Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tour De Diligence: Post'em Scriptum

"rollin', rollin', rollin'...keep those dogies rollin'...Rawhide!"  Photo by Gnat.

First of all, let me share some links to others blogs that were on the trip.

Errin, the GPS master. 

Andrew the Pilgrim newbie.

Jason the camera master.

Ben's Blog (yet to post about the trip)

Photo courtesy of Gnat.  The burrito refueling stop, Fish Canyon.

Now that we have shared all that, a few thoughts after the fact.  I am more stoked about bikepacking then ever.  It had always caught my attention and fired my imagination and I have been acquiring gear over a couple of years...refining, sampling.  Good gear is costly.  Light, warm, small, durable, cheap.  Pick four.  Guess which four?

Photo courtesy of Errin.  Andrew's bivy.
But over time I lost some interest as I never could get anyone else I ride with to go.  Sure, there were lots of good intentions but that was all.  Solo is OK and all, but....  So I just put it aside, but not out of mind.  Well, it is back squarely in my cerebral cortex...I think that is part of my brain, yes?...and I am making new plans.  And I have made some new friends and I expect that to play out to more group adventures.

This is not for everyone.  Heck it is hardly for anyone.  Ride your bike all day and then crawl into a bag/bivy/tent for the night, get up and do it again, repeat without much rinsing.  But it is for me. 

I learned a few things this trip, watching others who were more experienced than I.  First was smart packing techniques.  Less weight on the back is better.  Water can be carried in all kinds of ways.  Cages strapped to fork legs, little Platypus 1L+ water bags that can be stuffed all over the place....refine, test, refine, test, etc.

2 liter
1 liter and smaller.

My pop can stove is a winner and I made a new pot stand that is more stable AND smaller from three bike spokes.  I need to refine my sleeping kit a bit more.  The REI bivy sack is good and so is the Exped pad.  After trying two other large hydration packs, I cannot see using anything but an Ospey Talon 22, so far the most comfy and lightest of them all.  If it does not fit in there, you are carrying too much.  But I need a better quilt option, something that packs light/small and is warm, but not full 4 season.  I may even look for a very small and simple tarp to use as a head/shoulders shield along with the bivy in case of high winds or showers.  I can use the front wheel as a tarp support.  I have the full tarp shelter for cold or ugly days.

My new sleep system?

Another option I am considering. 

So I have some tweaking to do and a list of things to look at a bit better.  Part of the joy to me is the planning and gear selection anyway.

First on the list is a new bike for the cause. I will end up with two bikepacking bikes.  The Salsa Spearfish is certainly good, but that is not mine, just a long term test bike for  But I still have the Lenzsport Leviathan 3.0 and it is a functioning bike or would be with a bit of work.  But a lot of the time bikepacking does not really call for an FS.  So I am pointing my builders tool chest and box-o-parts at a hard tail scoot.  You get a few great things there...the pedaling efficiency of a hard tail, the 'one less thing to go wrong' idea without a rear shock and pivots, etc, and maybe best of all, that huuuge main triangle that allows a equally huuuge frame bag.  On-bike storage is a coveted and highly prized thing and no FS I have seen will give you that main triangle space like a hard tail does.

So if I were to choose a perfect hard tail bike for this purpose, what would it be?  Well, first off, steel would be a great choice.  Cheap-ish, strong, durable, easy to repair if you are in upper Zanzibar and need to weld the frame with jumper cables and a car battery.  Or, really, titanium is the i-ching of materials for this purpose.  The finish of the bike is unperturbable.  Is that a word?  It does not get perturbed.  Nothing much bugs it short of a nuclear bla....well, maybe not even that.  So strapping on bags and such will not wear the paint out.  Plus, dropping it, bashing it, etc.  Shrug it off.  The ride would be nice too, although steel is already very good there.

I would also want the ability to run it SS if you sheared off the rear der hanger or pranged the rear der completely.  So sliders or swingers or an EBB would be worthwhile.  Any decent geometry would do.  29" wheels of course.  Duuh!  Generous room at the CS/BB area would be good too.

It would not be bad if it was slightly beefy to deal with the extra weight of the bags, etc.  Not a big deal, but why not?  Tapered steerer, OS TT, etc.

It would not need all carbon everything although that could be OK.  That would be nice if you were using it as a plain old bike, not a pack mule.  Even 9spd makes sense here and likely a triple crank to get a wide spread of gears and a true big ring for long paved runs.

So where would one find that bike?  Heck, right in my dining room.  Most of the rest is in boxes in the garage.  So look for a bend in the road for the next project bike from my fevered brain.  I think SS is out and gears are in for the Lynskey.

Meanwhile I am searching for the perfect quilt.  Lots to look at...trying to decide that temp rating vs. cost vs. packability vs. insulation type vs. whatever.  Right now I have a 50* at best bag and a 20* bag (both soon to be full on quilts...snip, snip, sew, sew).  More on that later.  I have wrenches to turn.

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