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The way we feed ourselves 

There are many ways to feed a hungry cyclist and there is no way to say which one is right or wrong . Just like we are sure your eating habits may not at all resemble ours. However, since we spent 2 years traveling on a bike and continue to do short bike tours around our area, we would like to share how we manage to feed these two hungry bicyclists.

First off, we’d like to mention, that we usually try to have one warm meal a day. Well, unless it is stifling hot outside, that’s when we’d rather have some fresh fruit; or when it is just not feasible to cook something safely, then we resort to making sandwiches or eat tuna out of the can. Also, when we are touring, we burn a lot of calories which turns us into two very hungry cyclists, so we generally double the food portions compared to what we usually eat.

Cooking hamburgers

We are not big fans of overpriced packaged dry-freeze food. Instead we try to cook a regular meal, but we have to be a little bit creative to do this, since we only have one burner and one pot to cook in.

So how do we do this? We try to figure out the best sequence to cook our food in and use the rest of our “camping kitchen” in a way to end up with a half way decent dinner.

Let us introduce you to our camping kitchen  The stove:

MSR Whisperlite International Stove. It has never failed us, works on white gas, which burns clean but is relatively pricey. It also works on regular gasoline, which causes more soot on the stove, but is much cheaper and much easier to come by in most countries.

The pot and pan:

GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker cookware.   It comes complete with a pot, small frying pan, and a lid that fits both. Also two insulated cups with lids and two other small cups, which slide into each other for storage are part of this set. There are measuring cup markings on the cups, which come in handy.  The pot and pan have the most remarkable non-stick coating, which makes cooking and clean up a breeze.  The entire set stacks nicely into the pot itself and it still has enough room to fit most, if not all, of the spices we carry. 

We also keep a corkscrew with a small knife, a P38 can opener, lighters and matches stowed away in our GSI cups.

No we did not, but notice the wooden ladle.

The Dishes:

We each have a 1/2 liter metal cup with lid, an “el cheapo” plastic plate (from the dollar store), Light My Fire titanium sporks (which we found in a campground where they were forgotten by an unfortunate person). We also carry one small plastic bowl (from the dollar store), which we use to mix things in or to make a small salad. It is also handy to protect cookies, chips or other fragile food in our panniers.

Utensils:

A small wooden spoon, a small “el cheapo” plastic spatula (from the dollar store), an “el cheapo” plastic cutting board (another dollar store special), and a small sharp knife.

The plastic and wooden utensils are important to protect the nonstick coating in the GSI Backpacker pot and pan. 

How it all works together

Obviously, we are not able to cook our noodles, meat, and veggies all at the same time. So often times, we will start with our basic food stables, such as cooking pasta, gnocchi, quinoa, rice, couscous etc. Once that is done we drain the water if necessary and place the cooked item either in the bowl we carry or onto one of the plates. 

In the mean time we chop up vegetables, onions, garlic, etc on the cutting board and place it on the other plate until it is ready to be cooked.

We usually buy fresh meat shortly before we make it to our campsite for the night. Although sometimes we have to use canned chicken or meat, if we have long distances to cover between possible resupply spots. 

Generally we cook the meat second, especially, if we have sauce or gravy with it. We make sure it is well done and add the vegetables to the pot. We let it cook down to create a lot of flavor and maybe some sauce.

At the end we will try and fit the pasta, quinoa or whatever we are having, back into the pot to mix it all up. 

Since we are usually two very hungry cyclists at this time, we can get a little bit crazy with the vegetables and it will not fit all back in the pot. That’s when we just divide the pasta or quinoa etc. up on the plates and the hot meat/vegetable/sauce mix will be enough to heat everything back up when we pour it over the pasta.

This is one example of what cooking a One Burner Meal will look like. Enjoy!

Find the recipe for this meal below.

 

Cooking with MSR Whisperlite International Stove and GSI Pinnacle Backpacker Cookware - YouTube

 

Potato, chicken, pepper recipe for 2 hungry cyclists

2 Chicken breasts, cubed

3 Potatoes, sliced thin

2 Bell-pepper, orange, red, sliced

1/2 onion, chopped

2 Garlic gloves, smashed

Pepper, salt, Italian seasoning to taste

Oil to fry potatoes and chicken. (Although olive oil is not recommended for frying, we use Olive oil for everything while we cycle tour: cooking, frying, salad, bread, even for skin and hair care, )

Fry chicken cubes and season, put aside

Fry potatoes until tender

Add vegetables, onion, garlic until done

Add chicken back to the pot and stir carefully not to end up with mashed potatoes

The post Intro to our camping kitchen first appeared on Pedal Power Touring - Bicycle Touring, Photography, & Adventures

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Sometimes the best plans just don’t work out.

