Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Surly Troll review-getting lost in Montana and Canada

Surly Troll Review-Getting Lost in Montana and Canada                        
South Fork Road between Polebridge, MT
and Eureka, MT

I recently completed a 22 day, 1250+ mile, self contained bike packing tour from Missoula, MT up into Canada much of which was on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Primarily the roads were gravel, forest service roads, minimal maintenance,  single track, and pavement. This is my Troll review from that trip.

When buying a bike I look for these things: Durability, minimal maintenance, utilitarian options, and looks. The Troll met all requirements-and then some.
For specs go to Surly website:

Overall: the Troll handled well over the myriad of terrain it was put on.

Safe ride: whether climbing on loose gravel for 15 miles or bone jarring descents, I felt completely safe with the Troll’s abilities. One reason was Jones Bars: They gave me wonderful control on the down hills, and a great feel on the climbs the wide bars helped open my chest so plenty of oxygen could get into my lungs. They took me awhile to get use but once comfortable I adapted-I won’t go back.
mud somewhere on the GDMBR in Canada next to Weary Creek
The Micro Shifters: Simple minimal maintenance. Options to make them friction so no adjustments needed-I liked that a lot!

Gearing: The 27 gears gave me enough options for any terrain, there were some hike/bike sections on the GDMBR and some of the other trails I rolled over, but for the most part I was able to stay on the Troll.

Seat-WTB: I really like standard seat that comes with the Troll, plenty of cushion and most riders I came across, like myself, wore regular clothes and no padded bike shorts.  

Steel Frame: Heavy-yes. But as they say, “Steel is real.” Tough and absorbs road shock well. Tough tough tough!

Brakes: I love the disc breaks. With all the downhill sections I would have worn out pads, but the disc brakes perform excellent. I did have to replace the rear caliper but that was only because I did not adjust them properly in the first place. Your local mechanic should teach you how to adjust them as needed. 
Bowman Lake, Glacier, NP

Wheels and tires: I used my own custom wheels but my tires were the Surly Extraterrestrial 2.5s. They proved to be a great choice for the rough roads- I just lowered the tire pressure and rolled comfortably. When on pavement for long stretches I would pump up the tires and glide smoothly. I was able to ride with other cyclists who were on slicks. The rear tread wore down quickly-2000 miles, but that was expected considering the differences in terrain. Openly: I beat the crap out of tires and had ZERO flats-will use them again.

 I love my Troll and feel like I could take it anywhere: pavement, single track, gravel, it can adapt to most terrain. Truly it is a bicycle you can take to the ends of the Earth and –get lost!

The only thing I don’t like, yes there is always that, is the horizontal dropouts for the rear wheels. Surly says they did it this way for other options-single speed, Rolf Hubs, and other cool things I most likely wont use. I prefer vertical dropouts. But then again-options.
road going to the Sun in Glacier, NP
Other considerations and thoughts: I used a Surly Rack. I like the entire eyelet options for water bottle cages and anything cages. The fact there is the option to ditch the disc brakes and go with old school brakes is appealing especially if traveling in a 3rd world country. 26in wheels VS 29ers-well that is just personal preference, although again in a 3rd world country 26in wheels are said to be easier to obtain.  If you want one bike that can do everything well that is extremely durable, cost effective, and will have little, if any, maintenance issues the stock Troll is an excellent option.  I met many people on the road with Trolls who were happy with their choice. Surly has other excellent choices as well for your cycling needs but the Troll met mine.

One last thing, I did not realize how much this bike meant to me at the end of the trip, until I got off the train and Amtrak told me they could not find my bike. Now I am a simple man, I don’t do the whole material possession thing, but when I was told that my heart sunk as though I just lost my best friend-we had just spent the last 22 days, 1250+ miles exploring multiple national parks and forest over terrain that would scare a Grizzly, but we did it and survived. Over the next few days I came to realize how connected I became to the Troll on the trip. This confidence it gave me on the tour was amazing, sure it
back home safe and sound
was partly me, but not worrying about the durability of my bike, well, that was priceless for a bikepacker like myself. I got it back three days later, but without explanation. I like to think it wanted to have its own adventure.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Still Carfree

I'm still loving my lifestyle. For me there is more freedom and beauty in the world living carfree.

Currently I'm exploring different career options and travel options as well.

