GDR by Unicycle?

4 11 2010

Matt & Gracie on the GDR...

The GDR is a long challenging ride for anyone, but think about doing the ride on a unicycle, carrying everything on your back, no suspension, no panniers or trailers and no gears.  I don’t think my brain could even handle thinking about such a trip let alone actually completing the ride.  Well Gracie and Matt did it…setting off from Banff Alberta they rode the Adventure Cycling Association GDR route to Mexico.  They covered something like 2,700miles – mostly dirt.  Awesome.

Check out their site with details from their trip.

I saw that there is a local unicycling club I may just join and get my uni on.  If these guys can ride the GDR I should be able to ride down the block to get some milk…=-)

CDN GDR – Day 5

18 07 2009
Crusing on empty with the end in sight.

Crusing on empty with the end in sight.

We both slept poorly with grumbling tummies and the first chance we got @ 6am to grab our food out of our neighbour’s SUV we jumped on it and devoured literally everything in sight.  As I was shoveling food into my mouth I knew we blew it not eating the previous night after such a hard day on the bike.  By not letting our bodies refuel overnight we were going to suffer on the last 75kms into Canmore.

Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened.  Riding with leaden legs we pumped our way down the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail.  This gravel road is wide, moderately graded without any serious climbs and dusty as heck when vehicles pass.  It should have been an easy ride into Canmore, but it seemed far harder than it should have been. I kept stuffing food into my mouth in the hopes I’d find a burst of energy, but it never came.

My Surly Pugsley rocked for the GDR tour...=-)

My Surly Pugsley rocked for the GDR tour...=-)

Although I wasn’t kicking butt I can’t make it sound totally awful.  The scenery was stunning and knowing I only had to ride 75kms without any major climbs made it easier to simply accept tired legs and enjoy the day.  Like most of the tours I’ve been on the end is bitter sweet.  On one hand you are happy to be done and accomplish a nice ride, but on the other hand your body is just getting fully adjusted to riding hard each day and it almost seems wrong to not climb onto your bike the day after the tour ends.

I’ve lived in Canmore around Y2K so the landscape became more and more familiar as we rolled closer to town.  We live in a pretty amazing part of the world.  Majestic mountains, lush forests and a generally dry climate – perfect for bike touring.

Kurt enjoys the view of Canmore and the end of our tour.

Kurt enjoys the view of Canmore and the end of our tour.

We decided to end our tour in Canmore rather than Banff because we had ridden the GDR route to Banff a couple dozen times before.  Banff is a tourist trap of a town and this would have been high season.  We just weren’t mentally ready to decompress from our GDR tour amid the crush of tour buses and digital cameras.  Canmore sees tourist action as well, but it’s a much more chilled out vibe.  We hadn’t figured out our ride back to Calgary 100% at this point, but if Kurt’s GF picked us up it looked like a long afternoon of hanging out until she could make it up after work.

So with big smiles on our faces we bombed the last downhill into town.  Rolling right up to our favourite patio and ordering beers, wings and ribs before the dust had settled!  Thanks to Kurt for coming along on this tour and making it a lot more fun than it would have been solo.  Thanks to Kurt’s GF SN from driving us down to Roosville at the start of our tour and thanks to my GF Sharon for giving us a ride home at the end of the tour.

I’ll write some posts about my overall impressions of the CDN GDR and our bikes/gear in the next week or so, but I wanted to say how much I enjoyed this ride and how impressed I am with my Pugsley.  I think we’ve demonstrated the Surly Pugsley is not just a snow bike.  I’ll be back on the CDN GDR again – if you have 4-5 days free and enjoy dirt touring this is a great ride.

CDN GDR 2009: PhotosBack to Day 4

CDN GDR – Day 4

17 07 2009
Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!

At the start of Day 4 Kurt’s knees were feeling much better and we planned to ride uphill to Elkford about 60kms where we’d grab a bite to eat and push on a bit before camping north of town.  A modest goal, but with an uphill trend all the way to Elk Pass we figured that would be enough riding for us in one day and we wanted to make sure Kurt’s knees stayed happy.

In the past my experience has been that the day after a rest day on tour can actually be quite hard as your body has to get off the chilled out vibe and back to some hard work.  Happily we rode well and made great progress.  The route to Elkford was paved initially and then back to dirt.  I have to hand it to the folks at the ACA – the whole route was quiet and scenic…they made some great choices for sure.  It was such a nice ride we found ourselves in Elkford at lunch time with a 9am start – excellent….=-)  The last section into Elkford was a steep paved downhill where we reached 60kph+ on our Pugsleys.  To my surprise they were rock solid at that speed…nice!

Over some yummy burgers in Elkford we perused the map and discussed what to do.  Kurt had lightened his bike quite a lot dropping two panniers and he felt much happier climbing today.  We got a bit ambitious and realized if we pushed it another 70kms we’d be over Elk Pass and would only have an easy downhill day to the end of the tour. Keep in mind that would be at least double the daily mileage we had done to this point and it was uphill the whole way over the highest pass on the CDN GDR.

It was a crazy plan, but we figured what the heck?  If we didn’t make it we’d pick up where we left off and still have a shorter ride on Day 5.

Kurt hammering his way towards Elk Pass...

Kurt hammering his way towards Elk Pass...

As it turned out the next few hours of riding we flew uphill – literally at light speed compared to the previous days.  Our speeds were consistently in the 25kph+ range on all, but the steepest parts of the route.  I cannot explain the difference, but we had a great time hammering away the first 50kms or so out of Elkford.

With 20kms to Elk Pass we started to slow down and get a bit tired.  We’d ridden something like 110kms to this point. But, the lure of the pass kept us riding.

I have to say the pass itself was one of the hardest bits of bike touring I’ve ever done.  With 130kms of fully loaded uphill dirt touring in my legs that day I started up the pass pretty exhausted.  What followed was an indeterminate time where I pushed my heavy Pugsley uphill over a trail that had been chewed up by a tracked vehicle so it was lumpy.  Add to that hordes of hungry mosquitos which made stopping impossible.

My routine was:

  • shuffle the bike forward pushing with one hand
  • with my free hand I either swatted mosquitoes or pushed chocolate into my mouth to keep my energy levels up
  • I could tell how fast I was going by how many mozzies were on me at any given time
  • I probably would have fallen over at some point and rested, but the bugs were so bad that didn’t seem like an option

….this went on for what I assure you was forever!

The top of Elk Pass baby!...=-)

The top of Elk Pass baby!...=-)

I had pictured the top of Elk Pass in my mind as a rocky windswept nirvana where I’d have a spectacular view and no mosquitoes….I was wrong!  It was treed so the views were nice, but not panoramic and since there were trees the wind was mild and the mozzies were in full effect. I got so freaked out I ended up bombing several KMs down a boggy trail only to realize it wasn’t the GDR route.  Being so tired the idea of an extra 3-4 tough kms was hard to take, but what are you gonna do???

Going back uphill from our wrong turn...

Going back uphill from our wrong turn...

Eventually we found the right trail and bombed our way downhill into Alberta.  I was running on fumes at this point, but the lure of a restaurant/store 10-15kms away was too tempting.  We made it just in time to get an ice cream from the store before it closed.  I tell you that was one of the best ice creams I had eaten – ever!

