Carbon Framebuilding: Assembly of Frame 2

Part 2 of frame 2. With the ability to churn out tubes on my fiberwinder cheaply and with mildly reckless abandon (see Part 1), I still needed to turn these tubes into a bike. And to do that, I was determined to once again use Calfee Design for my inspiration and use 3D print carbon fiber lug moulds. Calfee got me into framebuilding in the first place, and was where I went to for my bamboo ideas back when I was in high school trying to finish frame 1. Or frame 0, I guess, because that bike didn’t even make it through a single ride. So the record, frame 0 is the one that failed, frame 1 is a champ, has lasted for a few thousand miles and many rough gravel rides. And frame 2 is coming to take its place.

Continue reading Carbon Framebuilding: Assembly of Frame 2

Carbon Framebuilding: Die Faserwickelmaschine

Today I’m switching gears from cross-continent trips to my further experiments in carbon fiber framebuilding. I’ve spent the second half of this year bumbling my way through the first quarter of graduate school and designing and building my second carbon fiber frame. I did a lot of different things this time, and I’m eager to share what worked and what didn’t. About 90% of my instruction has come from small blogs with blurry pictures, and 50-page forum posts in a variety of languages. So this is my way to spread my breadcrumbs for others who looking to do something like this. It’s been a fun project.

Continue reading Carbon Framebuilding: Die Faserwickelmaschine

Central Asia Epilogue

I left an abrupt ending to my last post. I guess the trip kind of ended abruptly, so the last post fit that mould. The last few days felt just as abbreviated. ‘Now you’re on a bus, now you’re running around Ulanbaataar, now you’re home.’ There wasn’t some glorious ‘last night looking over the steppe and pondering the experiences of this trip’. After a few weeks back in the States, I’ve had some time to reflect on this voyage and so I’m going to write a post reflecting on my time in Central Asia. Also, now that I’m back on a computer with a decent screen to edit photos on, I am going through my photos for ones that I may have missed along the way. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites and some of those that didn’t make the posts for whatever reason.

It’s the epilogue!

Continue reading Central Asia Epilogue

Takshiken, Xinjiang, China to Altai, Mongolia

“You appear to be moving very slowly into the Gobi Desert. Are you sure you want to do this?” – Things Google Maps isn’t designed to say.

P1070351.jpg
Leaving the Chinese border, there were actually two parallel  paved roads. Take the North one, because it goes through towns and is mostly paved.

After almost two weeks running from Police in China, using various mapping resources that run acceptably well through the Great Firewall, I completely missed how close I’d be coming to one part of the Gobi Desert. I guess by some definition, you could say that my route, unbeknownst to me at the time, had me crossing it. I’m not sure where the precise borders of the Gobi are, or if there even are precise borders of such a monstrous geographical feature. Regardless, Google gave me no warnings when I crossed into the region about how absolutely desolate the area would be. When I finally zoomed out a few days into Mongolia, I discovered just how close my route had gone to the ‘Great Gobi B’ on Google Maps, it in all honesty came as a surprise. I had planned this leg thinking it was just another barren steppe, one of many I’d crossed since leaving Kyrgyzstan about a month ago.

Continue reading Takshiken, Xinjiang, China to Altai, Mongolia

Karamay to Takshiken, Xinjiang, China

Please take your shotgun out of my face before we take this picture.

If I sneak around this truck then the toll booth won’t see me and I’ll have better luck camping tonight.

It’s 1am and an unknown number is calling me at my campsite. Must be the police. Well, whatever they have to say can wait until tomorrow.

I wish she had interrogated me a little longer. It was really nice to speak English for a bit.

#JustXinjiangThoughts

p1070316
Wide open spaces and police cameras. I make sure to smile for every one.

Continue reading Karamay to Takshiken, Xinjiang, China

Usharal, Kazakhstan to Karamay, Xinjiang, China

Xinjiang, Xinjiang. Where to start with this absurd place. Xinjiang shares much with the oppressive political situation in Tibet, but doesn’t get nearly the coverage. And the Chinese Government has a vested interest in keeping it that way. Geographically, it is a vast province spanning most of Western China. That fact alone should raise red flags on its own about potential political troubles in the region. The province is sandwiched between China and the predominantly Muslim Turkic peoples of Central Asia, and this creates an obvious conflict. The Uygur minority is kept under constant surveillance, with “abnormal” (real term!) beards and head scarves banned. It’s known to be a nightmare to cycle through, but I think I’ve found a very good way to do it and I want to share that information. So this is a writing-heavy post. But first, back to the last few days of riding in Kazakhstan. The long days riding in Kazakhstan are so crucial to understanding why eventually entering China felt a little like getting hit with a bag of bricks.

p1070250_12
Far out in the steppe. Wide open spaces.

Continue reading Usharal, Kazakhstan to Karamay, Xinjiang, China

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Usharal, Kazakhstan

Well, the boring connecty parts of this trip have turned out to be… pretty boring and connecty. This is a short post covering a little more than half of the distance from Bishkek to my entry to China at Tacheng. This stretch is about 1100km long, and has proved to be unexpectedly hilly and pretty hot. And thus, in comparison to the previous 1100km+ of riding, it was kind of monotonous. The scenery isn’t great (except for later after Taldykorgon), just endless steppe with tall mountains looming in the distance. The one fortunate thing about this stretch were the amount of services and (until Taldykorgan) the condition of the road. Kazakhstan is much wealthier than Kyrgyzstan, and this means that the average road condition is better, and the average town has more to offer. It’s probably the most developed area I’ve been in since Azerbaijan. Oil will do that to a country.

P1070105
Bishkek

Continue reading Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Usharal, Kazakhstan