We had this Thanksgiving bike tour planned for a month now. The plan was to cycle for four days. We were going to make a loop around Central Florida that included the Ocala National Forest, involves a short ferry ride, and cycle along the Cross Florida Greenway before heading home.

Unfortunately, we had trouble with one of our tires and had to find an extra one. Once on the road, Ron’s front brakes started to make crazy noises. Apparently, they finally needed to be replaced, which turned out to become an opportunity to make another “how-to-video”.

Avid BB7 Brake Pad Replacement on Tour - YouTube

 
After repairing the brakes, we decided to take a short-cut through the Citrus Wildlife Management Area to make it to the Withlacoochee State Trail.

However, this “short-cut” took us over 3 hours! Mainly, because it involved pushing our loaded bikes for more than 6 miles through thick sugar-sand. Talk about a full-body-work out!

Once we finally make it to the other side of the Citrus Wildlife Management Area, it is already late in the afternoon and there is no way to make it all the way up into the Ocala area by night fall.

Although, we really had our hearts set on making this big loop through Ocala, we are not sure if it is feasible at this time. For one it is already getting late. And two, since it has not been raining in over a month now, the trail conditions and roads in the Ocala National Forest are more than likely not going to be any better than what we just encountered at the Citrus Area. That’s what we get for living in a sandbox called Florida!

Luckily, we are pretty flexible.

Along our way to Inverness

Change of Plans

Once back on the main roads, we quickly decide to change our plans. After a short discussion, we  call Ft. Cooper State Park, to see if any of their primitive camping sites are still available. Luckily there is still one spot open.

We make it there just just before dark to cook our Thanksgiving-one-burner-meal: stuffing, green beans, and chicken. We also have the pleasure to spend a wonderful evening by the fire with our camp neighbors Bob and June. Bob is an avid outdoorsman, loves to cycle and wants to give cycle touring a go. He has lots of questions about our gear and our experiences. So of course, we have a lot of stories to tell and hopefully, we were able to answer many of his questions before it is time to crawl into our sleeping bags for the night.

Our First Camp at Ft. Cooper State Park, Inverness

Ft. Cooper State Park

After enjoying our coffee and cookies in the morning, we go and discover more of the Ft. Cooper park, before cycling north on Withlacoochee State Trail. Once we hit the end of the trail, we find our way through Dunnellon to our next destination.

Taking a short break along the trail

Enjoying the Cross Florida Greenway

Once we make it through the small town of Dunnellon, we cycle along SR 484 for a few miles before heading off road again at the Pruitt trail-head. There are several paths leading through the Marjory Carr Cross Florida Greenway. Some are specific for bicycles others for horses, also the Florida-Trail hiking trail leads through this small piece of paradise.  The trails are somewhat sandy, but for the most part we are riding along firm limestone paths.

Memorial site at the Pruitt trail head

The way we came to our primitive camp site along the Cross Florida Greenway

Eventually, we make it to our second camp. It is a primitive site in the woods. There is a well pitcher pump, a shelter and beautiful scenery all around us.

Our second camp along the Cross Florida Greenway

Our morning view

We spend ample time exploring the area and soaking in the views before it’s time to head home again some time the next day.

Heading home along the Cross Florida Greenway

Sights along our way

Old cemetery on our way home

The post Thanksgiving Bike Tour along the Florida Greenway first appeared on Pedal Power Touring - Bicycle Touring, Photography, & Adventures

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This weekend, we tried out another form of foot powered travel. We decided to hike in the Ocala National Forest from Juniper Springs to Hidden lake.

Whenever we are not pedaling our bicycles, we like to try to do some other fun things: preferable something affordable, outdoors, and if all possible something that does not involve a lot of motorized power, but something we can do through our own manpower.

If we would not have discovered bike touring several years ago, we would have probably tried to discover the world on foot with a fully stuffed backpack.

Maybe one of these days we will try to travel even slower than usually and hike the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, or maybe one of the many routes to Santiago, or follow the footsteps of the lost civilization of the Incas.

Overnight Hike - Ocala National Forest - YouTube

Video

Unfortunately, those plans may have to wait a little while, so for now we are content to hike as many fun areas in Florida as possible. Like the Ocala National Forest. Not only is it one of the biggest national forests in Florida, it also has more than 600 lakes, rivers, and springs to discover within it.

The Ocala National Forest, located north of Orlando, is the southernmost forest in the continental United States and protects the world’s largest contiguous sand pine scrub forest. –http://www.fs.usda.gov/ocala

Our hike led us from Juniper Springs Recreational Area, where it is possible to safely park our car, to Hidden Lake and back out, which is 6 miles each way.

