Kokopelli’s Trail: Fruita, CO to Moab, UT

NicholasCarman0001 805

When routeplanning from afar– via internet and memory from Ukraine– riding Kokopelli’s Trail across the state line from Colorado to Utah stood out as a good starting point.  In such wide open country with so many roads, routes and trails, a signed and mapped route such as this is a blessing.  It builds confidence in the kind of riding found in the area to be able to follow a popular route for a bit.  It reminds us how to carry four days of food and as much as 8 liters of water apiece.  We’re a long way from Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Czech, Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands– it has been a good summer.  For me, autumn in the cool dry air of the mountainous west is the capstone to a third consecutive summer.  Sleeping under starry skies under a frosty tent amongst juniper and sage and aspen is starting to feel like home.    

Kokopelli’s Trail, officially arranged by the BLM as a bicycling route from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT measures about 142mi in length.  Several distinct sections exist: a dozen miles of singletrack trails leave Fruita, miles of high desert dirt roads with brief interruption of rougher jeep tracks fit in the middle, and a push up and over the LaSal mountains to Moab finishes the route in the E-W direction.  The final section contains most of the climbing of the entire route, with several-thousand foot ascents and descents, along the canyons and ridges of the LaSal range.  The middle portion, on the high desert plains, is subject to becoming quite sticky following precipitation, due to a high content of clay in the soil.  Otherwise, it is fast and fun Divide-style riding  The first miles out of Fruita are sublime, especially when consider as part of a longer-distance touring route.  

For experienced mountain bikers, the concept of carrying supplies over several days may be a challenge, with great reward.  For the experienced cycletourist accustomed to ‘roads’, the riding will likely be the challenge, a step up from the open roads of the Divide, for example.  The scenery, for all, is unbeatable.  For us, it is a happy welcome back to the country.

Our ride begins at nightfall.  Within several miles, rain showers and precipitous cliffs send us dashing into our tent, illegally camping along the local singletrack circuit.  At dawn, we quickly pack up to begin riding some of the most beautiful singletrack we’ve encountered.  These trails are, let us not forget, central to the sport of mountain biking in the US.  Nearby is Horsethief Bench, for instance.     

NicholasCarman0001 739

Above the Colorado River.

NicholasCarman0001 740

Lael makes use of the backpack purchased in Ukraine.  It has never been our intention to ride with a pack, but our hurried start left us with three full-sized bike magazines, part of a 12 oz. bottle of Stan’s sealant, about 16L of water, and four days of food.  At the time, it was easier to load the pack with lightweight flotsam than to bother with framebag or saddlebag wizardry.  We hate to admit, but a proper backpack could be a viable solution for someone looking to expand their capacity.  It is much easier to accept a monkey on the back on a cold rainy day, than on a sweaty afternoon.  There is something comforting about the extra layer on a cold morning.  I still don’t think I could do it mid-summer.

NicholasCarman0001 741

With rain threatening, we keep an eye on our escape routes.  We are aware of the tacky potential of western roads and trails.

NicholasCarman0001 742

However, the Fruita trail system is well designed and drained, mostly composed of rock and sand.

NicholasCarman0001 743

Except when we stray off route onto a jeep track, and push through clay until our bikes no longer roll.  After a few minutes, we cover enough distance to make it apparent on my GPS that we have lost the route.  I know exactly where we strayed.  

NicholasCarman0001 745

A thick layer of mud coats our shoes.

NicholasCarman0001 744

NicholasCarman0001 746

Back on track, we enjoy a singletrack descent to clear our tires of clay.  

NicholasCarman0001 747

NicholasCarman0001 749

Eventually, reaching a tributary of the Colorado River, we descend and cross a set of train tracks.  With an eye on nearby 1-70, we consider the option of routing around potentially tacky roads ahead.  

NicholasCarman0001 751

We break for lunch to reassess.  Not much changes in this time– rain to the north, less menacing white clouds to the south.  We continue.

NicholasCarman0001 755

Climbing away from the river, pushing as much as riding on some rocky trails, we reach open desert plains adjacent to I-70.

