Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bikepacking....almost ready!

I've been slowly assembling gear over the last few months to begin a sort of new chapter in my riding that involves so called bikepacking. It's been something I've pondered for quite a while and after spending significant hours surfing bikepacking.net and other ultra-light backpacking sites, I put a gear list together and decided with the help of my Mom, we'd sew up some bags. The first two were a frame bag and gas tank that took us the better part of the day to create. Made primarily from x-pac material with some 1/8 inch foam sandwiched in between along the tubes, they turned out pretty well.
Following that, I made another long trip out to the east valley where Mom lives, and we made a seat post bag; for the front side of the seat post. Very similar in design to the gas tank, I've loaded it up will all the usual repair stuff that I'd carry on my back (spare tube, leatherman squirt, first aid kit, multitool, zip ties, etc). Loaded it's 1lb, 8oz...nice to get that off my back. I've been carrying that for even day rides which has held up very well and been a rock solid design. Finally, I received most of my sleep kit (bag, pad, ground sheet) and decided it was time to load up the bike and go out for a test ride. The seat tube bag was loaded as described before, the gas tank bag loaded with snacks and spare charger, and the frame bag loaded with 32oz of water, steripen, pump, and filter funnel. I strapped the sleeping stuff to the bars with a couple of straps and pulled it towards the stem with another velcro strap.
All the bags full of stuff were an extra 11 lbs. Headed out to BCT to do LPL from Rock Springs and I immediately noticed that extra weight as we climbed up after the first river crossing. The bike handled actually very well and everything stayed put. After arriving back home, I did a little post-mortem as I unpacked things looking for signs of wear, etc and found that the cheap Wally World dry sack on the bars had developed several wear marks from the velcro straps, wires and cables. I figured I'd better proceed with making the handlebar harness which I'd designed about 3 weeks ago to better protect those items since I'd hate to start wearing holes in my brand new down bag, pad, and whatever else I put in there. Having the day off and needing a day off the bike, I headed out to Mom's again to make the handlebar harness... Here are the final pics of what we made.
Major "Thanks" goes out to my Mom who's sewing skills and patience are 2nd to none. Not only did I save money, but I gained extra time with Mom and did all those chores around her house she needed done...win-win for all! Looking forward to a real test of all the gear on my first overnight....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

BCT on 11-11-11

With all the upcoming endurance races, I've been trying to up the ride mileage each week. On Friday, 11-11-11, I decided to take the day off and do just that...go out and put in a good long ride at my favorite trail, Black Canyon. My plan was to start at Emery Hendersen Trailhead off New River Rd, ride north, exit the trail at the Rock Springs Trailhead, ride through Black Canyon City (to get water), then up Maggie Mine Rd to the top of the climb at Arastre Creek, then come all the way back south on the trail. It was a perfect day for weather, overcast but topping out around 70F. All in all, the ride went quite well...although the final climb just south of Table Mesa Rd was a real sufferfest. That climb starts essentially at a small creek crossing north of Table Mesa Rd and gradually increases in grade until you top out roughly 4 miles later...not a huge climb by any means, but loose and rocky in many spots. I always feel that some suffering helps you get stronger both mentally and physically. Looking back and thinking about my "low" points, I really didn't eat or drink enough. When I did take a big swig of my homemade energy gel, my legs and mind woke up and I became more focused. (thanks to the instant coffee in the gel!) In any case, below are the ride stats...BCT can be a bit deceiving since there's really no long, truly brutal climbs. But since the trail winds in and out of several creeks and rivers, the climbing adds up...just ask my legs today.