The latest run of DeWidgets in stock at Backcountry.scot…

16 05 2018

But, they are selling fast.

The sun has been in the sky for a few days now and the HTR 550 is coming up. The South Lakes 100 (aka Jennride) and the Welsh Ride Thing have just finished.

Basically, it’s bikepacking season. But even if it is just a local ride long enough to need a few snacks and a tube, a DeWidget combines with a Gas Tank top tube bag, keeping things super snug when a velcro strap wrapped around that on-point stubby stem leads to annoying slop and flop.

Go to backcountry.scot and grab one now before stock runs out. More will probably be made but why wait?

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Vulnerability.

15 04 2018

The plan was to ride from Old Bridge of Tilt, north until the Gaick pass, follow this to Aviemore via the north part of Glen Feshie, head east to Glenmore Lodge and climb past Ryvoan and find a kip spot in Abernethy Forest. Next morning, wake up, head past Dorback, cross the river, hopscotch up Burn o’ Brown to Tomintoul and then follow the Avon to Loch Builg, and then head west to Glen Quoich, before either popping out in Glen Derry or taking the Slugain trail down to Deeside and taking Glen Tilt back to the start.

The weather looked good, though low snow was a possibility and the river crossings could be interesting, but all the info for the larger, close rivers from the SEPA folk suggested they would be average for season.

Park in Blair Atholl, like I have done many times before and start to get the bike ready. A local resident then came over and (short version) asked me to move or she would consider phoning the Police. I was a little taken aback. She said that was her parking space on the street and I could park further up the road or find another car park somewhere (none of which permit overnight parking).

Ok then.

Rather than cause a conflict, I moved. After just over an hour of pedaling, I was about to go past the point at which I could easily turn around. Normally, that is just a little mental step and on you go. However, the encounter with the local lady had me swathed in doubt. Was where I parked going to inconvenience or anger someone else? did I miss a sign suggesting it was resident parking only? Round my head it went.

I sat for a while, pointlessly trying to pick up a mobile network so I could phone and try and settle my head but it was to no avail. Stark choice: go on and potentially worry about it all the time, or turn around, go back, and sort something out.

I knew sleep would be fragile at best anyway and suspected that the additional, though un-objctive worry about what the outcome would be of my chosen parking spot seemed to have fractured my confidence.

Perhaps the map work, GPS based calculation and environment condition work had left me in a state of high alert and this was just a small negative occurrence that tipped me out of being able to go on, or perhaps there was some underlying reason that I have not identified.

Whatever, I bailed. By the time I got back to Blair Atholl, tried to find somewhere I felt sure would be ok, enough time had slipped by that my route was going to be additionally iffy.

It was like dominos falling over and I pulled the plug on the whole escapade.

I did head up to Aviemore with a view to a much shorter loop bookended by a bivi, but by the time I’d looped the lower lying areas, my mojo was completely blown and I came home late at night.

It feels like a waste. The weather window was there. The route is a good one. The bike was dialled. For some reason, my head wasn’t.





MYOG: a DCF double ended dry bag.

15 02 2018

With a Revelate Harness on the front of the bike, I have the choice of using an existing dry bag or random items packed in a roughly cylindrical fashion. The Sweetroll uses an integrated double ended dry bag joined to the bar mount, which I always like using. It is easy to load, adjust and get at your kit. Revelate offers a separate dry bag, called the Saltyroll which I thought about getting and Porcelain Rocket have the Nugget, which is a similar size as well.

However, I have had a hankering to make somethign from DCF (formerly cuben fiber) for some time and so I decided to bite the bullet and make a double ended dry bag. The downside is that if you screw up, the material cost per sqm is high. The upside is that it is really easy to work with. You need double sided tape, a good plan and a sharp blade, as it is surprisingly difficult to cut.

I used 34g sqm DCF, in black (more like see-through-dark) which is on the light side, compared to a Mountain Laurel Designs DCF dry bag for example, but should have enough abrasion resistance to last for a while.

