All posts by Frederic

My “Jeep”

In a previous post, I mentioned the “homebrew” bike I have built to be my “all-rounder”. While I initially envisioned I would ride it to trailheads, it proved to be a little bit weak when I rode it on rocky and steep trails.

It turned out that I was recently given the remnants of a 2003 Specialized HardRock and immediately planned on rebuilding it. Not only it would be a great mountain bike but I envisioned it to be a perfect bike to ride to trailheads. As I explained several years before, I  enjoy and believe in moving car-free. On top of that, reaching trailheads removes the worry of not finding any parking, which can be quite common here in the Front Range.

And sometimes, even a proper bike rack is provided !

The bike rack at the 4th of July Trailhead, Colorado

After finding wheels, tires, derailleurs and all other needed parts, I rebuilt it and named it “The Jeep”

Specs:
Frame: Aluminum
Fork : RockShox Dart 3
Brakes : Tektro V-brakes
Drive Train : 1×7

And, as usual, a side-by-side comparison of before and after.

A new addition : Frame bag

In previous posts, I explained how I try to use my bike as much as possible : from commuting to grocery shopping.

From time to time, my ride doesn’t justify the need of taking my pannier and I end up riding with my needed items in one (or both) of my hands such as a bike lock which can be too cumbersome.

My wife just found a remedy to that as she has sown a frame-bag with recycled tubes donated by the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op. That way, I can go on a ride and put all the items in the framebag without having to take my panniers.

The other idea is that it will also be useful when doing touring trips.

Meet “The Mule”

Here is my most recent rebuild and my first cross-bike (cyclocross ? montercross? not sure of which label) : “La Mule” is its name.
This time, this project is only for me. For quite some time now and especially when moving to Colorado, I have realized the need of an “all-rounder” bike to ride on gravel, do groceries/errands, touring, riding to trailheads…etc

Several weeks ago, I found an old 1999 Trek 720 MultiTrack at the local Co-Op. The bike being the correct size, frame correctly aligned, I bought it as I could envision the “all-rounder” bike I had been looking for.

Original Specs here and here.

Current Specs after my rebuild:

  • Specialized crank (22-32-42)
  • Shimano Sora Levers
  • Shimano Deore LX rear derailleur

As usual, below are the photo comparison between “Before” (left) and “After” (right) the work/tune-ups.

After 20 days of rebuild, I did a test ride in my local mountains on a 20-mile route combining gravel, trails and road. The verdict was as expected : uphill rocky terrain, rolling gravel & singletrack or hilly roads, it handled all perfectly what I threw at it.

Montgomery Ward 10 speed disc brake

My lastest bike repair project, a: Montgomery Ward 10 speed disc brake
Very similar to last year’s Free Spirit 10-speed, I rescued this Montgomery that needed some TLC to be ready to roll again. The main difference with the Free Spirit is that it offers a disc brake! Probably one of the first disc brake that came out on the market. I couldn’t find the year of this model unfortunately

Specs:

  • Large (Bottom Bracket to top tube : 22.5″)
  • Rear disc brake
  • Kick stand
  • New tires
  • Shimano Drive train (5 (sprockets) x 2 (chainrings) speed)

As usual, below are the photo comparison between “Before” (left) and “After” (right) the work/tune-ups

Pot Pourri Videos (Part 4)

In this part 4 of this series (see Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here), I have listed another set of videos that I have come across those past months. The best one would be the show I have discovered “Rancho Webshow” at 9:29, epic moment !

Running/Skiing/Cycling/Climbing:

The Double – Jeff Browning – Western States 100 and Hardrock 100

 

Longs Peak Triathlon – Fastest Known Time with Anton Krupicka

 

François D’Haene – Simple Comme Ultra


 
François D’Haene – Crossing Corsica
As I can’t embed this video like the others, click on this link to watch the impressive GR20 record of François last year

 

Rancho EP#8 “64 au patin” / “64 under foot”

 

Into patagonia
Because you can’t go wrong with a Salomon video :

 

Training:

Better Trail Running Instructional Video more for cycling but it gives a great understanding of how it affects us

 

The Psychology of Suffering: How to Handle the Pain

My digital GPS software tool box

Recently, I read Bike Mechanic, a very good book I recommend for anyone interested like me into fixing/maintaining a road bike and learning about the life of the big team mechanics on the job. One thing I enjoyed was the tools recommendation. This line particularly caught my attention : Cheap tools do cheap jobs.
While the author is fully right for when it comes to bike tools and tools in general, it doesn’t apply when it comes to software. In this post, I will illustrate this idea by listing the different software I use on a regular basis to perform everything I need when it comes to creating/modifying GPS files.

My digital GPS software Toolbox

Several months ago, I explained why and how I use GPS technologies. In this same post, I mentioned that for each adventure, I always try my best to use a GPS track generated on the actual trail as creating a manual track can lead to navigation errors when out in the field. Once I have finished establishing the route for any adventure/hike/run, I usually look for any existing activity for which the route is the same or similar enough to be reused. Typically, I rarely find the exact same route and in this case, I need to do some post-processing work in order to have my final route, composed of either several merged routes or past routes merged with manual sections. To do such work, I need tools and use different software to visualize/edit any given GPS track.

