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Thread: Tips and Tricks

  1. #351
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    I've only got one tour under my belt but one thing I found out during it was to trust the bike route signs if they are there. The first day I wound up going my way I picked off google maps because it was a little shorter than the way the bike route suggested and wound having to ride 2 miles of loose gravel road. The second morning I got on the road and the bike route sign looked like it was taking me on to the on ramp of the freeway. I road around for at least an hour on both sides of the freeway, checking my phone map, my gps map, trying to figure out how to get the half mile up the freeway to the next road that I needed and couldn't get there. Finally I said F it and went for it. About 50 yards down the freeway on ramp a small slightly overgrown bike path appeared off to the side behind some barriers. From there on out if I saw bike route signs that was different from my planned route I followed the signs and always made it to where I wanted to go.

  2. #352
    Flying and Riding sam21fire's Avatar
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    Hey Jayr, was that in Northern Calif? My daughter and I did that very thing a few years ago. Frustrating and amusing at the same time.

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    Yep. Trying to get to Hwy 12 toward Napa/Vallejo from Cordelia.

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    Flying and Riding sam21fire's Avatar
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    That sounds about right...not sure exactly where we were since we were exploring (ie; lost) at the time.

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    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=mechanicalron;8486099]Ever break a spoke on the drive side of your rear wheel? Buy a handfull of spokes a bit to long for your wheel and put a "Z" bend at the end to hook into the hub flange. You can use the spoke nipple from the broken spoke and you wont need a free wheel tool or need to even take your wheel off the bike! This spoke will out last a reg spoke and it works great.

    My first time on this thread and I feel like I struck gold on the first try. That is a brilliant idea and will save me having to carry a small channel lock, small chain whip, and cassette tool. Definitely top 3 bike related solutions and I am having a hard time remembering the other two right now.
    Thanks.

  6. #356
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    Pedal brakes off in the middle of no where? Tape it to your shoe and make due.

    Need an extra water bottle mount? Use a 1.5L bottle, cut it in half and tape it to your handle bars. Now u can carry a 500 or 600 mL bottle no problem and its super easy to access too.

    Electrical tape and hose clamps are avaiable worldwide and can be used to mount 3rd world country backracks to anything... No rack mounts required

    Rice bags make suitable panniers and usually free

  7. #357
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alekhine View Post
    Not sure if this silly thing has been mentioned yet, but it's a nice little tip.

    Camping & Drinking 101, The shoe trick:

    Where'd you get that chess board? I want that. Does it weigh a lot? Its obviously smaller than a shoe, so that's great news.

    My friend came up with a great idea for a traveling chess board. She took an old bandana and colored in squares to make a chess board (proper calculations were taken to get the right number of squares and to make sure they were all the same size). Then she bought a set of tiny plastic chess pieces so when you're moving, you just wrap the pieces in the bandana and when you're ready to play you just find a relatively flat surface, stretch the board out, and secure it with some rocks!
    "When you think you're better than the rest of the traffic on the road, keep thinking that, 'cause you are." - Todd Antrim

  8. #358
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    When the liner strips in your helmet have reached the end of their life, don't buy new strips or a new helmet. Just fold a wash rag and and insert it in place of the strips. This works as well as the strips and also keeps the sweat out of your eyes.

  9. #359
    1. e4 Nf6 Alekhine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peddlenow View Post
    Where'd you get that chess board? I want that. Does it weigh a lot? Its obviously smaller than a shoe, so that's great news.

    My friend came up with a great idea for a traveling chess board. She took an old bandana and colored in squares to make a chess board (proper calculations were taken to get the right number of squares and to make sure they were all the same size). Then she bought a set of tiny plastic chess pieces so when you're moving, you just wrap the pieces in the bandana and when you're ready to play you just find a relatively flat surface, stretch the board out, and secure it with some rocks!
    I bought it through some online vendor back in 2005 or so. Weighs 9.9 ounces. It's a really common board, actually, and there are many similar to it. Its best feature is that the magnetic pieces really stick to it. You can turn the whole thing upside down and they won't fall off, but they also have a tendency to want to stick to each other, so a pegboard set might be smarter.

