Saturday, December 12, 2009


Adaptation can be rewarding. For some, perhaps, it is a matter of survival. Not all circumstances can be controlled, at least not in the near term. So working with what one has seems better than constantly struggling to change things that aren't practical to change. With limited time resources, what can the aspiring bicycle tourist do?

Fortunately, the S24O was invented. The Sub-24-hour Overnight camping trip is an excellent example of a limited time resource adaptation, and has numerous rewards. But what if time constraints are even tighter?

How about a micro-tour? Basically, it involves a short distance, destination based bicycle tour. I suggest packing and using at least one-piece of your touring gear. Otherwise, it seems like maybe it would be simply be a short ride. Besides, since we've made the investment in cool gear, let's find an excuse to use it.

Today's example is a "Coffee in the Woods Micro-Tour". I packed up my gear last night, minimizing early morning hassles. I rolled out this morning, using my lights, just as the sky begin to lighten. I silently cruised down to a pre-determined lonely spot under creekside pecan trees. I sat down roadside and put some water on to boil.

I waited patiently. No hurry. The faithful fixed-wheel country bike stood, as always, at the ready. I listened to the birds, creek gurgles, and the crackling of a micro-fire in my Kelly Kettle. I sipped the fresh brew... an anti-coffee shop, and enjoyed the calming view.

Did time slow down?

The scent of wood smoke, fresh coffee, and damp leaves is amazing. Adapting to constraints, and seizing the moment to bag a micro-tour is simply priceless.

Micro-tour stats...

mileage = approximately 4
elapsed time = 1 hour, 15 minutes
weather = 41 degrees, light mist

I'm proud to say that I think today's adventure should qualify me for my micro-tour merit badge.


  1. Now a micro-tour is something I have time for. The idea of riding off and brewing some coffee or cooking up a quick meal in a nice quiet spot is very appealing. Thanks for the idea.

  2. More details on the gear would be wlcome as I drink my Starbucks after a mini-ride. Even in Colleyville, there are nearby wooded places.

  3. Well, today I took my Kelly Kettle, which is simply a clever water heating device... REI combination insulated mug and french press (which today, because I am out of french press ground coffee, was used as a mug only), and an old filter holder from on old automatic drip coffee maker.

    Oh yeah, I brought some Mezzanote blend coffee I purchased from Jupiter House in Denton, Texas.

  4. Hoping we aren't playing 20 questions, what do you use for fuel? What's more, where did you get the Kelly Kettle, which sounds like an excellent water heating device!

    Is yours the aluminum or stainless variety? Regardless of which type, did you get the right one?

  5. WHILE we're at it, does your selected Kelly Kettle fit into a bike water bottle holder? If not, (or even if so), do you carry it in the drawstring bag? I guess we're only up to FOUR questions so far...

  6. Steve, the really cool thing about the kettle is that fuel is twigs, leaves, bark, paper, etc. You get a small fire started in the base, put the kettle on top, drop in small bits of fuel found laying around outdoors down the chimney. In about 2-3 minutes you have boiling water. That said, in windy conditions, maintaining a small fire can be a challenge. I have some very small fire-starter sticks I can use to help me get things started.

    I purchased the small size, aluminum, and as I recall, I ordered my kettle off the website.

    It will not fit in a standard bottle cage. I store mine in the drawstring bag, and usually carry it inside my saddlebag (as I did this morning).

    Did I get the right one? I think so. When I camp, I don't quite have enough capacity for oatmeal and coffee, so I need to go through the operation twice. That doesn't bother me when I'm alone. I'm not in a hurry and it gives me something easy to do.

    If you come to the ride next Saturday, remind me and I'll show it to you.

  7. great stuff Chris. really. talk about perspective.

    I might have to ask you a bit more about the coffee set-up.

  8. Great concept. I do a similar thing here in North Carolina that I call a "Bicycle Tea." I made a little alcohol stove using a tin Lily Coffee can for a windscreen and combustion chamber, the top and bottom of an aluminum Arizona Tea can for a burner, a 12 oz aluminum "cola" can for a kettle, and a bent bicycle spoke for a handle. (It all fits neatly together in the coffee can.) I take a plesant ride to a screne place, brew my tea, nibble on a cookie, and enjoy a few moments with a pocket New Testament or a book of old Poetry.

    William Boyd

  9. This is so cool! I have to get in the swing of things soon so I can ride to your neck of the woods one day. I absolutely enjoyed this post. The kettle is super cool especially given that you don't have to carry any fuel with you; you make do with nature's bounty. Here is another item to add to my list of things to collect. If you like Chai, I have found some instant Chai which I have fallen in love with. They make it in two flavors, 1)Ginger and 2)Cardamom.

    BTW, great pic in overalls!

    Hoping to see you next weekend, if all goes well!

    Peace :)

  10. William, do you have photos? or more detailed instructions? My set-up works fine, but yours sounds lighter and more compact.

  11. Tim, I'm not sure what to add beyond the answers to Steve's questions. Maybe I haven't been detailed enough with my description?

  12. Awesome!! I do a lot of these little coffee rides in the winter and like to practice my s24o skills.

    Joe in Iowa

  13. Great concept! I have a small alcohol burner that would work great for something like this. I've only used it on a few S24Os so far.

    I don't have a french press mug, so I would probably bring tea. Or, the newish Starbucks "Via" instant coffee is surprisingly tolerable.

    On the other hand, I've been contemplating getting a nice locking thermos mug and just bringing a hot drink with me. Doug at has one and says it keeps his drink hot for hours, even when it's very cold outside.

    That might not be quite as much fun as bringing the stove, but I would think that if it got really cold, you would get cold waiting for your water to boil.

    With the Kelly Kettle, what do you do if, say, the leaves are wet?

  14. "With the Kelly Kettle, what do you do if, say, the leaves are wet?"

    Good question. In my limited experience so far, this has not been an issue. If it has been that wet, I've been at home. I think I'll gather a couple of sandwich bags of dry twigs and keep them handy for just such an occasion.

  15. Okay, how about micro-credit card touring...ride to the local bistro, have brunch...prehaps a mimosa and a crepe, and leasurly tool your way home????

    Just a thought, Great post, Jack

  16. Jack, that's the kind of creative thinking that makes cycling so much fun. Thanks for that contribution.

  17. Fantastic idea. I've S24Oed before but I'm a pretty time-strapped guy. The thought of riding out into the woods and cooking up an omelette and some tea is very exciting. Excellent, excellent idea.

  18. what a lovely post. i think i have time for a micro-tour, too. need to get the right stove....thank you for your's a treat and an inspiration.