NicholasCarman0001 756

The roads we encounter are composed of sand and gravel, mostly, and make for fast riding.  A tailwind reminds me that I also enjoy long days on open dirt roads– such as on the Divide.  Chunky sections of trail have me dreaming of a Surly Krampus, but these roads lead my thoughts to a drop-bar Velo Orange Camargue

NicholasCarman0001 758

I’ve been looking for a good piece of steel wire to repair my pot stand for my stove.  Not much barbed wire in Ukraine, but plenty of extra in the US.  This scrap will do nicely to repair my cook system.

NicholasCarman0001 762

NicholasCarman0001 761

All is well, until a change in elevation, through changing geology.

NicholasCarman0001 763

Dead in our tracks, no sooner than ten feet into this stuff!  Unfortunately, once the bike doesn’t roll, it has become no easier to carry thanks to pounds and pounds of mud.

NicholasCarman0001 764

Looking forward to a 300ft ascent on sticky slippery clay, we heft our bikes into a nearby meadow for the night.

NicholasCarman0001 765

NicholasCarman0001 766

NicholasCarman0001 767

By morning, no rain has fallen.  Clearer skies and some sun allow us to roll our bikes up the grade.  At the top, we ride our bikes back and forth on dry, sandy dirt roads to release as much clay as possible.  We clean and lube everything as best as possible, and ride on.

NicholasCarman0001 768

Lael has a new pair of tires.  The rear, a 2.25″ On-One Smorgasbord looks like a cross between my Schwalbe Hans Dampf and the Nobby Nic she used this summer.  The front, a 2.4″ Chunky Monkey is exactly as it sounds– chunky.  Only sixty dollars for the pair–less than the price of one EXO Maxxis Ardent tire or a tubeless ready Schwalbe– this is an unbeatable price in a tire this size. The tires are constructed of thick rubber, making them suitable for use in rough country without fear of flimsy sidewalls.  They set up tubeless without any troubles.  I hope and expect that at $30 apiece, they are composed of an inexpensive, durable rubber.  Funny how this works, but cheaper mountain bike tires often use longer-wearing rubber.

NicholasCarman0001 769

While Kokopelli is well signed, rock-cairns are user-maintained to help along the way.  If nothing else, they add an element of discovery to the process.

NicholasCarman0001 770

A brief portion of pavement leads back down to the Colorado River.  

NicholasCarman0001 771

We detour towards the Westwater Ranger Station in hope of finding fresh water.  The river could be a water source, although it is a bit silty.  However, the ranger station serves filtered water through an outdoor spigot.  It is operational mid-October, even despite the government shutdown.  

NicholasCarman0001 772

NicholasCarman0001 774

These facilities are mostly aimed at floaters and paddlers on the river.  Campsites, pit toilets and fresh water are available.

NicholasCarman0001 773

NicholasCarman0001 775

Riding away across more open plains is a joy, even packed with as much water as we can carry.  Almost all official resources state that there is “no water along the route”.  This proved to be untrue more than a half-dozen times, although Westwater provided the only source that did not require treatment.  A short 1.5 mi detour is nearly on the route, I say.

NicholasCarman0001 777

Loping near, but not next to the Colorado River, we encounter changing scenery and conditions.

NicholasCarman0001 778

NicholasCarman0001 779

Until at last, we are next to the river itself.  One perfect campsite beckons, about it is an hour earlier than we have planned to camp.  

NicholasCarman0001 782

A quick swim will suffice.

NicholasCarman0001 780

NicholasCarman0001 783

We encounter several curious fatbike tracks.  Incidentally, some internet stalking had lead to these details an hour before starting our trip in Fruita.  From Twitter:

Back from WA and running shuttle for the Kokopelli Trail with Dave and Jonny!

 

I met Zachary by chance in Kremmling, CO last summer while riding the Divide Route, soon after he had bought his white Pugsley. I lent some Divide maps to him, and borrowed some local maps from him. Now I was following his tracks, as well as the tracks of two other fatbikers.

NicholasCarman0001 784

Crossing the pavement.  I guarantee that our byway is more scenic than this paved byway.