Rolling into a Provincial Park campground we capped an epic 145km day with a fatal mistake…we were so tired we decided not to cook and instead eat in the AM.  Clearly we weren’t thinking straight.  By 2am I couldn’t sleep I was so hungry, but our food was safely locked in the SUV of a campground neighbour as there had been several bears in the campground recently.  I managed to drift off eventually, but didn’t get a great rest that night. I also didn’t let my body have a chance to load up my well used leg muscles with energy overnight…that would turn out to be a problem on Day 5.

On the right trail into Alberta...

On the right trail into Alberta...

CDN GDR 2009: PhotosFwd to Day 5Back to Day 3

CDN GDR Day 2 & 3

15 07 2009
Getting into the swing of life on GDR...

Getting into the swing of life on GDR...

Day 2

We woke up on day 2 at a leisurely 9am.  Enjoyed some breakfast and tweaked our bikes a bit after they had been bounced around on day 1.  Rolling out onto the GDR at 11am was relaxing, but we paid the price for our slow start by facing the heat of the day immediately.  For some reason we had expected the day’s ride to be flatter….we were mistaken.  Day 2 resembled day 1 a lot in a long hot climb as we cruised east on Cabin FSR.  The climb wasn’t anywhere near as steep as day 1 so there wasn’t a whole lot of pushing involved. Just lots of grinding uphill in the lowest gear we had.  This provided a great time to contemplate my Pugsley setup.  The gearing was fine, but I needed to reduce my load to the point where I could ride with just a frame bag and some stuff strapped on top of the front and rear racks. I can’t complain about how our Pugsleys handled fully loaded, but with less weight the uphills would be a lot easier and we could ride the downhills like mtn bikers as opposed to bike tourists who had to worry about breaking racks and such..

At breakfast on day 2 we realized Kurt had lost his spork…bummer…8 panniers between us and only a single spork to show for all that weight!  We resolved to beg for a spoon the first opportunity that presented itself.  Happily only a couple dozen kms into the day we came across a hunting cabin.  The lone occupant listened politely to our one spork sob story and kindly gave us an old spoon….=-)  Sweet!

The great thing about a long uphill is that there is often a long downhill on the other side.  Day 2 on the GDR proved to be no exception.  We bombed down the last section of Cabin FSR as fast as we dared. I was stoked to see the end of the 42kms of Cabin FSR – nothing wrong with the road itself, but the whole day to that point had felt like slow motion. I should note that this is the first tour I’ve ever done without a bike computer.  I had a GPS on my bike, but since the route was so simple I left it off most of the ride just checking my position occasionally.  Maybe it was the lack of performance data or the climbing, but the last 42kms felt more like 84kms!

It was nice to turn north on Flathead FSR for the run to Sparwood.  I could taste the beer and burgers already!…=-)

The rest of the day’s ride on Flathead FSR was nice and flat – appropriately enough. So we could make some decent time and we went another 25kms north before calling it a day  around 8pm at a really nice campground that we had all to ourselves.  The whole CDN GDR reroute so far had been really devoid of people and this section continued the trend.  We managed a quick bath in the Flathead River to rinse of a couple day’s worth of sweat and dust before bed.

Arriving in Sparwood BC Day 3

Arriving in Sparwood BC Day 3

Day 3

Getting of to a slow start on day 1 & 2 we vowed to hit the GDR early on Day 3.  Out of our sleeping bags at 6am and on the road by 7am was a nice change.  Day 3 featured the least amount of climbing of any day so far and we managed to get it all done while it was still cool out.  Flathead FSR got really rough at spots and the river crossed the road several times.  Not a problem on our Pugsleys and in fact it made the route feel a lot wilder than the well maintained sections which was fun.

It didn’t take us long to ride to the coal mine at Corbin and the end of the dirt on the revised CDN GDR.

Although the 30km paved downhill to Sparwood was nice it felt a bit anticlimactic after the tough riding we had done so far.  I have to say I actually started to get bored of coasting downhill for so long!  The Bike Gods must have decided that letting us cruise casually into Sparwood was too easy so we had our first and only flat of the trip 3kms from town.  Kurt has lot of experience dealing with Pugsley flats so I just got out of his way while he repaired the puncture.  We were quickly back on the and Kurt vowed not to ride so far right of the white line so he could stay clear of all the debris on the side of the road – smart move!

Naturally we wasted no time digging into some wings & beer, then a proper lunch and more beer.  It was only 2pm when we were done feasting so we had time to hit the road again, but decided not to.  Kurt’s knees were bothering him enough he was thinking of bailing on the tour, but felt like some ice, a massage and some rest might sort him out.  Never one to turn down an afternoon nap and ice cream I was happy to call it a day.

CDN GDR 2009: PhotosFDW to Day 4Back to Day 1


6 07 2009
Starting out from the Montana border...

Starting out from the Montana border...

CDN GDR 2009: Photosall posts

We drove down to Eureka, MT on Saturday 27 June in a rental car with our Surly Pugsleys hanging off the trunk on a folding bike rack.  These racks always scare me and I kept looking back to see if the bikes were still attached to the trunk!  My fears were unfounded and they made it to our motel safe and sound.

We had a poke around town for some nightlife, but came up empty.  There were a couple options, but they were a bit scary and people smoking inside bars is something we can’t handle so we grabbed a case of beer and headed to our motel room for the night.

I slept fitfully and woke up a bit dazed.  By the time everyone had a shower, we ate breakfast and grabbed some final supplies it was 11am.  Not exactly a crack of dawn start – something we’d regret later in the day.  Eventually Kurt’s GF dropped us off at the border and she headed home in the rental car [thanks for the lift SN!…=-)].

We rolled across the border into Canada without any troubles and started our CDN GDR tour in earnest.  It didn’t take long for us to turn onto a gravel forest service road [FSR].  We were just getting used to the handling of our fully loaded Pugsleys when the climb to Galton Pass started.  Little did we know we’d spend the rest of a hot hot afternoon slowly cranking and pushing our rigs uphill from shady patch to shady patch.  Yikes!

Given our lack of touring this year, the heat of the day and how unexpected this was [we didn’t have much info on the newly proposed CDN GDR route] our morale took a beating.  I did my best to keep it inside while I laboured uphill trying to remember why I wasn’t on a patio at home sipping a cold beer with my GF?

Every chance we got we doused ourselves with cold creek water and soaked our t-shirts to keep cool.  We also plowed through our daily snack supplies at our frequent rest stops.  One of the benefits of bike touring is getting to eat anything you want in large quantities while losing weight.

Finally we reached the summit in the late afternoon – tired, but happy to have overcome what turned out to be one of two really hard sections of the whole ride – the other being Elk Pass.

Kurt rides the "good" side of Galton Pass

Kurt rides the "good" side of Galton Pass

On our way down the backside of Galton Pass we rode some very smooth and scenic double track FSR.  The views and lack of pedaling made us smile big time!  We met our first CDN GDR riders at this point.  They turned out to be the only other riders we met on the newly proposed CDN GDR route and happily we met them just before our only potentially difficult route finding section.  They explained roughly where to look for the singletrack connector that joined Phillips-Rabbit FSR to Wigwam FSR.  They had spent half a day lost in search of the north end of this connector.  As it turns out it is much easier to find from the south as the road literally ends where the singletrack starts so there is much less uncertainty where to start looking in the woods for the trail.

