Theatre Thursday: Adventure Dispatch


In this episode of The Adventure Dispatch, we head out on an overnight ride with Sarah Swallow through the Humboldt Redwood State Park. Sarah is an expert when it comes to creative route planning, which is why we’re happy that she decided to share her methodology for sub-24-hour overnight riding (S24O). So take notes or just enjoy the scenery and get motivated, because you’re about to learn what happens when you saddle-up, slow down, and take notice of the world around you.

Keep your head (warm)


reblog from BearBones and a link to purchase:

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Depending which old wife you care to believe, you loose between 50% and 90% of your body heat through your head … no you don’t. Body heat is lost largely through radiation, so its loss is proportionate to area, can you imagine how big your head would need to be to radiate 90% of your lost body heat?

Although you don’t lose quite as much precious heat through your noggin as some people imagine, you certainly loose some and just like any other part of your body, it requires insulating. Wearing a hat (or maybe pulling your hood up) is the usual course of action and when Jack Frost’s sharpened his teeth, what better hat than one containing the best insulator known to man , the undisputed king of warm – down. I’m very fortunate to own two hats insulated with down. The first is handmade, filled with the finest down any amount of money can buy. The outer material is ultralight, the stitching show quality, it weighs virtually nothing and cost considerably more …. and I’ll admit, at times I’m scared to use it. My other down hat is this one. The down may not be of the same quality, it’s produced in a factory rather than a craftsman’s workshop, it weighs a little bit more but it cost an awful lot less, so I’m far less concerned about sticking it on my head while I roll about on a damp forest floor.

You just know she’s saying, “take the hat off, take it off now”.
In my opinion, the Montane Plume makes a fantastic adornment to the head of the potentially cold bikepacker. It contains 18g of 650fp HyperDRY down, that might not sound like much but trust me, it’s more than enough for a hat. Unlike the majority of insulating head wear, the Plume is a cap rather than the more common beanie style. While in the minds of some, a cap might not score quite so highly in the style stakes, I’ve found it to be much more practical. Firstly, the cap extends lower at the back and sides which results in more warmth and cosy ears. The stiff peak is a bonus and ideal for helping keep any midge netting off your face. Another nice touch which adds to the practicality especially when sleeping, is the removable elasticated strap … it’s a simple thing but obviously makes a massive difference to keeping the thing secure and in place while you’re tucked up in your sleeping bag. The outer material is something called FREEFLOW – although confusingly, mine says Pertex Quantum on the outside. Either way, it’s lightweight and water resistant. The combination of water resistant down and outer, means a bit of light drizzle or condensation won’t turn your fluffy, puffy had into a clumpy mess.
The claimed weight is 49g, the Bear Bones scales say 48g without the stuff sack but with the strap. That’s pretty impressive given the amount of warmth it provides. If you don’t want to use the supplied stuff sack, then the Plume will compress down to around the size of a satsuma, so finding it a happy home alongside your sleeping bag or whatever shouldn’t cause any issues.
The Montane Plume – warm as toast, cheap as chips. Available in black, blue or red for £25 or a few pounds less with a little careful shopping.

Dream Bike: Pink Meriwether on Gypsy by Trade


In a word … perfectlylovelyandpracticandyeysobloodygorgeous

GYPSY BY TRADE

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Everything I need to have fun and survive, all wrapped in pink.  Not shown here are a tent, computer, or a front derailleur, which broke after a year and a half of adventure.  For the AZT, we’re traveling without a tent.  The 11″ MacBook Air has rejoined the packlist and fits nicely in the Revelate Viscacha with a certain packing procedure (clothes and groundcloth packed first).

The basic details are that it carries everything I need to survive and have fun including 4 liters of water, clothing and camping gear, durable 2.4″ tubeless tires on wide carbon rims, a useful range of gears, 120mm of seriously plush front suspension, a wide handlebar, all time lighting and USB charging, and the same saddle which has adorned every bike I have ridden since 2009, likely over 75,000 miles of touring and commuting on its bent steel frame, still as comfortable as ever.

The important details are 434mm chainstays, a low but not too low bottom bracket, a long but not too long top tube, a portage handle, a 68.5 degree head tube angle, and the aforementioned 120mm Rock Shox Pike fork with 51mm of offset.  All other parts come directly from my Surly Krampus and are designed to be world touring friendly, including a threaded BSA bottom bracket and the option for standard QR wheels via replaceable Paragon dropout plates and of course, a different fork.  As always, the bike is designed for big tires and a ton of extra clearance.

