Salsa Anything Cage

After receiving my Salsa Anything cages, I scratched my head for awhile trying to figure out how to mount them on the Pugsley’s fork. I was intending to clamp them on with hose clamps, but I discovered that on the right (curved) fork blade, I couldn’t find any orientation of the cage that would put all three of the mounting holes in contact with the fork blade. I didn’t want to stress the cage unnecessarily, so I posted a question on mtbr.com in the fatbike forum to solicit ideas. A forum user named JR Z came up with this one: screw an old rack strap (the flat kind, with a 90 degree twist on the end) into the canti boss and the lower rack mount. A picture is definitely worth 1000 words, so here’s the result of my first try:

Salsa Anything Cage on rack strap

Mounting the Salsa Anything Cage on a rack strap attached to the cantilever boss and the lower rack mounting hole.

This shows the cage after I drilled the rack strap but before I put the two additional bolts into it.  Subsequently, I inserted the bolts through the cage holes and screwed them into locknuts on the back side of the strap.

You have to bend the strap a bit at the top where it connects to the canti boss, and drill out the hole to be large enough. I haven’t done the curved fork blade yet, but I expect that all that will be different is the the top end of the strap will have to be bent a bit more.

The mount seems really solid and you don’t have to scratch up the paint on your fork. If you don’t have any rack straps lying around, you can order them from Universal Cycles.

A big shout out to JR Z! 🙂

Excellent mapping tool

Don’t you wish that you could easily generate elevation profiles using mapping web sites like Google or Bing?  As demonstrated so nicely by eatsleepridegreatdivide.com, the elevation information is available through the Google Maps API, they just don’t have a nice user interface to it.  The only problem with eatsleepridegreatdivide.com is that it limits you to picking points that are on the GDMBR route.

Fortunately, a web site does exist that allows you to generate profiles for any route (even where there are no roads). It’s called the geocontext.org profiler. It takes a bit of fiddling to get it to do what you want, but it’s quite an excellent tool. Here’s an example, day one of the Steamboat-Gore Pass-Rabbit Ears Pass-CDT loop that I blogged about a few days ago:

Elevation profile tool

Day 1 of the Steamboat – Gore Pass – Rabbit Ears Pass – CDT loop.

As you move your mouse over the elevation profile, a little bicycle moves along the map route, very cute. Also, if you click and drag on the elevation profile, it zooms into the profile and calculates the grade. Very useful! Finally, there’s a little arrow in the top right corner of the profile (next to the “Denivelation” number) that pops out a little box telling you the total number of feet climbed and descended. Click on the image above to go to the site and try it out!

Gear thoughts

A few things I’ve tried lately, or am about to try.

First, I tried out a Vredestein Bull Lock tire as a “lite” alternative to the Surly tires.  The Bull Lock is billed as 26×2.35 but is widely (ha-ha) considered to be one of the fattest non-DH tires out there.  It airs up nice and plump on the Large Marge rim — close to 3″.  Here’s a photo of it on the Pugs, right next to my Stumpjumper with Cane Creek wheels.  Quite a difference those rims make!

Vredestein Bull Lock

The Vredestein Bull Lock 26×2.35 tire on the Large Marge rim and on a Cane Creek XC wheel.

The tire rode reasonably well on the Pugs.  The main problem with it was that it had a diameter of 27″ vs. 29″ for the Endomorph that it replaced.  This lowered my bottom bracket by about 3/4″.  I changed my seat angle to compensate, but I still felt like I was riding a Schwinn Sting-Ray at times, and I did strike a pedal once in a corner.  Plus, it just wasn’t as plush as the Surly rubber.  It wasn’t bad, but not what I was used to.

Having said all that, I think that this tire has a place as an emergency spare on a tour. It weighs half of what a Larry weighs and it’ll certainly get you to the next town competently enough.  Think of it as one of those 50-mile spares that you get with most compact cars nowadays.

(Note: OTOH, I really dislike this tire on my racing wheel.  It has a “lightbulb” cross section on this wheel because it is so much wider than the rim.  It flexes like crazy under cornering loads, and I’m afraid I’m going to rip it right off the rim if I get too aggressive.)