NicholasCarman0001 785

Just before camping for the night, we slither along slickrock until the trail become difficult to follow by natural light.

NicholasCarman0001 786

This is my favorite place to be this time of year.

NicholasCarman0001 787

Rounding the first corner in the morning puts our sights on a new goal– the LaSal Mountains.  Moab is over and around those snowy peaks.

NicholasCarman0001 789

Sandy slickrock trails are made possible by Jeeps and other motorized users.  

NicholasCarman0001 790

Here signage for bicycles and motorized vehicles coexist, not that you couldn’t piece together routes from all of these resources.  

NicholasCarman0001 791

Back down to the Colorado, across highway 128 again.  We could be in Moab this afternoon on the pavement, but that wouldn’t be as much fun. 

NicholasCarman0001 794

NicholasCarman0001 792

Another swim, and another clean and lube at lunch before heading into the mountains.  It is warm in the sun, and cool in the shade– just how I like it.  Lael still talks about going to Mexico daily.

NicholasCarman0001 796

NicholasCarman0001 797

NicholasCarman0001 798

We expect a big climb to the top, and then a big descent into Moab.  As we are mostly following trail signage and a GPS track on my tiny eTrex, we lose some of the perspective gained by a large-scale paper map.  I overlook several thousand-foot descents and ascents while relaying upcoming trail info to Lael.  Anymore, she doesn’t believe anything I say.

NicholasCarman0001 799

Another water source.  Clear, with only a bit of grit and grime.

NicholasCarman0001 800

Up…

NicholasCarman0001 801

…and back down.

NicholasCarman0001 802

The erosional patterns in such a climate, though sedimentary rock, form deep canyons and ridges.  Thus, the route climbs up and down several times before ascending over the mountains to Moab.

NicholasCarman0001 803

Recent rains leave more than just water in the streams.

NicholasCarman0001 809

From pavement, to roads that aren’t roads, Kokopelli is diverse.  This looks more like a rockfall, included as part of the route, although Jeep tracks were founds all down the length.  Needless to say, we carried our bikes.  A proper mountain bike is a good choice.

NicholasCarman0001 811

Another night in the tent, which we are mostly using to stay warm.  We love sleeping out under the stars in dry climates, although the tent retains 10-15 extra degrees.  Our bags also stay dry and lofted throughout the night inside the tent.

NicholasCarman0001 815

Quickly, sun fades the memory of a cold night.  This time of year, we are prepared with fleece gloves, long wool socks, and sleeping bag liners

NicholasCarman0001 816

NicholasCarman0001 817

Frozen fields at five or six thousand feet.

NicholasCarman0001 819

We encounter yet another water source listed on our GPS track near a remote campground.  The water smells of sulfur, but looks clear.  We picked up a USB-rechargeable Steripen Freedom in Denver.  For now, we are putting faith into this little blue light.  For reliable water treatment in the desert, I might still consider a physical filter, especially with an effective pre-filter for sediment.

NicholasCarman0001 821

Up toward the peaks, past six, seven, and eight thousand feet.

NicholasCarman0001 822

From here, we look back on the first few miles of riding this morning.  A long circuitous route is often necessary in canyon country.

NicholasCarman0001 823

Nearing the top of the route, we enter aspen ablaze for the season, and some remnant snow from an early-season storm.

NicholasCarman0001 826

NicholasCarman0001 827‘T

From the top of the route, we look forward to a big descent into Moab.

NicholasCarman0001 828

NicholasCarman0001 829

Around the corner, dirt turns to pavement.  Surely, we didn’t climb all this way to descent into town on pavement?

NicholasCarman0001 831

Two thousand feet below, the routes turns up again, still on pavement.  It climbs back to 8500ft, before turning onto dirt for the last time.  Never underestimate the features in canyon country.

NicholasCarman0001 833

Turning onto a popular trail system outside of Moab is a treat.  Now, we ascend to town, where pizza and beer, or some such delicacy, saves us from dining on the last of our peanut butter and pepper jack cheese for the night.