The Meriwether handles singletrack better than the Krampus, descends better than the Krampus, climbs better than the Krampus, and pedals more comfortably than the Krampus.  But that’s only because I rode the Krampus for a year– and during that time it was a great bike– but I was paying attention and figured out how to make a bike better for me.  Whit Johnson of Meriwether Cycles is the catalyst and the confidence for this project who massaged my ideas into digital lines and degrees in BikeCAD, and manufactured our ideas in steel, willingly coating his handiwork in a pink blanket of paint.  Some call the color theft-protection, but honestly, it is the only color I wanted.  I did consider a muted lavender hue, but settled on antique pink, as I like to call it.

The bike easily finds the center of the trail, and doesn’t have the tendency to oversteer or understeer as other bikes I’ve ridden.  I can look further down the trail and know that my tires will take me there, not into the weeds.  On flowing serpentine trail, I sit down and position myself between the wheels, which are properly weighted for the front tires to cut a line and the rear tire to follow aggressively.  Riding this bike through corners– thanks, for certain, to the lower bottom bracket which I initially resisted– is like waterskiing.  The harder I dig, the harder it turns.

The bike climbs.  Shorter chainstays result in a more direct power transfer to the rear wheel, even through Whit was concerned that his drive-side half yoke would be flexible.  It is not.  The low bottom bracket changes my relationship with only the tallest, most menacing obstacles while climbing, resulting in more frequent pedal strike on technical trials-like climbs.  In all other situations, the 60mm BB drop is a feature, and within a week, pedal strike is minimized through experience.  I might adjust the BB drop to 55mm if I had the chance to do it again, but that is a very personal consideration because I love climbing chunky stuff.  But the bike doesn’t try to tip over backwards on steep climbs and the shortened top tube allows me to approach long ascents in a seated position, while out of the saddle efforts are directly rewarded.  I recently spend much of the Highline Trail in Arizona either hiking alongside my bike, descending behind the saddle, or ripping climbs in a 34-34 gear combination.  It is a stand-up and hammer gear combination on any steep mountain bike trail, but chain retention is good and it forces me to hit the gas.  Sometimes a little extra gas is what you need for the next ledge or rock in the trail.  Soft-pedaling through challenging trail usually results in walking.  And yes, the portage handle is awesome.  I now have three useful hand positions for hauling the bike, each for a different kind of hike-a-bike.

Descending is unlike any hardtail I have ridden.  The Krampus gave me much of the confidence I sought over the classic geometry of the Raleigh XXIX and its 80mm fork.  Add to that more modern geometry, including the 68.5 degree head tube and the 51mm fork offset on a remarkable 120mm fork, and this bike is seriously confident going downhill.  Again, a little lower bottom bracket helps to keep my center of mass behind the front axle, reducing the feeling of going over the bars on steep trails.  I’ve taken to descending almost every section of trail I can find, save for most of the Pipeline Trail off the Mogollon Rim and a couple rocky drops on the way into Pine.  But, I rode most of the last section of the Highline into Pine at dusk, and loved it.  Happy to be on 2.4″ Ardents, for sure.  And the Pike, get a Pike!  To be fair, I’ve ridden some MRP Stage forks which also feel phenomenal, and some other modern RockShox offerings have impressed me on test rides, including the new Revelation and SID forks.  But for the same weight as a Revelation (which has 32mm stanchions) and the same price as a SID (yes, kind of a lot), you can have the Pike which boasts 35mm stanchions with premium RockShox internals.  The concept of using more fork offset with a lower head tube angle results in a bicycle with improved descent characteristics yet which preserves mechanical trail and handling on neutral trail sections and on climbs– it descends better without any drawbacks.

Contact Whit Johnson at Meriwether Cycles if you have any custom bicycle needs.  He specializes in mountain bikes with character, built for adventure.  He likes short chainstays, fat tires, and extra attachment points.  He has recently built several gorgeous custom forks for internal dynamo wiring to accompany custom frames and has pushed the boundaries with his fatbike and plus-sized bikes for the past few years.  I really enjoyed working with Whit on this project.  He quickly understood my ideas and converted them to numbers, into visual impressions of a bicycle, and ultimately into a sweet ride.  Check out Meriwether Cycles on InstagramFlickr, and on the Meriwether Blog.  He is located in Foresthill, CA and has relatively short lead times.  Pricing starts at $1200 although a frame similar to mine would cost about $1500.

If you are interested in stock bicycles with a similar character to my pink bike check out the Advocate HaydukeJamis Dragonslayer, and Marin Pine Mountain.

