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BikingFeatureGearHow to

Learning Proper Bicycle Maintenance

Maintaining a bike is similar to the practice of warming your body up for a big race with a proper cool down afterwards, or preparing for an important exam by regularly studying; and it all comes down to proper, regular inspection.

A bike gets a quick checkup. Photo by Peter Creveling.

There are four things to check before every ride you make, regardless of if you are a frequent visitor to your bike seat or someone who just decided to brush off the cobwebs of your grandparent’s Schwinn.

First: Check the air in your tires. Make sure the tire pressure is optimal as suggested by the manufacturer, and be sure to check that all release levers, tire caps, or thru axles are properly tightened. Be sure nothing is loose before you start to ride.

Second: Inspect your brakes. Squeeze both the front and rear brakes to ensure the pads engage your rims properly and evenly. Good breaks are essential, they can make the difference between having the ride of your life — and the last ride of your life.

Third: Clean your drivetrain. This is essentially the transmission of your bike, so a clean and well lubricated drivetrain will make your ride easier and extend the life of your bike. Take a dry, or damp, rag and run along the chain to clean up any dirt accumulated between the linkages. For very dirty chains, I highly recommend using a chain cleaner that allows for a deep clean between the linkages. These are very easy to use devices that latch onto the chain and are simple enough to use by holding the device in place while you peddle.

A bike gets a quick checkup. Photo by Peter Creveling.

Fourth: Keep all of the parts well lubricated. A well lubricated bike is the equivalent to doing a warm-up lap around the track and stretching before you run the 100 meter dash. Running cold turkey is asking for something to be torn, and the same thing goes for any bicycle! But remember, too much lubrication can lead to a decrease in bike performance, and even damages. This is because lubrication can attract abrasive material that can get in-between parts and decrease their integrity. Give lubrication ample time to soak in, and simply wipe away any excess, before going on that bike ride. Key areas to focus on for lubrication include: breaks, derailleurs, cassettes, chain rings and, of course, the chain. For the breaks and derailleurs, this includes any levers, cables, and their entire assembly.

These are only the basics towards bike maintenance. Supplies you will need include: clean rags, brushes, soap, water, lubricant, degreaser, and a bike stand.

The most important element is to take your time; don’t rush your way through this process. Take care of your bike and it will take care of you. Also, don’t underestimate the advantage of taking your bike into the shop. These tips will help you keep your bike on the road or on the trail more often, but it’s important to get your bike a full checkup every once in a while in addition to these regular efforts.

p.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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Benefits of a Flowfold Trailmate Dog leash

Are you a canine owner?  Are you also an outdoor enthusiast?  If you answered yes to those two questions, then this dog leash is perfect for you.  It is called the flowfold Trailmate Dog leash.  Here are a few things that make it great:

Usability

I’ve had the opportunity to use the leash for the past couple of weeks on dogs of various sizes, ranging from 15 pounds to 55 pounds. The dog leash has consistently performed well on each. For true testing, I have also had various-sized dog walkers test out the leash to see how it holds.  From small kids to full grown adults, this dog leash has proven to work well across the board.

Taking portraits of family at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Bountiful, UT on Saturday, July 22, 2017
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

Fabric

The flowfold Trailmate dog leash is made from rock climbing rope, which means the leash is extremely sturdy and durable.  Another added benefit familiar to all rock climbers is that rock climbing rope stretches.  That means that when a load is applied dynamically–like in the case of a fall– to a climbing rope, there is no sudden jerk but instead a prolonged stretch takes place, to allow energy to spread down the rope before reaching the climber.  This same concept applies to the dog leash.  When you quickly need to restrain your dog from an approaching runner or child, you can pull back abruptly without injuring your dog’s neck with a sudden jerk as the rope slightly stretches to accommodate that new force.

Another added benefit of having a dog leash made from rock climbing rope is that when the rope gets dirty from taking your dog on adventures like desert hiking, cross country skiing, or coastal beaches, cleaning the leash is simple.  After mixing mild soap and water and applying a scrub brush, any residue embedded in the rope will quickly fall off.  After it dries off, the rope will be as good as new.

