What it is and what to do about it…..cropped-img_2743-e1390955653139.jpg

Speed wobble is the term used to describe a quick oscillation of the
handlebars while riding at high speeds. Any vehicle with a single
steering pivot is capable of experiencing speed wobble.

Your immediate instincts are to think that something wrong with the
bike (loose headset, flat tire, etc). Panic can often occur and the first
thing many people do is straighten their arms, lean back and put more
weight on the saddle. Unfortunately these are all the wrong things to be
doing. Speed wobble can be attributed to many different factors.
Incorrect weight distribution is a very common cause of speed wobble.
Quite often, speed wobble has just as much to do with the rider as it does
with the bike.

If speed wobble starts occurring, many people will
intuitively put their weigh towards the back of the bike instead of
putting their weight towards the front to actually stop it and dampen it
out. The best thing to do to get out of a wobble is to put the  weight of one of your
legs down at the 6/12 o’clock position, put some weight on the front end
by bending your elbows (use soft hands – don’t grip handlebars firmly!),
and take some weight off your seat (to take the pivot point away) which
puts more weight back on the handlebars, which puts more weight on the
front wheel. This will usually bring stability back to the bike and correct
the oscillation. The reason it’s suggested that the pedals be in the 6/12
o’clock position (rather than the 3/9 o’clock position) is because this will
bring your body weight into a better balanced position which will calm
the bike down. Clamping your knees against the top tube is also a known
solution to calm the frame.

Different riders may experience speed wobble on different bikes. A bike
can descend like a dream for one rider,while another will get the fright of
his life on the very same bike. Things like stem length on a particular
geometry and weight distribution of the rider can have a lot to do with it.
While speed wobble can scare the hell out of any rider, knowing what to
do in such case will instill confidence and safety.
Of course make sure your bike is in good repair and  tuned. Proper wheel
alignment, truing and headset adjustment are critical.

This is an excerpt reprinted from  http://cyclingtips.com.au/




the Road Home

March 6
Well, as it turns out I was acquiring the skill of chill…in the warmth of Belizean sun both on the beach and in our Placencia hood. Patty got an A+.Sunrise on PlacenciaSunrise on Placencia

But as expected we had to take flight…by bus with our bikes to Belmopan and the ride the remaining 35 miles back to the wonderful Savanna Guest house.
Richard and Carol greeted us with more of their vibrant warm hospitality.

Richard and Carol FosterRichard and Carol Foster
Another overnight in this Savanna oasis amidst the polished mahogany, gorgeous flowers, night sounds of the Savanna and engaging conversations with our hosts.

Deb and Daves Last Resort  our lodgings in Placencia …great value and a lovely setting…thanks Deb and Dave

Fresh Fish abundant fresh fish Placencia Beaches  Placencia beachesYes I caught it  Caught it…ate it too.Off to school friends off to school…different schools judging by dress.

This was a most fitting farewell to Belize, one that inspires a return to this beautifully complicated land and culture. I say complicated only because of what appears so relaxed and simple is actually, to my information, a melting pot of historic and cultural influences, the usual political contradictions, a vibrant natural history and a mixed awareness and opinion of the vulnerability of Belize. One can only hope that in this modern time of opportunism at every turn, Belizeans can steer their own future in the direction of progress based on conservation, integrity, and resource management. With a population of under 400k and a relatively young tourism investment, I’m hoping they have that window of time and commitment.

Jose...Argentinian artist

Nila and Jose artists working their way by motorcycle Argentina to Alaska

For those interested in visiting Belize, I have listed places and persons we recommend based on our experiences only.

2 Can B Sweet Our favourite coffee shop on the beach from these lovely folks. So many small independent businesses and fast food/coffee chains.

As for Belize being a tour cycling destination I have mixed feelings. Riding the open highways was safe enough provided you travel the earliest and coolest part of the day…from 6 am till 10am. Thanks to a vibrant road cycling club in Belize, awareness of cyclists was good and we got many waves and friendly honks.
Pavement edges were usually fractured with unpredictable shoulders made easier by our larger than normal 1.5 touring tires.
The Western highway linking Belize city and San Ignacio has little reprieve from the intense sun, while the Hummingbird hwy twisted and rolled thru the mountains offering shade and interest at every turn.

