Bike Packing!

Not too long ago I decided I wanted to get (back) into touring on my bike.  I was never really THAT into it previously but I had a bike that was outfitted for it and I did do one really big touring ride (130mi) up to Androfest many moons ago but that was it really. I never really prioritized it and those big trips take up a lot of time and energy.

Bike packing gear has come a long way since then and there are cool new packs and really well thought out ideas that make things a lot easier to do on just about any bike.  My RLT Steel was actually truly designed with that in mind so I decided I wanted to get some new gear and start adventuring. I needed some sort of ‘non-full monty’ type objective, something medium sized and repeatable semi-often that wouldn’t break the time and energy bank as it were.  I landed on swimming holes.

NH has lots of them so there are plenty of targets to aim for at varying distances and they don’t really require a ton of gear or planning.  Just a fun simple adventure to go for a swim and have a beer then ride home.

I made 3 main gear purchases to get me going.  I replaced my 10+ year old Chrome messenger bag with a new more standard roll-top backpack design to distribute the weight evenly to both shoulders on longer rides.  That messenger bag is still good to go even after all these years and miles and pretty constant abuse (It is going to be my new beach bag) so I obviously replaced it with another Chrome bag.

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I went with the Orlov (how could I not?).  Simple design, size I wanted…and after my first mission I couldn’t be happier with it.  Fits my torso perfectly, rides really well and the various compartments make sense for what I’m doing.  Looking forward to another 10+ yrs with this pack as well.

For the bike I went with packs from Revelate Designs.  I spent maybe a week or two bouncing around the web doing research and trying to figure out a pack solution to what I was trying to do now and what I might end up trying in the future.  Revelate has a solid rep and I liked all the different modular options they’ve designed.  Seems like they really have this whole game pretty well figured out.

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I decided a frame bag and a rocket bag (AKA saddle bag on steroids) would cover me for the medium type stuff I was planning.  I went with the Tangle and the Pika which are the ‘smaller’ packs in their lineup but still pretty decent in what they can haul.  I can’t speak to their durability personally yet but just looking at construction these things are BURLY.  They really have seemingly crossed every T and dotted every I with their packs.  So well thought out and easy to mount…I definitely feel like I’m benefiting from years of product testing and development with these packs.

So I mentioned my first mission earlier and I did indeed waste no time fully implementing this plan.  This past weekend I picked a location I knew fairly well from years past that wasn’t too far away.  Small little cove on the edge of some public land on Big Squam.  Towel, bathing suit, beer (w/coozie), ride essentials.  Easy-peasy, and that left room for a small provisions stop at the Wine’ing Butcher on the way home.

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Everything about the ride was perfect. No timeline, no set route, just a destination.  Weather cooperated, even the water was warm! I was expecting a quick icy dip but I was able to hang out and really enjoy a quality soak. #qualitysoak

I haven’t picked my next target yet but the possibilities are endless.  I live in the Lakes Region and there are rivers all over the place as well.  Even the ocean is in striking distance…C’MON

New Bike Day!

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The very best kind of day. New bike day. I loved the Spot but no matter how much you love a particular bike there always comes a time where its just time to move on to the next thing.  So why the Niner ROS 9 Plus you ask? Isn’t 29+ just another weird format fad? Maybe. Time will tell but my path to this bike actually probably started a few years ago.

After Mark Tucker took a step back from racing he got himself a Carver Gnarvester 29+ rig and I was immediately pretty jealous.  The thing just looked FUN and the way he would describe how it rode just sounded exactly like how I want to ride all the time.  At the time there weren’t many 29+ offerings and it was just weird enough that I never really thought it would be a possibility for me.  Then in the following years the format caught on a tad.  Trek came out with the ‘Stache and Niner launched a 29+ version of their ROS among others.

I really liked the look of the Niner.  I’ve always been a fan of that classic steel look with the tapered steel fork.  It seemed like a sweet bike but I still never quite thought of is as an option for me being a ‘racer’ and all.  Just this past Thanxmas I was talking with Pog about him thinking about getting back into mountain biking a bit and I was telling him if he wanted to try and get a bike that he could theoretically ride all year and just be super fun it would be a 29+ rig.  He’s on the coast so he’d have enough float to ride sand as long as it wasn’t too deep, same for snow in the winter.  Low maintenance just get on and go type ride.  I even said, “If I wasn’t racing, I would be on a ROS 9+”

I had already been thinking about what my replacement bike would be and in the weeks after Thanxmas it started occurring to me that saying something like “If I wasn’t racing I would have this bike” was kind of stupid.  This is the most fun bike I can think of but I’m not going to buy it because of this other thing I do mostly for fun.  The days of me being concerned about the gear I have really impacting my ability to be competitive are over but apparently I hadn’t quite fully accepted that.  Luckily I came to my senses and now I’ll be racing on a super fun bike.

Of course I had to buy it the time of year that I can’t really ride it so now I get to torture myself just looking at if for awhile. Maybe I’ll post a ride review once I get some time on it.