Style

I’ve seen the other canines around recently, and I’ve paid attention to them.  Their leashes are for the most part boring, simple, and plain.  Sure, they get the job done, but not in style.  When you have this leash on your wrist you feel as if you are wearing a fashion accessory that not only complements your own style but your dog’s too.

Others will ask you where you got your rope and what the diameter is!  At least that is what fellow climbers say when you bring a new rope to the crag.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

 

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Gear to Get You Started

Breaking into a new sport can be intimidating and expensive. As any outdoor lover is painfully aware, your gear will burn a hole in your pocket faster than wildfire. Buying into a new activity can put you back a fair bit, especially if you decide you don’t like the sport as much as you first thought. You can start off by renting the essentials, but soon this becomes more costly than just owning the gear yourself. Eventually, you reach a point where an investment is necessary. Here are a few pieces of gear that will maximize what you’re able to do while minimizing the amount of money you need to put in to get started.

Backpack (60 L)

This is the single most important piece of gear any so-called outdoor lover should own. Being able to pack yourself into remote locations and camp is a skill applicable to just about every outdoor sport. Attach your tent — or hammock — and bag peaks in the summer, strap your skis on in the winter and boot pack a chute, carry your rope and climbing shoes with you in the fall and ascend that new route, and/or snuggle your fly rod on in the spring to land that big Brown. Getting a pack 60 liters or larger will allow you ample room to cram in your essentials and get started on some easier overnight trips. Best of all, backpacks can be found at almost every used gear sale. It shouldn’t be too difficult to snag a deal on one.

Climbing Shoes

It seems there are two pseudo-requirements to live and recreate in the Salt Lake area: know how to ski and know how to climb. Both can get pricey fast, but climbing has the cheapest buy in. All you really need is a pair of shoes (and some chalk if you really want to be bougie). From there you can boulder, indoors or out, and see if constantly cramming your fingers in small cracks and holds suits your fancy. If you boulder outdoors be sure to either rent a crash pad ($6 a day from Outdoor Adventures) or pick boulders with soft landings, free of rocks. Like backpacks, climbing shoes are fine to buy used. Just be sure to check the condition of the sole, particularly on the edges, because it tends to get worn away the quickest.

Fly Rod

The Cottonwoods are not just the home of great climbs and powdery runs, but streams and lakes too. Meandering their way through all these are trout: rainbows, brooks, lakes, and browns. You will need a fishing license as well as a rod, but you’ll be able to keep up to four fish a day (unless specific area regulations permit otherwise). For most spots in the Cottonwoods a small, dark fly will work well. Even if you do more fishing than catching, a day spent next to pristine alpine streams and lakes is a day well spent.

Headlamp

Aside from being an extreme luxury/ borderline necessity, a headlamp is vital for caving. All over Utah lie underground tunnels and caverns waiting to be spelunked. While many caves require technical skills and are very easy to get lost in, there are some that are shallow and give just a taste of the bigger systems, like the Snow Canyon Lava Tubes. Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting absolutely filthy and leave your claustrophobia at the entrance.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

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Spice Up Your Next Adventure

We’ve all silently moaned while pulling out the contents of our food for a weekend backpacking trip. Oatmeal for breakfast, crackers and summer sausage for lunch, and mac and cheese for dinner. And then it’s the same thing the next day. If you want to treat your taste buds while on the trail, Mountain House has you covered. With its two new dehydrated meals — the Spicy Southwest Breakfast Hash and the Chicken Fajita Bowl — you will get unique flavors in each bite.

Blended to Perfection

Many dehydrated meals end up morphing flavors and textures to become a mushy casserole, but you can taste each ingredient in these two dishes — the corn, the shredded beef, and the perfect amount of green chilies. Plus, you’ll also get a mix of vegetables and meat, so each bite has more kick to it than all those mashed potatoes you’re usually chowing down. Ditch the Cholula. The breakfast hash has a few dashes of it already.

Energy Boosting

The breakfast hash provides 11 grams of protein per serving, and the fajita bowl has a whopping 20 grams of protein. After hiking, climbing, or paddling outside all day, it’s nice to give your muscles the recovery they need. They also have some healthy fats to replenish your body’s stores to keep you moving.

Versatile

Either eat the food straight from the package, load it into tortillas, or use it as a topping on crackers. It’s good any way you want to try it. Although one of the options has “breakfast” in its title, that shouldn’t limit your thinking. Eat either as a filler for breakfast burritos, or you can even a hot meal by the campfire at the end of the day.

Convenient

Each pouch weighs about 4 ounces, and it contains two servings. They are a little pricey (both are $8.99 before tax), but think about all the money and time you would have spent buying all the meat, spices, and veggies, dehydrating them, and packing that into Ziploc bags. Plus, these meals are compact, and they can fit into the tight corners of your backpack.

These two meals overall get a 4.5/5. They taste great, and they are easy to cook, but the price does tip me over the edge a little bit. For those wanting to switch up the flavors of their next outdoor trip, you might as well give them a try.

c.webber@wasatchmag.com

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The World in the Palm of Your Hand

This post has been submitted by a guest contributor.

Written by Sally Writes

Remember the days when Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was new and exciting? Now, what once was a luxury is used in a variety of unique ways, from GPS tracking embedded into computers, to dog collars, to drones, and to planes flying through the air.

When exploring the Wasatch area of Utah, such as Wasatch Mountain State Park or the Wasatch Crest Trail, it is beneficial to have your own personal handheld GPS advice to maximize the range and scope of your venture. In recent years, GPS technology has proven to be especially  important for campers and hikers. Handheld GPS devices have   revolutionized the way that we explore, whether it be on a new hiking trail, in the mountains, or even in our own backyards. Knowing the coordinates, the location, and the direction of your adventuring in the Wasatch area will help you to become familiar with the landscape just like a Utah local.

You might ask yourself, “Do I really need another gadget?”

The difference between having a handheld GPS, and any other gadget while hiking or camping around Wasatch is that it can be reached by satellite from anywhere in the world. There is no need to connect it to a Wi-Fi network, or for that matter, any other network. It is trustworthy, it is dependable, and it familiarizes you with the mountainous parks and trails.

Furthermore, they are a safe option if you are exploring areas that are off the usual marked paths. Many handheld GPS devices incorporate a tracking function, which periodically lay down “digital bread crumbs.” or track points at consistent intervals. You can easily retrace your steps with this feature, and you can organize your overall trip data for the various locations in Utah that you wish to see.

Most handheld GPS units are also equipped with software programs that connect to your home computers. This means that you can synchronize any trip or route planning that you do online before visiting the Wasatch area with your handheld. Easily accessing such information while hiking out on the trails is another great benefit of these handy gadgets.

But which unit is best?

These handheld lifelines come in numerous styles and sizes, so it is important that you select the one that is best for you, and your impending explorations. Most handheld GPS devices are waterproof, durable, have an exceptional battery life, and have a distress signal. Be sure that the one you choose is easy to read in all sorts of weather conditions, including at night, in a storm, and in the bright sun.

There are a number of reputable exploration companies that sell quality handheld GPS devices for your trip. (See a list of some of those here). Many of these devices include outstanding features, such as the ability to simultaneously track GPS and GLONASS, another positioning system, satellites. Most important to your decision is that you can easily learn and use all of the handheld GPS’s features so you can gain all of its information benefits while exploring the Wasatch area.

A handheld GPS is a fantastic companion for a trip to the wilderness of  Utah. With tracking features and the ability to reach satellites far and wide, this lifeline will allow you to expand your knowledge and familiarity with the area of Wasatch, right from the palm of your hand.

Want to see your work here? Send story and photo pitches to c.koldewyn@wasatchmag.com.