From the south just ride to the end of the FSR where you’ll see a big cut section of timber forming a clearing head straight north into the trees and look for blue flagging as well as what is becoming a pretty clear trail as more bikers ride this route.  From the north we built up a cairn of rocks to help mark the start as well I took a GPS way point I can send you by email.

Pushing through a muddy section of singletrack

Pushing through a muddy section of singletrack

The singletrack connector was narrow at the south end and muddy and steep in places.  We pushed a lot it.  Towards the north the trail flattened out and opened up.  This made riding possible, but I can see how it would be easier to loose the trail at this end or have trouble finding it in the first place.  The whole trail was marked with blue flagging tape.

At the south end of Wigwam FSR there was a newer western section we could ride or the older eastern road.  The riders we had met earlier in the day recommended the western road as the said the old road was in bad shape.  It turned out to be a good idea.  The newer western road was buff, fast and rolling with only one climb of note.

Early on the Wigwam FSR we stopped on a bridge to cook up a meal.  I can’t say I love freeze dried backpacking meals, but they sure are easy to make and we ate them right out of their packages with a spork so there was almost no clean up to do.  A meal for two was about right for one hungry biker at ~1000 calories.  Unfortunately Kurt left his spork on the bridge during this meal.  Something we wouldn’t notice until the next day.

We rode the rest of the way up Wigwam FSR and decided to camp just south of the junction between Cabin & Wigwam FSRs.  It was about 8pm when we stopped after ~ 52kms of riding.

I hid our bear cans with our food up the road away from our tent and enjoyed a brief campfire before falling soundly asleep.

I’m back from the GDR…=-)

3 07 2009


Surly Pugsleys rock for dirt tours...=-)

Surly Pugsleys rock for dirt tours...=-)

Pugsley CDN GDR Gear List

12 06 2009
My Pug loaded up in Baja

My Pug loaded up in Baja

Here is my first crack at a packing list for our CDN GDR tour.

Surly Puglsey
•    Multi tool
•    Adjustable wrench [for IGH nuts]
•    Spoke wrench
•    Tire levers
•    Pump [Road Morph]
•    Patch kit x 3
•    Spare tubes x 2
•    Spare brake and derailleur cables
•    Space Avid BB7 brake pads
•    Chain lube
•    Fibrefix spokes x 4
•    Duct tape
•    Zip ties
•    Ortlieb front and rear panniers
•    Old Man Mountain front & rear racks
•    Water bottles x 2
•    Cable lock

•    Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 Tent
•    Ultra light Thermarest
•    MEC down sleeping bag & compression sack
•    Sil tarp and pegs & cord
•    Tent pegs
•    Yellow rip stop nylon ground cloth

•    Trangia stove
•    Fuel Bottle
•    1L Boiler pot
•    Mugs x 2
•    Spoons x 2
•    Lighter

•    Dehydrated dinners 6 each
•    Green tea & herbal tea + sugar
•    Oatmeal x 10
•    Chocolate bars x 10
•    Mars bars x 8
•    Cliff bars x 8
•    Nuts
•    Jerky
•    Pristine drops
•    gum
•    oranges & apples

•    TNF rain jacket & rain legs chaps
•    Fleece gloves
•    Bike gloves
•    Toque
•    Buff neck gaitor
•    5.10 bike shoes
•    socks x 2
•    Long underwear top and bottom x 1
•    Sunglasses
•    Baseball hat
•    T-shirts x 2
•    Boxers x 3
•    Capris x 1
•    Shorts x 1
•    MEC fleece sweater

•    T-brush & paste
•    Hand sanitizer
•    TP
•    Travel towel
•    biosoap

•    map
•    ziplocks
•    camera & extra batteries
•    wallet
•    headlamp
•    Leatherman juicer multi tool
•    notebook & pen
•    cellular phone
•    small FA kit
•    GPS + bike mount + extra batteries [DL’d CDN GDR route]
•    passport


11 06 2009
The Canadian Great Divide MTB Route Map

The Canadian Great Divide MTB Route Map

I was keen on riding the Canadian section of the GDR last year, but a nerve injury on the Dempster Highway put a damper on those plans.  Kurt & I have been looking at our travel plans for July and trying to come up with something that meets our needs for adventure, travel and fits our budget.  We’ve decided to skip Europe this year and focus on trips closer to home.  One of the trips we’d like to do is to ride the CDN GDR route on our Pugsleys.

We'll be heading north from Montana to Banff.

We'll be heading north from Montana to Banff.

My Pugsley is pretty much ready to rock. We’ll be adding some OMM racks to Kurt’s Pugsley.  Other than that we’ll ride them as is. I’m working on a gear list for the trip.  We’ll be camping and cooking most of our meals. I’ll try to keep things on the light side.

Our tentative departure date is the last weekend in June with a window of 4-5 days to ride the 355km route.

Surly Endomorph Tire Review

7 08 2012

Surly Endomorph fat tire in action…

When I first built up my Pugsley 4 years ago the only fat tire you could buy for it was the Endomorph. Fast forward to the present and there are more than half a dozen tire options for a Pugsley. That’s definitely taken some of the spotlight off the venerable Endo and folks are often talking about it like it’s time is over. I’ve spent a lot of time on Endos over the years in sand, snow and on dirt so I figured it was time for a review.

Endos is Baja…

Here’s what Surly has to say about the Endomorph tire:

“It was inevitable that Pugsley was going to need a new pair of shoes. To this point, the current offerings of high-volume, large-footprint bicycle rubber has consisted of downhill specific, or homemade, or scarce out-of-production tires designed for specific out-of-production rims. Though downhill tires are readily available, they are heavier than we need. We ultimately desire a tire that fits the following criteria: 1) The ability to crawl over and through a wide array of soft and loose surfaces and materials without packing up. 2) A size that will fit within the confines of the Pugsley frame and fork. 3) A weight less than 26 x 3.0″ downhill tires. 4) Full compatibility with 26” Large Marge rims and other wide bicycle specific rims. Our only option was to design our own tire.

The Endomorph 3.7 is the product of our effort. It’s 94mm wide (3.7″) x 740mm tall (29″) on our rims. It’s the highest-volume production bicycle tire on the market at this point. And, at 1260 grams, our 60 tpi tire weighs 300–400 grams less than lower-volume 3″-wide DH tires. Most 3″ DH tires hover around 1600 grams.

The center portion of the Endomorph’s medium durometer (60a) tread is comprised of widely spaced chevrons made up of small, low-profile knobs. Higher-profile knobs, at the outer edges of the tread, provide cornering traction and lateral stability in the loose stuff. No tread pattern is going to be perfect in every condition, but the Endomorph’s tread tends to perform quite well on a variety of surfaces. Truthfully, the casing volume has as much to do with our tire’s performance as the tread pattern does. High volume allows the use of low pressure without much risk of pinch flats. The use of low pressure allows the tire casing to spread out on the ground, providing greater traction and floatation due to the increased footprint. We’ve run our tires as low as 5 psi in deep snow, but 8-10 psi is generally low enough for most snow and sand riding. Want to ride on harder surfaces? Pump ‘em up to 15 psi, if the surface is hard, but rough….up to 28 psi, if you’re riding pavement or smooth, hard dirt. Of course, this is just a guideline. Trial and error/success is the best way to determine what pressure will best compliment your riding style, trail (or lack thereof) conditions and your weight.”

