08 June 2017

Bike Nerdery

I rode the Stag through a similar landscape yesterday and the difference in bikes is so interesting. Obviously the Half Chub was loaded for camping, is fully rigid, and has mechanical disc brakes and a double ring. Even besides that, they’re wildly different creatures.

It was clear that I sit “inside” the Krampus with its gargantuan wheels and itty bitty frame, while I sit “on top” of the Bronson, making it more maneuverable but less of a steamroller.

It was also a good reminder, as I dragged the Bronson through mud pits, into stream beds, and over downed trees, that twenty or so pounds makes a helluva difference. The Bronson has never felt so light. 

The Krampus is a brilliant bicycle though, stripped down, extremely capable, great at point and shoot chunder riding, rock crawling up steep pitches, somehow forgiving me over and over for running ~8 PSI and slamming my rims into root and rocks. It definitely prefers finesse but doesn’t hold it against me if I get a little sendy. The only upgrades I need are new tires (add traction and shave over a pound from each wheel? Yes please) and a different drivetrain. I love having a 2x9 on a bikepacking rig but I don’t love the temperamental, finicky, rhythm-crushing shifting I have going on. Friction shifting: plenty of hipster cachet but far too precious for what I’m trying to do with it.

Compact bike, compact camp.
It’s really exciting to own a set-up now, for the most part, and for minimal investment. Instead of getting crazy with the credit card I slowly accumulated pieces through the winter.

The essentials: 

Revelate Designs Pica seat bag: my most expensive piece of gear because it’s the only non-custom bag on the market that fits with my minuscule tire-seat clearance.

SealLine 10L dry bag with custom doodles and big ole Voile straps: this thing is cheap, unobtrusive, and doesn’t bounce too much when it’s lashed to my handlebars.

My dry bag is the coolest.
Patagonia Hybrid sleeping bag: what a revelation! It packs so dang small and combines perfectly with my lightweight puffy. And now that I finally have a sleeping pad with decent R value, my bag is warm enough for me in the summer, even though I was convinced I could only survive nights in my zero degree bag.

Aqua Mira: the most awesomest water purification system. I have the luxury of only riding through mountains full of babbling brooks that don’t have weird bugs and cow shit in them, so these little bottles of chemicals are all I need.

Spacious, perfectly worn-in Salsa framebag: I was at the pub talking about trying to gather together the missing pieces of my set-up and JayP, the OG bikepacker himself, said he had ten years’ worth of framebags I could dig through. Pretty dang cool.

The status of the sleeping bag is sort of a permanent borrow, and I don’t have my own stove or shelter yet. But other than that I’m jazzed on strapping shit to my bike and pedaling until it’s bed time.

So ladylike, as usual.

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