From the Hummingbird Hwy view from the Hummingbird Hwy thru the mtns…the best part of cycling Belize
While we did not cycle much of the Southern hwy due to my knee injury, it did seem interesting as it gently rolled and meandered south to Placencia.
We never did get to ride south to Punta Gorda into some wilder country.
Certainly there is much more to see and do in Belize than fit our schedule and I would suggest do it, but perhaps by other means than bicycle touring.
Perhaps one day the rich natural life can be explored and appreciated from the saddle of a mountain bike as by canoe or kayak. To date there is little to no mountain biking in Belize. Perhaps that will change.

Iguana in tree Iguanas share the trees with so many birds

So now from thousands of feet above this blue green paradise, we say goodbye and ready ourselves for the cold embrace of our lingering winter.
Till next time Belize. Thanks for your generous warmth and hospitality.

Sunset on Placencia


http://www.belizesavannaguesthouse.com/   Richard and Carol Foster


http://www.mayaguide.bz/   Marcos Cucals jungle camp near Blue Hole

http://www.belizestudyabroad.net/  Monkey Bay with Matthew and Marga


Life in Placencia

Feb 25.


One of the toughest activities for a cyclist..not riding. We arrived here at Deb & Dave’s guest house on the 22 in the back of a pickup truck, perhaps a low point of cycling but we did see and smell the same countryside only faster.
This place is a quiet enclosed garden retreat right in the center of the village of Placencia. Birds overhead, the ocean licking at the sandy shore and the hum of a little tourist village awakening to another warm day.
As I usually awake at 5:00 am, and enjoy my first coffee in the unfolding light, this has become my favorite time here. The warmth of morning air after a short spit of rain in the night is absolutely the most peaceful life can be.
While Placencia is in every way a tourist village now, it is still a calm and relaxing atmosphere with limited traffic, most people on foot, very limited drunken outbursts, friendly greetings esp. from other travelers  enjoying the same.
At the end of this 15mi peninsula, Placencia attempts to maintain its culture and integrity amidst growing pressure of foreign interests in home and resort development and cruise ship lines wanting to develop ports. North out the village are massive shorefront developments by private and speculator interests. Yes they do provide needed work opportunity here in their construction and maintenance etc and there is Belizian legislation attempting to avoid the country being a tax shelter.
But with a minimum wage of $3.50 Belize($1.75usd) and cost of living similar to Ontario, Canada, I question how people manage even with relatively good jobs. And of course Belizians ask the same in the midst of obvious disparity.
Our host and native to Placencia, Dave, is an experienced guide, now teaching consultant and past president of the Belize Tourist Assoc. He has experienced the changes and graciously shares some of his insights and predictions for this unique and
still  beautiful place.
youth_center_games tireshop
So we will chill in all of this for a week or so. I have met a fitness trainer and  therapist here who will access the state of my knee..be it a sprain, meniscus tear, ligament injury, old age or just an excuse to laze in the sunny shade and suck on the local Belikin beer.
Feb 27.
Good news. It seems my knee issue is related mostly to a tight IT band and a tight piriformis…both typical of cyclists.  Tony of Belize Fit accessed me, unwound my IT and gave me a series of exercises that will be part of my daily routine. This was certainly a lesson on what can happen and how I can deal with it.
So now it’s kick back, relax, swim, and enjoy this place. I’ve managed to make myself a hand line rig that I may fish off the wharf and in the surf for snapper and grouper. Patty gets browner daily as she spends much of the day in the water. She chills easily. I am a student of chilling and getting better daily.

From the Road…

Feb 19:  Our first day on the road along the Western Hwy to Belmopan and south on the Hummingbird Hwy through the mountains. While the roads are coarse pavement with broken shoulders, drivers were courteous giving us space. We always ride with mirrors and just in case…bright green construction vests improve visibility. Traffic moves at an average of 65


Our Surly Long Haul Truckers proved a fine ride…the comfort and strength of a good steel frame. We are traveling with 2 panniers each…a half load and grateful for it.4 hours of riding in the heat of a first day was enough. Thanks to a lead from folks at Monkey Bay….their story coming up, we found a jungle camp run by adventure guide Marcos Cucul, a native Belizian.


Our lodging is dorm style bunks in a thatched, traditionally built hut. Perfect. An afternoon nap in the 80 degrees breezy shade of the thatch. We’ll lounge now for a daybreak start to next day.


