If you're young and British and ready to get out and see the world on a bicycle, the Janapar Grant is probably one of the best things that could happen to you.

I'll fill you in on the details below, but if you can't wait, then here's the link: http://janapar-grant.org.uk/

The Janapar Grant was started by Tom Allen, after his own multi-year bike tour around the world (you can watch the film by the same name here

The applications are being accepted "In early 2016," but as of today all they have is a form where you can leave your email if you're interested.

All I can say is, if you are between the ages of 18 and 25, live in the UK, and don't have any work-related conflicts, you should be interested.

If you are accepted, you'll get all the equipment you need: bike, tools, panniers, tent, sleeping gear, and cook set. Better yet, you'll be mentored by some of the best-known names in bike touring, including Emily Chappell, Tom Allen, and several others.

If I qualified, I would jump on this. Just the application itself will get you thinking about your trip, planning, and sorting out both your route and your motivation.

Alas, I'm not British, and I'm nearly double the maximum eligible age. Still, old geezer that I am, whenever I set off on another journey I feel the same excitement and joy that I felt in my twenties--maybe more. Bike touring is a lifelong passion. But if you're reading this you probably already knew that.

Once again here's the link to the Janapar Grant:

http://janapar-grant.org.uk

By the way, what would happen if you didn't see this blog post and missed out on your chance to apply for the Janaper Grant?

Lucky for you, whenever I have a really important post, especially one that's going to improve the quality of your life, I email it to everyone on my tips list. If you're not on that list, you could have already missed out! Be sure to sign up below, or in the box to your right.

1

I appreciate the enterprising spirit of the people who invented the "bike basket for men," but I wonder how many men will pay 150 Euros for a crate that clips on the back of a bike.

I don't want to break any copyright laws by posting photos without permission, but you can see pictures of  The Bike Crate here:

http://www.thebikecrate.com/gallery/

Personally, I prefer waterproof panniers that I can close, to keep my stuff inside and keep the rain outside. But I have to admit their design is stylish, and a basket is quick and easy when you only want to carry a few light things on a simple bike ride in good weather.

What do you think?

My battered old Ortlieb panniers are still holding out, after more than 5 years of almost daily use. Someone at the coffee shop this morning asked me about them, and had similar luck with his own panniers.

This is something I love about the bicycle industry. There are so many good companies that really care about what they do. A lot of gear is built to perform, and built to last.

So many other industries produce crap that wears out fast, relying on planned obsolescence to keep their profits coming. Chalk this up as another sustainability benefit of bike commuting and bike travel. More greenbelt, less landfill.

2

If you're commuting by bike and you live anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, you're going to ride your bike at night at some point. In my younger days (and even now, truth be told), I used to party with my bike and ride home.*

This is just to say I've bought and used a lot of bike lights over the years. I have my favorites, and I might make some recommendations in a future post. But for now, I'm frustrated by a problem that seems to happen across the board, with every kind of bike light I've ever used.

Usually the mounting wears out or breaks long before the light does. So you end up with a perfect light that you can't attach to your bicycle.

Sure, you can always figure something out with bungi cords, rubber bands and duct tape, but all of those things lead to new problems later on. As a result, I have a drawer full of flashlights that are simply retired bike lights.

My latest solution is the head lamps that you find at camping stores. It's bright, it automatically points wherever I look, but it's uncomfortable and I feel like I'm cheating somehow. Plus, this doesn't fill the need for a flashing rear light device.

I know there has to be a better way, and that's where you come in.

If you like to tinker, and you could patent some kind of universal bike light mount, you may be in a business. If your device is simple, durable, and lightweight, you're going to be a millionaire. If this sounds like you, please get on it! I won't ask for any credit or compensation. I'll be your first customer!

*Yes, I almost killed myself a few times while biking under the influence, but at least I wouldn't have killed anybody else. Don't ever try to drive, ride, or operate any vehicle--bike, motorcycle, steamroller, skateboard, pogo stick, burro, or jet ski--when your cognitive processes are compromised. If you're going to abuse a substance, let it be coffee!