Endomorph on the back on my Pugsley…

The Endo has a square profile on 65mm Large Marge rims [also the only fat rim choice when I built my Pugs]. This gives it a lot of floatation for its size and a tractor like feeling in soft terrain. The low-profile chevron tread rolls easily, but lacks aggressive knobs for traction. To hook up with this tire you need to drop the air pressure so it flattens out as much as possible. The square profile and paddle like tread means the Endo needs some encouragement to steer and has trouble on side slopes. The minimal tread doesn’t pack up with mud easily or throw up a ton of sand.

I’m guessing that my Endos are the original 60 tpi variety because they don’t feel as stiff as the 27 tpi Surly fat tires I’ve had my hands on. Surly now sells Endos in 120 tpi [~1440g] and 27 tpi [~ 1560g]. As I noted in my Surly Nate fat tire review riders are finding large variations in tire actual weights so it’s well worth weighing any Endos you are looking at if you have a few to pick from so you get the lightest tire you can.

If you are buying new I’d recommend getting the 120 tpi version for the lighter weight and the supple carcass that will roll with a lot less resistance. However, a lot of fat bikes come stock with 27 tpi Endos and many riders opt to swap in something else right off the bat so it’s quite possible you’ll find some 27 tpi Endos cheap. If so I’d probably grab them. Fat bike tires are crazy expensive at $90-$150 each so I don’t blame anyone for wanting a deal.

Endos on the CDN GDR…

So what are Endos good for?

As you’d expect for the first and for a long time the only fat tire – the Endomorph is a generalist. I used it for all my fat biking for the first 3 years of owning my Pugsley. Riding the beaches of Baja to the snows of Alberta. We mountain biked with Endos on dirt and snow. We bikepacked with them on the CDN GDR. We used them on pavement when we had to get somewhere. And we did it all with a smile.

There are now specialist fat tires for paved riding or with knobs for aggressive trail riding. Surly came out with a tire called the Larry that has a longitudinal tread pattern for better steering control up front. So you’ll often see new fat bikers being told online that they need to dump their Endos in favour of tire X [fill in latest offering by Surly or 45 North]. I call bullshit on that advise in principle. Endos work fine for most fat riders for most conditions. I don’t think it makes any sense to tell a guy or gal who just dropped nearly $2K on a shiny fat bike that they now need to spend $300 on new rubber or else.

If your fat bike has Endos on it my advice is to ride ’em – a lot. Especially if you are new to fat bikes. They’ll be good for most of your riding and when you encounter situations that challenges them you’ll get to learn how to ride your fatty with some finesse. Those skills will be useful no matter what rubber you ride on your fat bike. You’ll also have time to figure out what fat biking means to you and what specialist rubber you want/need. As a bonus by the time to you ride your stock Endos for a season the options for fat rubber will probably change and you’ll have some new choices.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Endos are the uber fat tire and there is no point looking at anything else. If money is no object you might as well get one of everything and always have the perfect tire for your needs that day. OTOH – don’t feel like you need to replace your Endos ASAP or you won’t be able to ride your fat bike and smile.

These days I’d use Endos for bikepacking, dry conditions MTBing, urban assault rides, sand/beach use, flattish snow missions and rides that have a lot of paved sections to deal with. Where I think they should be avoided are steep slick conditions [ie. wet techy MTBing or snow].

As with all fat tires pressure is critical. If you aren’t adjusting your tire’s pressure as you change surfaces you won’t be getting full performance out of it. My rule of thumb with Endos is any bouncing means too much pressure and squirmy hard to steer handling means to little pressure. In extreme soft conditions you’ll be down in the mid-single digits for pressure and your Endos will feel a bit odd, but that’s not a bad trade off for riding instead of walking.

Endo in the back and Larry in the front….

When Surly released their second fat tire it was the Larry shown above and it was touted as a great front tire companion to the Endo. That’s how a stock Pugsley or Salsa Mukluk are equipped these days. I’ll review the Larry in a separate post, but I thought it was worth mentioning this combo since it is found on so many bikes. Both our Pugsleys are setup like this at the moment. The Larry is a nice compliment to to Endo. The directional power of the Larry helps keep your fat bike rolling where you want it to go and the Endo’s flat profile and paddle style tread keeps it moving forward.  If your fat bike came with two Endos a Larry up front is a good upgrade and since you wear rear tires faster you’ll use up your second Endo on the back no worries.

Endos in the snow…

Keep your Endomorphs

At some point you’ll buy some specialist fat rubber and perhaps you’ll be tempted to get rid of your Endomorphs. My advice is hang on to them. They are a great general purpose tire and fat rubber is expensive so it makes sense to use your Endos when they fit the bill. I have a set of Surly Nate fat knobbys and while they kill the Endos for traction those same knobs mean they roll slow when I’m looking to cover ground. For a bikepacking trip where I want to put in 100km+ days I can assure you I don’t want to be rolling on Nates. Even for shorter rides I prefer the Endos or Endo + Larry combo over the Nates if I’m not in need of uber traction. That’s why when summer rolled around in Victoria I spooned some Endos on to the rear of both our Pugsleys.
Some folks clam Endos get better traction and steering when run with the chevrons facing to the rear when viewed from the top of the tire. I’ve tried that and not noticed any difference. It’s free so if you are in the mood to experiment it’s worth a try to see what you think.

Endo in Mexican beach sand…

Send me your Endomorphs!

If you have some Endos and don’t want ’em anymore send them to me. I hate to think there are Endos languishing in garages never to be ridden again or worse being thrown out. I’ll use ’em and when they are worn out I’ll recycle the carcass.

Why I do [don’t] read your blog?

8 05 2012

Where are the pictures????

I’m pretty picky when it comes to the blogs I read. There are a ton of bad ones out there, but also quite a decent number of good ones. I won’t name any in particular since I don’t want ninjas attacking me in my sleep!

Here is what I like in a blog:

  • topics I am interested in
  • minimum of a photo with every post ideally lots of photos
  • high quality photos
  • decent writing
  • reasonable spelling [I’m not perfect – you don’t have to be, but quick isn’t spelled kwik!!]
  • blog template/layout/colours that are comprehensible and easily readable
  • regular updates [less than once a week and I lose interest]
  • on going stories/topics I can follow

Here is what turns me off:

  • no photos = no reading on my part
  • few and/poor photos = less reading and maybe I’ll stop visiting
  • terrible spelling and poor writing = I’ll give up trying to understand what you are on about
  • post your heart rate/power meter data frequently and my eyes glaze over
  • post endlessly about trips and bike builds you are planning, but never complete either and I lose interest
  • post less than 1/week and I stop coming by
  • post erroneous info regularly

The key thing for me in a blog is that I get what I expect to get from it. I can accept infrequent updates if you are on a tour in a remote area. I can accept mediocre photos from a someone on a great tour who is able to write well. What I can’t deal with is randomly posted content that is never what I expect to see when I expect to see it.

As a blog author it’s very important to set the reader’s expectations to match what you are going to deliver.