    It has since gone up in price quite a bit though. When I bought mine it was $15; now it looks like this same set is $45 at common online shops like this one: http://www.chesshouse.com/travel_chess_sets_s/77.htm

    Fortunately there are cheaper sets available, if price is an issue. Google "travel chess sets" and you'll be able to shop around, if none of the sets in the above link are agreeable to you.

    I like your friend's idea! You can also buy roll-up boards from these same chess set vendors in standard sizes or make your own in any number of ways, just like she did. One of the great things about chess is that where there's a will, there's a way to make a set. One could even paint bottle caps for pieces, or any number of other things. You could even just bring a sharpie pen and collect smooth rocks of contrasting colors and draw the pieces on top of them, and forgo the need to take a set of pieces entirely. I always used a Crown Royal bag with the drawstring (I used to collect them when I bartended for just such purposes) to hold the pieces for my larger sets.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by Alekhine; 12-29-11 at 06:21 AM.
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    Great thread.
    spent all day reading it and I don't think these have been captured:

    BUY EGGS FROM ROADSIDE STALLS (AND OTHER PRODUCE FOR THAT MATTER). PACK NEWSPAPER ON TOP OF THE EGGS AND PUT RUBBER BANDS AROUND THE CARTON. I’VE CARRIED EGGS FOR DAYS ON ROUGH SINGLETRACK AND THEY’VE BEEN FINE! CAN BURN THE NEWSPAPER (& EMPTY CARTONS) AS A FIRESTARTER TOO

    IF ITS PISSING DOWN USE PLASTIC BAGS OVER YOUR SOCKS (CAN SECURE WITH RUBBER BANDS – NOT TOO TIGHT) THEN SLIP THEM INTO YOUR RIDING SHOES. WORKS A TREAT AT KEEPING DRY AND WARM!

    USING TYRE LINERS (LIKE MR TUFFY) ADDS ROLLING WEIGHT BUT HELPED ME TO NOT SUFFER ONE PUNCTURE ON A 4000KM TOUR….

    IF YOU GET SICK OF DRIVERS GIVING YOU NO ROOM INVEST IN A GOOD MIRROR (HELMET MIRRORS SEEM TO HAVE THE LEAST VIBES) AND SWERVE WHEN CARS ARE APPORACHING AT A SAFE DISTANCE LIKE YOU’RE DRUNK AND THEY ALMOST ALWAYS GIVE YOU A WIDE BERTH

    WEAR 2 PAIRS OF KNICKS WITH HQ CHAMOIS…AFTER MONTHS IN THE SADDLE ITS EASY TO END UP BADLY BRUISED!

    LEARN TO BE OBSERVENT. MANY EDIBLE PLANTS OCCUR ON THE ROADSIDE. I’VE FEASTED ON MANY WILD FRUITS AND HERBS. YOU ALSO OBTAIN A KNACK FOR LOCATING TAPS.

    USE LAKES, STREAMS AND THE OCEAN TO BATHE AND FRESHEN UP AFTER A LONG DAYS RIDE. ALSO MAKE THE BEST SPOTS FOR CAMPING!

    KEEP YOUR TYRES WELL INFLATED – I KEEP MINE NEAR MAXIMUM PSI….FIT COMFY GRIPS AND A SUSPENSION SEATPOST TO COMPENSATE

  11. #361
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zenZ View Post
    Great thread.
    spent all day reading it and I don't think these have been captured:

    BUY EGGS FROM ROADSIDE STALLS (AND OTHER PRODUCE FOR THAT MATTER). PACK NEWSPAPER ON TOP OF THE EGGS AND PUT RUBBER BANDS AROUND THE CARTON. I’VE CARRIED EGGS FOR DAYS ON ROUGH SINGLETRACK AND THEY’VE BEEN FINE! CAN BURN THE NEWSPAPER (& EMPTY CARTONS) AS A FIRESTARTER TOO

    IF ITS PISSING DOWN USE PLASTIC BAGS OVER YOUR SOCKS (CAN SECURE WITH RUBBER BANDS – NOT TOO TIGHT) THEN SLIP THEM INTO YOUR RIDING SHOES. WORKS A TREAT AT KEEPING DRY AND WARM!

    USING TYRE LINERS (LIKE MR TUFFY) ADDS ROLLING WEIGHT BUT HELPED ME TO NOT SUFFER ONE PUNCTURE ON A 4000KM TOUR….

    IF YOU GET SICK OF DRIVERS GIVING YOU NO ROOM INVEST IN A GOOD MIRROR (HELMET MIRRORS SEEM TO HAVE THE LEAST VIBES) AND SWERVE WHEN CARS ARE APPORACHING AT A SAFE DISTANCE LIKE YOU’RE DRUNK AND THEY ALMOST ALWAYS GIVE YOU A WIDE BERTH

    WEAR 2 PAIRS OF KNICKS WITH HQ CHAMOIS…AFTER MONTHS IN THE SADDLE ITS EASY TO END UP BADLY BRUISED!

    LEARN TO BE OBSERVENT. MANY EDIBLE PLANTS OCCUR ON THE ROADSIDE. I’VE FEASTED ON MANY WILD FRUITS AND HERBS. YOU ALSO OBTAIN A KNACK FOR LOCATING TAPS.

    USE LAKES, STREAMS AND THE OCEAN TO BATHE AND FRESHEN UP AFTER A LONG DAYS RIDE. ALSO MAKE THE BEST SPOTS FOR CAMPING!

    KEEP YOUR TYRES WELL INFLATED – I KEEP MINE NEAR MAXIMUM PSI….FIT COMFY GRIPS AND A SUSPENSION SEATPOST TO COMPENSATE
    Interesting post!

    Regarding eggs, a family I visit in a village about ten kms. from here occasionally gives me a dozen. They wrap each one individually in newspaper and then put them back into the cardboard carton and put a rubber band around the outside of it. The eggs arrive intact, even though I ride home over some rather bumpy roads.

  12. #362
    Senior Member fairymuff's Avatar
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    Shaving oil works better than foam. A 20ml bottle will last longer than 200 ml of foam, and is 10 times smaller and lighter.

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    Me and my girlfriend had a cooking revelation on our last trip. We had been using a hay box oven (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haybox) at home for cooking and thought we would apply the same principle for cooking on the road. The principle is simple - bring your food up to boiling temperature, or cook for a few minutes, take off the heat, insulate and wait. The food will continue cooking as the heat within cannot escape. This works especially well with a spanish style one pot rice dish but can also be applied to other foods such as pasta.

    For the rice. Chop fresh veg if you have it (peppers, garlic, aubergine all work well), fry for few minutes (also works if you don't) with some oil, salt and spices. Add rice (so pan is 1/3 full if you want a full pan when cooked). Fry rice for 30 seconds - 1min. Add same volume of water as rice- I usually measure in a mug but you can do it by eye. Add dehydrated veg if you have it. Bring to the boil. Remove pot from stove (with lid on) and place onto ground or ideally bed of leaves or similar (for insulation) and cover with clothes, sleeping bag etc. Wait 30mins or so and it should be cooked and still piping hot!

    This method saves an incredible amount of fuel when cooking food like rice or pasta that needs to simmer. Is also great if you decide to cook something more extravegant with 2 seperate dishes. For example, the pasta can be cooking in the 'haybox' while you are cooking a sauce on the stove. Worth saying that I carry a woolen waistcoat on cycling trips and this is the first layer to go over the pot, if you dress entirely in synthetics, you may have a problem with them melting if you use this technique.

    Also i have read quite a few tips here on how to cook oatmeal... you don't need to. My standard delicious cycling breakfast is cold oats with cold water added, together with some dried fruit, a sprinkle of sugar and maybe some jam (jelly) if I have it. It works a treat. Oats create their own milk (you can buy it as a milk substitute, or make it just by soaking oats and straining off the liquid), and hot food is a luxury in the morning to me.

