Everyday carry.

11 05 2015

Sorta.

Everyday carry is, I guess, a meme. It is an interesting concept. I got to thinking about it while I was preparing to head off for a short bikepack the other day. What is the essential everyday carry ? how does this sit beside what would provide a slightly more comfortable existence on a short bicycle tour? everyday-plus, if you will?

So, I decided to have a closer look at what I carried on a ‘heavy’ trip and perhaps dwell on the contents a little. Heavy is in inverted commas because I wouldn’t necessarily class the contents of my bags as heavy per se. But I most certainly brought some non-essential items (depending on your point of view. of course!).

So, here we go.

Let’s see, starting at the front, a Revelate small front pocket for a Sweet Roll. Inside, essentials I might need to grab at short notice or, perhaps, when it is getting dark.

Opinel, ti tent pegs (2 sorts for different ground conditions), Sinewave Revolution – an amazing gadget covering all my charging needs from the Son front hub, Steripen freedom, notebook, Snow peak ti spork, a dyneema cord with cord lock, fire steel and spare lithium batteries for the Etrex. Not pictured, a few notes and a bank card and my keys.

Under this, of course, is my Sweetroll (not pictured). In this, I have my tent (a Mountain Laurel Designs Cricket), a Patagonia nano puff, and a spare inner tube (varied with which bike I am riding – in this case a Bonty 2.5-2.8 26″) and a Z-packs UL carbon fibre tent pole (that folds down into a short 40.5cm packed size). Often, CF poles can be flimsy and if broken can pierce tents. In this case, the joins are reinforced with tyvek tape. It’s been solid.

Behind the bars, I use 2 Revelate feedbags.

In the right one, I carry food. Mike n’ Ikes, cheese, pork pies, clif bars, granola squares etc, whatever I pick up along the way.

In the left, I carry my cooking kit and some sundries in the outer pockets, in this case my toothbrush, paste and chamois cream.

The cooking kit consists of a ti mug from MSR and an MSR gas canister (for the MSR Pocketrocket I keep in the Wingnut lumbar pack). I use an MSR Mugmate for coffee – works extremely well. I also store TP and a few sheets of kitchen roll in bags to a) stop rattling and b) use.

Next, is the Gas Tank – again, food.

Lower down, on my 44 bikes fork, I have 2 water bottle cages.

The Steripen needs a hard water bottle for use, I tend to take at least 2 and in the other cage I use a Specialized Keg. This doesn’t contain beer, but it is a useful little ‘hard’ storage for (in this case) my Niterider head light, extender cable, some wipes (one thing that is distressing is the number of wipes I see discarded by the trails. They don’t biodegrade fast at all and this is making a huge mess in some well travelled areas) and cotton wool/vaseline for fires, if needed.

Next and also unpictured, is my Viscacha seat bag. In here, my sleeping bag (PHD), Thermarest Neoair, wool longs and a R1 fleece with hood.

Lastly, I have my Wingnut.

In this, I carry a 2 litre camelbak bladder, which I try to use minimally – basically to lessen weight on my back. I also carry my MSR Pocketrocket, Gerber essential utility knife, Lezyne mini pump, another tube, coffee, Patagonia Houdini, Niterider battery, camera stand, some whisky (in this case A’bunadh) and a midge head net. I usually take a freeze dried meal of some sort. The little, old Timbuk 2 bag is my tool kit.

In this, levers, folding chain tool and quick links, 7075 Paragon hanger, Stahlwille 12 point drive socket and driver for the ti bolts on the Paragon sliders, Genuine Innovations CO2 head and cartridge and also a tubeless repair ‘worm’ kit. In the ziploc bag I carry assorted bolts and a home made tyre-boot set – with sticky stuff and sail cloth and also quick patches. I also carry a small bottle of Squirt chain lube. Some of this is extraneous, but I tend to leave it as-is so I can grab and go no matter which bike I am riding.

Various items are stored in some MLD cuben bags.

For the real nerds, the weights (bag + contents, food items to use for 2-3 days included, water not included):

Viscacha – 2kg
Sweetroll – 1.55kg
Cooking Feedbag – 0.5kg
Gas Tank – 0.35kg
Food Feedbag – 0.6kg
Front Pocket – 0.85kg
Wingnut – 3.5kg

Total weight – 9.35kg.

It seems heavy, when toted up like this, but a lot can be pared away if I am prepared to have fewer creature comforts. The bike rides extremely well with this set up.





Components.

4 05 2015

Picking up components. I have a fascination with new stuff, it’s true. Admittedly, sometimes my fascination is morbid. Other times it is an appreciation for a finely balanced marriage of form and function.