The next item I want to waste your time talking about is the innertube I used. Big deal right? Well, what if there were a fat tube that weighed half of what the Surly tube weighs? There is: it’s the Avenir 26×2.40-2.75 tube. I got it at my LBS. (Searching online, I can only find the schraeder version of it. When I search for “Avenir presta 2.75” I get lots of pages that claim to be selling it, but the picture is definitely nota picture of this tube.)

Comparison of a standard MTB tube, the Avenir 2.75, and the Surly tube.

The Avenir tube, when flattened, is nearly the width of the Surly, but it weighs 210g less.  This is a huge difference! Although I’m running tubeless, I still have to bring spare tubes on tour in case of a loss of tire pressure. (Can you imagine pumping up a tubeless Larry with a hand pump?) Two of these weigh a full pound less than two Surly tubes.

I’m running one with a Larry on my rear wheel right now to see if it holds up, and so far, so good. I will of course give it a good look-over when I remove it to put in the Stan’s sealant to make sure it isn’t getting ready to blow out.

On to gear that I haven’t tried yet but will any day now.  I’ve decided that to haul my stuff, I’m going to use a pair of Salsa Anything Cages on my front forks. I should be able to put my tent in one of them and my sleeping bag in the other. No, I don’t have a magic way to attach them, I’m going to use hose clamps even though it’s butt-ugly. Remember, I’m just doing a few short tours this summer. If I find that these are as great as everybody says they are, maybe I’ll spring the money to have bosses brazed onto my fork for next summer. I sure wish Surly would get with the program and offer an offset Pugs fork with the braze-ons already installed!

On the back, I’m going to install a Bontrager rack that I picked up at a LBS on sale. The rack itself it light, about 500g; the attachment hardware is a boat-anchorish 200g more! So I went to the hardware store and bought some P-clamps, which I will use to attach some lightweight rack stays that I pirated from another rack (total weight: about 60g). I realize you probably can’t visualize what I’m talking about, but I’ll post pictures once I get around to installing it.

On this rack, I’ll try to get all my clothing to fit into my 20L dry bag, otherwise I’ll have to use a set of panniers that I have lying around. You might think, 20L of clothing? What the hell? Well, the thing that I’m concerned about is a spare pair of shoes.  At size 15, they take up about one entire pannier, or most of the dry bag.

As an alternative to a spare pair of shoes, I might try to get by with my Keen Commuters as my sole (ha-ha) pair of shoes. Although they don’t feel quite as efficient as dedicated riding shoes, and they aren’t quite as comfortable to walk in as dedicated walking shoes, they do a reasonable job of both. In fact they’re by far the most comfortable riding shoes I’ve ever worn. I’d be leery of setting off on a through-ride of the GDMBR with nothing but these, but I think that they may be just the ticket for the shorter rides that I have planned this summer.  I may find that they are all that I need when I tackle the rest of the route.

Then of course, there’s the Revelate frame bag. I’ll be carrying a 4L water bag in here, along with food, tools, you know, the heavy stuff.  I am not planning to carry a water filter, as I think they’re a pain-in-the-ass. For dire emergencies I will use chlorine dioxide tablets. They’re cheap, they’re small, they weight nothing, and everybody thinks they’re great. The only thing they can’t do is get rid of sediment, so the water might look gross, but it will be safe to drink.

In addition, I just received a pair of Revelate mountain feedbags. I’m currently using them just for water bottles. I’d like to put a camera and other sundries like sunscreen in one of them, but I don’t know if I’ll have enough water capacity. We shall see.

One last thing, I have a Titec J-bar that I’m going to try out. I’m just waiting for some thumb shifters that I ordered to arrive ’cause grip shifts just won’t cut it on these babies.

Piecewise Planning

So I’m getting divorced at the moment.  It’s kind of like having your dentist treat a hemorrhoid.  Or like having your proctologist fill a cavity.  From their respective ends, of course.  Either way, its loads of fun.

Due to child custody issues (I’ll leave it at that), I can’t get away for more than one week at a time this summer.  So doing 3 or 4 weeks on the GDMBR just isn’t going to happen. The reason I haven’t posted for so long is that I couldn’t bear to disappoint my loyal readers (both of them :-D).