Let me leave you with one tip to make your blog better [something that I learned the hard way] – post about things you have done – not things you hope to do. Especially if looking back you aren’t scoring about 90% on achieving your goals/projects. We have all read blogs that go on endlessly for months about gear selection, route planning, etc… for some major bike expedition that fails after the first week because they didn’t train or prepare well in real life – despite spending so much time on the blog. It’s lame, but not as lame as when the same person starts blogging about racing the GDR next year and spends a year going on about that only to fail to start or fail after day 3.

My 29er MTB Bikepacking Setup…

17 02 2012

My 29er On One Scandal mountain bike setup with Porcelain Rocket bags...

Okay first off I beter say that the frame bag you see here is from my Surly Pugsley and doesn’t really fit the Scandal properly. So don’t think if you get a framebag from Scott at Porcelain Rocket that it will fit so poorly. I just jammed the bag into this bike while I wait for Scott to build me a custom bag that will fit this frame perfectly.

The key to a great bikepacking setup is the ability to carry the gear you need on your bike with as little impediment to how it rides off pavement. You can fit panniers and racks to most mountain bikes, but they end up being the weak spot in the bike so you have to slow way down and ride cautiously lest you break something. Your handling is also compromised so that technical riding becomes hard to impossible. When Kurt and I rode our Pugsleys on the CDN GDR with racks and panniers we had fun, but I vowed never to bike tour on dirt with that setup again – unless there was some overwhelming reason to carry that much gear.

Same Porcelain Rocket bags on my Surly Pugsley...

You can see the same bags on my Surly Pugsley above and appreciate how well the frame bag fits the bike it was custom built for. This is a typical bikepacking setup and is designed to keep the weight securely attached to the bike as close to the center of mass as possible. The bags have a limited carrying capacity which forces you to load them with only what you need and the bike remains “thin” which aids in sneaking between obstacles and facilities the seemly inevitable pushing you have to do. If you are fast enough it also keeps wind resistance to a minimum.

So a word about why soft bags are such a great idea for a dirt road or mountain bike trail tour. Standard panniers and racks are stiff and heavy. They hard mount to your bike which means every bump gets transmitted very efficiently from your bike to the racks and then to the panniers. Eventually that will break something. Even if you are lucky and don’t break your gear you will spend your whole trip babying it always taking the easiest/smoothest path to reduce the beating your bike takes. With soft bags the attachment points to your bike are secure, but they can give a little which absorbs the shocks they see without stressing out and breaking them. The upside is that you can ride your mountain bike like a mountain bike while carrying food, water and shelter.

Seat bag...

Seat Bag:

  • thermarest sleeping pad
  •  bivy sack/tent [no poles]/hammock
  • jacket when not being worn
  • this bag acts like a fender when riding in wet conditions

Frame bag...

Frame Bag:

  • bike tools
  • pump
  • spare tube
  • food
  • stove/pot/fuel/lighter
  • mini first aid kit

Top tube bag...

Top Tube Bag:

  • bike light battery
  • camera
  • snacks

Front roll bag...

Front Roll Bag:

  • sleeping bag & spare camp clothes inside 10L OR dry bag
  • tent poles outside bag if you got ’em

Front bag pocket...

Front Bag Pocket:

  • snacks
  • cellphone
  • wallet
  • headlamp
  • maps

Dinotte XML-3 bike light...

Front End Bike Stuff:

  • Dinotte XML-3 900 lumen light [waterproof enough power for full night at low/high power for fast downhill runs]
  • Ergon grips for hand comfort
  • bar ends for extra hand positions
  • 180mm disc brake to slow down on steep hills with a load
  • 100mm suspension fork to allow for faster speeds on rough surfaces
  • BMX platform pedals for lots of grip in whatever shoes I want to wear

The back end...

Rear End Bike Stuff:

  • red blinky for nighttime visibility on the trail and road
  • Alfine 11 IGH for wide range weatherproof drivetrain and strong undished rear wheel
  • wide supple 29er tires with enough tread for loose conditions climbing
  • wide strong rims
  • 160mm disc brake [more than enough braking at this end]
  • comfortable leather saddle

On the trail...

Stuff I need to add:

  • water bottle cages on fork [w/ hose clamps]
  • fuel bottle cage under downtube [w/ hose clamps] for longer trips only
  • GPS [w/bar mount] when needed

Backpack or no backpack?


I ride my mountain bike with a hydration pack when on the trails. I used a slightly larger daypack for the ride out to the Sooke Potholes to carry water and some spare clothes. In general I think it’s better to keep the gear off your back and on the bike. Firstly it forces you to be ruthless with what you are carrying and secondly it’s much more comfortable. Plus it means that for specific trips where you need to carry a lot of food, water or clothing you have an option that isn’t already full of stuff.

I’ll be adding water bottle cages to my fork legs so I don’t need a hydration pack for fluids. I’ll be a bit more efficient about the clothes I bring and carry any spare clothes I am not wearing on my bike – either in the front roll bag or the seat bag. That will mean I can skip a backpack for most trips and if I really do need some extra cargo capacity I can add in a pack at that point.

Stylish and comfortable...


It’s hard to be too specific about clothing since so much depends on where you ride, what time of the year it is and what the forecast is for. Here is a sample of what I might bring on a ride here on Vancouver Island:

  • toque [never leave home without it]
  • buff neck warmer
  • sunglasses
  • fleece gloves
  • rain jacket [as breathable as possible means less sweat and you can wear it most of the time]
  • wool top [maybe 2 if it’s cool so I can layer]
  • synthetic capris
  • wool 3/4 tights
  • wool leg warmers
  • wool socks
  • shoes
  • rain chaps and rain glove covers

Touring SA on a Pugsley…

25 11 2011

Photo: Joe Cruz

My CDN GDR tour really opened my eyes to bike touring on a Pugsley. The big tires weren’t slow on dirt roads/trails and they provided some appreciated passive suspension over the bumps. Joe Cruz is a bike tourist, writer and philosopher who is touring South America on his Pugsley. That unusual combination makes for some very interesting blog posts illustrated with nice photography.

Photo: Tom aka Bicycle Nomad

The great thing about touring on a Pugsley is that it really encourages you to seek out the more adventurous routes where it performs better than any normal touring bike. It’s also a guaranteed conversation starter…=-)

Thanks to Aaron for sharing this link with me and thanks to Joe for demonstrating fat is where it’s at!

Riding Loaded!

12 05 2011

My Berthoud bag equipped Boulder Bicycle...

I remember reading a blog post years ago that Kent Peterson authored. I want to say it was in the preparation phase for his first GDR race. He noted that he didn’t really train in the conventional sense of the term, but instead rode his bike with all it’s race kit for fun in the months prior to the event. That seemed like a lot of work at the time and while I can certainly relate to not getting into the whole HRM/intervals/cycling coach training thing riding a loaded bike all the time seemed excessive. Of course he was making a lot of sense I just didn’t have the sense to make full use of that advice when I first read it. I’ve become smarter over the years and I can certainly agree that riding your “event” bike setup for the event in question is the way to go. Not only do you get some extra exercise when riding it around, but you are learning how to handle the bike loaded and how to make the most of it. A naked bike feels nice, but you can’t muscle the loaded bike around the same way so it seems like a good idea to ride the bike with everything you’ll carry in the event. And of course you get to test out all your gear so that if something is going to be a problem it’s much better for that to happen 2kms from home on a Wed PM a week before the big day rather than 20kms into the event.

Berthoud handlebar bag...