NicholasCarman0001 834

Moab is densely used by many.  “Share the trail” is nearly as strongly encouraged as “Stay on the trail”.  The desert is a fragile place.

NicholasCarman0001 836

Down into town by sunset.

NicholasCarman0001 837

NicholasCarman0001 840

NicholasCarman0001 841

Nearly, by sunset.  Descending past BLM campgrounds into town, we ask about the possibility of finding a place to camp for the night.  Wild camping is a challenge this close to town, and all the campsites are full due to the government shutdown and a popular Jeep Jamboree.  A friendly government employee from Montana offers a place for the night in his campsite.  It seems being let off from work for a few weeks has some perks.

NicholasCarman0001 843

For further information about the Kokopelli Trail, including a GPS file of the route, the Bikepacking.net website is an invaluable resource for numerous bikepacking routes.  Thanks to Scott Morris, curator of the fine Bikepacking.net and Trackleaders.com websites as well as Topofusion mapping software, for helping with some last minute learning curves associated with Garmin software and my new eTrex 20 device.  The GPS has become an essential tool for me, despite some initial frustrations.  Check out Scott’s personal ride diary for a healthy dose of backcountry riding.  His ride reports date back to 2003!     

NicholasCarman0001 844

Headed south, looking forward to places like Lockhart Basin, Bridger Jack, Cottonwood Canyon, Needles, Beef Basin, Elephant Hill, and Arizona!

Threadbare and a shoestring budget

WPBlog001 2104

For me, things wear out more than they break.  Below, a record of things that have broken, worn out, or required attention in the last few months.  Above, the last laundromat we found was in Selestat, France, over a month ago.  Even in France, public laundries are uncommon.  East of Germany, they are nonexistent.  After discovering that we would not find a laundromat for the rest of the summer– except possibly at a hotel or hostel, or in a major city– we selected the old fashioned method of washing clothes by hand.  A one dollar bar of laundry soap, a 64 oz. Kleen Kanteen for ‘agitate’ cycles, and a cold stream get the job done.  Concerned for the health of the stream, we dispose of soapy water in the bushes, although the final rinse happens in the stream.  Surface water quality is Fair in Czech, Slovakia, and Poland, except in the mountains where water is still cold and clear.  The result of our hand washing?– clothes that smell like soap, look a lot less dirty, and feel crisp after drying in the sun.  Every time we go to a grocery store, Lael still wonders if she is the one that smells like ripe meat.  Usually, it is the old man next to us.  Welcome to eastern Europe.   

Laundry

WPBlog001 2135

We used sil-nylon dry bags to soak the clothes, a 64 oz. Kleen Kanteen to agitate heavily soiled items, and time.  Total procedure from dirty to dry: about 2 1/2 hours. 

WPBlog001 2136

WPBlog001 2137

Alcohol stove

Since 2009, I have used a homemade alcohol stove, based upon a design called the Penny Stove.  I have a few qualms about the design– notably, the exposed lip of aluminum is susceptible to damage– although the stove performs well, and it is easy to make along the trail with a pocket knife.  The first stove was made in Tacoma, WA in 2009 with Heineken keg-shaped cans (now discontinued) and specialized tools, including a fresh razor blade and a drill.  The second stove was made exclusively with my Swiss Army knife in Steamboat Springs, CO, out of Ska Brewing Co. cans.  I made this stove last week in Korbielow, Poland from Harnas beer cans.  This time, I used Lael’s new Opinel knife, which is still as sharp as the day we bought it.  With some experience, I can make a functioning stove on the first try.  Total build time: about 15 minutes.

The old stove, shown below, which recently endured the weight of a human exiting the tent to go pee at night.  Names will not be named.

WPBlog001 2092

The carnage of stove-making includes three beer cans.  In Poland, denatured alcohol (90%+ ethanol) is colored blue or purple and is called denaturat.  The purple, or aubergine, Opinel knife is extremely sharp.

WPBlog001 2088

New stove, old penny.  Works great.  Negligible weight.

WPBlog001 2089

Homemade pot stand for our alcohol stove needed some repair.  Baling wire, purchased in an exact length (1/3 meter, for free), holds the supports together, which are made of stainless steel bicycle spokes.