You wanna connect with me on Facebook :



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Review-Bicycling Around The World

Book Review-Bicycling Around The World

We all want to, but most of us will not make the time or have the fortitude to take extended bicycling treks for weeks, months, or, as in the case of Grace Johnson and her photographer husband Paul Jeurissen, years at a time.

Bicycling around the world is an excellent, an FREE, collection of pictures from the roads in China, India, North and South America, and many more places.

Each picture will make you start fantasizing about the possibility of your next adventure. Some will make you laugh while others will make you feel alone and small because of the remote locations photographed.

Paul has a eye for the depth of his shots in mountain areas few photographers are able to find the right scale. In his images, the lone cyclist making their way through the high passes of India is inspiring.

The only thing I think they might have done is add some maps of where they were. Otherwise this is a excellent photo book!

In speaking with Grace and Paul, the future looks grand!

Why did you all make it free? 

Why not?

In the future we might offer a paper version of the book via Blurb but the cost will be high since the book has more than 200 pages.  The only way to keep the printing costs down would be to order a large print run of the book – and that would cost us thousands of dollars up front plus a lot of time spent marketing / promoting the book to ensure that all of the copies are sold. 

As for selling it as an eBook – of course we could earn some money that way yet it would also cost us more time to market and promote it than a free eBook.

So we decided to just offer the eBook for free so that it would be easier to reach people who enjoy looking at bicycle touring and culture photos.

I saw a photo essay once with you all in it in the Adventure Cyclist magazine, do you know what month and year that was by chance?

Do you have any future cycling plans?

Right now we are still on our trip.  As for future plans – we would love to go back cycling in South America, especially Argentina.  Argentina has the Andes Mountains, a lot of opportunities to wild camp, inexpensive good wine (cheaper than bottled water) and great back roads.

Do you use a bicycle for transportation at home as well as on trips abroad?


I moved from the U.S.A. to the Netherlands in 1986 and still haven’t changed my driver’s license over to a Dutch one. Holland is densely populated and thus has an excellent public transport system plus they are world leaders when it comes to bicycle infrastructure.  I don’t miss driving a car at all. It’s so much fun cycling on segregated bike paths to the stores, town and work.  Even when you are cycling on roads it feels safe since Dutch drivers are used to watching out for bicyclists.

What’s also different from the states is that Dutch people don’t think it’s strange when I mention that I don’t have a driver’s license.  When I used to cycle to work in Washington State even the neighbourhood kids asked me, “why are you cycling? Don’t you have a car?”

What advice would you give people who want to travel by bike as you did?

Right now I’m busy helping a friend of mine (Friedel Grant of update her free eBook Bike Touring Basis which is full of information on how to get started. It will probably go online in February 2015.

‘Bicycling Around The World’ celebrates bike travel and culture around the globe.
In 2010, we (photographer Paul Jeurissen and Grace Johnson) set off on a multi-year bicycle tour covering four continents. Wherever we go, we search out bike culture, dramatic landscapes and remote places. So come pedal with us through the icy Himalayas, the barren Pamir highway, tropical East Africa and the chaos of Dhaka in search of unique cycling images.
We also show you glimpses of bicycle culture via painted rickshaws, overloaded cargo bikes and even two wheelers piled high with cotton candy.
By the end of this book, we hope you’ll agree that the world is best viewed from a bike saddle.
High and low res photos for reviews can be found here

I am ready to hop on my bike and join them!!!! BP

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Bicycling in winter

 "Your not riding your bike in this are you? How do you do it?" Someone will asking when the weather turned cold and snowy.

I smile and tell them, "I am riding in this, and I will be riding all winter and when I can't ride, I will walk." I smile.

And they roll their eyes, and say cliches like, "Well, your a better person than me. I could never do that"

But truth be told- they can.

Winter cycling to me is the most fun. The extreme, often unpredictable weather, adverse road conditions, and lack of day light, make it an adventure.

I think having a positive attitude is a big part of it as well.

Here are some things I do to make my rides and  commutes safe and fun.

BE Prepared:
I am always prepared for changing weather. I carry extra clothing-shirt, gloves, neck gaiter, socks, hat, helmet cover, pants, and whatever else I may need.
Temperature drops of 30+ degrees are common in winter.

Bike prep:
My bike is well prepared for winter. I have fenders, rear rack, and multiple lights.

Actually, three lights in the front an three in the rear. May seem excessive, but it is not, being visible is very important with the low light conditions of winter. Reflectors and reflective clothing are OK, but nothing catches the eye of a driver like a blinking light. And if you can, don't go cheap on a light- it can save your life!