I got my Boulder Bicycle All Road 650B randonneur bike with the Berthoud handlebar bag shown above. It sits on a Nitto M12 front rack. I really like this bag because it is so lovely while being 100% functional. I can open it on the bike while riding, it’s waterproof in extended heavy rain, it provides a useful place to store my cue sheet for navigation and the decaleur [QR] I got for it is very secure. I’ve seen decades old bags just like this that are going strong so I expect it will last my entire randonneur career.

Front bag profile...

Other than a couple short test rides when I first assembled this bike I have always ridden it with a loaded bar bag. It was designed for that and I always want to have a few items with me. A blog reader asked me what the bike handled like without the bag and my reply was “…I don’t know…why would I ride it without the bag?”

Front view with Edelux headlight...

For a shorter ride – say up to 200K with decent weather I just use the front bag and I’ll carry:

  • spare 650B tire
  • spare tubes x 2
  • tire levers, patch kit
  • multitool
  • fiber-fix emergency spokes x 2
  • small bit of duct tape
  • reflective sash & ankle bands
  • energy bars & other food
  • rain jacket [I never trust the forecast completely – maybe I’d skip this at the peak of summer]
  • cue sheet & control card & pen
  • iPhone
  • Visa & cash & ID
  • spare GPS batteries if the ride is long enough
  • as things warm up I’ll throw spare clothing in the bag

Decaleur detail...

The decaleur [bag QR] attaches to the stem and then the bag is placed on the rack with a leather strap looped over a small hoop of metal that sticks up from the rack. A metal rod is pushed through the decaleur parts on the bike and on the bag [bolted through the leather]. Once in place  a retention pin is used to secure it. I’ve used a thin bit of keychain wire in the photos above.

Other side of decaleur...

This style of decaleur is a bit of a PITA to use as you have to line up three metal parts and slide the QR rod through them, but it’s cheaper than the other faster decaleur options and it’s very secure. When I crashed pretty hard on a 200K the bag didn’t budge. This system is also more theft resistant and you’d have to really examine the bag to figure how to take it. If I am leaving my bike at a brevet control I just grab my money and my iPhone and leave the bag in place. It’s too much hassle to remove and reinstall it each time. I’m not sure if I would spend the $$ for the faster QR decaleur option that just drops onto the bike with no retention rod. I guess if I was headed to PBP and wanted to take my bag with me at each stop I would. For BC brevets that doesn’t seem necessary.

Small Berthoud saddle bag...

I wanted to free up some room in my bar bag so I got the small Berthoud saddle bag shown above. When it arrived it was a bit smaller than I had hoped so I’m not sure how much use it will see. I’ll probably put it on another bike like my Surly LHT when I complete the rebuild/upgrade I’ve got underway.

I used it for the 300K last weekend and carried:

  • spare tubes x 2
  • tire lever & patch kit
  • small roll of duct tape
  • fiber fix emergency spokes x 2
  • multi-tool

Small saddle bag profile...

It’s a nice size for a spare tube or two and a few tools which may suit a lot cyclists. I did free up enough space in my bar bag to be helpful when the day got hot and I wanted to strip off a lot of my cold weather gear.

Large Berthoud saddle bag...

So I called up Mike at Rene Herse and he sent me a large Berthoud saddle bag. This is an older model as the new ones all come with a QR bracket rather than a leather strap. I actually prefer this model as I won’t be removing it from the bike during a brevet.

Enough cargo capacity to be dangerous...

I’ve packed the larger bag to see what I can fit in and will carry the following in it for a 400K+ brevet and perhaps for some fast credit card touring:

  • spare 650B tire
  • spare tubes x 2
  • patch kit & tire levers
  • fiber fix emergency spokes x 2
  • multi-tool
Overall I’m quite pleased with the quality, functionality and aesthetics of these Berthoud bags. If you are in the market for bicycle bags and don’t want to go the modern Ortlieb route these are worth some consideration.

Aaron’s Wildest Valley

15 03 2010

Image: Aaron Teasdale

The definite highlight of my CDN GDR ride last year was the reroute through the Flathead Valley. This infrequently traveled section of the route was remote and wild while still providing enough of a road to let us explore with ease.  Although the road we were riding was evidence of man’s intrusion here the fact it was so poorly maintained and that we met nearly no one else using it is testament to the area’s wildness.  Some of the least used sections were clearly being reclaimed by nature and the scar we were riding would be erased in short order.

Not that I need more motivation to go back and ride in this area again, but Aaron Teasdale has posted an award wining article, Return to the Wildest Valley, he wrote about the area for Adventure Cyclist Magazine.  The photos are lovely and the words will make you want to load up your mountain bike and explore this amazing ecosystem.  It’s well worth a read.

Flathead Valley Touring on the CDN GDR

While you are visiting Aaron’s fine blog check out his article, Finding New Nowheres, about a 5 day bikepacking trip in Alberta Canada’s Kananaskis Country – my very own backyard…=-)

Memories of the Summer

30 01 2010


Baja Fresh!

27 11 2009

Finally - I made it!

Well a new transmission, a new clutch, a new set of tires and 10 days on the road I finally pulled off the main highway and drove the last few kms to La Ventana.  I stopped in at Baja Joes to chat with the Elevation Kiteboarding School Gang from Lake Nihnat in BC and see if the free camping in the arroyo I had heard about was a good idea. They said it was fine and I rolled a bit further North and found a great spot in the second arroyo.  It was nice to see some familiar faces from Squamish at the arroyo as well as lots of other friendly folks.

My camp in the arroyo is pretty and has some bushes/trees for privacy, but it’s close to the main road, which is a bit noisy.  Happily the town goes to bed early so I haven’t had any issues sleeping.  Unlike my typical Baja trips that featured solitude and remoteness this one seems to be quite the opposite.  I can walk to some free showers, clean porcelain sit down toilets, wireless internet, multiple restaurants and bars as well as grocery stores.

On one hand It’s great to have so many services so close.  On the other it’s not a very quiet reflective sort of experience.  Given that I need to work on this trip having easy internet access is a good thing and if I wanted I could still stop at some of my more remote camp spots on the way back home.

Sun rise at La Ventana

I can see the Sea of Cortez from my camp and it’s a 60 second walk to the beach with my SUP or kiteboarding gear.  Some professional windsurfers from the US have setup a sun shelter right on the beach complete with a sectional sofa!  My first day here I sat down on the sofa, put my legs up on a stool and enjoyed several very cold beers.  Although kiteboarding isn’t as hardcore as bike touring the GDR it does come with several benefits like a beach front sofa and the tendency for bikinis to be present….=-)

Since I will be online daily Monday to Friday I guess I’ll be updating this blog a lot more than I had expected….


The fleet stashed out of the sun...



Thorn Mini Tour

18 11 2009

Thorn Nomad S&S

Bike touring hasn’t been a big part of my world in 2009.  Other than the CDN GDR tour my cycling was either mountain biking, snow biking, or utility/transportation riding.  I don’t mind as I really like to be on a bike no matter what the reason and bike tours are best enjoyed when the time is right – not when you try and make them happen.  The only trouble is I have a couple virgin touring bikes that I wanted to get on the road and try out.  One of them, my Thorn Nomad S&S, has seen lots of action about town hauling me and my gear, but that’s just not the same as bike camping.  So I picked a weekend in late September that Sharon had plans and decided to do an overnighter on the Bow Valley Parkway.