For me, next comes thinking. Consideration. How will it all work together? No. How will it all work together *best*? When I am 10 hours into the day, in the middle of beautiful no-where, what will make my day more difficult? what will make my day better? (note to self: remember better ≠ easier).

So I read. Dwell. Cogitate. Measure. Measure again. Write. Scheme. Plan. Finally, hopefully, I commit. Then it is time to use tools to make great components come together to make a near-perfect whole.

After that, well, It’s time to ride.

On the bench: xtr 9000 & 785, go and stop, with some Race Face next SL. Syntace and Selle San Marco for perches, with Jeff Jones on the Loop. DT Swiss 197mm mixed with HED Big Deals. Lets see how this all goes together…





Incremental increases.

27 04 2015

Building miles, avoiding driving to the trails. It finally feels like spring might be here (though as I type this, it is snowing).

Over Conic Hill after a brief chat with Graham, a bikepacker heading to Fort William. the sun was out and the trail was rolling by.

The trail up Loch Lomond side was as much fun as ever, though I was being clumsy.

My lack of grace was telling as I came near Inversnaid and tried to clear the trail. I nearly ended up in the water!

Fortunately, I stayed dry and made it past the hotel, up the hill and round Loch Arklet, before ducking back into the forest for the push past Aberfoyle and homewards along the West Highland Way.

Although my energy faded relatively fast (despite the supply of Mike and Ikes) I made it round in just shy of 7 hours. 70 miles in the legs and a good day out. With the Capital Trail Loop shortly, I need to push on a bit and get the legs attuned to ~100 mile days though. So, more again soon.





Woods Riding 3.

13 04 2015

A quick edit, filmed with a dying battery earlier today.

Woods Riding 3 from dRj0n on Vimeo.





Mangrunt deluxe.

22 03 2015

High pressure, stable weather and a yearning to ride all day long. A twangy lower back muscle after a bit of singlespeed induced hernia-popping climbing action notwithstanding, it was time to grab ‘Maul and run to the hills.

Out through Mugdock, taking in some choice trials that haven’t been dry in months. Pinballing around and loving every second of it.

Then down to business on the West Highland Way: missing the gates, considering my forward progress at Garadbhan.

The back was holding up and the legs were still going round in circles so I could cut north for Aberfoyle, then Callander but I could not think of a fun way back home. So: Mangrunt? Even sans Conic Hill, I had to have a chat with myself and see if I was up for this so early in my spring mileage build-up.

Nothing ventured….

Round the lochs through Queen Elizabeth forest park and then the terrain opens up as you approach the upper portion of Loch Lomond.

Lots of wildlife to be seen.

Some in worse shape than others…

Take the fun trails down the Lochside until Balmaha and ducking in and out of the woods, follow the West Highland way back home.

Seven hours, 75 ish miles. My body reminded me that this building up every year is always a battle, an act of perseverance, but oh, the places you’ll go…





Bespoked.

7 03 2015

It would seem that Bespoked and the North American Handmade Bike Show are going to join forces. Having attended both shows in years gone by, I am sure this will be a successful venture in terms of sharing media exposure and resources.

I will be attending Bespoked in Bristol (17th to 19th April 15) and I am looking forward to seeing the current state of play in British, European and even some American custom frame builders.

NAHBS’15 is currently happening in Louisville, in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky. The South Western state, currently socked in by deep snow thanks to winter storm ‘Thor’, is not normally associated with custom builders to the best of my knowledge – Justified and Bourbon being it’s chief exports.

I will be looking for coverage in the usual places:

Velocipede Salon
Bikerumor

Face palm

There has been some coverage already:

The Radavist
Gearjunkie
and Flickr here and here

And I am sure Singletrack will have some coverage soon as well:

Singletrackworld

Talking of media, I am sure you will know that Cranked is an upcoming magazine, seemingly filling the void left by Privateer. I know I am very much looking forward to issue 1.





Shimano XTR.

3 03 2015

Over the years, I have used a number of iterations of Shimano’s XTR groupset. It has always blown me away, not just functionally, but also in terms of durability. Recently, I had a brief shot of (davechopoptions) XTR 9000 drivechain. Set up 1×11, it feels smooth, with solid clicks and the ratio spread is wonderful. It will be interesting how the front chainring, with it’s unusual steel/hollow aluminium ring and squared-off tooth profile works in time, but knowing Shimano, it will be awesome. The cranks are *way* prettier in the flesh.

This is an interesting video of the changes made to the derailleur to allow it to track the increased radial range of the ‘Rhythm Step’ cassette (which is a work of art composed of one-of-a-kind carbon carriers and ti rings mixed with more usual steel and aluminium carriers).

Having tried this set up, I find it hard to invest in any more experiments in 1×10 set ups with increased range. We’ll see.








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