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The Unlikely Trend of Trucker Hats

Trucker hats and their head-topping ilk are a staple outdoor style trend, one represented in force across the country. Trucker hats are the instant outdoor look creator — you can wear something inside to show people you do cool things outside while simultaneously looking like a classic, hard-working American. However, there’s a conflict though between being a hip, outdoorsy college student and wearing a hat that was made popular by blue-collar workers.

Of course the wacky outdoor niche would pick up on an old trucker style made popular in the late ’70s and ’80s. Originally adopted by flyover-country brands like John Deere, Bud Light, and Chevy — all of which handed out free logo-emblazoned caps at truck stops — this became an iconic look for the average Joe. Then, as a brief stint of research in style history tells me, the trucker hat made a comeback in 2000s mainstream style. In the 2010s or so, the outdoor industry and community finally picked it up in full effect. Patagonia trucker hats seem to be the go-to, with other outdoor brands following behind. They’re worn hiking, biking, skiing, climbing; hats go anywhere from underneath helmets to buried in thick parkas. The dirtbag culture has fully embraced the trend.

At least part of the trucker hat’s popularity can be explained from its functionality, the breathable mesh back provides adequate airflow for intense activities. But, it’s still a little bizarre. Just look at the accompanying dirty flannels, deteriorating jeans, and worn-out Chacos. The trucker hat is the key item to top off the bum look and show everyone else you like to climb rocks. Construction workers and lumberjacks wear flannels, truckers and farmers wear trucker hats. It’s American. Being outside is American, and the ’70s just seems like a classic American decade, right? After my thorough investigation, this is the only reasonable conclusion I can draw as to why trucker hats are so in right now with the out-of-doors crowd. In the end, it’s a simple unspoken rule that the addition of a trucker hat automatically steps up one’s outdoor style game tenfold.

c.hammock@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Chris Hammock

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Wet Your Whistle: Water Purifier Review

In a state like Utah, where most of the best outdoor opportunities are covered in sand and baked in hot sun, water is the most essential resource. No trip will be fun or successful without a few liters of this life-preserving liquid. Humans can’t drink just any water we come across like camel, but we can employ technology to make it safer for consumption. Here are a few of the most common ways to purify water.

LIFESTRAW

This neat little blue straw is by far the trendiest of water purification devices, and for good reason. It is incredibly simple, compact (just nine inches long and weighs two ounces), and allows you to drink from just about any water source. There’s no pre-filtering or skimming out silt. It’s just dunk and drink. However, the straw requires you to be at a water source or carry one with you. Pairing the Lifestraw with a Nalgene is not a bad way to combat this, but drinking out of a bottle with an oversized straw is more than just a slight inconvenience. Having to stop every few minutes, unscrew your bottle, put the straw in, then blow the excess water back out of the straw can quickly become tedious. Even worse, it can’t be used with water bladders. At $20 though, there is no reason not to pick one up. Lifestraw’s small size and versatility make it the optimal backup water purifier to keep in your pack at all times.

 

KATADYN HIKER

This is often the go-to filter for big group trips. It has the ability to purify large amounts of water reasonably quickly (only a few minutes per Nalgene), and does not require any wait time. You could drink the water right from the out-hose if you wanted. The downsides are that it requires some physical effort to pump multiple liters of water, and the filters are easily clogged. If this happens and there isn’t a replacement available, the pump might still work, but it will be painfully, infuriatingly slow. Be sure to check and double check the condition of the filter before leaving. Pumping in shallow, sandy areas or in very murky water is almost sure to stuff up the filter. While the most expensive filter on the list, averaging about $70, the Katadyn is still well worth it.

 

STERIPEN

Of all the water purifiers out there, this one is perhaps the least suited to backpacking. The UV light that the SteriPEN uses to kill all the harmful bacteria can only work in perfectly clear water. If there are objects floating around or silt obstructing the UV rays, the bacteria have a much higher chance at survival and you have a much higher chance of diarrhea. This filter is best for travel or a home preparedness kit. At around $60, it’s steeper than a Lifestraw anyways.