Back to our experience at Monkey Bay Sanctuary. One of the most exciting aspects of Belize for me has been in the meeting of so many adventurous ex-pat pioneers who came here in the 70s,80s and early 90s with energy and vision enough to create beautiful places devoted to preserving  and promoting the natural history of Belize. Film makers like The Fosters of Savanna Lodge, Mick and Lucy of Chaa Creek EcoResort, Sharon Matola of the Belize Zoo and most recently Matthew and Marga of Monkey Bay. These talented people, among many, have contributed so very much with their interest, skills and education in biodiversity, history, biology, etc and foremost outright commitment to bringing attention to what Belize has to offer anyone with an interest in the nature and history.
Monkey Bay is beautifully setup to house youth groups and facilitate natural history tours and adventures. Bus loads of youth arrive here from world over and in particular USA.  Another fine  experience.


Feb 20: After an excellent stay and dinner with Marcos and guests we opted for a 7am start that we could make our way through the  mountains  to Hopkins and the Sittee River Guest House. The road through the mountains followed the valleys which were pretty much mono cultured with orange and grapefruit, all of which is processed into juice concentrate. So the hills were really just big rollers and very manageable. The road surface, however, is a tar and chip surface, rough, patched and akin to mini cobblestone. Our 26×1.5 tires made the road tolerable.

Once out of the mtns the remaining 30 miles was flat, hot and boring to boot.
After a final 10 miles of rough gravel road construction we arrived at Glover Sittee River guest cabana. While Glovers operate a private island adventure centre offshore, their onshore guest house  is almost derelict, poorly staffed and managed. All this after almost 8 hrs on the bikes.  In retrospect we should have sought lodging in the mtns and left the second half for tomorrow. And just to make it to more brutal, my knee started acting out from an older injury and I was forced to pedal the last 10 miles with my left leg turned back resting on a pannier.
Hopkins, a supposed fishing village, is now abuzz with construction of private beach houses and resorts all along the ocean front. Not the best beaches and unless you have property here, you may want to avoid until road construction ends.
Feb21. Hightailed it from Sitteee River at dawn….whew! I hope that’s the worst of our Belize experiences. Got to a breakfast joint called Thongs (an unfortunate name perhaps)a classy little cafe owned by a Russian woman, and with wifi available we sorted out where to next.
So here we are chillin at the Palmento Grove Lodge on the edge of Hopkins…several affordable cabanas in true Belizian style out of the buzz of Hopkins tourism. Eugene, builder,owner and staff calls it the old Hopkins style. Oddly, we could have been here last but for the fact that I ….dahhhh thought this place was in Placencia.
So after a grueling 8hrs on the road yesterday it’s a welcome day of chilling in the welcoming and charming shade of Palmento Grove. This will be noted as one of my favorite stays.


San Ignacio in the Cayo district


We are now located near San Ignacio in a small riverside resort in the jungle like countryside…not far from the Guatemalan border.  There seems to be a lot of small resort- like setups in Belize featuring small wood cabanas around some feature ..jungle, river or beach front. Many seem to be owned and lived in by expats who arrived here as early as late 70s. We’ve met several and they all have a story to tell, most with a level of intrigue, all with a sense of adventure.


Yesterday was spent exploring one of the larger Mayan ruins.

Xunantunich, hard to even imagine the complexity of this civilization. I felt like the alien.
We also visited Chaa Creek ecotourist resort…considered one of the best in Central America. Again, started by an expat couple who bought the land cheap in 1977, had a vision and built it into an incredible resort winning many awards for its attention to the eco systems. But unlike so many of the beautiful sites, its out of reach for the average economy traveler.

San Ignacio hosts a huge outdoor market crammed with vendors selling vegetables and fruits, local crafts, and used clothing…much of it Guatemalan in origin. Local fruit..bananas, pineapple, papaya, oranges etc are inexpensive but not cheap. Cabbage sells for 1 US dollar per lb..one of the few crop veggies available. If haggling here you ask for their best price rather than make an offer. That gets little more than a shrug. I like the method. I think its a great way of getting around tourists making  low ball offers.

Another area of interest and contrast to this riverside jungle is the mennonite settlement region just north of San Ignacio..Spanish Lookout. Its rolling rich agricultural land you might confuse with areas of ontario but for the foliage. Its like another world within Belize. Old and new order mennonites have populated the area, some on rubber tired wagons and no electric power and others with the latest farm and processing technology.