Lubrication-I use a generous amount of oil on my chain, gears, and derailleurs. The salts and sand are very harsh on the bike.

Obeying the laws:
One should ALWAYS obey the laws of the road. If you have a driver's license you know you know the laws.

Winter is a time for me to be hyper aware of my surroundings. I know the road conditions, what is in front, behind, and on my sides 100% of the time. I am also aware of options to get off the street-especially in icy conditions.

One great strategy to have, all year round, is to assume you are invisible. Too many times people are distracted, and if they are un-use to seeing cyclist, they may not be looking for you and may not see you!

Biking skills in winter: 'What if you slip on ice or snow?" I think one of the best ways for a cyclist to prepare for the adverse road conditions is by learning how to bike on dirt and gravel trails with multiple terrains. Like mountain biking, winter road cycling has its share of obstacles: sticks, leaves, walnuts, sand, ices, snow drifts, branches, slush, mud, just to name a few. Mountain biking prepares you in that you learn how to go over and through obstacles like these. Tires are not as important as you might think, it is more about the pressure in the tire so experimenting with different tire pressures can help insure a safer ride. Studded snow tires are an option, but I have never felt the need for them....yet. Peter White offers an excellent article about studded bicycle tires at Peter White Cycles

Why ride in winter? Why not ride in winter?!
Layering, layering, layering! That is the key, there is no magic one piece of clothing, and in most cases less is more. For instance in winter I usually wear, in temps of 20f to 35f, skull cap, helmet rain cover, neck gaiter, fleece gloves, two light weight wick able long sleeve shirts, a light weight wind breaker with a back vent, cycling shorts, wind pants, or micro fleece pants, wool socks, hiking boots ( I use platform pedals).

I went to platform pedals four years ago and have not looked back! They are easier to use and less
hassle than their clip-less cousins. If you race, you should stick with clip-less. For commuters, in winter, going platform is a better option as use are not clipped in and you can where your winter boots. Better to be able to get your feet down if you hit some black ice.
Our friends at Rivendell Bicycle Works wrote a great article on the benefits of use platform pedals called "the Shoes Ruse". I use platform pedals on all my bikes and all year round, including my long distant tours of hundreds and thousands of miles, much on gravel roads.

In mild dry cold weather I now prefer wearing wool is possible: trousers, underwear, socks, sweat, shirt, hat, gloves, neck gaiter, with a good tough boot. When wet, the one piece of high tech clothing is my Transit Jacket from Showers Pass it is hard to beat for functionality, made by cyclists, for cyclists. A little pricey at $160US, but considering the benefits, well worth it. Also great for Walking, hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, running, anything outside in winter. The Adventure Cycling Association has some great gear options for you

I regulate my temperature buy the zipper on my jacket, and on my level of exertion. All this takes practice and what works for one person, may be different for another, so be patient. The only rule is: to go ride and experience it for yourself!

I have biked in blizzards, sleet, 31f degree rain, snow storms, when temps were well below zero, and all I have to say is: it is FUN...AS LONG AS YOU ARE PREPARED!

So give winter cycling for transportation a try! Here are some resources that may help.

Happy Cycling  and stay warm,

(All pictures were found online if you are the taker, let me know.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Walk or Bicycle

I remember back in June of 2009 when I made the decision to be CAR FREE. It was a good move.
I now have a girlfriend who has three kids and she drives a huge SUV, and needs a car, well at least she has a life style that demands it. So now there is a car in my life...but I still manage not to own one and when I am not with them I am car free.

I love living without a car. Transportation is much simpler.
Cross Country Ski

I am healthier (mentally and physically), more in touch with my community, polluting less, and saving money.

Everyday I wake up is a good day and walk out my front door ask "Do I walk or bike today?"

I hope you can enjoy this life as well.

Tell me about your life style...are you living without a car, or do you have one part time?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Carfree American story

Carfree American story,

 I have been car-free (d. not owning a car) or car-lite(d. owning a car but using it on a limited basis) for 14 years now.

In 2000, I realized I was living my life for the wrong reasons: just to make a lot of money, accumulate things, get others to respect me for my business success who really did not care who I was or what I did.. I was also very depressed, out of shape, and very overweight.

One day I looked in the mirror and did not like what I saw-a sad, frustrated, unhealthy person.

I had always admired the people I knew who lived car-free or car-lite and thought “that is cool, maybe someday that could be me”.