In a future post, I will show which platforms I use to find such routes but in this post, I aim to list the tools I use to transform multiple tracks into my final route, briefly describe them and explain what I mainly use them for.

Google Earth

It’s possible that you might not know some of the other software below. However, I am sure everyone knows Google Earth ! When I first discovered Google Earth (about 10+ years ago), though I didn’t have a GPS device, I loved that I was able to travel virtually. I call that the “couch explorer“. Since I acquired my GPS watch, I now use it to look at my previous tracks but also future tracks or just to “explore” any area. It helps me get familiar with a new area before even driving to it.

What I use it for : In the screenshot below, you can see an example of my use of Google Earth. In this case, I display all the trails I have ran/hikes/biked so far in the Rocky Mountain National Park and some of my future ones. While this screenshot displays my track on a satellite view, I have shown last year how to display other types of maps (see my article here).

My “coverage” of RMNP as of January 2017

Last but not least, Google Earth Pro is now free (since January 2015)! Download it here, use your email address and the key GEPFREE to sign in.


GPSVisualizer is an online tool that offers multiple possibilities when working with GPS tracks. Not only it can convert many different formats into gpx format, it also has numerous options such as changing the speed unit, reverse a track, merge tracks…etc.

What I use it for : I use the conversion tool mainly to add an accurate elevation data. GPSVisualizer has several elevation data available (see image below).

Adding accurate elevation data to a GPS track

Another feature I am fond of is the possibility to create a GPX track from a GoogleMaps route. Yes, one can create an itinerary in Google Maps, paste its URL address and a gpx track will be generated and ready to download and transfer onto your GPS device!

Converting a Google Maps itinerary into a gpx file

 


As mentioned above, though I mainly use the gpx format, it happens that I encounter other/weird file formats. GPSBabel supporting a multitude of supported formats (file format capabilities list), the day where I haven’t been able to convert a GPS track into gpx format hasn’t arrived yet.

What I use it for : Convert any GPS track into a gpx file when I find myself with odd GPS formats in hands.

GPSBabel

 

CalTopo

When it comes to create manually a route, I use Caltopo. This website has all the tools to create and modify GPS tracks : Import/Export, track modification (splitting, extending…) and multiple map layers to only name a few possibilities.

A GPS track loaded onto CalTopo

What I use it for : The main reason I use CalTopo is for the “auto routing” feature. Have you ever had to create manually a track and found yourself clicking 1 million times in order to draw a 5 mile route ? The “auto routing” tool eliminates all that. Instead, your cursor will automatically pick up an existing trail and draw the different turns between 2 points (see illustration below)

 

GpsPrune is an on-premises software that will allow editing GPS track(s) such as : delete points, range of points, concatenate/append multiple tracks, visualize exactly each recorded GPS point…

A GPS track loaded in GpsPrune

What I use it for : As GpsPrune displays each recorded GPS point (see image below), it allows me to quickly fix a track when erroneous points have been recorded. Also, I use it to easily split/merge/concatenate tracks .

Splitting a track at a specific point

 

Summary

You know now all about the different softwares I use to work with GPS files. You can find below a table that gives a quick access to each of those software along with useful information for each of them.

NameDescriptionPlatform(s)License
Google EarthGeobrowser that accesses satellite and aerial imagery, ocean bathymetry, and other geographic data over the internet to represent the Earth as a three-dimensional globeWindows, Mac, LinuxFree
GPS VisualizerOnline utility that creates maps and profiles from geographic dataOnlineFree (GPL)
GPSBabelDoftware to transfer routes, tracks, and waypoint data to and from consumer GPS units, and to convert between over a hundred types of GPS data formatsWindows, MacFree
CalTopoPowerful trip planning tools and high quality mapsOnlineFree & Subscription
GpsPruneApplication for viewing, editing and converting coordinate data from GPS systemsWindows, Mac, LinuxFree (GPL)

2016 Trash Trophies

While a lot of people may be blogging these days about their 2016 recap and the direction/resolutions for 2017, I am proud here to show my special kind of recap : My 2016 Trash Trophies (really, only collected for the last weeks/months).

Did you pick yours today ?

Earlier this year, I wrote about practicing “Negative Trace“. As I’ve been practicing what I try to preach on a regular basis, I went the “extra-mile” and even thought about keeping a picture log of my different findings (I mainly collect all trash on trails/mountains/trailheads). As I pick trash on pretty much all my outings, I thought keeping pictures of it would make me realize the difference it makes when we all participate into leaving any wilderness area better that we found it.
As I had this idea pretty late in the year, I only have a few photos (I even forgot to take a picture of my Holy Grail found at the Grays Peak Trailhead : a car exhaust!!), but still represent a good and inspiring “Trash Trophies”.

Onto 2017 with more Trash Trophies! (it shouldn’t be too hard unfortunately)

Free Spirit 10-Speed

My lastest bike repair project is a: Free Spirit 10-Speed
Not a lot of work was to be done, but mainly a good tune-up as well as some overhauls (wheel hubs, headset hub)

Specs:
Steel frame
Shimano Drive Train
5 (sprockets) x 2 (chainrings) speed
U-Brakes Dia compe
Turkey Levers

As usual, below are the photo comparison between “Before” (left) and “After” (right) the work/tune-ups