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Our Book is Done and We Are Back on the Road

Old 07-21-08, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by neilfein
They could scratch the words in the sand using rocks and seashells for punctuation.
Or use smoke signals instead of the Internet.
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Old 07-21-08, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by neilfein
They could scratch the words in the sand using rocks and seashells for punctuation.
The ephemeral book of bike touring . . . great idea! Perhaps for longer lasting tomes, they could scratch the words out on the asphalt with Cheetos?
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Old 07-21-08, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by wagathon
The ephemeral book of bike touring . . . great idea! Perhaps for longer lasting tomes, they could scratch the words out on the asphalt with Cheetos?

Or read it to us using a series of chirps and squeaks!
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Old 07-22-08, 10:42 PM
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Wow, after we posted our last message we rode through the rain and wind for three days to reach the next place with internet access, Whitehorse, Yukon, in beautiful Northwest Canada. When we finally sat down at a coin operated internet kiosk we expected more bashing, but to our surprise, we had support from many of you. We read that while most everyone agreed that it was wrong to post links to our books Cindie and I were welcome on the forums and encouraged to remain active. (More on our participation below) Thanks to all of you who went against the tide and voiced your support to what we have tried to accomplish on bicycles. Now I am spending the day mulling it all over in a campground and writing this offline in an MS Word file and can only remember parts of the whole thread. Please forgive me if I do not mention people by name or specifics of your post.

Let me (Tim) first apologize for posting links to our books. Although we have never read all of the rules for posting on the bike forums we had suspicions that it was against the rules but also would be tolerated because we saw that others had done the same. We also do not always adhere to rules such as obeying the speed limit, (when we had a car) or adhering to the luggage weight limit on airlines. We are full of inconsistencies and are never going to tell people that we walk the high road. In my experience those who claim to live by the highest ideals have the furthest to fall when they are caught being human. We do promise to read and follow all of the forum rules in the future.

I want to clarify the rule we broke. It was not some cosmic restriction to prevent the evils of advertising or the commercializing of a sacred sport. These topics could be debated in another thread. The plain truth is that Bike Forums wants people like us to pay for the privilege of advertising on their site. I would happily pay and be one of the many ads you see here but our books would not generate the revenue to cover the cost of the ad. Please note, I do not blame Bike Forums for their business model or rules. If I had a site like theirs, I would do the same. I would also expect a certain amount of small things to slip under the radar. Like I said we are full of inconsistencies and we tried to slip through like we saw others doing but we got busted and paid the price of giving those who oppose us a real reason to work against us instead of some of the irrelevant stuff they usually come up with like us having an ugly or boring web site.

We learned one thing from the criticism. A couple of times on forums we were called “freeloaders” but never understood what they were talking about until someone was good enough to point out that this insult came from the donation button we have on our Help Continue Our Travels page. I added the donation button back in late 2002 when such things were popular and did not think much about it until now. The next time I get a chance to work on the web site, I intend to remove the donation button. We much prefer selling books and since we wrote the first one the donations have tapered off to nothing.

To address our photo purchase agreements and copyright issues, we sell photos from our site to newspapers, magazines, and book authors. They usually need written permission to use the photos in their publications; we just automated that process and charge a small fee for our photos. They appreciate a quick easy written permission system and we like the small stream of income. If you look on our site we offer the use of our photos for free in web based media in exchange for a link back to our site as long as they do not pull the photo from our server.

The reason for the strong wording on these pages came about with the rise of free blog hosting services like Blogger, Wordpress, and others. These free blog hosts usually have a limit of 50MB of storage which does not allow for many photos to be stored there. People have learned to grab photos from our server and have them appear on there blog avoiding the storage limit because they are stored on our server. The data transfer, also called bandwidth, is added to our server (I do not think I am explaining this very well so maybe Neil can clarify). A few cases of this I could easily overlook but when literally thousands of people began stealing our bandwidth from our server our site slowed down considerably and this additional bandwidth costs us more money from our hosting service. To add insult to injury some of these people have even claimed to have shot the picture themselves and given us no credit. So if it sounds heavy-handed it is meant to be preventative, and just so ya know, we have never sued anyone. Of course, if a student writes and asks to use a photo in a school report, permission is always granted.