[See image gallery at pedalpowertouring.com]

We have hiked this stretch of the Florida Scenic Trail a few times several years ago. Then, we were the only ones camped out at the Hidden Lake. Since then, it looks like this hidden treasure has become a popular weekend destination for hikers. This weekend, we were just another couple among many other hiking groups trying to escape the city life.

[See image gallery at pedalpowertouring.com]

Nonetheless, we enjoyed the hike, which has tremendously improved since the last time we were here. 5 years ago, a forest fire has burned down most of the bushes, brush, and trees and left us hiking mostly out in the open, in the dry heat under the beaming sun. Now, much of the shrubs and pines have grown enough to spend some shade again, which made the hike much more enjoyable and scenic.

[See image gallery at pedalpowertouring.com]

For more information on the Florida Scenic Trail visit:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/fnst          or

http://floridahikes.com/florida-trail

The post Hiking in the Ocala National Forest: Juniper Springs to Hidden Lake first appeared on Pedal Power Touring - Bicycle Touring, Photography, & Adventures

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This is one of those pieces of equipment that most bicycle tourist probably skip over and decide the extra weight is just not worth it. So let me tell you about how wonderful it was, having our Hilleberg UL 10 tarp. We actually purchased our Hilleberg UL 10 tarp several months before setting off on our around the world bicycle touring adventure and used it several times for short overnight bike trips here near our house.

Wild camping in the Arctic Circle (Finland) under the tarp with only the mosquito net

Hilleberg makes 3 other tarps, but we are only going to write about the UL 10. The UL 10 model is their ultralight (UL) version and it approximately covers a 100 foot square area. It does have a longer side and a shorter side and you will discover there are benefits to this if you use it enough, we did.

Benefits of having a Hilleberg UL 10 tarp
  • Very quick shelter when you are in the middle of nowhere and a storm suddenly approaches.
  • Offers some privacy when you are camping in busy campground.
  • Can be used as a awning along with your tent for those extended campground stays.
  • When it is very hot out, you can just set up the tarp along with a mosquito net and sleep under the stars.
  • Helps protect your expensive tent from the elements like the sun, snow, hail, falling tree limbs.
  • It is a great wind breaker for those very windy days.
  • Great shelter for those nights when you have to be extra stealthy when free camping and you do not want to set up a tent.

These are just some of the benefits of having the UL 10 tarp and I am pretty sure there are many more.

Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand

Downside of the Hilleberg UL 10 tarp

They are not cheap and will set you back about $190US; however, this tarp is quality made and does not come from a sweat shop in China. Furthermore, Hilleberg’s customer service is top notch and they will not abandon you, should you have any issues with their gear. We promise!

You will have to purchase the stakes separately. We went with Hilleberg’s “Y” peg and they worked great for us in nearly every weather and environment condition we encountered.

If you want the Hilleberg’s tarp pole, you will have to purchase this separately, too. We highly recommend having the pole because there will be times when there is nothing around to raise up at least one side. The pole is super strong and can take a beating in the worst of conditions. The pole collapsed is only 20.7″ (52.5cm) and can be extended in 2.8″ (7cm) increments from 73.2″ (186 cm) to 84.3″ 214 cm.

Camping in the middle of town, Luray, Virginia

Hilleberg UL 10 Tarp Specs
  • Weight: 1lb 10oz / 750grams
  • Dimensions:  11.5ft x 9.5ft / 3.5 m x 2.9 m
  • Fabric: Kerlon 1200 (more about the fabric here).
  • 8 adjustable guide lines are attached.
  • Packs away nicely in an attached stuff sack on the tarp.

Wild camping under the tarp on the British Canals.

If you decide this is something for you, then please continue reading. We always encourage shopping and supporting your local Mom & Pop stores first. However, I doubt you will find this at your local outdoor shop, so you can either order directly from Hilleberg or if you are keen on shopping through Amazon, please use the link provided below or the one located in the footer section of our blog’s homepage. We get a small kickback and all proceeds go towards maintaining this site.  If you do order directly from Hilleberg please let them know you heard about them from us. We do not get any kick backs or any special favors from Hilleberg, but they took really good care of us before and during our trip and we would like for them to know we care and support them. Again thank you for your support and happy travels.

