What are you up to off-season? - CycleBlaze

Bicycle Travel Forum

What are you up to off-season?

Brent Irvine

At this time of year things go pretty quiet in the forums. What do you do until the next tour? Are you back at your job? Hanging out with family and friends? Sitting alone at home and planning the next tour when the weather improves? Hibernating in front of the TV/tablet/computer?

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2 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo Brent Irvine

I wasted most of my on-season with tree cutting and other yardwork.  Now that the off-season is approaching, I'm getting ready for a lot of snow shoveling.  I've also committed myself to a January bike tour in the state where I live--Minnesota.  I hope I can live up to my expectations.

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2 months ago
Brent IrvineTo Gregory Garceau

I totally understand that snow issue and have already been dealing with it for a few weeks. Happy planning for the next tour!

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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Brent Irvine

Trip planning, always trip planning. We seem to start the planning for the next trip about 2 weeks before the end of a current one. Where should we go next? When? What route might work well? And so it goes. As soon as the house and grounds have been somewhat restored from the chaos of our long absence, and weeks to months of neglect, we start plotting out a route and checking out possible accomodation  options. It is one of our favourite evening activities.

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2 months ago
Brent IrvineTo Steve Miller/Grampies

I can't say that I'm not exactly like that!

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2 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Brent Irvine

Short day rides, time in front of the fireplace, holiday stuff of course, contemplation of upcoming travel possibilities (both cycling and otherwise- we've made a habit over the past decade-plus of trying to visit Mr. Sun somewhere in the tropics between late January and mid-to-late February), and other indoor activities.  My woodworking hobby sees more action this time of year than at others.

This year I'll also be experimenting with how to load my new panniers, and evaluating how much they can hold.  I won't be hauling them around on the bike, probably, just fooling around cramming stuff into them to see if I've made a good choice or thrown money away.

I still have route plans for several tours I contemplated for 2023 (and earlier years) but never actually took, so I doubt I'll be spending much time laying out even more of them until I've used up the current backlog.

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2 months ago
Brent IrvineTo Keith Adams

Which panniers did you recently get? What winter woodworking projects? I do a bit of woodworking but less in the winter without a heated shop.

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2 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Brent Irvine

Taking advantage of their Black Friday price reduction, I got a pair of the Arkel GT-54s, an item I've lusted after for decades.  They will, I hope, make a nice complement to their GT-18s I bought in late 2021 for use as front paniers on my 2022 tour (and of course any later outings).

Woodworking... I'm neither especially skilled nor wildly imaginative but have turned out a few projects over the years that are not immediate candidates for conversion to firewood.  About 15 years ago I made a Mission-style table that now serves as my behind-the-sofa "bar".

The stained glass inserts were made by my friend (and fellow CycleBlazer) Charmaine Ruppolt. When I approached her about it and showed her the drawing I'd made (measured from a commercially-made version that another friend has) she smiled and said "I know exactly what you're after- come inside". In her entry hallway was the very same table!

Many years subsequent to that I designed and built a wine credenza:

The center cubby holds (and hides) our paper recycling box.
If I were going to build another I'd make it enough taller to include a pair (or trio) of shallow drawers to hold corkscrews, wine bottle stoppers, and whatnot.

During the pandemic my wife decided she wanted to reorganize the kitchen cabinets, and that an external credenza was needed to hold items taken out of the cabinets.  So, it was back to the drawing board for that.

This was my first foray into box-jointed drawers. I don't have a dovetailing bit and jig for my router but these joints are nearly as strong and durable, and are not unattractive. Easy enough to make, too.

Following up on a 2010 experiment (only partially successful though the end result still hangs in a place of honor in a friend's home) this past spring I made a couple more decorative stars for cousins, at their request.

The original, made from solid hardwoods (maple, cherry, walnut) was cut "freehand" on my table saw. The combination of lack of precision and wood expansion caused it to break in two fairly quickly. I tried a couple times to patch / repair it, with only partial success, but my friend still likes it enough to hang it in his living room.
A smaller version, made from Baltic birch plywood stained to resemble the original woods, went to one cousin.
And another, from painted exterior grade plywood, now hangs over another cousin's garage.

Most recently it's been workshop tool organizers.

I had a serious clutter problem, which rendered my already-too-small workshop nearly unusable. (I still do but nowhere near as bad, now.)
To address it I designed and built this tool storage unit, using exclusively materials on hand (which also helped reduce the clutter, by consuming several large and numerous smaller offcuts that I'd had left over from the earlier credenza projects as well as others). Total investment: $0.
This companion unit followed the design philosophy of the original cabinet, and was added to hold large flat items like templates, marking guides, etc. that had no home in the first cabinet. As with the first piece, this one too is 100 percent made from materials on hand.
It too received the box-joint drawer treatment.
I made another variation as a gift for a cousin. Still using up scrap materials, still $0 invested.

That about covers my woodworking output from the past decade.  I've no idea what I'll try next.

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2 months ago
Brent IrvineTo Keith Adams

I really like all of your work, and particularly the mission-style sofa-back table. I haven't done box joints yet but find them appealing. Some day.

I don't have the GT54s but they look great. I have an older pair of exr38 (no longer made) that I bring on most tours. I have also found the TailRider to be an excellent bag. It acts as my handlebar bag in that my quick grabs go in and I can carry it anywhere.

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2 months ago
Keith AdamsTo Brent Irvine

I have the large size Arkel handlebar bag as well as the panniers.  Like you I use it for quick-grab items (snacks while riding, maps, notebook, camera, etc.) but I'm contemplating discontinuing it because it tends to put weight up high and in front of the handlebars, which has an undesirable effect on steering and general handling.  I just haven't figured out yet where everything I use it for would go- notably my faux-SLR type camera with 60x optical zoom, which can't be carried in a pocket or clamped to the handlebars.  

Since I tend to take a lot of photos when I'm touring, particularly a lot of the stop-shoot a frame-resume riding type of scenery or roadside oddity picture, having the camera readily accessible without dismounting is important to me.  It's also good to have it protected from the elements in inclement weather.

My other camera, a waterproof / weatherproof point-and-shoot model, rode on my handlebars in 2022.  It's rugged, easy to use, and takes great pictures, but the zoom (a pitiful 4x optical) just doesn't get the job done in the way I've come to want.

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2 months ago