The designs is a simple cylinder (rectangle with shorter seam joined by 25mm double sided tape) then the ends are folded and bonded around something that will provide some stiffness so the roll top will work. I used some 0.004″ shim stock plastic. Finally, you make strips (I used 5 layers of DCF, folded over) which were then bonded to the edges and simple plastic buckles. For these sections, I used 13mm double sided tape. I reinforced these with a ‘patch’ of DCF on a strip of wider, 25mm double sided tape.

Care should be taken so no join will be pressured in ‘peel’ – they should all be in ‘shear’. With this design, it is no great difficulty to avoid this.

Leave it to cure for 24hrs and then you’re good to go. Capacity is around 10L and it weighs quarter of a sparrows fart.

Questions? fire away!





Banking.

27 01 2018

Ok. Every year – and I mean *every* year – I start crossing my fingers about now. Hoping that the weather is kind in spring and summer. I don’t go as far as autumn. Last year, things started ok ish, if memory serves. There was some nice weather early on, before it deteriorated into a wet, sloppy, crappy sort o’ late spring/summer.

The silver lining was that it finally prompted me to purchase an Alpacka raft from Andy at Backcountry.scot so I could join the watery element. Afterall, if you can’t beat ’em….

But again, this year, I am hoping…

As a result, with a *lot* of thought and consideration, I ordered a Prophet rucksack and Monk tarp from Mountain Laurel Designs.

This will augment my MLD FKT bivi to make a super light, cosy and roomy shelter when I am not using my MLD Cricket tarp/tent. The Monk is available in different materials and I opted for the lightest cuben in order to keep things as svelte as possible. I will pitch it as a half-pyramid, using a Z packs carbon pole. This will give me some added shelter for cooking and minimising precip, though I will need to be mindful of the midge.

The rucksack is a great shape for stowing an Alpacka. It is able to be packed quite ‘square’ with little volume protruding above the shoulder strap – which one needs to consider on the bike as a higher rucksack bashes continuously into the back of your helmet. The way different manufacturers describe pack volume is a bit of a minefield. In some ways, this pack could be considered quite voluminous, but the total includes the volume of the side pockets, full, and the top at its maximum roll-top volume. I will use it rolled over more times, in order to keep the pack low, below where it would interfere with my head. The rear and side pockets will fit the paddle, once broken down, and critically are made from robust material rather than just netting. This makes damage considerably less likely as the pole of the paddle will invariably get caught on someting while riding.

The material is Dynema X – a super abrasion and tear resistant, but lightweight, fabric. It can ‘wet’ as the PU coating is on one side only, which will add to weight, but I believe this worth the trade off given that cuben type materials are less tear proof: when you are jamming a raft into the bag, with the paddle, this is a serious consideration.

The materials used in superlight gear are well worth taking the time to learn about. I’d suggest starting with Bedrock & Paradox and follow the links to previous posts regarding materials, too. Dave Chenault builds and uses packs from many materials and offers excellent insight into the pros and cons of each design. I link to his blog from mine and I would thoroughly recommend taking a look, particularly if you do any MYOG stuff.

On that note, I finally ordered some cuben – or Dyneema Composite Fabric as it is now known. The CT2K.18 I ordered form extremtextil.de is 34g per square meter and this is certainly not the most robust weight that is made. I am going to make, with tape, a double ended dry bag to mount into my Revelate Designs Harness. Double ended dry bags are really easy to pack and I can decide on the perfect diameter of the tube I want. It will be my first time working with this material – cost and lack of abrasion resistance have stopped me in the past. I have had excellent use from my MLD and Z packs DCF stuff sacks and roll bags, for several years, so I decided to dive in.

I was also interested to see extremtextil now stock Dimension Polyant LiteSkin in two different weights. I have been seeing this showing up on various cottage makers instagram feeds for the last year or so. On paper, it has a lot of properties that should make it excellent for the type of bags I like to make. I might get some and see what it is like. In the meantime, here is an interesting video of some testing of different materials.

Anyway. Rabbit foot stroked, I’m banking on some good weather to put this kit into practice…





DeWidget – update.

22 01 2018

Ok folks.