 

 

 

IODINE/CHLORINE TABLETS

Depending on the water source, this can be the most efficient (and painless) method of cleaning your water. All that is required is filling the bottles with water clear enough to not gross you out and adding the correct amount of chemicals. Instructions are on the package, but typically the ratio is one chlorine tablet or a few drops of iodine per liter of water. Allow the chemical the correct amount of time to work its magic (length also shown on product package) and remember to bleed the threads before drinking. This means turning the water bottle upside down and unscrewing the lid a little so some can leak out through the threads of the top. If not, you could end up getting Giardia from the little bits of unpurified water sitting trapped in the cap. Katadyn makes Micropur chlorine tablets that run for $20 for a pack of 20 tablets. Polar Pure makes an iodine cleaner for $20 that is able to purify 2,000 quarts.

 

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

Feature Photo courtesy of Aquamira

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Product Review: The Bear Bowl

The Bear Bowl, from start-up company The Bear Minimum, is a lightweight, compact portable cooking pot designed for backpackers and campers. The pot is flexible and foldable, weighing in at 6.3 oz. with an aluminum base (4.5” x 4.5” x 1”), and PTF3 coated fiberglass making up the four sides of the pot. It folds up neatly and can easily be stored away, which is great for backpackers who want to save space. I brought it into the elements to test it out.

In the wind and rain on a pocket-sized stove, I was unable to bring the water to a boil even after 18 minutes. The metal takes time to heat the water because of the fiberglass walls. Cooking eggs, bacon, and asparagus with the Bear Bowl on a basic two-burner stove was a success. It only took six minutes to fully cook everything, and when it came time to transfer the eggs from the pot to a plate, I had no problems with the food sticking. After dinner, I unfolded the pot and easily wiped it down.

The last test I conducted was in my home on my kitchen stove. In this controlled environment, it still took quite a long time to bring water to a boil in the pot. While waiting for the water to boil, I set my teapot on the stove for comparison. My teapot was ready and whistled at me in under 5 minutes, but the Bear Bowl took another 10 to turn from simmer to a rolling boil. Then came the difficult part. Pouring water from the pot without burning myself with hot water or steam was a struggle. The flexible handle and plastic walls filled with boiling water complicated things.  I spilled quite a bit of water as I struggled to direct the stream of scalding water into my cup.

The Bear Bowl is a good concept, but it needs a few more tweaks before it’s useful in every camping and backpacking situation. The size and weight is great for backpacking and the removable paracord-wrapped handle can come in handy in  emergencies. If you have hopes of cooking cup-o-noodles, oatmeal, or making a hot cup of tea while camping, boil a small amount of water and take precautions so you don’t accidentally spill hot liquid on yourself or others. This is not a perfect product by any means, but as a prototype is works well and I could see myself buying one in the future. I’ll definitely plan on packing the Bear Bowl for future camping or backpacking trips.

Pros:

-Compact design, lightweight, and packs flat for portability.

-Plastic is high quality, does not melt even when subjected to extreme high heat.

-Non-stick surface makes it very easy to clean.

-Great for cooking/heating up food directly.

Cons:

-Because heat is only conducted through the base plate, it can take 10-15 minutes to bring water to a rapid boil.

-No pour spout, so it’s difficult to pour hot liquids without accidentally burning yourself.

-Paracord handle seems like a good idea, but the pot would benefit from a sturdier handle that doesn’t bend as much.

Buy it here: http://bearminimum.org

e.aboussou@wasatchmag.com

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How to: sharpen your knives

It’s always good to have a sharp knife. The better condition your knife is in, the easier it is to work with. Maintenance of your knife is important to keep you safe and preserve the life of your knife. Here are the three main stages of sharpening a knife.

The first stage is for heavy sharpening: when your blade is very dull or has damaged edges. This is when you use a coarse grit sharpener. Keeping the blade between 13 and 16 degrees, stroke the knife blade first across the grit. Repeat this process on both sides of the blade until the shape becomes a sharp “V.” When your blade gets too thick after repeated wear and sharpening, you know it’s time to retire that one. A thin blade is better than a thick blade.