Cindie and I desperately want to be part of the online bike touring community but have repeatedly failed. This has always been confusing to us because we are well received in non bike groups like traveling motorcyclists, RVers, backpackers, and anyone who dreams of a life outside of the box. In fact, cyclists only account for 10 – 15% of our web site traffic. Even though we are proud of the fact that we have spread the message, out side of the cycling world, that you can live life and travel without a gasoline addiction, we want to fit in with others who share our same passions. We don’t live in a neighborhood, belong to a local cycling club, or have other opportunities to have deeper social interactions with our own kind (bike tourists) other than brief encounters on the road.

We hear the many concerns that we do not contribute more on the forums and will try to post, respond, and interact more here and on CrazyGuy. We always have the problem of limited internet access because we are between cities, especially in the immediate future when we ride in the more remote areas of the Yukon and British Columbia, Canada. It is ironic that our perpetual bike tour makes us an inconsistent member of the online bike touring community. Please give us a couple months to reach the more populated West Coast of the USA before we make improvements in this area.

We have tried, especially in recent months, to stay away from discussing gear on the forums where it can be seen as a conflict of interest. This is a little sad because we only accept relationships with companies we truly believe in and could add to several threads we have seen but, nonetheless, we will not discuss gear outside of our web site. This means we cannot comment on a large portion of topics we see discussed here which may also explain our lack of commenting. This only leaves us with topics such as touring places and routes but if we have not been to the place of interest recently I feel that our experiences are to outdated to be useful. Politics, even as they relate to bike touring, are out because I have been out of the USA for so long that I feel like a stranger in my own country.

I hope this clears some of the air and we can all get back to the beautiful side of bike touring.

Tim Travis
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Old 07-22-08, 11:09 PM
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I sense a lack of honesty. Not lying ... just no real openness (genuiness): you show more vulnerability to motorists that pass you dong 65 mph on a narrow coastal highway than than you communicate to your fellow cyclists through your writing. Of course, even if your writing ... sucks ... you still got biking. However, so do your readers. Dig deeper man: show us that touring for a living is all 'Da Bomb. Share with us that will never experience the life of fulltime touring what it's like, e.g., some short and insightful passages from the book like a serial. And, I don't get the worry about pictures ...
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Old 07-23-08, 01:46 AM
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Originally Posted by downtheroad.org

We have tried, especially in recent months, to stay away from discussing gear on the forums where it can be seen as a conflict of interest. This is a little sad because we only accept relationships with companies we truly believe in and could add to several threads we have seen but, nonetheless, we will not discuss gear outside of our web site. This means we cannot comment on a large portion of topics we see discussed here which may also explain our lack of commenting.

Tim Travis
It may seem like a conflict of interest for you but not for us. The gear reviews are the only useful information gleaned from your site.

I have traveled extensively, on my own, courtesy of Uncle Sugar and on business. The information that is most useful to most of us is avoiding having to buy the same gear twice.

If you withhold comment to protect your business relationships then I guess you have earned the reputation that preceded you.
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Old 07-23-08, 03:58 AM
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If anyone has a few hours or days/nights to spare, take a look at Peter Gostelow's 'ride home'

www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/alongridehome

Could be 'da bomb' or beautiful side of bike touring, small small ads, no book deal...yet, minimal politics.
Apologies for going off topic too.
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Old 07-23-08, 04:32 AM
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I'm glad Tim and Cindie intend to continue to contribute to this forum. I agree with their reluctance to comment on gear as they obviously have a vested interest and while I'm sure they use good equipment and know a lot their advice would always be seen as biased by commercial factors.

I'm not sure of Tim's and Cindie's way of connecting to the web, and there are obviously some dead zones in the wilds, but a wifi and 3G enabled laptop, or smartphones like the iphone, have greatly increased access to the internet.
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Old 07-23-08, 05:30 AM
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I finally read this thread after intentionally ignoring it for a while. I probably should have just continued to ignore it. To me their posts that I have seen, seem to be written with directing hits to their website and selling their books in mind with little or no intent to either share or glean information.