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Build details:

Meriwether Cycles custom steel frame for 29/27.5+

RockShox Pike RCT3 120mm, 15mm TA, 51m offset

Chris King headset and BB

Shimano Deore crank, 34/22T rings

Shimano SLX direct mount front derailleur with Problem Solvers clamp, XTR GS rear derailleur

Shimano XTR 9speed rear shifter, front friction thumb shifter on Paul Thumbie

Shimano XT 11-34 cassette and SRAM PG-951 chain

Specialized 75mm stem

Race Face SixC 3/4″ riser carbon handlebar, 785mm wide

Ergon GP1-L grips

Brooks B-17 Standard

Avid BB-7 brakes and levers, 160mm rotors

Derby HD 35mm wide carbon rim to Hope Pro 2 Evo rear hub

Light Bicycle 35mm wide carbon rim to SP PD-8X dynamo hub

Maxxis Ardent 29×2.4″ EXO tires, tubeless

Redline Monster nylon pedals

Supernova E3 Triple 2 headlight, E3 Pro taillight with custom brackets

Sinewave Reactor USB charger, top cap mount

Revelate Designs custom ziperless framebag, Viscacha seatbag, Gas Tank, small Sweet Roll and small Pocket

Salsa Anything Cage HD and 64 oz. Klean Kanteen

Salsa stainless bottle cages on fork attached via hose clamps, 32 oz bottles

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Thoughts of a new bikepacking rig – reblog Bike Check: Skyler’s trail Krampus, Panthea’s B-Side, and more Tech Talk


…This time, Skyler forges on with the opinions on a subject worthy of his opinion – his own bicycle… In the previous instalment of this Tech Talk business (which I guess is becoming a ‘thing’ now), I wrote about a few of the good people that have inspired me to forgo the old cycle touring […]

http://offroute.ca/2015/09/08/bike-ckeck/

fat free 


the fat bike is gone – sold on eBay and as an experiment it has been interesting. I discovered it wasn’t fat biking I liked but rather bikepacking so now with the experiment done it is time to think about the bike I want for bikepacking off-road.

So wish list would be:

29er or 29+ – I don’t need super wide although 29x 2.7 to 3.0 wide would give a similar footprint but quicker rolling. 27.5+ is interesting but not sure if widespread enough just yet.

Dynamo front hub – for electrical generator / phone charging on tour

Rohloff rear – but whether I need to share between the bikes or get a seperate one remains to be seen.

Jones h-bar handlebar …..

Simple really so a cartoon to fill the space

  

Bike Packing Weekend – 125km through the cairngorms


Not the best start this ride as the night before Friday had been a night of beer and bento with the lads. Woke up early then drove to Blair Athol

assembled on bike rack
assembled on bike rack

Set off up Glen Tilt and then realised that my spare batteries for the GPS were still on charge at home.

first bridge
first bridge

Only had half a charge but had my OS maps ready with me so off I went through the first wood and spotted my first red deer in the Woods. 20km in and had to stop for recovery food beans and sausage lunch cold but effective hangover cure.

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Headed on and track became muddy and rocky and nearly too narrow for the bike was feeling calorifically low.

path gets rockier and narrow
path gets rockier and narrow

The valley is obviously used by the RAF for training as a Hercules buzzed me about 80 foot up. More red deer crossing river and bounding up slope opposite – very skittish of humans sign that it must be hunted.

ruin
ruin
selfie
selfie

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Stopped at Glen Tilt ruin where the trail opened onto flood plain valley floor then afterwards headed left over the muddiest moor i have seen in a while. Normal mtb tread just disappeared into gloop but i was fat so did better but still had to get off every 50 foot to cross burns or mud holes.

over falls
over falls

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Crossed makeshift crossing over the river by waterfall and then faced with two deeper river crossing but misjudged depth which came to crotch so shoes were sodden.

The last 2 km to the Bothy screamed down a technical downhill smacked a rock hard and punctured – was going to walk to the bothie but decided to change tube and discovered that the small lezyne pump I had with me unscrewed the valve when I was taking it off – what a pain after 4 mins of huffing and puffing to get the FAT tube pumped up to have it all WOOOSHHHH out.

better roads
better roads – just before e the descent that punctured me

Sunday 5:40 AM woke up in bothy after a good sleep maybe helped by the contribution of the two Edinburgh climbers with either their 2nd hand dope smoke or a rum and Coke I drank.

in bothy
in bothy
morning
morning

Packed and try to inflate me a tyre some more and enjoyed the unscrewing of the valve once again. Decided to divert to Kingussie and the food co-op there to restock on food I haven’t figured that the ride would take so long at a slow 10km/h average.

fern lane
fern lane
Fern Lane
Fern Lane

Cycled out the enjoining valley which was much easier going ( a tip from Fossil cyclist) past 2 fast 29er riders and then later by 2 female mountain bike on their way to Nethy bridge (a long haul for sure)

Finished the ride with a long section of tarmac which felt so slow on the fatbike into Blair Athol – Tired drive home my arse tender and my legs sore.