New fangled 3D printed #DeWidget, left, old skool cool proto, right

So the DeWidget has seen a little update. Mark has been kind enough to put the design on Shapeways. You can see them here and here. You would need one ring and two ‘top hat’ parts to make a complete DeWidget. The price is a little more, due to the addition of another company in the chain, but – IT NOW COMES IN COLOURS!

I have a black one in hand that has a slightly textured feel, but this in no way harms function. The white is also a textured surface whereas I believe the coloured ones are ‘smooth’.

Shapeways have a facility in the Netherlands and one in the USA, so if you are ordering abroad, it should actually work out pretty good.

Do pass this info on if you wouldn’t mind, cheers.





Bulk.

18 11 2017

So this is a B-Rad 3 from Wolftooth components. They offer a range of adaptors to refit bottle cages in such a way that you can carry more on your bike. More bottle cages, straps and stuff.

Why am I interested in it?

Well, I don’t generally like carrying stuff on my person while riding if I can avoid it, but with the arrival of the Alpacka Yak and my plans to bike-raft and bike-pack-raft, I am going to have to deal with carrying more stuff somehow. This adaptor has slots which house the bolts to attach it to the frame and allows some movement fore and aft. The bolt holes on the adaptor itself can then be used for other things.

Most of my bikes have provision for an under-the-downtube bottle cage. The B-Rad is stiff enough to allow 3 bolt items to be added – with the proviso I don’t overload the 2 bolts into the frame. I will alter it to only have 3 bolt holes: 4 is overkill.

What that means is that my King Cage Manything cage (buy them from jelle at Justpedal.nl in EU) can be utilised with straps and a dry bag, or an Oveja Negra Bootlegger, which should be with me in around 4 weeks can be fitted.

This bag has an integral aluminium skeleton to give support and allow it to be bolted on to the frame (or fork). It is sized for Nalgene bottle, but because I am going to use it with 2 bottle cage bolts, I will use it to stow food or soft items, such as puffy jackets and/or wool longs.

It all adds up when you are bike packing and creative space and volume use is essential to a good experience. My Porcelain Rocket Charlene will work with a dropper post – utlising the Wolftooth Valais – and this should give me a highly versatile and all-mountain competent bike/packrafting set up with lots of well distributed bag-space. Porcelain Rocket kit is available from Ride Auburn in the UK

On account of the Bootlegger not being with me just yet (I am awaiting stock of the Classic multicam DPM version) I have used Oveja Negra’s own pics: visit their site and consider some of their kit – it is very well thought out.





How to fit a DeWidget.

23 08 2017

Ok, how *I* fit a DeWidget – I am sure there are a number of ways!

First, you need some double sided velcro. This has a multitude of uses for the bikepacker. I usually keep a few wraps around bars and whatnot for use when out and about: temporary attachments; to insulate the frame or components from abrasion; tying down flyaway straps etc.

Anyhoo. You will need about 6-7cm 1cm wide and 7-8cm of 2cm wide. If you are struggling to find some, you can get it here. Search around for different widths and trim with scissors or a craft knife. In my experience it does not need ‘heat sealed’ on the edges.

Then, mount your top-tube bag to your frame, loosely, near it’s final desired position. Mount your DeWidget to the steerer.

1. thread the thin portion of velcro through the daisy chain on the front of the top-tube bag.

I then remount the foam spacer – I would recommend this if you have one.

2. mount the 2cm section of velcro to one side of your 1cm velcro.

3. fold the 1cm section back on itself, on top of the 2cm section.

4. thread the 2cm velcro through the slot on the DeWidget.

It doesn’t matter if the bottom section or top is longer…

5. attach the 2cm velcro to itself in a loop as tight as desired.

The velcro has inherent stiffness that helps keep the mounting absolutely solid, even if there is a fair distance between the bag and the stem – which may be desirable given stem hardware.

The other thought I had was to use a sternum strap split bar buckle and attach it to the daisy chain, thus presenting a ‘bar’ in ‘phase’ with the slot on the DeWidget, but velcro has worked so well I have never tried…

You can get them here, not very handy, but I have used this shop for many parts and materials for MYOG projects and can recommend them. I have not found the same buckles in the UK yet.