Friday, 28 February 2014

Merino wool

As a New Zealander and a lover of the great outdoors , I'm very happy to see that finally merino wool is gaining popularity around the world as the garment of choice for outdoor adventurers . Kiwi's have always known that there is nothing like a good quaily jumper , sweater to keep you warm on a cold winters day. But todays 18.5 micron merino sports wear is a far cry from the prickly garments my mother made me wear as a kid. These days merino wool sports wear is not only fashionable, but super light and very comfortable. Most of the high grade merino wool comes from the Island where I grew up - which is the South Island of New Zealand. The merino sheep here lead a tough life battling the elements in all kinds of weather from tough winter snows to hot dry summers. The great thing about merino wool sports wear is that it can be worn for days on end without smelling, keeps you warm and dry even when sweating , retains its original shape due to its spring like micro fibers. And once washed drys quickly making it the ideal garment for under wear, base layers, socks, long sleeve T shirts etc.  On walking into your nearest outdoor store you may get a shock at the price of some merino wool garments but considering the benefits it's well worth the investment if you are keen on the great outdoors. The handsome chap in the above photo is from New Zealand and lives not far from were I grew up !

Friday, 21 February 2014

Sierra Designs Tents: Stash 1

After my one week tour into Fukushima and back last Oct , the one thing I really wanted to change was my tent. My current tent is a 20 year old New Zealand made Fairydown alpine 2 man tent and while it served me well on a 3 month cycle tour of the South Island of NZ back in 96 it is far too heavy for solo bike packing. In NZ I divided the tent up between myself and my touring partner so it was not so heavy to carry, these days I am aiming to get my entire load down to 10 kg so after many months of research I have finally ordered the tent featured in the You Tube clip above which is the Stash 1 solo tent from Sierra Designs. Its very light weighing in at only 1.1kg and reading online reviews from other cyclists who chose this tent they have been very happy with its performance in all weather conditions. Many cycle tourists end up carry far more than they actually need, I did on my very first 3000 km tour and it only took me a few days to realize that I needed to find the nearest post office and send half the items back home. These days I am a great fan of bike packing and through over night rides and my one week tour last year I now know what I need and what I do not need to carry. So I am now looking forward to spring to arrive so I can get out and do some more over night bike packing trips.    

Friday, 14 February 2014

45 North - Greazy merino cycle cap review

Pictured above is one of 45 Norths most popular products apart from their fat bike tyres of course. Its the Greasy 100 % merino wool double layer cycling cap. It fits comfortably under your helmet and the ear flaps work fantastic in winter, keeping the cold winds at bay and once off the bike you can raise the ear flaps which then looks like a standard cycle cap. The brim is flexible so you can stuff the cap in a pocket or bag and pull it out when needed. This winter I have hardly taken it off as its so comfortable. If you are looking to keep your biscuit warm this winter look no further than the greasy !. Check out the other products from 45 North as well , their specialty is winter cycling and for a new company have a fantastic range of well designed products that work well.  

Niigata by Bike

Hi Everyone

Well as its winter here in Niigata and not a lot of riding can be done my cycling pal Brian & I decided to build a new website dedicated to cycling in Niigata ken - called Niigata By Bike . The main aim of the website is to introduce Niigata ken to cyclists from abroad or foreigners living here in Japan as it is often very difficult for non Japanese to find basic information such as camp sites, bicycle shops and touring routes. On Niigata By Bike we have listed some of the many rides we have done in Niigata ken over the last 15 years and we will be updating the site with more info later on.  Please feel free to check out the site listed at the link below and we welcome any other ideas you might have to make the site even better. Both Brian & I have toured extensively throughout Niigata Ken over the past 15 years and we have discovered some fantastic places to ride and will be out on the bicycles exploring again as soon as spring arrives . If you are interested in coming to Niigata and would like some advice on cycle touring please check out the website first and if you have any further questions please get in touch with us.