Geared up for some bike touring.

I left late on Saturday from Canmore Alberta so most of my first day’s ride would be in the dark.  I haven’t done much in the way of long night rides this year since I haven’t been training for or riding brevets.  I missed the solitude and quietness of late night rural highways.  The first stretch along highway #1 was quite windy and slightly uphill the whole way.  Since it’s so busy with traffic between Alberta and British Columbia you can’t really call it a peaceful ride, but it is in the Canadian Rockies and the scenery is spectacular.  By the time I rolled past Banff it was pitch dark and I had both my Dinotte 200L-AA lights going and had deployed all my reflective gear as well as a Planet Bike Superflash taillight.  I was happy to soon reach the turn off for the Bow Valley Parkway and leave the dense high speed traffic of the main highway behind.  As expected traffic on the Bow Valley Parkway was minimal and much slower.  Most of the time I just rolled along in my little bubble of light with only the noise of my tires on the road and the sounds of the forest for company.  As with previous night rides I found familiar climbs that are quite challenging in the day are much easier at night.  They seem less steep and less strenuous somehow at night.  I’m not sure why, but I guess it must have to do with the fact you can’t really see the climb or much of the road and that must make it easier mentally.  Although I also experienced a weird time dilation effect as well.  I didn’t have a bike computer on the Thorn, but I knew how far my camp site was and I knew roughly how fast I was going, but it felt easily like it took twice as long to finally reach camp.  Riding the same bike back in the daytime I didn’t have that feeling at all – strange.

My minimal camp at day break.

I rolled past the locked gate of the campground as it was closed for the winter and had my pick of over a hundred sites.  I grabbed a nice spot next to a creek and set up my small tent.  The forecast didn’t call for rain so I left the rain fly off.  I wasn’t cooking on this trip so I just had some snacks to stash in the metal food locker.  I’m not sure if bears were still active at that time, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  I settled snugly into my down sleeping bag and listened to the sounds of the forest.  It would have been a very peaceful night if I hadn’t been attacked by a giant spider inside my dark tent.  The only part of my body exposed was my face so of course that’s where I felt his legs!!  I flicked him off with one hand and got my headlamp out with the other.  Once I located him it took 3-4 direct hits with the heel of my trail runner to stun him and another 6-8 hits to kill him…that was one tough spider!!  Did I mention I don’t really like spiders???  I finally got myself sorted out and back in the bag ready to sleep when I felt rain on my face….that meant going back out into giant spider territory and putting on the rain fly…=-(  Oh well – there wasn’t much choice so I just got it done.  Happily with no further killer spider incidents and I enjoyed a cozy sleep in my tent with the sound of rain drops against my fly.

Lovely Bow Valley Parkway Scenery

It was dry when I woke up, but it looked like some serious rain could fall so I packed up camp and hit the road back to Canmore quickly.  I managed to get most of the way back to Banff before the rain started in earnest.  I didn’t have full rain gear with me so I just threw on my rain jacket and made the best of it.  My Thorn has fat fenders on it so I wasn’t getting wet from the road and my clothes were warm enough to keep me comfortable despite the rain.  It also helped a lot knowing that a warm meal was waiting for me at the end of the ride.   I rolled into Canmore with my food radar on high and pulled into the first eatery that caught my eye.  After ordering 2 full meals I settled into my chair enjoying the warmth and dryness!

The end of an era?...=-)

Bike Notes:

  • I used front panniers on this trip mostly just because that’s what I had at hand.  My other panniers were at my GF’s and I was too lazy to go get them.  Like the Surly LHT the Thorn Nomad was designed to carry a rear only load or a load balanced front and back.  It doesn’t love a front only load.  It was fine to ride, but it didn’t show the characteristic truck like stability that it did when loaded in the rear.
  • The Thorn was comfortable and the long wheelbase/steel frame/fat rubber ate up the bumps and road irregularities nicely.  Given its strength this tour wasn’t much of a test for the the frame.
  • The Rohloff hub continues to roll along without needing attention.  The straight clean chain line is quiet and very aesthetically pleasing.  My placement of the shifter works, but as I noted in an earlier post I will move it to the right grip area for easier access.  This tour just confirmed that plan.
  • Ortlieb panniers were handy when it rained.  I didn’t have to do anything or worry about my gear getting wet.
  • Marathon Extreme tires worked fine, but are clearly overkill for a paved tour.  I don’t notice much difference between them and the same size XRs on paved roads.  I have since sold them.  My Thorn currently has some Continental Travel Contacts on it and I’ll probably try some 2.0″ Marathon Supremes in 2010.
  • Dinotte 200L-AA lights worked well and provided lots of light even on the fast descents.  They don’t last terribly long on high power, but my rechargeable batteries don’t get a lot of love so that’s not the lights’ fault.  I could have set them on medium or low power for the flats/climbs and turned them onto high for downhills.  One issue I had was the lights are not focused and throw a lot of light up into the eyes of on coming drivers.  In a city with lots of light this isn’t so bad, but on a totally dark road it’s blinding so I had to cover them partially with my hands when a car came along.
  • Brooks saddle – I’m always happy that I can now ride a bike without wearing padded shorts…=-)
  • Platform pedals – besides not having to wear bike shorts my second favourite thing is being able to ride in street shoes.
  • I’m really glad I got around to installing the stainless steel Berthoud fenders on my Thorn.  They went on much easier than expected and provide excellent coverage even without a front mudflap installed.

2010 The Plan…

28 08 2009
Castle Mtn here I come...

Castle Mtn here I come...

Here is my plan for 2010:

  • as soon as I’m back from Baja I’ll be hitting up Castle Mountain Resort for some powder surfing.  That will continue until they close in April with a keen eye on the snow reports we’ll focus on the steep and deep days.  I was interested in some heli/cat boarding, but with a new truck that’s not financially practical.
  • urban assault Pugsley action will also continue through the winter from downtown rambles to trips to Canmore the mountain bike is no longer idle in winter!
  • I’d like to do another 3-4 week work-cation in Feb/March like I did in 2009.  I’m thinking splitting the time 1/3 Moab mtn biking and 2/3 South Padre Island Texas kiteboarding.  We’ll work in the AM, ride and then work in the PM….work, play, work…=-)
  • I’d like to get in a short bike tour in May as well as start road riding early when the snow is gone.
  • June will see a trip to the Mojave for the 17 year moontribe anniversary gathering and some trips to Keho Lake for kiteboarding.
  • In July I’d like to take a good chunk of my summer holidays to kiteboard at Lake Nitinat BC.
  • sometime in June/July/Aug I want to take a 4 day weekend and do an uber light assault on the GDR.  I’d ditch the panniers and carry a lot less gear riding much farther every day.
  • In September I’d like to head back to Nitinat for a last gasp of Canadian kiteboarding.
  • September/October I’ll be poaching as much mountain biking as the weather allows.
  • an early November trip to Moab seems like a good idea.
  • finally I’ll close the year out with another kiteboarding and Pugsley trip to Baja.

Gosh…I’m tired just writing that all down!  Should be a blast…=-)

Adios Amigos – PT2

7 07 2009
Most likely not what I'll be doing....=-)

Most likely not what I'll be doing....=-)

Kurt and I are off kiteboarding in Hood River, OR for a couple weeks.  I’ll have a laptop with me and continue to post trip reports from the GDR as well as some *gasp* kiteboarding content….=-)

More my style!