The post Hilleberg UL 10 Tarp first appeared on Pedal Power Touring - Bicycle Touring, Photography, & Adventures

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After another breakfast at the backpacker’s hangout across the street, we pack up our bikes and head out of town. After crossing the river at the edge of town, we find ourselves back on the Ho Chi Minh Highway, on which we will continue cycling north toward Hanoi. The view is beautiful: rugged carst mountains are flanking the highway and around each turn the scene becomes more stunning. A couple of children ride their bicycles into the same directions, they give our fully loaded bikes a few curious looks, smile and say “hello”.

[See image gallery at pedalpowertouring.com]

One of the girls seems to be of the competitive kind and starts racing past us. Her friend struggles along behind our group and so we race along the road for several miles. Sometimes it seems the way to school is never-ending for the kids in Southeast Asia, but after a couple of villages and plenty of rolling hills later, the girl stops. She looks very confident and accomplished and still has the biggest smile on her face, but she decides to finally wait for her friend, which does not seem to be in a hurry to make it to class.

A few more miles down the road, our road widens. While we were staying in Phong Nha, we were told that there used to be a temporary runway for airplanes during the Vietnam war along our path. Later on in time, the dirt runway was paved to preserve it as a memorial or symbolic gesture for future generations. Today, we get to ride our steely steeds on the old runway and since it slopes downward, we almost feel like we are going to take off. Since the road is so wide and slopes, we really get a grandiose view of all the mountains around us. Although the scenery is phenomenal all around us, we still enjoy watching the water buffaloes and “cows-on-a-leash” right along our path.

[See image gallery at pedalpowertouring.com]

Eventually, it is getting late and we stop at another small restaurant to have dinner. The children of the house are curious and check out our bikes. As we eat, the family asks where we come from and where we are going. We pull out our maps, which are pretty much a small atlas of Vietnam, and show them our route. The father seems impressed and tries to explain the map to his son and his son’s friend. There is also a brochure about the former DMZ zone in the atlas which is half written in Vietnamese and half in English. It looks like dad has a good sense of humor and likes to tease children. He hands the Vietnamese version to his young son, who apparently reads it out lout just fine, then he shows the English version to his son’s friend who tries to read it out loud, and can’t make any sense of the gibberish, while the whole family cracks up laughing. This goes back and forth several times. While we eat, the kids continue to check out the maps with such delight, that we feel bad taking the book away from them. They look so happy pointing at towns and areas, giggling, laughing, with wide eyes. They keep asking their parents about the maps who seem to tell them stories about places far away. We never knew a couple of maps could bring this much joy to children, so we decided to leave the maps with the children who look like they just got the best Christmas gift ever.

[See image gallery at pedalpowertouring.com]

Before we leave, the family tells us about two guest houses down the road and how much they are supposed to be. We say our good-byes and keep going.

Unfortunately, the guesthouse they thought was a good place to stay, wanted way too much for their room, so we decide to keep going until we find another very quiet place along our path.

As we continue cycling the next day, our nice quiet mountain road comes to a forks, to the left the road leads into Laos…which is very tempting, to the right it remains the Ho Chi Minh Highway. We take a right. From now on, we have to share the quiet mountain road, with more trucks and buses heading in and out of Lao. It seems the regulations for how much you can load on a vehicle are even more lax in Lao. Most of the trucks struggle up and down the mountains, we see a couple of them stranded in the middle of the road causing traffic jams and the buses are filled to the gills with people and goods. Even the roofs are loaded down with bikes, scooters and what have you.

We stop at a few small family restaurants to either have lunch or take a break for ice coffee and tea. At one place, Ron gets to drink some home brewed whiskey with a trucker; and the owner is eager to sell us one of his backyard chickens for lunch. Although, we already picked out beef from the freezer to be cooked, he runs out back, hunts down a chicken and shows us proudly what he caught. We laugh, and gesture, that it is too big and point back at the freezer with the beef. Soon afterward, we have a delicious beef, veggie, and rice meal in front of us. Not only, does the trucker offer us some of his whiskey, for some reason he also seems to think that we are into drugs and gestures whether we want to shoot up something. We were told that this part of the Ho Chi Minh Highway, as well as the second Highway which runs closest to Lao are supposed to be somewhat dangerous because of drug trafficking between Lao and Vietnam. Luckily, this guy does not seem too serious and when we shake our heads and say no thank you, he is just happy to have another swig from the bottle with us.