DAY1
DAY1
DAY2
DAY2

Dream Bikes: Twenty2 Cycles Ti Rohloff Gates fat bike


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titanium Rohloff Gates Belt – this is one for the roughest track trip through any continent.

Twenty2 – The Bully is a four season fatbike that loves snow and ripping singletrack. Short chainstays and perfect geometry make the bully the most high performance fatty available. The highest quality aerospace grade titanium tubing is the basis for this Colorado handcrafted machine.

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Full fat Rohloff

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And obviously custom paint. I love Raw titanium but there is something about these split tone paint jobs that screams lovely.

Theatre Thursday: Sloquet Hot Springs


The chaps at Funeral Cycling has been cooking up a new project with support from GT Bicycles, bringing a bunch of familiar brands along for the ride. With such a focus on the perfect bikepacking setup these days, this project harks back to a time – not long ago – where you just got out and got over your heads.

Head over to the Adventures section on their Waypoints site for the full Sloquet Hot Springs story.

Testing time – no not my daughter


been mapping out a route for bikepacking / fat biking through some parts of the cairngorm range. So planning to stop at a bothy overnight but although fine in principle there is always the uncertainty of not knowing what the bothy is like.

A chance came to do a test recce – one of my ex wife’s elderly relatives passed away so she flew up to shetland with my oldest daughter for the funeral. The younger daughter was with me and this coincided with a break in the weather.

So we headed off to feshie bridge with a plan to cycle in to glenfeshie bothy. It is barely a jaunt at 12km in on trails but for a 8yo it seemed longer.

 I loaded my fat bike up with both sleeping bags, sleeping mats and carried spare clothes. I put cooking stuff into my backpack along with some food. Rehydrated packs for dinner and some porridge for the morning. And then some fruit and also some jelly baby enticement for the young one and a wee hip flask of single malt for me.  

It was good going although she was tired and kept on with ‘how long ’til we get there’ 

The river/ streams were snow melt but only knee high – although 3 crossing each time of the 4 rivers – once for my bike once for hers and once with her meant my feet got chilly

    

But we made it after a longer than it should have been ride  

The bothy was great and despite the great weather – it was 16C – it was empty apart from us. During easter? 

Needn’t have bought all the pots either as there was plenty to cook with, good to know for the big adventure 

The next morning there was a bit of fog to burn off but it was hot by the time we left.

 

  

 Equipment wise everything is working well- the fat bike is superb laden on rough trails the low psi means it just conforms to the trail. The salsa anything cages keep the weight distributed all over the bike and the alpkit handlebar and seat bag are secure and stay steady even down stone steps.

I can’t wait for the proper adventure now 

Getting ready for bikepacking


i have been planning a route for a while – off road with a night in a bothy shelter up in the Cairngorms …. so was all prepared to pack and then take OS maps. But I recently bought an eTrex 30 from Garmin and a SD card with the OS maps of the UK on it. The idea is that this is my primary nav aid (although will have compass, OS map and another gps with me)

planning a trip and putting in waypoints, bothies and other bits ...
planning a trip and putting in waypoints, bothies and other bits …

So starting using Basecamp as well – this has improved a ton since I last looked at it years ago – it helps having the etrex connected or the SD card plugged into the computer because then you can use the OS maps. If only basecamp let you use google or bing or satellite pictures as sometime you can see a trail that is not marked …..

Will report back on the eTrex once i have used in anger – all I can say so far is that the bike mount is not the most sturdy …

Fat Video Time


Found this linked to on fatbike brigade …..

The Bedrock Bags and Packs team took advantage of this mild winter weather by heading to the desert. They took their fatbikes to an undisclosed location in the land of awesome, exploring Utah canyons by way of sandy roads, and beautiful river beds.

Bikepacking – the first pack


8am this morning and the door bell rings with the post doing his special delivery. This one is quite special. My order from alpkit has arrived.

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Possum frame bag and also the sat bag …. which I then added my old busted fender to zipped onto some convenient straps on the bottom (the aim of this is in the rain and mud to stop the bag being sprayed continuously)

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So far impressed by the construction of the bags … out for a ride tomorrow but think it will only be with the frame bag in place …….. The forecast is for a bit of a snow dump tonight and tomorrow ending at 8am so looking forward to it and trying out the fat bike in ‘designed for’ locations

Packing your Bike for off road adventures


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What do you need?

Well some have been using Rack and panniers but those bumpy trails can cause havoc so i am looking at a seat bag system

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appkit seat bag in flo orange
appkit seat bag in flo orange

teamed with a handlebar roll

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and then some lightweight things in the Camelbak like a down jacket for when stopped and maybe the down sleeping bag. 1.2 kilo total

Also looking at a frame bag but won’t get that just yet until i try out the other two systems.

Or you could go crazy as BA said ‘like these foools …’