Well I have been commuting by bike every dau for 9mths but off-road recreational riding has been pretty thin on the ground.
2010 started with a cold, slightly hung over pootle in the FoD and we crammed another one in on Sunday too with Sheldon / Mandi and the usual suspects. Really good fun. It was also the first time since 2002-3 that I have ridden with gears. < pauses to hear all the jaws hit the floor and awaits a Ray Capo like backlash... >
Yes gears, only 6 of them so its not like I can't handle it. As background I got an email on the 27th Dec from my good friend Joe who I raced with in India a couple of years ago. He had a crazy idea to bike round the Annapurna Circuit this spring going super light stylee and mixing in some sight seeing, great food and mountains. Well how could I turn it down? Work are OK and I have booked the time off, flight booked and most of the kit sorted (and weighed!) One thing Joe did say was that it would need gears due to extended climbing at altitude and long, gradual downhills (that worry me more than the climbs!)
He also advised 26" wheels incase of needing spares...I'll (have to) take my chances on that one.
I have a source for custom boxes and a double thickness box will be about £25. I plan to take both wheels off and strap them either side of the frame and also remove the bars, seatpost and pedals. This should make for a much more manageable box to get in the airport / between planes / on to taxis. With the tools and first aid kit in there everything else can go in my carry on bag (25-30L rucksack!..we are going light!)
Merino will feature heavily in my clothing but I have also got a silk sleeping bag liner and glove liners on their way. The flat DMR V12s (with longer pins) are great with the TNF shoes I have and mean that I can take one pair of shoes. Grip is easily as good as the Time ATAC and a damn site easier to walk in / step on or off in. The old (new-ish) shoes and old but servicable pedals will be going on STW soon.
So the gears, you can fit 6 8sp cogs on to a Hope SS rear hub. I disassembled the 8sp cassette from Becca's Bontrager and also borrowed the shifter pod, rear mech and chain. I lost the 11t and 30t cogs so I have 13-15-17-20-23-26 x 32 range which seems pretty sensible and I have had no issues with the chain coming off the Middleburn Uno ring. I would put this down to a tight chain, tall teeth and no ramps or pins. I might get a Paul Chain Keeper if it is an issue but at the mo' its all cool.
In slightly related news Mark Slate has announced the BlackBuck frame will be in 3 sizes with a new fork and a really nice looking head badge. Check MTBR.com 29er forum for more info.
Right enough spew, just to say that all up pack weight with 2L of water will be 18.1Lbs :)