot across the street with Max to grab a beer. A few of the staff came, including Brian of the notable

Nice small farewell, then I was off. Long day today (Sunday) before next week. Kristen and I have mapped out a small (160 mile) tour around the Thumb of Michigan. Our route is here:,-83.240662+to:Grindstone%2FMI-25+to:harbor+beach,+mi+to:MI-46%2FE+Sanilac+Rd+to:MI-138%2FN+Unionville+Rd+to:W+Bay+City+Forestville+Rd%2FMI-25&hl=en&geocode=FaQomgIdYGcG-w%3B%3BFTAFoAIdUPwN-w%3B%3BFRqilgIdfFMS-w%3BFUo4mQIdOGwG-w%3BFVQZmgId9l0G-w&mra=dpe&mrcr=0&mrsp=1&sz=9&via=1,4&sll=43.815207,-83.092346&sspn=0.917597,2.469177&ie=UTF8&ll=43.761176,-83.312759&spn=0.229608,0.617294&z=11

We are going from Monday to Friday, to test everything out. We are packing everything in, including some very cool new additions.

I recently purchased a water filter for our trip. After some very simple math, I decided we’d be paying A TON for clean water on the trip. 1Liter = $2.12. We are going to be drinking 3-5 L/day/each. That’s expensive! The filter cost $85, and lasts for a few thousand gallons.

Also, Kristen and I picked up a great pair of sunglasses over at It’s an interesting site, and has some great deals. Essentially “One deal at a time, until its gone.” There is also the sister-site that offers similar things but centered on roadbikers. is for MTBikers.

We will update from the road during the thumb …

Until then!

HelpX on a bicycle tour : 2 possible stops

2 days ago, Kristen and I sent out about 15 requests on We are officially 1 month from our departure date and we don’t know where we are going to say… 🙂 It’s pretty exciting to have such a huge possibility in front of us, and having the total ability to do whatever we want.

This morning, I woke up and checked my email to see if we had any hosts reply. We did!

Kristen and I both found this guys page on HelpX and it seems so beautiful. You can read about him at and see pictures of his place.

Our current route is Madrid to Huercal Overa to see a host (Sandy) and stay, then bike up to Tarbena, Spain. It’s only about 170 miles, so we could do it in 4 days … if the mountains are gentle.

Here’s one way we could go, via Google Maps.

View Larger Map

I changed the setting to calculate for walking, but we will be busing from Madrid to our first host.

I made a clerical error 2 weeks ago, and just caught it. I intended to email Sandy to ask her to figure out which method of transportation would take our bikes (our Spanish isn’t that great…) but sent it to Kristen instead. Whoops. Email was just re-sent, so we should hear back in the next 2 weeks… the sooner the better.

TW-Trailer from ActionBent for Touring

When I purchased my Trek Pilot 1.2 back in 2007, I didn’t realize the “cost” of having a carbon fork. It’s light weight, attractive, and new-agey. It also won’t allow you to put a rack on it. The carbon is made for the exact pressures it’s built for – not for sideways tension and weight that the rack puts on it. I’ve seen people put hose clamps on their fork and rig up a rack, but I think it’s a terrible idea and if the fork breaks … it shatters.

When we picked up Kristen’s bike, we thought that we’d either be able to put everything in the rear panniers, or pick up a BOB Yak trailer.

After weighing out our options for gear and the large things we need to carry – Hubba Hubba tent, Lenovo T500 laptop — we decided on taking a trailer.

I researched the best trailers used, and many people liked taking the BOB Yak (BOB meaning Beast of Burden). Then, I happened on a thread on that talked about the TW-Trailer. I looked into it at

Everything was perfect – foldable, easy to pack on the airplane, and inexpensive. We purchased one. Here’s a picture of “Aretha” with the trailer attached. I’m riding with the tent and an older sleeping bag in the back, plus my Switch 35 sleeping bag in the rack. I did it for weight and feel. (Note that the flag isn’t fully attached. It breaks apart in the middle for storage and I didn’t put the end on before my ride. I am looking to get a custom flag made for fun… we’re taking any suggestions!)

Aretha, loaded with the TW-Trailer

Aretha, loaded with the TW-Trailer

Review of the TW-Trailer from ActionBent:


Light weight

Easy to assemble

Waterproof bag comes with, and the entire trailer can be stored in it

Tracks well

Has a cute flag that comes with it (with the name of the trailer. UGLY but useful)


5/10 quality fender for back tire