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Across Asia on a Bicycle

In 1891, Thomas Gaskell Allen and William Lewis Sachtleben set out from St. Louis, Missouri to ride their bicycles around the world. Across Asia on a Bicycle is the account of the Asian leg of their 15,044 mile journey — from Constantinople to Peking. It is an excellent read and, along with Journey to the Centre of the Earth, sits as my favorite cycling book.

Illustration from Across Asia on a Bicycle: Evening halt in a village

Despite their journey having taken place over 100 years ago, when the safety bicycle was little more than a decade old, their luggage is recognizable as a modern bikepacking setup: a framebag, small seatpost bag, and a bedroll strapped to the handlebars. In preparation for their ride through the Gobi into China, they stripped their load down further.

Our work of preparation was principally a process of elimination. We now had to prepare for a forced march in case of necessity. Handle-bars and seat-posts were shortened to save weight, and even the leather baggage-carriers, fitting in the frames of the machines, which we wourselves had patented before leaving England, were replaced by a couple of sleeping-bags made for us out of woolen shawls and Chinese oiled-canvas. The cutting off of buttons and extra parts of our clothing, as well as the shaving of our heads and faces, was also included by our friends in the list of curtailments. For the same reason one of our cameras, which we always carried on our backs, and refilled at night under the bedclothes, we sold to a Chinese photographer at Suidun, to make room for an extra provision-bag.

This book was another recommendation by Joe Cruz, who also has some photos of Allen and Sachtleben on his blog.

This post was published at in bicycle, books.

The EDC Keychain

Below the Maxpedition Keyper I connect a quick-release fob. This adds enough length to the setup that the keys can be silenced in my pocket, but still securely attached to my belt via the Keyper. The side-release buckle provides easy, one-handed access. The fob attaches to the Keyper via a normal split ring.

For most of the 8 years that I’ve used the fob, I’ve attached the keys to it via another split ring. I tried a cable ring from CountyComm for some time, but it was too large and the closure unscrewed itself frequently. Later, when the FREEKey came out, I gave it a shot. It worked well enough but I found that it offered no practical advantage over a normal split ring. Finally, last March I learned about the Flex O Loc Key Ring from Brian Green. I bought a pack of them and have been using one on my keychain ever since. I find that they’re perfect: the right size, easy to open, and secure when closed.

EDC Keychain

On the keychain itself I carry three keys: an apartment key, a work key and a bike lock key. Next to the keys is a Kingston DataTraveler SE9 (16GB). I find that the DataTravelers are a good combination of performance, durability and price. I consider this my “dirty” stick: it holds no personal information and is formatted with FAT32. I’ll stick it in pretty much anything. It used to hold Liberté Linux, but unfortunately that project seems largely abandoned now. Next to the USB stick is a Photon Freedom Micro LED light with a green beam. I’ve lost count of how many years I’ve had this. It doesn’t produce a significant beam, but it frequently comes in handy. I like to know that I always have a light source attached to me. Next on the ring is the pit for my Pitlocks. This is a specially keyed nut that is needed to remove the Pitlock skewers on my bike. It increases the difficulty of stealing a wheel. The final item is a SERE V Cutter. I consider this more of a toy than a tool. It does cut cord very well, but so does a knife. I wouldn’t buy it again, but as long as I have it I figure I might as well use it, and it is small and light enough that I can put it on my keychain and forget that it’s there.

This post was published at in general. It was tagged with review, edc, gear.

Alternative Carry of the ESEE Candiru

The ESEE Candiru is another nice knife that suffers from a terrible sheath.

In fact, it is a great little knife. Unfortunately the only sheath that the Candiru comes with is a simple Cordura pouch. I threw this away immediately upon receiving the knife and replaced it with a horizontal belt sheath from Dark Star Gear. The Dark Star Gear sheath first came to my attention on pistol-forum.com. At the time I hadn’t purchased the Candriu, but horizontal carry of a small fixed blade at about 11:00 on the belt impressed me as a great idea. I knew I wanted to give it a shot.

Dark Star Gear Sheath

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CRKT RSK Mk5 Sheaths

The CRKT RSK Mk5 is a nice knife cursed by a terrible sheath.

I’ve been EDCing the knife since my Nemesis Hellion was lost last November. Unfortunately, the “glass filled nylon” sheath that the RSK Mk5 ships with is a poor design. The grommet in the tip is too small to accept a piece of paracord. This was done to keep the overall size of the sheathed knife small enough to fit inside an Altoids tin. I have never understood the obsession with the Altoids tin survival kit. I prefer to carry a knife about this size around my neck.

CRKT RSK Mk5: Standard Sheath

Some time ago I purchased a new sheath for my RAT Izula from a fellow on eBay who goes by lemonwoodgallery. I was pleased with that purchase, so as soon as I bought the RSK Mk5 I shipped it to him to make me a custom kydex sheath. It’s nothing fancy — just your standard taco style sheath with two grommets at the top for a piece of paracord and one on the side for retention. This is the same design as the sheath for the Nemesis Hellion, which served me well for 6 years. The new sheath has held the RSK Mk5 around my neck for about 8 months now. It’s a much appreciated upgrade.

CRKT RSK Mk5: Custom Sheath