That said, the level of the venom is a bit much, better to just ignore them if you find their posts distasteful as some of us do. I don't really want to read their posts, but I wouldn't presume to say they should be kicked off when apparently quite a few others find their posts worthwhile.
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Old 07-23-08, 07:41 AM
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The OPs obviously have information and opinions they'd like to share. This issue has been dragged out far too much, and we as a group have made a pair of experienced touring cyclists feel unwelcome. I feel a part of BF, but I'm not proud of this.

I've noticed that downtheroad.org's posts sometimes just link to their site rather than summarizing the information in the post. I've been guilty of doing the same thing from time to time.

That the site makes money is relevant, but I'd think there should be some latitude here given the extent of their travels, and how much they have to offer.

The essay on being arrested in China is fascinating, and an important cautionary tale to anyone planning to tour there. I'd love to see Tim and Cindie participating here more, and I hope they can eventually be made to feel welcome.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by neilfein
I've noticed that downtheroad.org's posts sometimes just link to their site rather than summarizing the information in the post. I've been guilty of doing the same thing from time to time.
Nothing wrong with linking to a site. I do that to my journal sometimes. The problem I see with some of their posts is that it seems like the purpose of the post is to promote their site or their book. Maybe I misread their intentions though.

Originally Posted by neilfein
That the site makes money is relevant, but I'd think there should be some latitude here given the extent of their travels, and how much they have to offer.
I agree, but I don't see anything wrong with someone calling them on it when they step over the line a bit too far in their self promotion. I don't think they will be universally received in a completely warm fashion in any touring forum as long as they appear to be "hawking their wares". So they either need to not do that or expect criticism from some posters. I would advise them to try to combine a thicker hide with a bit less self promotion.

Also I know that funding a tour even partially with solicited donations is a very unpopular thing with at least some of the touring community, myself included. That tends to really raise the hackles of some posters. That just is how it is.

I know that I have been put off by some of their posts and probably missed some good information by generally avoiding their threads because of it.
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Old 07-23-08, 08:55 AM
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Although, to be honest, almost everyone gets flamed once in a while, and often without good reason.
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Old 07-23-08, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Nothing wrong with linking to a site. I do that to my journal sometimes. The problem I see with some of their posts is that it seems like the purpose of the post is to promote their site or their book. Maybe I misread their intentions though.


I agree, but I don't see anything wrong with someone calling them on it when they step over the line a bit too far in their self promotion. I don't think they will be universally received in a completely warm fashion in any touring forum as long as they appear to be "hawking their wares". So they either need to not do that or expect criticism from some posters. I would advise them to try to combine a thicker hide with a bit less self promotion.

Also I know that funding a tour even partially with solicited donations is a very unpopular thing with at least some of the touring community, myself included. That tends to really raise the hackles of some posters. That just is how it is.

I know that I have been put off by some of their posts and probably missed some good information by generally avoiding their threads because of it.

I would tend to agree with your observation but also add what hurts their cause is the smarmy nature of their posts.

They come across as:

*Man, we got a sweet deal, we would tell you about it but you can read our book to find out more. By the way, we would tell you what gear is good and bad but we do not want to screw up our sweet deal. If you go to our website you can help us prolong our sweet deal by buying stuff on our links. Did I tell you we got married on our bikes? Yea, we are totally self involved with no children or elderly to take care of just us and our sweet deal. Did I tell you about our sweet deal? It is in the book. Just us and our sweet deal.


* My words used to reflect how they come across.
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Old 07-23-08, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by wagathon
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What are you talking about. The quoted text that you claim is from our book is not anything I ever wrote in a book or on our web site. You either have me confused with someone else or this is slander plain and simple. If you can not show what book this came from and prove it is a case of confusing two authors you are guilty of slander which is illegal and surly enough to get you kick off the bike forums.

This goes way past the line. I would like to ask the bike forum community what we should do about this.

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Old 07-23-08, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by downtheroad.org
What are you talking about. The quoted text that you claim is from our book is not anything I ever wrote in a book or on our web site. You either have me confused with someone else or this is slander plain and simple. If you can not show what book this came from and prove it is a case of confusing two authors you are guilty of slander which is illegal and surly enough to get you kick off the bike forums.

This goes way past the line. I would like to ask the bike forum community what we should do about this.
WOW!

Straight to the lawsuit!

I do not see where he said it came from your book.

I did not think it even resembles your writing. (Considering it held my attention and seemed interesting)

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Old 07-23-08, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by vettefrc2000
WOW!

