Category Archives: Dirtbag Tips

Culinary Delights: MSR Stovetop Baking


We eat the same thing just about every day (rice/beans/onions/peppers), the only thing we have going for us is that by the time we finish riding we are starving, and anything becomes palatable. So when Goat´s sister came down to Peru for Goat´s birthday and baked him cakes on our MSR Stoves, we considered it nothing short of a gastronomic miracle.

What was her secret? She used two pots like a double boiler, except in the bottom pot she placed sand to help disperse the heat, effectively making the thin aluminum pot more like a cast iron. Sand could also be placed on the lid for extra insulation. That and we had to patiently wait hours and hours before it was ready. And inevitably would vanish in seconds.

Dirtbag Tip #2: Lubrication

Bike chains (especially the extra-long version our bikes require) have more moving parts than the rest of the bike put together. And not just moving — but grinding together, while being exposed to moisture and all sorts of dirt and grime.


Clearly, lubrication is of the highest importance. But, chain lube has an almost impossible job description: It must be thick enough to resist heat and moisture, thin enough to penetrate into the inner workings of all those moving parts, sticky enough to hold position on exposed smooth metal, but not so tacky that it collects dirt, becoming a grinding paste.

There are several companies whose products have reached this holy grail of chemical engineering, but their elixirs are astronomically expensive (for the off road bike tourist who must clean-lube their chain every other day) and far from available in rural Latin America.


Fortunately there is a solution that is cheap, readily available, well within your ability even if you failed high school chemistry, and most importantly, it works really well.

Only two ingredients are necessary:
Oil (of the heavy sticky variety), and solvent.

225px-motor_oil.jpg                       1528150289.jpg

Our favorites are motor oil, and white gas.
(Though gear oil, chainsaw bar oil, paint thinner, mineral spirits and regular gasoline are all reasonable substitutes)

The mixing ratio varies from 1×1 to 3×1 (solvent to oil) depending on your materials and conditions (in wet weather your oil wants to be thicker, etc.).

Simply mix, and use…

The magic is that the solvent helps the thick (lubricating) oil penetrate into all the little cracks where it is needed, and then evaporates, leaving your oil stuck right where it needs to be, but lasts long enough that when you wipe your chain after oiling (always wipe off excess oil) the thinned oil comes right off. Leaving your chain well lubed, and clean/unlikely to attract dirt.

Your chain is happy, so it lasts longer, and so does your trip.

Dirtbag Bike Tour Tip #1

Our travels through Mexico have been unmistakeably hot.  Some sections have been defined by a dry desert sun cracking the earth and melting the tar on the road, where my sweat evaporates before it has a chance to cool me off and once I remove my gloves assume a statuesque pose, as if my hand was still there.  More recently, it has been a humid heat, where sweat pools up on my arms and saturates all my clothes.  In either situation, after multiple hours of riding, mere water does not suffice.  You need the salts that you have just sweated out in the hours of riding.

   While inexpensive and accessible anywhere in Canada and the United States, electrolyte powders such as Gatorade are impossible to find in Mexico (unless, we´ve been told, you go to Wal-Mart).   Some people may find the Wal-Mart or have some shipped to them en route.  

 The dirtbag solution is to go to any of the local community health centers or hospitals and get “Vida Suero” with a picture of a chubby baby in a diaper with one tooth and red cheeks.  It has all the salts you will need and it is given away FREE.  It is just the salts and somewhat unpalatable during a ride.

So we´ve been mixing it with a tiny portion of Zuko.  A fruit juice powder that does not require sugar, because there is a disgusting amount already.  

The better blends have included a half package of Suero mixed with 1/5th  of a Zuko package.   And the dirtbag has their own sports bevergage powder at the cost of a few dimes.   


We will post more Dirtbag Tips periodically.  We´ve got a bunch!!