Living in a car-centric suburb of Kansas City I, like most people, drove everywhere. I personally had two cars. I thrived on the fact that someone would compliment me on the cars I owned, “wow nice car, congratulations” they would say as though I just did something incredibly noble. The truth was the car was completely unnecessary for my life: I lived a block away from a grocery story, I worked out my home most of the time. I could easily bike and walk to most my destinations.

My life was filled with endless “I wants” with little considerations of what I needed-the American Dream-like eat when your not hungry, drink when you are not thirsty, buy things you do not need, if you want it-then get it as you only live once. I needed change!

I started to walk for exercise. I gave up; cars, house, and much of the junk I did not need. After a few months I dropped 50 lbs and bought a bicycle. I got rid of the last car and became car-free. Over the two and half years I spent time writing about my experiences and about changes being made in my life. I became a yoga and Pilate’s instructor, and worked in a gym and eventually lost 140 pounds.

I kept a journal of my experiences and noting what it was like to live a car-free life in a city and suburb that was not car-free friendly; poor sidewalks, no bike lanes, little mass-transit, drivers not use to cyclists, my family even gave me grief. On the other side, there were many friends who were supportive of my life style choice and a lot of people were interested in it.

In 2004 I ended up taking a new job, and a short time later starting a business. I gave into pressure from my family to get a car (even just for emergencies they said) and become car-lite. For the next six years I became car-lite and missed the car-free life. I kept riding my bike and walking most places. Even car-lite I rode thousands of miles a year for transportation purposes.

In June of 2009 I decided to go car-free again, but this time for these reasons; for my health, my way to help clean the environment and respect the Earth, support my community relationships like buying only local products, and saving money by not owning a car, around $8,000 per year- per car.

In the last 14 years I have biked a minimum of 50,000+ miles most of which was for transportation, I have also walked hundreds, maybe even a few thousand miles. I have gotten more involved with alternative transportation advocacy groups, but still strongly feel the BEST way to advocate alternative transportation is to live a life where you incorporate it on a daily basis.

Now, in early in 2014 I am even more healthy than I ever been. in the last two years I lost another 80
lbs by eating more of a plant based diet. I walk more than I bike now only because I moved an live in an area where everything is two to three miles away. I still bicycle too, but have become more passionate about walking.

There are times when I wish I had a car, only for the convinence. I do love this life style and I realize, for those who live in a big city it may not even be interesting, but for the rest of us, living with out a car is a true adventure breaking all rules of the American tradition of having a car.

So, to you, want to be an Carfree
advocate, go walk or ride your bike and let people see you do it. As Gandhi said,

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

Carfree is a good way to slow the ravaged plagued society of Obesity, Pollution, and Community degradation.

Being carfree you will be healthy in your mind and body, the health of the environment, and you will engage in a positive way in your community.

How I have benefited personally living carfree?
Bill Poindexter 2014

Here is a short list:

Healthier both mentally and physically
Doing my part for the environment
I have many friends in my community and meet more every day.
I feel great.
I am more passionate about living and life!

I hope you enjoy this site. Please let me know your thoughts or ideas on how to make this site or the world a better place. I you are living a carfree life style or want to let me know and I will share your story!

Be Healthy!