But, as the old saying goes, when life hands you lemons, ask for tequila and salt! Since I live in Boulder, CO, I can drive west for 2.5 – 3 hours on any road that goes over the mountains and intersect the GDMBR somewhere.  So I’m going to do a series of shorter (3-6 day) trips on various sections of the Colorado portion of the trail.  This is kind of good, in a way, as it allows me to try different gear combinations at different times and see what works best for me.

There are two main sections of the Colorado route that I want to do.  The first one is the area around Steamboat Springs.  I had always planned to do a shakedown ride in the Steamboat area because there’s an alternate route from the Wyoming state line down to Steamboat Lake state park (so-called “Aspen Alley”) that makes a natural loop with the “official” route.

The “Aspen Alley” alternate to the GDMBR.

The “official” GDMBR route north of Steamboat Lake (courtesy of eatsleepridegreatdivide.com)

This is about a 75 mile round trip, perfect for a little 2-day jaunt.  You could turn it into 3 days by starting the ride from Steamboat Springs itself, but I think the the section between the town and the state park is the most heavily trafficked and least appealing part of the route, and I certainly wouldn’t want to do it in both directions.  Better to save an extra day for what follows.

Going south from Steamboat Springs, when you get to Gore Pass there is another 4WD road that heads back north to Rabbit Ears Pass.  Now from here you could take the easy way back to Steamboat on Highway 40 (it’s an insane downhill), but it turns out that if you continue north on 4WD roads you can actually hook up with a 13-mile section of the CDT that is open to bikes!  You can take this up to Routt County Rd 38, which goes back to Steamboat.  Here’s what this looks like:

Steamboat-Gore Pass loop using CDT

A 3-day loop from Steamboat Springs to Gore Pass on the GDMBR and back on a section of the CDT.

Point B is the Toponas Creek campground, which is just a bit off the GDMBR route.  Gore Pass is a bit to the east of the little pointy intersection at the SE corner of the route.  Point C is the Walton Creek campground on Highway 40.  From D to E is the CDT section.  E-F is the return to Steamboat on RCR 38. All in all, this looks like a sweet ride. I expect the CDT section to be challenging but do-able; most mountain bike sites rate it as an intermediate trail.

Combined with the Steamboat Lake loop, I can do five or six days of riding with a break in town in the middle.  Nice!

Another ride in the northern half of the state that I’d like to do is to ride from Steamboat all the way home to Boulder (or vice-versa). This would use the GDMBR down to a spot due west of Fraser; from there, a good county road cuts through to Fraser. Then, you can get from Winter Park back to Boulder via the locally-well-known Rollins Pass, which is closed to automobile traffic. Logistically, this is slightly more challenging, as I have to arrange for transportation between Steamboat and Boulder.  There is an airport shuttle that goes to Steamboat from Denver that I’m thinking about using, but I have to find out if they can take a Pugsley!

Continuing south, there is nothing appealing for awhile (at least not if you live in Colorado). The ride from Dillon to Breckenridge is on bike paths that I’ve done before; from Breckenridge to Como the route is over Boreas Pass Road, which is a rough, dusty road that is popular with automobiles (especially in the fall when the leaves are turning). From Como through South Park is suck city.

The route doesn’t get interesting to me again until Hartsel, however, logistically it’s easier to skip to Salida, which is about a 2:45 drive from home. From Salida, the route heads into the mountains over Marshall Pass and into some very remote areas of the state, finally cresting Indiana Pass, the highest point on the entire GDMBR, before heading down to Platoro. This is without a doubt one of the most brutally difficult and exposed sections of the Route, and I wouldn’t want to attempt it before mid-July. It’s 198 miles, I think I can do it in 4 days.

GDMBR from Salida to Platoro (courtesty of eatsleepridegreatdivide.com).

From Platoro, I’ll ride straight east through the mountains for about 30 miles, then ~20 miles of farmland before hitting Alamosa.

The great thing about Alamosa is that there’s a Greyhound Bus every day from the Best Western hotel that takes you to Salida in about 1.5 hours for $12.99 — and bikes ride free!  Suck that, airlines!

So, that is the current P.O.R. (plan of record). I’m planning to start doing these rides at the end of June. That means I’ve got about a month to get ready.  Yikes!