Thursday, October 27, 2011

My first ever S24O!

Let me just start by saying that I broke a spoke only 3 miles in to this ~80 mile weekend. I was so ready for this that I didn't let that stop me.

My first ever S24O. It stands for sub 24 hour overnighter. It is an awesome way to pack a bunch of fun and adventure into a small amount of time. I planned a bikepacking trip with Mike for a little taste of Tour Divide life. At first there was the possibility of four of us going but as time played out it came down to just the two of us. We decided on as much dirt as possible and to end our ride through Cotton Brook into the backside of Little River State Park.

primitive bikepacking setup 

The above picture shows my initial setup. I don't have a pad that packs down very small so I wanted to bring my backpacking one to insulate me from the ground. The temps were to dip into the mid 30s overnight and I needed to be sure that I could stay warm. A small pedal around the parking lot before I left proved that the pad couldn't ride on the top tube. It was too wide rolled up and I would have been riding like a bow legged cowboy.

I decided to strap it to the saddle bag and it turned out like this:

Mike and I met at the round about in Winooski at the end of a couple of rain showers and headed out past the airport and down Mountain View Drive. We rolled past Catamount on some nice dirt and connected to Route 2 and on to Johnny Brook Rd. On out through Richmond we went down Cochran to Duxbury Rd. following the river all the way to Waterbury. Night fall was eminent and we stopped at a gas station for refuel and some food before we headed up Route 100 to Moscow.

I'm working on getting my new bags to streamline my kit

Mike is his typical scenario with his kit
 Cotton Brook was fun. Lots of climbing and darkness. One of the things that I had to be careful of is how much of my light power I use. My light is USB chargeable and on high only has a burn time of about 1.5 hours. Unless I was going downhill or in a section that took paying attention to, I ran the light on low. When we were hike a biking, we actually turned our lights off and used the light from Mike's helmet light to conserve.

After we did the double track main loop, it ended on some single track that becomes Hedgehog Hill trail. Sure enough I came upon a porcupine waddling along in the direction that we were traveling. It eventually turned off trail and climbed its way up a tree. We stopped to watch that which I found quite interesting. I hope that it didn't feel threatened by us.

heading up 100 in the dark. that's Mike's light in the night.

 It was late when we got to camp. I was having way to much fun with the whole experience to let that bother me. When we first picked our leanto, I quickly pulled my sleeping bag, bivy, and pad out and got it set up. I didn't speak much about it earlier but I had made a bivy out of Tyvek house wrap to be used just for this trip. I had every intention of ditching it the morning after, which I did. I am happy to report that it worked well. In the morning when I pulled my bag out of it I noticed some condensation on the outside of my sleeping bag. Later is struck me as odd that it was only at the foot of the bag. My core would give off the most heat yet there was nothing anywhere else on the bag. The next day I realized what had caused it. Mike had hinted to me that placing my shorts and jersey in my bag would warm and maybe dry them for the next day. I put them in the bottom of my bag overnight. The condensation was being drawn off of my clothes and then pulled through the bag. Mystery solved.

our nest, Mike getting up. My homemade bivy on the left
After about 6 hours of sleep I woke up to a very chilled and brisk morning. I got up to shoot some pictures of camp in the new light. I was having a great time. We got some oatmeal and coffee ready and ate while we sorted things out and started to pack up. The night before was a blast, I slept well, and now I was ready for the trek back to town. We decided to leave out of the park on the front side which takes us down to the main rode which we took into Waterbury.

the view from my bed

home away from home

the dam at the bottom of the resevoir

this picture makes me dream of spokeless wheels

We took Winooski St. in Waterbury and would cross over the river and roll through Duxbury back towards Richmond. When we got to the bridge, the street was closed for firefighter training. There is a house that sits right next to the bridge and got severely damaged in the flooding that we had recently. It was to be torn down but not before the town got to practice putting fires out with it. When we rolled past, there were folding chairs setup in a field nearby. I suppose that it was to be a spectacle. A lady across the street let us cut through her yard to pass and be on our way. Later I found out that this is what we missed.

There's no putting that fire out.
Duxbury road is pretty nice. Mostly dirt, fairly flat, and pretty this time of year with views across the valley at the mountains with the river right next to you. I traveled this section mostly alone. Mike was having issues with getting power to the legs. I think that he had some illness coming. I let him roll his pace and we regrouped for a small amount of time on Cochran heading back into Richmond. I stopped at the common area and waited til he got there. He needed to recharge and I wanted to get home and spend some time with my family. I decided to truck on as he peeled off at a cafe for some nourishment.

oh, the irony

no tourists? Blah

I could ride roads like these forever

What a wonderful time to be out enjoying the scenery

chuga chuga
All in all it was incredible. Not even the rain at the start and the sprinkling riding into the night got my spirits down. When Mike and I came out of the gas station ready to roll on, I had a clear image of what I could imagine the Tour Divide being like. It was that feeling that you get inside not one that you manufacture through thought. I look forward to TD '13 and all of the training and adventures that lead up to it. I already have plans to do a three day, two night bikepacking trip next year with at least a century on each day. That will be one for the memory book.

Almost 7000' of climbing. I'll take that. Click on Mike's name at the beginning of this post and read his account of the ride. He writes well and he hit on some things that I didn't cover. I especially liked his description of my bivy sack.

Next up, some thoughts on bikepacking setup and pros and cons of my bike choices (i.e. gearing, bars, etc.). Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

life after the Vermont 50

The above picture is my visual reward for getting out early for a ride before starting my day. This is Lake Champlain looking west towards New York. The sail boats are still out and will soon be replace with ice and snow.

Friday morning I headed out and met Mike at the Intervale. He showed me some trails that I didn't know about. The awesome thing it that it was 5:30 in the morning and the only thing we had to navigate with was the light we produced. It was the first time that I have spent in the woods with a light. The trails were quite damaged my the flooding we had from Hurricane Irene. There were many sections that we had to dismount to get over downed trees but it didn't lessen the experience. We connected to the trails at Ethan Allen Homestead and then moved onto the High School trails that I felt were very fun. We popped out on the bike path and I headed on to work.

It was an excellent alternative to just riding to the shop. I will try to do it a few more time before snow flies. At which point I will be rethinking my bike needs and probably getting back on the Bianchi for the winter. I think that I will keep the mtb rolling by switching to 1x9 drivetrain and using it with the Nevegals to play in the snow. More on that later.