WPBlog001 2114

WPBlog001 2115

Tires

A pair of wire-bead WTB Exiwolf tires came on my used Raleigh XXIX+G.  I put one on my rear wheel, and the other on Lael’s.  We replaced hers with a Schwalbe Nobby Nic tire in France.  I made it to Ostrave, CZ before replacing it with a 29×2.35″ Schwalbe Hans Dampf that I bought in Germany.  The Hans Dampf only comes in a 2.35″ width for 26″, 650b, and 29″ wheels; it only comes with tubeless ready technology including durable Snakeskin sidewalls (a heavier Super Gravity version is also available).  Mounted in the rear, at appropriate trail pressures, the Hans Dampf sticks like a gecko– it is amazing.  This is one of the biggest tires available without applying for a fatbike permit (have you seen the new Surly ECR!).  

No flats for either of us all summer.  No problems of any kind.  Tubeless touring is the way to go.  Even if I am carrying spare tubes, I’d rather pack them away than tote the weight in the wheels.  I’d also rather not patch tubes.

WPBlog001 2133

Hans Dampf is big, and bites in any direction– uphill, downhill, and sidehill.  I would like to see more tires like this in 29×3.0″.  A 2.35″ Schwalbe Hans Dampf or a 2.4″ Maxxis Ardent on a Velocity Blunt 35 or a Sun MTX33 makes for a voluminous combination, yet will fit in many traditional frames for 29″ wheels.   

WPBlog001 2090

WPBlog001 2091

Luggage

Revelate Gas Tank top tube bag, with damaged zipper.  I frequently stuff, and overstuff, my bags.  This is what happens.  Sent home from France for future repair.  We both have more luggage capacity than we need on our bikes so this is no problem.

WPBlog001 2094

Lael uses a Revelate Viscacha seatpack, and attaches her sleeping pad to the four loops on top of the bag.  Abrasion has worn through one of the loops, while the others show signs of wear.  Some repurposed shoelace makes a solid repair.  Handy to have needle and thread for such projects.  Below, worn loops in front, broken loop in back.  Newer Revelate bags uses a different attachment with more durable plastic hardware and nylon webbing.  Also, Eric has a cool new waterproof seatbag in the works, called the Terrapin, which appears to be modular.

WPBlog001 2126

WPBlog001 2127

I sleeved the nylon shoelace over the existing material, and sewed it into place,

WPBlog001 2128

WPBlog001 2129

Carradice bags are well made, although I have repaired the stitching on many of the leather straps over time.  Needle and thread save the day again.  A simple fix, although a bit tedious to mend leather and canvas with a standard gauge needle.  

WPBlog001 2132

The same shoestring used to repair the Revelate seatbag also serves to replace the broken retention cord on the skirt of the Carradice Camper.

WPBlog001 2131

Early in the summer, I was dissatisfied with the way my front load obscured my headlight.  A spare tube strapped under the stem shims the front load out of the way– an easy fix, and another good use for nylon gear straps.

WPBlog001 1116

Brake pads

Brake pads wear out.  We replaced Lael’s rear pads and my front pads recently.  A wet, muddy day on the trail can lead to rapid pad wear.  I always carry spare pads on a longer tour– they are tiny, and light.

WPBlog001 2095

Bottom bracket

This one is unusual.  When I purchased the bike secondhand from Tim in Santa Fe, he mentioned something like, “the bottom bracket cups are a little damaged, but they tighten into the frame just fine”.  I took his word and rode away.  Several months later, after hearing the occasional creak from the bike’s nether regions, the drive-side cup was loose, stripped entirely of threads.  I diagnosed the problem, removed the crank, wrapped the damaged threads in duct tape to reduce damage to the BB shell, and reinstalled the crank.  I rode it for another day or two,  When I found the opportunity to replace it, I discovered that the steel BB threads were undamaged, although the BB cups were stripped entirely, made of aluminum.  This is another (unexpected) reason to ride steel bikes.  

Hard to see, but the BB shows a gap between the cup and the shell.

