Hands in the air like it’s good to be alive

Planning a bike tour is no easy feat. Depending on where one goes and for how long, one would need a lot of gear to get through the trip:

    Bicycle leaning against rail on boardwalk; overlooking ocean

  • Tent with footprint and rainfly
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow
  • Clothes (cycling & street)
  • Stove, pot, bowls, and utensils
  • Food
  • Water bottles & filtration system
  • Camp towel
  • Toiletries
  • First aid kit
  • Bike tools and spare parts
  • Bike cover
  • Bike lock

I’ve been looking at /r/bicycletouring/ for inspiration as well as advice. I’ve also come across a complete bicycle touring gear checklist that’s proving quite handy.

However, since Alex and I are planning a short weekend trip before we embark on a longer (week- or 2-week-long) tour, we will require less gear than this. Essentially, we’ll just need the necessities: tent, sleeping bags, pillows, cycling clothes, street clothes, camp towel, toiletries, bike tools, spare tubes, pump, and bike locks. The problem is that we don’t currently have camping gear (nor have we ever camped!) so we’ll have to make that investment. We were looking at REI and Dick’s but then I remembered about craigslist! We can get a lot of the items we need second-hand without breaking the bank while helping me curb my tendencies to over-consume.

The trouble now is trying to figure out where we should go and for how long. I’ve long considered State Bike Route 9 for such an adventure but I’ve read some less-than-stellar accounts of it. New York is a big state with a lot of bike routes… and that’s if we decide to stay in NY. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are nearby and we’re considering them, too. (I’ve always wanted to bike through the Amish country!) So there’s still quite a bit of planning to do before this trip becomes reality but we’re excited for this adventure!

FO: Molly

Pattern: Molly by Erin Ruth
Yarn: 180 yards of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend (70% merino wool, 30% silk) in “Nickel”
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 7 (4.5 mm)
Started: December 29, 2011
Finished: December 30, 2011
Notes & Modifications: See Ravelry

I had yarn left over from my mom’s shawl so I decided to make myself a hat. I have the hardest time knitting things for myself because I am so picky. I had actually knit another hat with this yarn but decided that I didn’t like it… so I ripped it all out and gave this pattern a go.

This hat was such a pleasure to knit! The pattern was written really well and I loved that the cable decreased into the crown. (I couldn’t believe that this was a free pattern, actually, because of the clever construction.) The only modification I made was to knit the brim in 1×1 rib for 1.5″ instead of 1″ because of my own preference for longer brims.

I think it turned out really well (albeit slightly too slouchy) and I hope to get a lot of use out of it. I haven’t really worn hats this winter yet because the weather has been so unpredictable: it’s 30°F one day and 60°F the next! Overall, though, this winter has been very temperate — but I’m not complaining! It’s great biking weather so I don’t have to bundle up too much when commuting to work.

FO: Taize Shawl

Pattern: Taize by Susan Pandorf
Yarn: 615 yards of Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend (70% merino wool, 30% silk) in “Nickel”
Needles: US 7 / 4.5 mm
Started knitting: December 11, 2011
Finished knitting: December 26, 2011
Notes & Modifications: see Ravelry

I wanted to make something for my mother but she’s notoriously difficult to shop for. Both my parents are like that, actually. It’s hard to get gifts for people who have everything they want and/or need. So I thought a shawl would be a good idea. She talks about how cold it is in her office (year-round, not just in the winter) so I figure it’d be nice to have an extra layer to bring to work.

The pattern makes a long scarf but I wanted more of a shawl. (My mom is very specific about the kinds of clothes and accessories she wears.) So I used a heavier weight of wool and slightly larger needles and went to town. Since it’s not going to be worn wrapped around the neck, I made it slightly shorter. When I finished knitting it, I wasn’t thrilled with the width so I really blocked the you-know-what out of this scarf. I got an extra 3 inches of width and maybe 2 inches of length. Its final measurements are 13″×70″. Because I blocked so aggressively, though, the yarn lost most of its sproinginess and squishiness. It really looks like a lace shawl now. Hopefully it’s retained some of its warm so my mom can get lots of use out of it.