20 July, 2022

Quiver Killers Don't Exist. Change my mind.

Editorial by Scott

There is a term in the outdoor world - the Quiver Killer. The term refers to a bike, ski, or a kayak (and so on) that can do so many different things that it does away with the need for multiple bikes/skis/kayaks, and all you need is THIS ONE. "The one bike to rule them all" is often the sub headline or line in the opening paragraph describing the product. Well, I'll call folks out on that one. I don't really think one bike can do it all. Why - it has to compromise on something. Let's look at it from a couple perspectives.

A Polyvalent with generous clearances, mounts to carry stuff, and stouter tubing for reliability does really well as a tourer or commuting bike. But ultimately as a super go-fast roadie, trying to keep up with the fast kids on their carbon bikes? Not so much. To ride a heavier steel touring bike at that speed requires too much power to keep up with them for an extended period of time, at least for most riders.

I think people look at the idea of a quiver killer as a way to save money, to justify buying that one bike that will do everything, but the reality is that any bike, kayak, or ski that claims to do everything is ultimately a compromise in some way. To make a frame work as a touring bike, there are design aspects that have to be taken into account. And many of those aspects are not the same if we wanted to design a, for example, mountain bike. There are core elements of both styles that don't overlap in a bicycle categories Venn diagram.

Now if you're the type of rider that focuses on only one type of riding, let's say credit card touring, you could ostensibly have one bike like a Pass Hunter. It could be built up with some zippy components and be ridden on the road stripped down, gravel with some moderate knobby tires, and for a few overnights with some rackless bags

I know some folks will say, "but you work in the bike biz, so it's all good and well for you to tell us to buy more bikes." What I'm saying is that if you want a bike to go mountain biking on, don't kid yourself and buy a flat bar road bike and think you can go ride rough, rugged mountain bike trails on it. Once you get past a smooth stretch of single track and onto a trail with rocks and roots, you'll be pining for the travel of a hardtail or tire volume of an ATB. Likewise, buying that older "race" bike that someone on Craigslist put up for sale and then trying to put racks and fenders on it, may be an exercise in frustration due to the limitations of the frame and its set up.

I'd love for there to be a quiver killer, but in reality, one bike that purports to do everything will do only some styles of riding well. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments and we'll see how folks feel about it.

01 July, 2022

Finding Peace in Achill, Ireland

by Igor

Achill Island is situated on Ireland’s West Coast about 15 miles Northwest of Westport as the crow flies. With an ancient history that dates as far back as 5000 years, there are ruins of farms, homes, and churches that dot the landscape virtually everywhere you go. And amongst those ruins, sheep, stone walls, and lush vegetation, you’ll find the Great Western Greenway Trail.

Immediately after landing in Dublin, we hopped in our Space Tourer and headed out to the West Coast.

After a day of acclimation in Westport, we drove out to Mulranny. Just East of Achill Island and right on the Greenway Trail, Mulranny was the perfect jumping-off point for our ride out to Achill Sound.

44km of completely off-road riding was right at the doorstep of our hotel. With Adrian on her Neutrino, and me on a rented Giant hybrid (with only 2 working gears - the salty and damp atmosphere does wonders to bikes) towing the kiddo, we set off.

In our experience touring the West Coast of Ireland (this is our second trip there with bikes), one thing you’ll need to know about the weather in Ireland is that it will rain. Sprinkles, drops, and mist is the major extent of daily rain. At night it can pour, but during the day, bring a rain jacket or waterproof shell and accept you’re going to get rained on.

And with that rain, the landscape is lush, green, and vibrant. We took our trip during the flowering of the Rhododendron bushes that line the scenery and segmented maze of stone walls and fences that (mostly) keep in sheep and livestock. We also got used to making way for families of brightly marked sheep roaming the countryside.

The trail is easily navigated with directional signs at intersections and the terrain is crushed gravel. You could absolutely ride the trail with a skinny tired road bike, but leave your deep-section wheels at home or you’ll be steering a sailboat with the constant wind - only the lucky ones get to have headwinds both ways.

At the end of the trail in Achill Sound you do have to get on the road for a mile or so, but drivers are courteous and give plenty of room for passing. Make sure to stop at Kate’s Cafe for a refueling stop before heading back.

We love off-road trails. Rail trails, gravel, canal paths, you name it. If it’s offroad, we’re down. After years of road riding and touring, we’re pretty much through with sharing roads with cars. I don’t want to go too in depth into the problems we have today with distracted and/or drunk drivers but it is becoming increasingly evident that separating cyclists with even a curb is the way to go. Sharrows aren’t enough. Bucolic countryside trails far from even the sound of cars are ideal.

While we weren’t shredding the gnar, shralping, braapping, or enduring a sufferfest, we did have a chance to clear our heads, travel, and enjoy the ride. Sometimes the most memorable rides are the ones where you are enjoying the ride for the places you visit, relationships you grow, and the unique experiences shared.

No matter how you ride, you’re awesome. But do take time for the chill rides - those are an important part of your journey.

Are those Al Pacas? Heck yes they are and we walked them on the beach. I couldn't NOT include this picture.

Quick note: VO will be closed Monday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day and re-open on Tuesday, July 5th.