Long time readers may remember the unfortunate condition of my back. While I’ve always had back pains since my teen years, due to sports related injuries and childhood stupidity, it got worse during the start of this blog due to a few bad bike accidents. The worst crash was in 2011, when I smashed my tailbone and ultimately created a problem with my spinal column that makes it narrower than it should be. Having a lifelong practice of stretching and strengthening has helped me maintain my back health for the most part, and yoga is an integral part of that in my adult life. Acclimate weather, stress and sitting for too long (like in the car or at the computer) are all triggers for pain, and not just for those of us who’ve experienced back trauma.
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When I posted my recent review of my new Osprey hydration pack, my hiker friend Wendy was excited. After our 10-day trek down the coast of Newfoundland on the East Coast Trail, her pack has stayed, well, packed. Her hydration bladder is now funky, stinky, and discolored, and she obviously doesn’t want to drink out of it. But that doesn’t mean you need a new bladder, woman! As long as there is no serious rip in the bladder or crack in the seal, the bladder is worth trying to save before spending mad money on a whole new hydration system. Before throwing away that bladder, try these steps:
The only hydration pack I remember really owning was a Camelbak Rocket that my dad bought me when I was 19 or so, at my first bike shop job. My parents were upset that I was staying in Santa Fe to work rather than returning to Massachusetts, and I interpreted this pack as a peace offering, a gesture of love and support even though I was driving them crazy and breaking their hearts. I used that hydration pack for almost 15 years, and finally retired it when we moved out of our house in Pittsburgh to begin our great road trip adventure.
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Living in a camper is really living the dream. A dirty, filthy dream. We do have a shower—that is, when we have water, which isn’t all that often. The shower itself is basically a bucket with a hose. I’m being a bit dramatic here, because there isn’t a much better feeling than, after no way to bathe for a week or two besides baby wipes and dry shampoo, standing in a plastic basin with water spraying into your chest and rinsing it all away into a drain. It took until Arizona to fix our plumbing issues, and we now have both running water and a working shower, but the water is fairly limited, compared to a house shower, and the hot not cold water lasts for only three minutes.
I have a medical condition that causes my earbuds to fall apart. Sometimes the speaker detaches from itself, sometimes the chords get all chewed up and I get tiny electric shocks when I run slower than five miles an hour, and sometimes they disintegrate entirely, never to be seen again (or maybe found a couple of months later in a bag I stopped using or tucked in a couch cushion). In truth, I just usually buy crappy headphones that are made for standing at a bus stop or wearing while doing data entry.
The timing of GoGo Gear‘s email advertising their new kevlar leggings with removable knee pads was just about perfect. I had been taking my scooter back and forth across the bridge to Millvale, where Ed at Goose Farm Motorcycles helped me put on my license plate, then Geoff at Slagheap Cycles in the same space helped me attach my trunk because I was having compatibility issues. In mid-late November, crossing a river at night is a cold journey, and wearing regular tights under my jeans just wasn’t cutting it. After a particularly cold evening, I arrived at the coffee shop where Evan worked to soak up some warm beverage as he prepared to lock the doors. I checked my email and saw these leggings. They seemed perfect, but with a price point well above my budget at the time, having not quite shaken the shock of quitting my job.
I’ve been collecting a lot of products lately during and in preparation for my travels to Vermont, Colorado, Race Across the West, and Newfoundland’s East Coast Trail. I’ve been testing for the past few months or so, and thought you’d like a peak at what I’ve been into and why. First on the list is: