Sunday, December 30, 2012

Great Deal on The Panasonic LX7

I wrote not too long ago about the Panasonic Lumix LX7, and I've been waiting to buy mine.  Well, it looks like now is the best time to get one.  For whatever reason, the price has taken a huge drop.  Perhaps the market has decided that it prefers the larger sensor of the Sony RX100 and the LX7s are overstocked.  Whatever the reason is, I'm taking advantage and getting one now.

Get your Panasonic LUMIX LX7 at US$299 from Amazon now!


* If you're in Singapore (like me), street price for the LX7 is S$599.  There's a rebate offer for a free battery and a SG$50 NTUC voucher from authorized Lumix dealers until January 13th.  Not quite as good as the US deal, but it works for me ;)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Not Just Another Fatbike

Milton Ramos leading the pack with his Sandman Hoggar Ti in the Titan Desert. Photo courtesy of Sandman Bikes.

Fatbikes have always been interesting to me.  Originally designed to be ridden on snow, Fatbikes have evolved to be simple, rugged bikes that you can ride just about anywhere (well, more rideable that a skinny-tired bike anyway).  The fat, 4" wide tires eat up roots, loose ground, rocks, sand and snow.  As a bonus, the wider tires apparently do less trail damage than skinnier tires.  Fat tires offer unmatched grip for steep climbs and descents and have some 'suspension' benefits as well.

The major down side with fat bikes is the weight.  Fatbikes weighing well over 30 lbs is the norm.  The fat tires can be draggy as hell, and the bikes can have sluggish steering characteristics.

At least one Fatbike manufacturer has taken a taken a different approach.  Sandman Bikes were designed from the ground up to be trail bikes, not snow bikes.  How's it different?  Other than the top models being specced with front suspension, I can't really say.  There is scant information available on their website, only just enough to find your size and order a bike. 

Milton Ramos and his Sandman Hoggar Ti.  Image courtesy of Sandman Bikes.
The proof is in the riding, and if I can't get to ride it, I'd like to hear from someone who has, or better yet, have some performance results.  What's encouraging is that the Belgium based Sandman has a sponsored rider, Milton Ramos, who has done quite well riding the company's top-end Hoggar Ti model, albeit using a combination of fat tires and 29er wheels.  Milton Ramos has managed to get the weight of his Hoggar Ti down to 12.5kg with fat tires, and under 10kg with 29er wheels.  Quite a respectable weight, plus the fact that he is riding the bike well says a lot about its handling qualities.

Quite frankly, I'm unlikely to give up my S-Works Epic to race the Hoggar, but it's a different kind of ride, and I'd really like to get my hands on one!

To give you an idea on what this bike is for, here are a couple of excellent videos by Martin Campoy, riding his Hoggar Ti in Nepal:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Adventure Starts Now!

Climbing Mt. Chola, Sichuan, China
What is adventure?  I define adventure as a physically and mentally challenging undertaking, with risk for physical danger and an uncertain outcome. 

Why do it?  For me, I enjoy the preparation, build-up and anticipation of a great adventure to come. I relish the physical challenge.  I like the sharp mental focus I feel as the world melts away until there is nothing left except me, and the task.  I like being able to weigh the risks, stare down my fear and taking an uncertain outcome to a successful conclusion.

Running an ultramarathon in the Gobi Desert
First Steps to Adventure: Making Time
Well what stops a person from making an adventure happen?  Lack of time is the number excuse.  Ok, I hear you.  Find an adventure suitable to your geographic region and close to home.  Not everyone has Mt. Everest in his backyard, so for your first steps, you'll have to make do: sign up for something you like, perhaps sport climbing, kayaking, or maybe mountain biking.

Second Step: Finding Energy
The quickest way to getting more energy is to boost your muscle mass.  Crossfit is the fastest way I know to build functional athletic competency.  These days, functional strength is a buzzword and you'll probably be on the right track if you choose a gym with medicine balls, kettlebells, and lots of free weights.  If you are really tight on time, you can do Crossfit at home.  Go to crossfit.com for guidance on how to start.  Once you've stripped away excess fat and put on some muscle, your confidence will take a huge boost as well, and you'll be ready for Step Three.

Step Three: Building Skills and Experience
After taking the first two steps, you'll have a pretty good idea about your strengths and abilities.  This is the time to gain experience and build skills.  Sign up for courses, or join a club of like-minded people.   While the sky may not be the limit yet, there are plenty of good adventures out there waiting to be had! 

Step Four:  Look Further Afield
Now's the time to start making grand plans and turn those dreams into reality!  Make it real: Pen it into your calendar, Facebook it, and tell all your friends about it.  Stretch your abilities and push the limits.  It's all up to you. 


In memory of Ngima Grimen Sherpa, 1982-2012