The second stage is medium to final sharpening. This is for touching up dull blades. The sharpeners used in this stage can be a diamond sharpener or a natural sharpening stone, either of which can be used wet or dry. The steps to sharpen your knife in this stage are the same as stage one.

The final stage is fine sharpening a shaving edge. Sharpening fluid is a must in this stage. Use light strokes on both sides of the blade to remove any burrs left behind from the previous stages. The knife should be razor sharp after this stage. A razor sharp blade is necessary for the most efficient cutting with a minimum applied force. Remember that a sharp knife is a safe knife. Applying additional force to a dull blade is when injuries can occur.

p.creveling@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Peter Creveling

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Rack up on Secondhand Gear

One thing we all wonder when taking on outdoor activities: where am I going to find cheap gear? Gear is an expensive part of outdoor recreation, and the most valuable. Ever tried mountain biking without a bike or skiing without skis? Not possible. Online shopping is good enough for getting the random bits and bobs you need and can offer some competitive prices, but for those important purchases, like new bindings or a different pair of climbing shoes, nothing can beat in-store service.

Feeling and interacting with your gear is critical for checking the fit and functionality. Also, having an expert consult you on which style they prefer, or which brands to avoid is beyond helpful especially for new buyers. While major stores like REI have big selections and helpful staff, they have only brand new, full retail price equipment. Those of you not wanting to sell an organ or skip meals for a year to pay for that new kayak may want to start looking at gear consignment stores.

These are places where people, usually professionals in the industry, sell their gear through a third party. The store takes a cut and the seller gets the rest. This means that almost all the gear will be used, albeit in pretty good condition, and much cheaper. The selections fluctuate based on what the store receives at that time so it’s worth checking in a few times if they don’t currently have what you’re looking for.

Around Salt Lake there are a couple gear consignment stores worth visiting:

2ND TRACKS SPORTS

2927 E 3300 S, Salt Lake City, UT

2nd Tracks Sports, as the name might imply, specializes in used ski gear. They have enough boots to outfit an army of centipedes and an entire room designated to skis. The workers are very informed and can help you find what kind of skis you’re going to need. Depending on what style you get, prices for skis and binding can range from just under $100 to $700. They also offer services like waxing and mounting bindings. If you don’t want to buy skis, you can rent a pair for $130 for the season or $25 for the day. Racks on racks of parkas and snow pants take up the left side of the store. Sprinkled throughout are beacons, probes, and snow shovels for your backcountry set up. This is definitely the place to go if you’re looking to add a cheap pair of skis to your collection or just get started in the sport.

INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT

3265 E 3300 S, Salt Lake City, UT

Although IME is not a gear consignment store, it is niche enough to warrant mentioning. Packed into a single room strip mall store is everything you could need for climbing or mountaineering. As you walk in, you’ll immediately see coils of brightly colored rope lined around the top of the front desk area. To the left, a wall of climbing shoes. To the right of that a small collection of canyoneering specific packs and rope bags, which are hard to come by. The back counter blocks a display wall chock full of every kind of climbing anchor, crampon, and miscellaneous technical gear you could ever reasonably need. Finally, the right wall of the store is dominated by extreme cold weather gear for high elevation camps. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and friendly.

THE GEAR ROOM

2258 E Fort Union Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT

The Gear Room is a local shop opened up by two brothers who love the Wasatch. The store lies on the spectrum somewhere between IME and 2nd Tracks. It is a consignment/used gear retailer so the prices remain relatively low. The selection circulates pretty regularly so you can either score a great deal or strikeout completely. Getting a deal here takes persistence, but new climbers can definitely score. $100 will get you shoes, a harness, a carabiner, and an ATC; everything needed to start hitting the gym. For more experienced climbers, used carabiners, quick draws, and climbing anchors dot the wall. Just make sure to double check the security before climbing on them. The whole left wall is covered in packs and skis. While the ski selection isn’t as big as 2nd Tracks, they still have a decent amount and the prices are competitive.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

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