So my Epic, err sorry, Revelate Designs frame bag and gas tank are still about 3 weeks away but I was able to do a pretty good test pack of the extended trip bikepacking gear and get out on Wednesday for a ride. It started on the same route as the 210km road route I did earlier in the month but then diverted at Stanway and took in the back lanes around Guiting and some dirt tracks over the back of Cleeve Hill (including the Field of Treacle / Velcro Grass) up to the Pylons (Note for Phil Nightfire: I know that Pylons are the arms on transmission towers and the structures in question are radio masts...but thats the local name for them)
The bike was rolling well but the 15lbs ofr gear and 2 bottles slowed it down on the climbs. I had planned to keep the overall average speed (so including stops) above 10mph but with several long-ish climbs and one rocky hike-a-bike meant it was close in the end.
My Fred modification to the Blackbuck has been to add some Profile ZB Aero bars to help with the long flat sections. With a short section of 22mm plastic tube and a couple of zip-ties I was able to add a GPS and light mount to make up for the lack of bar space. All seemed to work well but I think that a Fred-Bar from Siren might be an idea to reduce the reach a bit. I will email Brendan and see whats what.
So I managed 40miles in the heat with all the gear on which is not bad but a long way short of what I can do although the 32:20 gearing and fat tyres were not helping! I did manage to keep above the 10mph average I had set my self but like I said...I have a way to go.
Another piece of the kit turned up today in the shape of an Inov8 Race 12 bag to take over from my Camelbak Octane 8. While the Octane is a great bag it was pretty heavy and short in the back. I used a 30L version of the Inov8 pack for my Nepal trip and worked really well with 15lbs of kit in it for 7days non-stop. The smaller version will do for day rides and essentials on longer rides (water, waterproofs, wallet and other stuff starting with 'W') I also got two small strap pouches for snacks and widgets as the waist pockets are really handy having another 2 to hand has to be good. Right?
So whats it all in aid of? Well next year I plan on racing the Tour Divide, South to North. Yeah, pretty big and scary but I have been following it for years, starting with the MTBR coverage of Mikesee's attempt, and have got to a point where I have to give it my best shot. I have a lot to do before June next year but if I am going to do it I will go in 100% committed, there have been too many under prepared noobs turn up in the last couple of years. If I am there I will be there for the long run or not at all.
South to North? Yeah Antelope Wells is the arse end of no where and I would rather figure out getting there while fresh than after 27 days on the bike! Plus Banf has hot springs, cool cafes and a shuttle to Calgary so much better for post-race recovery and extraction. Fixie Dave and a couple of others should be starting from there too so I won't be on own for too long until we get too spread out. I hope that we should have good re-supplies to as the N-S Leaders won't have snaffled all the chocolate milk and peanut butter (not sure about the second half!)
Only other news was that I got an email from my friend Matt who I have not heard form for a while. It was great to catch up and talk things over as Matt has attempted the GDR and had some great advice.
"Platforms + freewheel = The best way for bikepacking....along with a low-ass gear. You've got to prepare for Day 10+ and if someone that you don't know for a fact is really light and strong tells you otherwise, they're full of shit."
Good advice from some one I know and has been there and done that. Priceless.
Other than the Internet the bok Two Wheels on my Wagon has also been a great source of entertainment and information and is recommended even if you don't want to ride 2745 miles.
The only gaping hole in the plan is the psychological side of things and while Google has turned up various "self help" books it is pretty short on anything else. While I would love to employ a sports psychologist I don't have the money for that so the search continues.
OK, that is enough for now.