WPBlog001 2096

Aluminum threads on the BB cup are toast.

WPBlog001 2103

Steel BB threads look fine, despite grinding for several days in the mountains.  Steel is harder than aluminum.

WPBlog001 2097

As both cups were loose, I removed them by hand and installed the new SRAM GXP cups by hand.  I rolled the bike into the shop to borrow the driver to tighten them.  The crank is easily reinstalled with my multitool.  I imprint the shape of the tool into my hand trying to tighten it appropriately.  Loose crank bolts can be fatal to a crank.

WPBlog001 2098

All better.

WPBlog001 2099

All work done outside a sporting goods store with a well-stocked bike department.  Total cost, 31€.

WPBlog001 2100

WPBlog001 2101

Lael also rides a lot.  Her bottom bracket had developed significant ‘play’, as the bearings have worn over the past year.  We replaced it in Germany for an inexpensive Shimano model.  RaceFace cranks use the Shimano BB standard.  Also riding a Raleigh XXIX, her frame is mostly like mine, although it has an eccentric bottom bracket as it was designed as a singlespeed model.

WPBlog001 2108

Shoes

After weeks of mud and rain on the GR5, preceded by several months of work in New Mexico, these Merrel boots are toast.  They were holding together pretty well, and had a little rubber left on the sole, but they were no good for foot hygiene.  With sunny skies in the forecast, it was a good time to invest in a new pair of shoes.  I found my favorites– Salomon XA Pro 3D Mid GTX– on sale for a good price.  Salomon originates from Annecy, France, although the company has been bought and sold a few times in recent decades, and is now part of a conglomerate including Mavic.  I don’t use clipless systems, but it seems the two companies should collaborate to make a genuine touring shoe for those that do. 

WPBlog001 2102

This Salomon mid-height boot is lightweight and layered with Gore-Tex.  Built like a running shoe for comfort, the outsole is designed like a good mountain bike tire for traction in the rough.  The Velo Orange Sabot pedal features a generous platform, sealed cartridge bearings, an array of replaceable pins, and a slight concavity to hold the foot in place without the need for clips or straps.  The broad platform distributes pedaling forces evenly across the foot, eliminating the hot spots experienced on quill-style pedals.  It is an excellent touring and bikepacking pedal.

WPBlog001 1962

Cork extraction

Without a way to remove a cork, properly, I utilize the hobo method all through France.  Credit to Chris Harne for describing this to me one winter in Florida a long time ago.

WPBlog001 2105

I bought a gold-plated wing corkscrew for Lael in Switzerland at a junk sale.  Andi tests the acquisition.

WPBlog001 2107

Eyewear

Lael now carries two shades of glasses.  Her primary glasses are Ray-Ban knock-offs for sunny weather.  But in the evening when the bugs come out, she frequently gets gnats and no-see-ums in her eyes.  These bright lenses cost 5€, and keep the bugs out.  They make everything look really bright.

WPBlog001 2106

Brake lever

Lael broke a brake lever several months ago, shown below with pink tape.  We replaced it with a new Avid lever gifted by Ricky and Andi in Germany.  I made the swap while waiting for a train in Munich.

WPBlog001 2109

Tents and zippers

We have used a Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent since 2008, exclusively.  At one point, we lost part of the tent in a windstorm.  Later, I tore the rainfly in a midnight zipper mishap, and eventually both zipper sliders on the mesh tent body began to fail.  As a result, I now have some refurbished tent parts in NY, replaced by some new parts from Big Agnes.  However, the current tent (composed of newer parts) has seen heavy use this summer and is also having some zipper issues.  Sliders– the parts that engage the teeth with one another– are known to wear out, and can be replaced several times in the life of the zipper, much like bicycle chains and cassettes.  I tried to repair one slider by compressing the channels together, but it broke.  The other slider now works better.   

WPBlog001 2110

Tent stakes get lost, or are broken, especially when hammering them with rocks into tough soil.  On a stormy night, I tied the tent to a tree on the windward side– you ain’t goin nowhere.