The sun seems to always come through any cloud cover/rain although this is the wettest dry season Belize has seen in years. Rivers are high, jungles are lush, flowers of all kinds are coming on.
Feb 18 we start our ride south through the mountains towards some of the best beaches in Belize and into the lesser developed coastal towns…revered for this  fact. All this amongst the Creole and Garifuna culture. Also the cultural and musical heart of Belize. Can’t wait………..                    bike2

Belize ..inland central.

We are now located near Belmopan staying at the Savanna Guest house b&b operated by Richard and Carol Foster. They are emmy award winning nature film makers for Planet Earth, BBC and National Geographic. Moved here in the 70s and built their own off grid eco environment complete with a  filming studio, production facilites, lodgings…filming everything from vampire bats feeding on human blood(not a big deal really) to hummingbirds, crocs, water possums..etc etc. Richard is hugely knowledgeable of the natural world here in Belize + very sincere and gernerous with his time showing us around.

We found them by word of mouth and happened to get very lucky finding room here.eco3

He and Carol initiated the Belize zoo…an incredible natural Belizian zoo started and maintained in grassroots fashion…all Belizian creatures in amazing natural environments..from Jaguars to Hawks…see belizezoo.org   All wildlife in the zoo is rescued either from illness or human hands…often both! I won’t post many pics since the best are on their website. Check the story of Lucky Boy, the black panther rescued from near death in captivity.


There  are many sides to this perhaps complicated country..the usual corruption at various levels in society, the natural beauty, the easy integration of many roots and cultures. Belize is a makeup of 5 somewhat distinct cultures. Racism is not evident here and apparently non existent.

In a rented vehicle for this week. Highways are decent, off highways are dirt, often pretty rough. On feb 18 we’ll return here, unpack our bikes and begin our journey south on the hummingbird highway towards the infamously beautiful Placencia on the coast.

Meantime travels will take us to San Ignacio near Guatemala…a small city set amidst some Belize’s most natural beauty. Much of this area is dotted with eco resorts and adventures…some of them considered to be among the best in the world…and most all are operated by local residents and expats with a reverance for preserving the exceptional natural beauty….rather than so many huge resorts that use up the environment and export the revenue.



photo 6


The Savanna Guest House set in a jungle like oasis on the savanna…also an important wildlife corridor.

week one in Caye Caulker, Belize

Our cabana...

Our cabana…

Our neighbor's dog chilling

Our neighbor’s dog chilling

 Typical bike in CC.

Typical bike in CC.

 a very grass roots animal shelter/bike repair in Caye Caulker

a very grass roots animal shelter/bike repair in Caye Caulker

Patty snorkeling

Patty snorkeling

After a 12 hour trip of customs,flight,customs,flight,customs again,taxi to water taxi,water taxi to caye caulker and finally golf cart taxi to our cabana lodging, almost enough to make one miss the snow.

We rented a 2bdrm house thru airb&b here…not without some issues but the property rental agent was good about resolving the issues. Most cabanas and homes, even the hotels are private owners or local hotel owner/operators here on the Caye as is the case in much of Belize…few chain names.

Caye Caulker is the lesser of hyped tourism destinations, although it does have its own brand of hype..more roots I guess.

the 1600 residents here are mostly employed servicing the tourism with small shops and tons of private small tour operators for diving, snorkeling and related water activities. Others fish and many others seem to do little at all…hanging with the tourists I guess.

The four of us took an all day snorkeling trip with a local tour guy, our neighbour as it turns out. It included 3 stops on the famous reef  just off shore, lunch stop in SanPedro on the next caye north. Educational and fun to swim with the rays, nurse sharks and huge variety of fish….all along this extensive reserve barrier reef.. As with most tour guides they are often characters with various levels of showmanship or entertainers of sorts.

People are generally friendly and helpful here in particular those above 30. The young, like many places are either distracted with their devices or perhaps a little recentful of prosperity seen with tourists. I saw much the same in Cuba….to be expected I suppose.

I do find a particular contradiction here…perhaps unique to the island. While Belize promotes and is known for marine and natural reserves..about 40% in total area I’m told…for Belizians and tourism future, it seems such a contradiction there should be garbage strewn in most road sides, many water fronts, back yards, empty lots etc. Its as if Belize management has neglected to provide Belizians with enough outlets for their waste here on Caye Caulker.

As for cycle tourists, I think 3 days on Caye Caulker is plenty unless you have a stack of reading to do since the occupied caye is only 2 miles long and quite narrow. A little people watching, snorkeling, paddling, eating and diving about covers it.

Photos coming soon and excited to be staying at some eco tourism off grid sites in the coming days.