Straight to the lawsuit!

I do not see where he said it came from your book.

I did not think it even resembles your writing. (Considering it held my attention and seemed interesting)
We never said anything about a lawsuit. You are just trying to escalate the situation.
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Old 07-23-08, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by downtheroad.org
We never said anything about a lawsuit. You are just trying to escalate the situation.







No, just calling it the way I see it. I got my own "sweet deal" as a PhD student.
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Old 07-23-08, 09:20 PM
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Wow,...maybe I'm a idiot, or ignorant. But people seem hypersensitive.
I think its cool what these people have done, and I enjoy reading about their travels.
I envy them....... in a good way!

Mark
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Old 07-24-08, 01:41 AM
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I can see both sides of this debate. On the one hand, Tim and Cindie, I too have sometimes found your posts seem more like advertisements than anything else.

On the other hand, I can really appreciate just how much it costs to run a website alone, not even thinking about trying to build a business that would support full-time touring out of it. Just as an example, our site costs us about $200 a year in server fees plus what we spend on accessing the internet, which more often than not is from internet cafes where we pay hourly. And we are not factoring in anything for all the time we put into writing and uploading. To try and just offset those costs, we put Google ads on our resources section but in six months we've made a grand total of $28 and Google doesn't even pay out until you reach $100 so it's hardly a money-making venture just yet.

When you are faced with these kinds of costs and yet you want to maintain a resource for the community and you've put a lot of time into that resource then of course it's tempting to put posts on forums to attract attention to your site. We try and contribute as much as possible anytime we can give feedback but I always worry when I post about something new on our site that I will have overstepped the line and receive the reaction Tim & Cindie have gotten here and other places.

We are lucky because we enjoy doing the site and we will not be touring forever like Tim & Cindie so we can lose money for a short time but if we decided to do this long term we would face a stark choice between making a site like theirs and promoting it aggressively or not doing the trip.

The rules on the forums (not just this one) are also unclear. I have seen plenty of people put a post up for their book on here and other sites and get only positive comments so I really don't know what to think if and when we finish our book... very much in the early writing stages now anyway.
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Old 07-24-08, 05:53 AM
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+1

Originally Posted by avatarworf
I can see both sides of this debate.
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Old 07-24-08, 07:15 AM
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Tim and Cindy

Tim and Cindy.

Fear not the detractors and nay-sayers. You are out there doing your thing and as a cycle tourist myself I have enjoyed the parts of your website I have looked at, as well as reading your book, and I thank you for the information and enjoyment I have received-thus far.

Sure, self promotion might not be everyone's cup of tea, but in their own way everyone pushes their own barrow regardless of whether or not it is an advert, website, self promotion post, signature tag line, bike forums name and identifying picture, or simply posting an *opinion* on a forum. That is the great thing about democratic society - we all have the chance, and a choice.

For those who don't like the ads on their site - you don't have to look at or click on them, nor are you forced to. Just accept that it is Tim and Cindy's democratic right of choice to put them there.
For those who don't like their self promotion - just don't read it.
Those who do not want to - will not, and those who do - will. It's not rocket science (well, maybe to some).


Keep the pedals turning Tim and Cindy and the website running and the BF posts coming. It all goes towards the product of the big melting pot of Cycle Touring information

Regards

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Old 07-24-08, 09:27 AM
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Granted, I'm a newcomer to posting on this board, though I've been lurking for a long time. I've read the OP's site and found it useful in parts - their experiences with panniers was very instructive to me, and was a valuable data point when I was deciding what to get. I've only read through the first few months of their travels and hope to continue, since I find the concept of their journey interesting.

Perhaps I haven't seen previous messages from them that were blatantly commercial in nature, but I don't see the fuss about their post. They finished their book and have some updates on their website, what's the big deal about that? Looking at the beginning of the thread, it's clear that some posters were excited about learning more about the book and getting information about it. Then someone posted a message which was just an attack more than criticism (which can and should be welcomed, but since we're presumably civilized people, can be done constructively), the OP bristled at being labelled an MLM snow job, and people got in a snit about them being freeloaders who can't take criticism.

Sure, the Internet is a marketplace of ideas, but there is a difference between criticism and attacking someone through ad hominem rhetoric. One would hope that the touring community would foster the former and recoil from the latter.