WPBlog001 2130

Reflective vest

For years, Lael and I have shared one reflective vest which we received for free in France, mostly reserved for tense situations on the road.  It fits me like a loose shirt, while it hangs off her frame.  We finally found a vest to fit Lael, intended for 3-6 years olds.  Now we have two brightly colored reflective vests for busy roads and riding at night.  We bought her a juice box in celebration.   

WPBlog001 2111

Sometimes it is too hot to wear a shirt underneath.

WPBlog001 2122

Personal hygiene

People look at me like I am homeless in Poland, which is true, although I am happy to avoid the attention.  At least in this part of the country, only bums wear beards.  Time to shave, in a stream.

WPBlog001 2119

Lael’s Google Nexus 7 tablet makes a great mirror.

WPBlog001 2117

Derailleur hanger

Oh shit!  A log snags my derailleur, cleanly breaking the aluminum derailleur hanger.  A spare hanger makes an easy fix.  Unfortunately, no more spare hanger.

WPBlog001 2138

 

Threadbare and a shoestring budget

Mostly, everything works just fine, although leaving on a trip with used equipment requires more care and maintenance.  By the end of our travels this summer, additional equipment will require attention or replacement.  Even though such equipment can seem expensive when purchased all at once, with some care, it enables many months and thousands of miles on the road.  Life on the road is inexpensive.  Time on the road is irreplaceable. 

WPBlog001 2134 

Many thanks to Ricky and Andi for the new brake lever; Big Agnes for timely tent repairs and replacement over the years; Scott Felter of Porcelain Rocket for durable goods; Eric Parsons of Revelate Designs for similarly durable goods, and great designs;  Priscilla at Carradice, who stitched my bag (really, the tag has her handwritten signature); and my parents, for constantly shipping and recieving things for us.

General thanks and appreciation to whomever is responsible for the existence of the 29×2.4″ Maxxis Ardent tires, Brooks B17 saddles, Ergon GP1 grips, steel bicycles, reflective materials, sealed cartridge bearings, Gore-Tex, cotton duck canvas, VX-series textiles, dynamo lighting, wide comfortable handlebars, and bicycles.  Seriously.

WPBlog001 1228

Karpaty

WPBlog001 2085

A plan is made to meet Przemek– or Dusza, as he is often called amongst friends and Polish bike forums.  He and Marcin arrive in Zwardon by train at exactly sometime after seven, and we arrive exactly 15 minutes late for our multi-day tour without a single morsel of food in our packs.  Pzemek and Marcin have been here before– this, the second annual meeting of old university friends to push and ride bikes in the mountains.  It is hardly an excuse for our lateness or lack of preparation, but we awoke in the Czech Republic with both Czech and Polish currency in our pockets.  We crossed into Slovakia in the morning, where the Euro is used as currency, and did not return to Poland until the final few kilometers of the day.  Not wanting to invest in a third currency for a brief day trip, we ate the last crumbs out of our bags and shot for the Polish border.  Luckily, Polish stores are open late.  Arriving in Zwardon, a tiny railroad town in the south, we quickly purchase kolbasa, ser, piwo, and kapusta, staple foods of the Polish bikepacker.  We are joining Przemek on his trip, unaware that this moment begins a two-month long tour, unaware of where we are going exactly.

Crossing into Poland on an unfinished superhighway, exactly fifteen minutes late.  Projects like this will change a place.  The existing road is small and serpentine.  The new road will allow Polish tourists to speed into Slovakia to go skiing.  The Polish love to drive fast.

WPBlog001 2042

WPBlog001 2043

WPBlog001 2044

WPBlog001 2046

WPBlog001 2045

We camp for the evening, finding new routines and old routines together.  Morning is the time to pack and repack, tune bicycles and bodies.  Lael’s bike works just fine, so she opts for some yoga.  I forget, now I remember, that it is a real pain in the ass to adjust the rear brake on a Surly Pugsley.  Departing, we ride, hike, and scramble up to 1200m and more.  These jeeps tracks are decidedly unrideable.  Optimistically, as is easy on the first day of a trip, we continue.

