Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Planet X (On-One) Bikes Acquires Titus Among Most Read Stories of 2010

Bicycle Retailer reports the news of On-One Bikes purchase of Titus Cycles was the 4th most read story of 2010.

The Ups and Downs of Buying a Used Van

I had been searching for a van for the shiggy's Out There Tour over the last couple of months. Several reasonal vehicles showed up, but few have the combination for size (full size extended cargo), engine (V-8),  condition (few repairs needed), at a price I could handle.

Last week this appeared to meet most of my needs.

Late '90s E350, V-8, good body and chassis, no rust, good tires, semi-finshed interior with lots of room--and lots of miles.

Made the bus trip to Spokane chased by a snow storm for the inspection and test drive. It looked even better in person. A very easy driver with good manners and a strong, smooth drivetrain. No apparent leaks. All fluids in good shape.

Half an hour later the paperwork is finished and I have handed over an amount well within my budget. Funds leftover to make repairs and outfit it for life on the road hauling me and bikes around the country. Happy me!

Homeward bound through the dark snowy, slushy streets of Spokane. A not-so-quick gas stop swallows $60 without filling the tank (YIKES! almost full), though I was expecting that. It does have a 35 gallon tank. A few more miles to I-90 and I am pointed west and homeward bound. Just 3hours to go.

I like this van. Drives well, comfortable, not even very noisy. I stop only to give myself a break after getting through the slushy conditions in the east.

Backlit at the rest area halfway home. Looks a little sinister with the road grime and the dark cracked headlight (still worked).

I am still grinning.

The roads cleared, the sky opened and the moon shone bright. Nice drive home.

Next day I schedule a safety check with my mechanic.

So I drive it around town over the next few days. This thing is big. BIG. BIG! Still learning where the corners are and erring on the side of leaving too much room. Busy parking lots are interesting.

Fix the headlight, replace the wipers, clean out the back, start scraping off the old gutter company decals. And I still have half a tank of gas (215 miles from the gas station). Still happy me!

At the mechanic this morning. They are finding no major issues. Good brakes, shocks (both almost new), solid suspension except for worn ball joints (a bit expensive to fix), clean fluids though it could use an oil change. Sure, do it.

"We have something to show you." Uh Oh. Metal on the drain plug magnet and you can lightly see it in the drained oil. Something is wrong inside. The engine still runs well, but for how much longer? No way to know. Sad me. Even a pre-sale inspection would not have found this. Oh well...

Going to check on replacement engines. Best case would push the cost to the upper end of the budget. The rest of the van is solid. Even if I had found a lower milage, and more expensive, van, there is no guaranty it would be trouble free.

I will see how it goes.

See you Out There.

The Best Bikepacking Routes

Adventure Cycling recently posted their top ten bike packing routes in the western US.

I have ridden parts of several of these as day trips. Riding them as self supported, multi day trips changes the experience. Which is better? Day rides vs trips. Instant thrills vs continous adventure? Full support vs self sustained. Group rides vs solo journeys.

There is no right or wrong answer. It is all about the ride.

See you Out There.

Getting ready for the New Year

The snow is on the ground and riding is limited. Getting prepared for new adventures in 2011. New trails, new bikes, and a new road trip ride.