    This next tip isn't for everyone but...: one advantage of being on a bike is that you move slower than are car and pick up on so much more thats around you. And there is so often a lot of food on offer. If you are cycling through agricultural areas after harvest time you can come across a wealth of rejected vegetables. Often we have found it difficult to resist carrying too much. But if it is towards the end of a days ride, before camping, there is little to loose by picking it up, cutting off the occasional bad bit and cooking up a feast. This also applies to fruit and nuts, where there's often fallen ones on offer. Also if you learn to recognise a few wild plants and herbs, you soon realise that you are surrounded by free food that you do not have to carry for the whole day/trip.

    Use websites like 'couchsurfing' or 'warmshowers' if you are usually camping. We usually plan a stay with someone for every 3 or 4 days, as its great to relax in a house, with people who know the area, and are, in my experience, always friendly.

  14. #364
    Senior Member Tansy's Avatar
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    Now that someone else has ressurrected this thread, I've a thought to share:

    The longer I've been on the road, the less specialized equipment I keep.

    I left with a cyclist's wardrobe of Lycra. Most of it ended up in a gear exchange bin in Kansas. I only wear my smartwool brand socks when the army surplus shore wool socks are in the wash. I recently replaced my expensive ultralight titanium cookset for a dollar store nonstick saucepan with the handle removed. I've picked up a colorful bedsheet and a fleece blanket along the way. I wear a lot of cotton. I even gave away my trunk bag in favor of a milk crate.

    So, to whom it may concern: don't get caught up in buying your way better. Use cheap gear until you feel the lack, then buy something better if it's worth it. Sometimes simple solutions are more comfortable. However much weigh you carry, you'll get used it to. In my case, I am so happy to carry three extra pounds if it means I don't have to try to saute green beans in a four inch titanium pan!
    Be the change you wish to see in the world.


  15. #365
    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tansy View Post

    So, to whom it may concern: don't get caught up in buying your way better. Use cheap gear until you feel the lack, then buy something better if it's worth it. Sometimes simple solutions are more comfortable. However much weigh you carry, you'll get used it to. In my case, I am so happy to carry three extra pounds if it means I don't have to try to saute green beans in a four inch titanium pan!
    That's great advice and I started laughing out loud when reading your green bean comment.

  16. #366
    Senior Member djyak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PakaLoeff View Post
    Cooking (ONLY for areas with no risk of bears, and if you don't mind a little extra weight): Bring along a vacuum thermos for colder months. After cooking dinner, keep your stove out and take the time to cook some old-fashioned oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon sugar while you admire the stars & stretch out. Put it the thermos and leave it in the foot of your sleeping bag for the night. As soon as you wake up, breakfast is hot & ready, you don't have to fire up the stove for a second time, and the raisins are incredible after an entire night of slow cooking.

    Tent Poles: If they're too long to fit in your panniers, sling them under your top tube (be careful of their width to keep them out of the way of your knees.)
    Still reading all these posts, backwards, but I loved this one! Ready to eat while waiting for the coffee. This forum has some great tips!

  17. #367
    Senior Member djyak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ~Stuart~ View Post
    camel bak = like, but not for longrides
    handlebar bag = never figured out what i would use it for if i had a camel bak

    result... the first (well most likely not) camel bar. bladder in the handlebar bag, food, leatherman, wallet, and map... works like a charm (its been 4 days and 510km and its still working great)


    i suggest putting your water bladder in your handlebar bag (if you are like me and prefer drinking from the bag and not a bottle)
    I've just started touring, but have been mountain biking a long time. I love my camel bak, and would've never thought of doing this, but seems like a great idea!

    Also, one tip I've found while mountain biking, I always carry electrical tape as it's smaller than duct/gorilla tape, and is stretchy. I had a flat tire, actually was punctured throught the side of the tube. Since I had forgotton by tube repair kit, I used some pine tar from a tree, then wrapped the tube with the tape, and the outside of the tire as well. Worked great!

