Thursday, February 3, 2011

Marshall Mesa from Longmont

Got a good ride in this weekend. My goal was to get some decent mileage in and get a solid test in of my new rack (see previous blog entry). I decided to ride from the house to south Boulder, get a decent loop in at the Marshall Mesa area, and return back the same way. Also I figured I'd get a patrol in too while I was there, first of the new year.

I've ridden this same route a few times before, it's good winter ride. The ride to Marshall Mesa from east Longmont one way is a little over 30 miles. Depending on the route chosen at Marshall Mesa, total mileage ends up around 75 - 85 miles, ride time around 7 hours. And what an incredible area we live in, at least half of the route to the trail head is on bike paths. The only stretches of road are 95th between Longmont and Niwot, 61st between Gunbarrel and Boulder, and a little bit on Marshall road to the trails.

Leaving my neighborhood:

En route through Longmont on the Left Hand greenway:

Oh no, it's Them! (

A short climb up through Niwot:

Every ride requires a gratuitous bike shot with a good background. So far my new method of carrying a dry bag on the back of the Fargo is working very well:

I'm thirsty but my water is frozen:

Fast forward past the boring stuff through Gunbarrel and north Boulder, here's the South Boulder Creek trail:

Marshall Road, close to some single track!

Finally, the good stuff!

Have I suddenly been teleported to Wyoming? This stretch of "triple track" looks just like the terrain covered by the Laramie Enduro:

Start of the High Plains trail, a nice swoopy, rocky stretch of trail:

Prairie Vista trail - this shot could have been taken anywhere in the Midwest:

And then back home again, by the same route. I ran out of food going back through Boulder, when I got home I immediately ate 3 bowls of Cheerios (it was the first thing I could find).

Here' the route:

About 80 miles or so, not much climbing. Lots of fun had, no gas burned. My rack and dry bag tested out fine, the bag never budged. I think this approach will work very well going forward. Next step is to work on a method for carrying another bag off the handlebars.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Salsa minimalist rack

This weekend I got another piece of the puzzle in place for my bikepacking plans this year. I've been going back on forth on how to best carry gear on the back of the bike. Basically I was deliberating between the following two standard approaches:

  1. A bikepacking-style seat bag, e.g. what Revelate Designs offers (
  2. The more touring-oriented approach of a rear rack, with panniers and/or strapping a bag on top of the rack.
I was definitely leaning towards option #1, it's light and it doesn't make the bike wide and less nimble like panniers would. Quieter too (panniers would likely rattle a lot on rougher terrain). Then I saw a new offering from Salsa, their so-called minimalist rack. As the name implies, it's a simple rack that doesn't support panniers but only allows a bag to be strapped on the top. It has strap loops to keep the load in place and attaches simply and reliably to the rear of a bike using a Salsa specific seat collar.

This idea looked worth trying so I pulled the trigger a while back, got it installed this weekend and got some good mileage on it to try it out. Compared to a seat bag, it is about as light, doesn't add width, but with a good dry bag it is completely waterproof and you have the potential for more capacity (I'm using a 15 L bag, whereas the large Revelate Designs seat bag is about 12 L). Need less capacity? Just use a smaller dry bag. Also I've been toying with the idea of trying a ThudBuster seat post, with this approach I don't have to worry about a seat bag being compatible with various posts.

Here's my Fargo with the rack installed:

And with a 15 L dry bag stuffed with random crap:

Pretty cool! I put the loop of the bag closure around the rack so in case it jostles off I won't run the chance of not hearing it and leaving it miles behind. Only problem is I have to figure out another place to attach a tail light. Maybe to a seat stay?