Entries for month: January 2012

My First Bike Overnight

Connecting with and reading bikeovernights.org has been the catalysis for me to hit the road to a nearby private campsite for my first overnighter. I was making due by using my old, 1995 Performance M505 MTB with 26x1.5 road tires because I knew my Trek 1000, with its 700x25 tires wasn’t suitable for carrying the extra weight. I was surprised how well my Topeak rear rack and MTX TrunkBag DX worked for this first go around. Totally unsuitable in wet weather, the TrunkBag, with its dropdown side panniers, was plenty large enough for an overnighter.

Photo of the Week 01.27.12

From Bike Camping at Washoe Lake State Park, Nevada, by Jeff Moser.

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Over the Cascades!

On a Sunday my wife announced that she would like to get one more tour in before cold set in. By Tuesday I realized that she (and the time) was right and that the weather would be great. Thursday we decided to take the Iron Horse Trail over the Cascades to Cle Elem, Washington. Friday, we decided also to bring our 10-year-old along.

Photo of the Week 01.20.12

From Testing Out the Bikepacking Setup by Peter Rhodes.

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Gear Review: The BOB IBEX Trailer

As I wrote about in my Biking Without Borders column at the Adventure Cycling blog on July 18, I spent a little over two weeks this past summer bicycling a hybrid route made up of parts of the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail and the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. It was the first time I’ve taken a longish ride hauling a trailer, as opposed to carrying panniers on racks. The trailer I pulled was a single-wheeled BOB IBEX, the shocked version -- featuring three inches of adjustable suspension travel -- of the standard BOB YAK trailer.

My impressions? Great on the flats and downhills, whether paved or dirt (it was easy to forget I was even pulling the trailer a lot of the time); okay on the uphills, though I felt more sluggish than when carrying a similar amount of weight in panniers; and not so good in heavy crosswinds. In fact, I found downright terrifying a stretch of U.S. 20 I was forced to pedal from the Idaho-Montana border at Targhee Pass, about 8 miles into the town of West Yellowstone. Strong crosswinds were compounded by 1)heavy tourist and truck traffic and 2)brutal rumble strips that I had to skirt either to the right (think steep drop-off over nasty, angular boulders) or to the left (think previously mentioned truck and tourist traffic). I was getting blown around so much that I actually dismounted and walked a couple of miles through the worst of it.

To be fair, I’m not sure how much better -- if at all -- a set of front and rear panniers would have performed in similar conditions.

Other impressions:

*The trailer, which ships in pieces, was quite easy to assemble.

*Parking the long and wide bike-trailer rig, which you do by angling both the trailer and handlebars 90 degrees to the bike frame, was no problem after some practice. Because I was in remote areas for the most part, parking space was not a concern; it would be if you were in a town with crowded sidewalks, because this baby takes up a lot of room. 

*Packing the dry sak suits someone like me, who tends to throw things in rather than being neat and organized. For the rider who likes everything in a certain place, that’s much easier to accomplish with a set of rack packs than it is with the single-compartment dry sak.

*The trailer is quite easy to attach and detach from the bike, once you get the hang of it. This is a real advantage over panniers. For this reason, I would also say that a trailer like this is good for a quick bike overnight: just throw in the tent and everything else, hook the trailer up to your bike, and hit the road or trail.

*The locking/cotter pin is vital to keeping the bike and trailer safely attached to one another. Their elastic attachment, I found, is easy to break. Once that breaks, it’s easy to lose the pin, so I was glad I had spares along.

Because I was riding a 29er Salsa Fargo lent to me by the company (a bike that I’ll plan to review here at a later date), I had to opt for purchasing the IBEX 28, specially designed for 29er mountain bikes and road bikes with full-wrap fenders. I’ll probably find out next summer if there’s any problem fitting this longer-reach trailer to the standard 26-inch wheels of my Jamis mountain bike.

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McCall to Burgdorf Hot Springs, Idaho

I can’t shake the impression that these mountains know what’s coming and that they are preparing for it. The water in the Payette River between upper and lower Payette Lake is far below the high water marks, and the surface is smooth and unhurried. Waiting. The leaves on the trees and the “needles” on the tamaracks are turning, preparing to drop. It rains off and on throughout the day, heavier towards evening, soaking the ground so that when the temperature drops, the first snows will stick. These are the thoughts that go through my mind as we work our way from McCall, up to Burgdorf, Idaho, 30 miles away.

Photo of the Week 01.13.12



From Green Mountain State Forest, Washington, by Andre Ball

See more photos, and post some of your own faves, at the Bike Overnights Flickr Group.

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