  18. #368
    Senior Member djyak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpmartineau View Post
    Firestarting tip.

    Dip a cotton swab into vaseline, then put it in a ziploc bag. Repeat. When you have many in there, smoosh them so that the vaseline is spread out.

    To start your campfire, just put 4-5 cotton balls under your kindling wood and light them. They'll burn surprisingly long. No need for newspapers for starting the fire.
    Ok, one more tip for fires we came across while mountain biking and got caught in a 3 hour "monsoon" downpour and seeked shelter under some rock outcrops.

    We always carried some cardboard soaked/dipped in some parafin wax. We lay those down under your kindling, and once they get started, there's no stopping them.

  19. #369
    Senior Member RedRider2009's Avatar
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    Wow, just finished reading this entire thread! I am planning on my first 2 week trip in May. Many of these awesome tips will be very useful when my time comes around!

  20. #370
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    When camp cooking I pre mix the cornbread recipe from the Quaker Oats cornmeal box. I pack it in doubled baggies and add extra sugar to it. We mix it up for breakfast and fry it like pancakes. The sugar eliminates the need for syrup and it fries way better than pancake mix because it stays together better and does not stick to the pan. Uneaten pan cakes become bread for a pbj lunch.

    Slightly lower tire pressure on rail trails helps keep tires from sinking in gravel to effectively lower rolling resistance.

    Gel pads under bar tape helps prevent hand numbness.

    Carry duct tape and electrical tape wound on a Formica sample card. Duct tape can repair a tire casing temporarily.

    Carry a nitrile glove in tool kit to keep hand clean when doing chain repairs. We use the heck out of that glove on most trips.

    On a group tour we coordinate cooking, repair, first aid, etc supplies so we have no redundancy. Before we did that we would have three tool kits, three cook kits, three stoves, etc.

    The Esbit solid fuel stoves work great if you adapt cooking to need smaller amounts of hot water.

    Home made litter pails are far better than Ortliebs. I have retired a set of Ortliebs now that I discovered litter pail panniers.

    If you tour alone you meet a lot more people enroute!

    In most conditions you can do an extensive tour with less than 25 pounds of gear per person.

    I do not carry more than two meals of food at a time, and plan to shop daily near the end of the day.

    I plan tours with gradual ramping up mileage so I get in shape enroute. Why pedal 50 miles with a simulated load and wind up back at home when you can be 50 miles on your way?

    I plan a layover day early on the trip and generally do not use it. That way I am always a day ahead of schedule instead of behind and trying to make up time. This single thing makes every tour relaxing because we are always ahead of schedule and can relax if something does happen. It stinks to feel like you are pushed because you are behind schedule.
    Last edited by dwmckee; 03-06-12 at 11:01 PM. Reason: Update

  21. #371
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Something is going to go wrong on every tour. That's part of the joy of touring. It may be a single flat tire, a mechanical failure which develops far from any services, rough weather, fatigue, illness, getting lost or any other mishap. Preparation is important, but there is no way to prepare for every possible problem. That's where attitude comes in. Embrace the entire experience.
    Life is good.

  22. #372
    Avoid trauma Lake_Tom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
    The Esbit solid fuel stoves work great if you adapt cooking to need smaller amounts of hot water.
    Please elaborate. I would like to take my Esbit stove on my next trip and would like to cook something other than the freeze dried meals that we took backpacking. I would like to cook something I bought at the grocery store the day before.
    I smell the spring in the smoky wind.