More my style!

Adios Amigos

27 06 2009
We'll be riding the revised CDN GDR route on the right.

We'll be riding the revised CDN GDR route on the right.

Well we are off for Montana in a few hours for our South to North CDN GDR assault.  We’ll be riding a revised version of the CDN GDR route that features more remoteness and more dirt..=-)

See you next week!

My Pugsley loaded and ready to roll...

My Pugsley loaded and ready to roll...

Surly Pugsley Rack Options

19 06 2009
My Pugsley with two rear OMM Cold Springs racks

My Pugsley with two rear OMM Cold Springs racks

Fitting racks to a Surly Pugsley can be a pain.  The uber wide 135mm front fork and offset drivetrain make fitting normal front and rear racks a challenge, but there are ways to get around this.  I figured I’d post a few possible options in one place for easy reference.

Option 1: Old Man Mountain

Pigeonfarmboy's Pug with a Front/Rear Surly Nice Racks Mounted.

Pigeonfarmboy's Pug with a Front/Rear Surly Nice Racks Mounted.

Option 2: Front/Rear Surly Nice Racks

Martin's Pug with a modified Surly Nice rear rack mounted up front.

Martin's Pug with a modified Surly Nice rear rack mounted up front.

Option 3: Two Surly Nice Rear Racks

  • with a bit of modification you can mount a Surly Nice rear rack on the front of your Pug.
  • this reduces weight and makes fitting on the Pugsley fork easier than a front rack.
  • check out this post on my Bow Cycle blog for details.
Kurt's Pug with a Filzer Rear Rack attached

Kurt's Pug with a Filzer Rear Rack attached.

Option 4: Filzer Disc Brake Rear Rack

  • Filzer makes a rear rack that is extra wide to clear disc brakes. We picked one up at MEC and mounted it on Kurt’s Pugsley.
  • It mounts up reasonably well.
  • The rack is decent for a $30 unit, but the way the lower portion of the rack mounts is flawed.
  • If you look at the picture below you’ll see how the rack is attached with adapters to get around the disc calipers.  This weakens the rack and makes it unsuitable for carrying heavy loads on rough terrain.
  • If you only need to carry lighter loads [change of clothes, lunch, etc…] on smooth roads it could be a decent solution for you.
  • Kurt is removing this rack and buying two OMM Sherpa rear racks from Bow Cycle for our up coming GDR tour.
Filzer disc brake rear rack spacer

Filzer disc brake rear rack adapter.

Pugsley OMM Racks Mounting Upgrades

15 06 2009
Note silver washers used to space out racks mounts.

Note silver washers used to space out racks mounts.

When I mounted my OMM racks last December I had to use some washers at most of the lower mounting locations to get the clearance and fit I needed.  You can see the washers I used on the rear left mount in the photo above.  Rack mounting bolts are meant to work in shear where they are strongest.  As soon as you add a spacer in between the rack and the braze-on the mounting bolts experience a bending moment and are weaker.  The minimal amount of spacers I had to use didn’t pose a problem for carrying moderate loads on smooth ground or light loads off road.  However, with the upcoming GDR tour I was concerned that carrying moderate loads off road would break something.  Having a rack fail miles from the nearest services would have been a real bummer.

Luckily my friend Kurt is more mechanically gifted than me and enjoys futzing with tools.  Last night we ordered some pizza, got a case of beer and he set about modifying my OMM racks so that they would fit on my Pugsley without the need for spacers.

After Kurt's handy work the same rear OMM rack mount without any spacers.

After Kurt's handy work the same rear OMM rack mount without any spacers.

On the rear Kurt had to bend the upper mounting arms to allow the lower portions of the OMM rack to move inwards enough to eliminate the need for any spacers.  He even did it so the bends looks professional – unlike the mangled hack job that would have been the result of my DIY efforts!

Front OMM lower mount filed down for clearance with Pug fork.

Front OMM lower mount filed down for clearance with Pug fork.

On the front the lower rack mounts interfered with the Pugsley fork legs.  Kurt filed away the rear of each mount to get the required clearance.  Once that was done the OMM racks could be mounted without any spacers on the front.

Front lower OMM rack mountm without spacers after it was filed down.

Front lower OMM rack mount without spacers after it was filed down.

It doesn’t seem like a lot of work, but it took about two hrs from start to finish with lots of trial fittings before Kurt did any modifications – he is a stickler for measure 3 times cut once.  The result looks great and should be stronger than before.  Kurt has also suggested we buy hardened bolts to replace the standard rack bolts to make the racks on our Puglseys totally bombproof.

Bumping down the GDR with my loaded Pug I’ll be enjoying the trail without worry about my racks.

It pays to have handy friends!…=-)

Surly Pugsley on Tour

15 04 2009
My fat tire friend...

My fat tire friend...

I posted some thoughts about using a Pugsley for touring on my Bow Cycle blog as well as a review of my Pugsley.  I started a thread over at Crazyguyonabike to discuss this idea and got the response below from Matt that I thought you might find interesting.

“Just saw this thread and thought I’d add a couple of comments, since I’ve logged 5000+ miles touring on a Pugsley. About 4300 of those were from Seattle to Mexico via the Trans Canada Trail and the Great Divide Route, mostly off the pavement. Prior to touring on the Puglsey, I toured several thousand miles around North America, Central America, and Eastern Europe on various other types of bikes, including a Greenspeed recumbent trike.

First, for off-pavement touring, the Endomorphs make for an extremely comfortable ride. I think on most unpaved surfaces, I can actually sustain a faster pace with less effort than any other bike I’ve ridden, since the tires just tend to float over loose gravel, potholes, washboard and the like without slowing down as much as skinnier tires would. And definitely more comfortable than any other bike I’ve ridden for day after day off the pavement. I’ve also found with the Endomorphs at 20-30 PSI the Pugsley isn’t really noticeably slower on the pavement than a normal bike with wide Marathon XRs or similar tires.

Also, you can use other tires besides the Endomorphs on the Large Marge rims. I’ve personally used Schwalbe Big Apples(26×2.35), Schwalbe SuperMotos (similar to the Big Apples, 26×2.35), and Schwalbe Marathon XRs (26×2.25). The bike looks a bit funny with those “skinny” tires mounted, but still rides well. Those tires do lower the bike a couple of inches, so you have to worry more about pedal strike on corners or in rough terrain, but that is the only real issue I’ve found other than the weird looks. So really, you don’t even need a separate set of 29er wheels, just a spare set of wide 26″ tires. I’d suspect in a pinch, you could probably use a standard 26×2.1″ mountain bike tire, though I’ve never actually tried it.

On the TCT+GDR trip, I carried a spare set of folding tires, and ended up using them for maybe about 500 miles or so total. If you’ll be on the pavement for a while and want to save some wear on the Endomorphs, just throw on the other set of tires. Oh, BTW, my Endomorphs were new at the beginning of the TCT+GDR trip, and pretty much bald and ready to be replaced by the time I hit Mexico.

Having the option of riding across sand, snow, loose gravel, and other surfaces that might be impossible to ride on a normal bike is also really nice and gives you more options when touring.