The fundamental problem people seem to have is that the OPs are, for lack of a better term, "professional tourers" who are funding their continued travels on revenues from the content they have produced. They have said on their site that the tour will finish if they run out of money. If you are not interested and don't give money, and enough other people feel the same way, it will take care of itself. In the meantime, it seems arrogant to claim that just because there are people who write their blogs for free (and this ignores the fact that from what I gather, much of the OP's journalling is online that gives at least the basics, about the same level as the average touring journal I've read), that they are impure for doing it their way (this is the impression I've gotten from reading the comments). Their own site claims that far from this being something they did spur of the moment, they spent years preparing for it. Besides, does anyone else on this board have to justify how they got their money to tour? If I was a corporate lawyer representing some unpleasant business interests and making lots of money that way, am I purer as a tourer? What if, like a friend of mine, I had a huge amount of money left to me, allowing me to travel the world at whim?

Finally, I'm irritated by the comment that by funding their dreams, we collectively are losing out on our own. That is a condescending attitude. I have no great desire to spend every day for the rest of my life living in a tent that I carry on a bike. My life goals are finishing my doctorate and getting a good faculty or industrial research position, and doing research that will hopefully be interesting and have a positive effect on people. I think that would be a greater contribution to society for me than bike touring the rest of my life. However, I don't mind living vicariously through people who are doing so - isn't that the point of travel writing in the first place? Also, would the negative commenters be complaining about Bill Bryson on whatever the hiking equivalent for travelogues might be (Crazy Guy with a Pack, perhaps)? There's a reason people will pay money (and why I gladly did) for his book: it was hillarious and involving. Are the OP's books? I don't know (though I will grant that I don't think they are Bryson or Krakauer). Nobody's forcing me to shell out to read them, so maybe I will and maybe not. In any event, the personal attacks are too much and criticism can be done in a way that doesn't have to be a negative attack. Everyone's free to post the way they want. I could have used this post to flame everyone I didn't agree with and call them a bunch of names, but I would hope that this discourse is preferable.

PS: I think if the OPs are willing to talk about the negative experiences they have had with the gear that they are sponsored for, or shortcomings they have found with it along with the good things, they should be able to. A good company should know that no product is perfect and in the real world, flaws will be found - I don't think getting sponsored gear should prevent them from writing about that. If their contracts do not allow for criticism though, then it would be unethical to discuss the gear at all.

PPS: The OPs should watch their own tone and be heedful that a respectful discourse works both ways. While they were perhaps rightfully annoyed by the comments about the "sweet deal", their reaction about calling it slander was inappropriate. Breathe deeply and count to ten if you're going to post when angry, and read carefully before you go on the offensive, otherwise you are escalating a situation that could have been avoided. (Looks like bike commuting is causing me to go zen or something...)
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Old 07-24-08, 12:04 PM
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As a guy who's been touring for 26 years now I have this to say.
Before the internet, this type of information (or spam) was never available. That said, maybe some can learn from it or not. It doesn't really matter. If the OP wants to make his living doing this, who cares? Not me. If the OP can continue to do this indefinately with donations, who cares? Not me.
I enjoy reading informal blogs of others tours. Long adventures of this sort I find boring and I would never spent time sorting through that website listed. To cumbersome.
To me there is a fine line between a self supported tour and a vacation. Bicycling touring and traveling by bicycle are two very different things to me.
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Old 07-24-08, 12:36 PM
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After reading the web site I have this to ask.
How, after writing one book, can there be such little information on the tech pages?
No opinions on components or frames? I would think you would have an opinion on what wheel sets have worked for you?
Out of the twenty or so wheel sets I've bought or built I know what worked for me.
Name some good and bad products. Nothings perfect.
Seriously, put some real beef in this section. Otherwise its just blather.

Edit
After further reading I realize why. But even if Big Agnes is a sponsor and you sell the tents a realistic review is still possible. I've had two of these tents and there are things I'd change.

Last edited by ricohman; 07-24-08 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 07-24-08, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by vettefrc2000
No, just calling it the way I see it. I got my own "sweet deal" as a PhD student.

Who wants to lay odds on how many more times vette can mention that he/she is a Ph.D student ?

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