[See image gallery at pedalpowertouring.com]

After going over a few more mountains, we find our way to another town, where we stay the night.  Many of the nice cars we see, have Lao license plates, which makes it seem that this is a major tourist area for Laotians. The first guesthouse we are checking for rooms at, must be the only place we have encountered, where we are told that there is no secure place to store our bikes and that we can not take them up in the room. So we leave and find another place in town. Over the last few days, the weather has slowly become colder and more and more rainy. Because of the nasty weather, we decide to take a down day in town and do some wandering through the local market, eat a few local pastries and food and check out what people sell for rain gear. Our rain pants have given up being water-proof way back in Europe already and while it was hot and steamy in the southern parts of South East Asia, we did not mind getting soaked. Up here though, it is getting a little bit chilly.  We check the prices of a few of the ponchos people use on scooters and find that they are sold at about every store we encounter, so we decide to wait and buy one when we really need it. Instead I finally bought myself a rice patty hat.

The following morning, we continue our ride toward Hanoi. Today, we are going to leave the quiet Ho Chi Minh Highway and continue our bike ride on  the busy Highway 1. Once we find our way to Minh Bin we look for another guesthouse away from the main road. The first guesthouse we find, we are offered a room up on the 4th floor. The place is dark and the stairs are steep and narrow. As we climb up the stairway to check out the room, we already know that we are not in the mood to carry all of our gear 4 flights up. We politely decline and head down the road to another place, where a friendly older women shows us another room on the second floor and a nice, secure area on the ground floor, where we can store most of our gear.

[See image gallery at pedalpowertouring.com]

Across the road from the guesthouse is a small little restaurant, where we have dinner. Apparently, the owner has a party going on and lots of food is prepared for the big family. People gather in the back of the restaurant. Children gnaw on chicken feet like special treats. Copious amounts of food are placed on the tables and the family is having a great time.The father of the house shares some vodka with Ron while we wait for our food. We thought we were getting pretty good at ordering “com bo” (rice with beef), but for some reason the woman of the house does not quite understand what we want and we end up with a delicious fried tofu-vegetable meal with fried rice and egg. At least we did not order mystery meat by accident!

Afterward, we head to the tiny store next door to buy water and snacks. There are no prices on anything and our charades on “how much is this?” are not working too well either. Jessi holds a big bottle of water and so do I. We planned on having separate checks. Jessi pays first, which seems the normal price for a bottle that size. I go to pay and get a confused look by the owner after handing him a bigger bill. After a short moment, he goes to the cash register and gives me change. I get the same amount back that I just handed him, just in smaller bills. Apparently, Jessi paid for both of us and he thought I needed smaller bills. The honesty of people is remarkable, this man could have easily made us pay twice, without us even knowing. Instead, we got the best price ever. Even in the North of Vietnam, we are still wondering, what other travelers where talking about, when they said they had to haggle for everything!

After returning back to the guesthouse, Ron decides to sit down by the front desk to check out the internet. While he is down there, he gets to chat with the owners while the friendly woman of the house feeds him a bowl of potatoes and butter.

While we are packing up in the morning, we hear a knock on our door. We open, and see the owner standing there with a big smile and another bowl of potatoes and butter for breakfast.

[See image gallery at pedalpowertouring.com]

Happy and with full bellies, we head downstairs to load up our bikes. As we push our bicycles outside we are greeted with more rain. We quickly decide to head back across the street to the small store and buy three cheap ponchos. Unfortunately, we don’t read Vietnamese and do not realize that they come in different sizes, adult and children. We grab the packages and head out. As it starts raining more, we try to put them on. As we wiggle them over our head and shoulders, Jessi’s rips right away. Ron’s sleeves bust apart and the poncho is way too short…apparently, we grabbed a couple of children ponchos, luckily they cost less than a couple of dollars and we did not lose much. We keep riding and stop at the next vendor to pick up a couple of good ponchos; they are big, heavy and very sturdy, and as soon as we become the proud owners of these nice ponchos, the rain stops and never returns….Murphey’s Law at its best!

So we continue our long ride into Hanoi. Before getting to the big city we decide to stop for dinner. Two men and the owner are happy to have us for guests. They don’t speak a word of English, but we are able to order our food and of course Ron has to have another shot of vodka with the men.

After a very long day of riding along the busy Highway, we finally make it into Hanoi just in time for nightfall.

Arriving in Hanoi in the dark.

It is quite exhilarating, entering the big city at dark. Scooters weave in and out of traffic, buses are everywhere and intermingle with bicyclists, trucks, and scooters. Traffic is the typical Southeast Asian harmonious chaos as we maneuver through traffic circles and intersections. Eventually, we find a quiet road which is leading us closer to where we plan on staying in Hanoi. We stop at a few guesthouses and finally find one, we like. It is off the beaten bath, down a narrow, little, but quiet alleyway…and it is close to a bike shop!

The post Bicycling North on the Ho Chi Minh Highway first appeared on Pedal Power Touring - Bicycle Touring, Photography, & Adventures

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