  23. #373
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lake_Tom View Post
    Please elaborate. I would like to take my Esbit stove on my next trip and would like to cook something other than the freeze dried meals that we took backpacking. I would like to cook something I bought at the grocery store the day before.
    Well, I suggest some trial and error tests before you go to see what works for what you want to cook. We found that while it is easy to boil a half gallon of water on our MSR, it was about impossible with the Esbit. We started figuring out ways to cook with 1 - 3 cups of water at a time instead. We make oatmeal and coffee one cup at a time for example. We make pasta with so little water that there is almost none left when it is cooked. If you want corn on the cob, try steaming it in an eight inch of water instead of submerging it in a half gallon of boiling water. Generally we adapted cooking methods to either cook in small batches or use minimal amounts of water for bigger batches. If you try to use an Esbit as a direct replacement for a powerful stove you are bound to be disappointed, but if you adapt to a Lower BTU need they can work great. One problem with a low power Esbit is that if you try to boil a gallon the heat loss around the sides nearly wipes out the heat gain from the fuel tabs so it nev seems to boil. When you adapt cooking to use a lower power stove it can work great, but you cannot expect to swap it out for a regular stove with no adaption. If you do this the Esbit can be a really light alternative that we have come to love. One last thing with the Esbit is to have a foil or other windscreen too, otherwise the lower heat output mostly heats the wind instead of the pot. Also with freeze dried, maybe if it requires two cups of boiling water, boil the first and add it, then boil the second and add it a few minutes later.

    I am also considering a biolite stove when they become available this spring as an alternative to the Esbit. It is heavier but you do not need to carry any fuel for it which is big savings for a long trip. And it has pretty high heat output. Www.biolitestove.com.
    Last edited by dwmckee; 03-15-12 at 11:23 PM. Reason: Added

  24. #374
    Avoid trauma Lake_Tom's Avatar
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    Thanks, dwmckee. I borrowed the aluminum windscreen from my MSR Whisperlite stove for use with my Esbit stove. It was fine for boiling water.

    As for menu items, I expect I could buy pound of macaroni at the grocery store and a small jar of sauce, then add a can of kidney beans or a can of tuna. I would be throwing away the leftover sauce and have part of a box of macaroni to haul around. Macaroni and cheese would be the same, but I would have to bring some powdered milk and some kind of butter or oil just for the moment when I buy a box of macaroni and cheese.

    Supposedly, attraction of bicycle touring is that one does not have to haul a whole week's worth of food when starting out. That makes it easier than backpacking. But with backpacking, I can select every ingredient down to the last teaspoon of Mrs. Dash.

    We would pack Vigo "Black Beans and Rice" mixes. I imagine adding tiny quarter ounce chunks of Esbit fuel to the stove so that I had continuous heat without getting too darn hot. Esbit fuel burns hot. I don't know how available bean and rice mixes are at remote grocery stores.

    Do you have any recipes?
    I smell the spring in the smoky wind.

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    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lake_Tom View Post
    Thanks, dwmckee. I borrowed the aluminum windscreen from my MSR Whisperlite stove for use with my Esbit stove. It was fine for boiling water.

    As for menu items, I expect I could buy pound of macaroni at the grocery store and a small jar of sauce, then add a can of kidney beans or a can of tuna. I would be throwing away the leftover sauce and have part of a box of macaroni to haul around. Macaroni and cheese would be the same, but I would have to bring some powdered milk and some kind of butter or oil just for the moment when I buy a box of macaroni and cheese.

    Supposedly, attraction of bicycle touring is that one does not have to haul a whole week's worth of food when starting out. That makes it easier than backpacking. But with backpacking, I can select every ingredient down to the last teaspoon of Mrs. Dash.

    We would pack Vigo "Black Beans and Rice" mixes. I imagine adding tiny quarter ounce chunks of Esbit fuel to the stove so that I had continuous heat without getting too darn hot. Esbit fuel burns hot. I don't know how available bean and rice mixes are at remote grocery stores.

    Do you have any recipes?

    The recipe I mentioned above for cornbread pancakes is great. I have to admit though that since we switched to the esbit stove we have fallen back to very basic cooking for some reason. Things like pasta with sauce and tuna. You are making me realize maybe we should get a little mode inspired for cooking a agin. We do eat out a lot I guess and mostly cook just breakfasts and an occasional dinner.

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