Bill Poindexter

Monday, January 6, 2014

Exploring the country by foot in 1909

Kansas Adventurers: Tramping and Camping with the Walking Woolfs

I stumbled across a very interesting and charming old book, Tramping and Camping by the Walking Woolfs, written by Dwight and Stella Woolf of Kansas City, Kansas in the early part of the 20th century. It is an account of their “journey to health”, accomplished by simply walking long distances.
Tramping and Camping
The book’s introduction explains it pretty well:
The unique experience of Mr. and Mrs. Dwight H. Woolf, the champion Long Distance Walkers, has awakened general interest throughout the United States.
In 1909, Mr. Woolf’s doctor informed him that he would have to get out in the open and stay there, or he would die. He weighed only 107 pounds, including clothes, and was growing weaker daily. Yet he hesitated about giving up his business as a music publisher — his life work; and it seemed a little short of madness to forego all the luxuries — the so-called “comforts” — of civilization.
But Mrs. Woolf, who was a brave, sensible woman, thoroughly devoted to her husband’s interests, agreed with the physician and suggested a walk to the Ozark Mountains.
That was the beginning of a most remarkable series of trips through Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and up through the north Atlantic States to New York and Boston, then home to Kansas City — in the aggregate, a journey of about 10,300 miles.
Yet, wherever the couple went there was really but one destination—health. Mr. Woolf gained strength and, not long after starting, was able to make twenty-five or thirty miles in a day. Clad in neat khaki uniforms, he and his wife– now the leading woman pedestrian of the world — marched from city to city, accompanied by Dolly and Don, their faithful horse and dog.
The group was often surrounded by cheering crowds, or met by newspaper reporters and escorted with honor by delegations of police into the presence of mayors and other officials, who received the travelers cordially.
But the “Walking Woolfs” gained something far more valuable than honor or fame; and their advice to others who have suffered from the effects of sedentary work is: “When you get into a rut walk out of it.”
He who draws close to nature is rewarded in many ways, not the least of which is perfect health. The object of this book is to preach the doctrine of exercise and fresh air.
It’s fascinating to see how — even in the early days of the automobile and the heyday of the passenger train — walking for transportation was seen as “odd”, and yet something to be celebrated as well.
The Woolfs camped along the way, setting up a tent in the woods or in the yard or field of a friendly farmer. They encountered everyday kindnesses in the country they passed through, though not all were welcoming: “A woman who saw us and supposed that we were gipsies, pulled her children into the house for fear that we might steal them.”
The book begins with “Hints for Health”, and these are some good, pithy tips, as valid today as they were a hundred year ago:
Health comes first.
Get up early.
Go to bed early.
Get plenty of fresh air
Drink plenty of water.
Exercise daily in the open air.
Never be in a hurry at meal time.
It is better not to eat enough than too much.
Two meals a day are enough for persons employed at office work.
Don’t jeopardize your health to make money.
Wealthy men would give their riches for health.
Health is easy to lose and hard to gain.
There is a bright side to life if you look for it.
If you can’t think of something pleasant to talk about, be a good listener.
Don’t worry — get back to nature.
Don’t sleep with a closed window.
Open the window at the top.
Best Remedies — Fresh Air, Sunshine, Exercise, Water, Nature.
Remember — That the largest amount of your ailments come from the lack of exercise and fresh air.
What’s all this got to do with bicycling? Perhaps not much, but bicycle touring is just another form of the sort of tramping that the Woolfs enjoyed. It’s celebrated by some, met with derision or suspicion by others, and is simply incomprehensible to too many. It depends on the generosity and hospitality of the communities we pass through. And, like walking, it’s a marvelous way to see, and really experience, the countryside.
You can read the book online at, where it’s also available as a PDF download or an ebook for Kindle or Nook.
The Hutchinson News reported on one of their trips in 1912:
Tho Walking Woolfs Have Finally Reached San Diego. Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Woolf, who style themselves the “Walking Woolfs’, who passed through Hutchinson this summer, walking from Kansas City to tho Pacific coast, have finally reached their destination, San Diego, Calif. Speaking of their arrival there, the San Diego Tribune says “Walking down Fifth street about 10 o’clock this morning a man and n woman, both brown as berries and dressed in khaki on which the alkali dust clung in spots, came, head up and chest out, one on each side of a horse that was pulling a wagon plastered with cards and inscriptions of all sorts. The dog came trotting behind. They were Mr. and Mrs. Woolf, of Kansas City, Molly the horse who has tramped twelve thousand miles, and Don, the dog. They are known as the “Walking Woolfs”. When asked about his trip and the object of it, Mr. Woolf said it was mainly for health. “We left Kansas City May of this year,” Sir Woolf said. “We Walked across the Utah desert two hundred miles with great difficulty. When in the middle of the desert we smashed a wheel, which could not be remedied, and there we stuck for two weeks. We were beginning to get worried about the water and provisions when members of the Utah Construction company rescued us. “When we leave San Diego we go to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and then back to Kansas City, via Yellowstone Park.”
This article tells a little bit more of their story: “Finally, after having walked nearly 20,000 miles, Dwight, Stella, Dolly, and Don came home for good in November of 1915. From their daily journal, they published a 250-page book entitled Tramping and Camping by the Walking Woolfs. They also published a 34-card set of postcards from the numerous photos taken during their six years of walking across America. It isn’t known what happened to the Woolfs: What did they do throughout the rest of their lives? How long did they live? All of this is a mystery. But one thing is sure–they must have had some great stories to tell.”
Here’s one of their postcards:
Walking Woolfs Postcard
“Tramping and Camping” is the key to nature.