WPBlog001 2047

WPBlog001 2048

WPBlog001 2049

Conditions improve, but ‘up’ is the direction of choice today.

WPBlog001 2051

WPBlog001 2054

WPBlog001 2055

WPBlog001 2056

Reaching one of many mountain huts in the area, we break for the afternoon to avoid the heat, and to enjoy cold piwo, baked pyrohy, and shade.  A cold shower is available for a small fee.  In the winter, a sauna invites guests.

WPBlog001 2057

WPBlog001 2058

A happy Alaskan finds wild blueberries to add to bike grease.  These hands tell stories of summer.

WPBlog001 2059

WPBlog001 2061

Back out for an early evening ride, we encounter incredible singledoubletrack along the ridge– down, and back up.  Ridge trails are notoriously undulating.

WPBlog001 2063

WPBlog001 2062

WPBlog001 2065

The red route signifies a long-distance hiking route, while other colors indicate approach routes– the shortest route to a ridge or a peak.  Locally, a papal route is signed by green blazes (dedicated to the Pope, so it must be easy).

WPBlog001 2066

The four of use ride vastly different bicycles, all capable of rough stuff and changing conditions.  Surprisingly, we don’t discuss bicycles much, although the stregths of each are apparent as the trail changes.  Marcin’s full-suspension rig descends like a rocket.  Przemek’s bike does exactly what a Pugsley does– everything.

WPBlog001 2068

WPBlog001 2069

Looking towards Slovakia, our eyes graze the High Tatras.  There are a lot of riding possibilities in this region.  The Carpathian Mountains form a broad crescent, stretching from the eastern edge of the Czech Republic, through Slovakia and Poland, Ukraine, Romania, and Serbia.  The bulk of the range exists in Romania (about 50%), although each country offers enough riding and hiking for years of exploration.

WPBlog001 2070

As evening falls, we approach another much smaller mountain hut, this one a bit more like a hostel.  For about $3 we get a shower and a place to pitch a tent.  The canteen sells cold Zywiec beer and prepared foods, as well as some packaged goods for the trail.  Superlight travel would be easy around here, especially in the summer.  One could plan multi-day tours in the mountains without cooking or sleeping equipment.  On clear nights, a simple bivy would suffice to save a few zloty and to enjoy star-filled skies.  After our first real day of riding, we rest tired feet and legs.  Some legs are more tired than others.  Lael never gets tired.  She ends the day with a run in the mountains, minutes before dark.

WPBlog001 2073

WPBlog001 2072

WPBlog001 2075

WPBlog001 2077

With separate agendas, we part ways in the morning.  Before descending to town, we visit a small hut where smoked sheep’s cheese is prepared, either called oscypek or gołka, from sheep or cow’s milk, respectively.  The structure is saturated with smoke.  The cheese is formed in a  wooden mold and smoked for days, although the texture within is much like cheese curd.  It contains little moisture and squeaks between the teeth when bitten.

WPBlog001 2079

WPBlog001 2080

WPBlog001 2078

We enjoyed riding with Przemek and Marcin, and value seeing old friends reconnect on the trail.  We hope to ride with Przemek again in a few days!  For more Polish Pugsley adventures and rainy Welsh bikepacking trips, visit Prezemek’s blog In Between Spokes.

WPBlog001 2081

Hunting the GR5

WPBlog001 701

The GR5– locally called the LAW-5, Deltapad, or the E2– is an elusive dream.  Once on the trail, as a hunting dog on the scent of something good, we keep our eyes peeled and our noses to the ground.  If we can keep our tires and eyes pointed toward the next red and white blaze, the rewards are great.  When we lose the trail, which has happened thus far with some frequency, we simply follow the next logical signed cycling route, bike path or walking path.  Perhaps the best part about following the GR5 is that we never ride with traffic.  And when we lose the trail, we still aren’t really riding in traffic.  Some routes follow dedicated cycling lanes alongside a street, but even this is hardly ‘in’ or ‘with’ traffic in this country– drivers and cyclists are equally respectful of space and life and the dance between the two never raises and eyebrow.

But our focus is on the GR5, a long distance walking route from the North Sea in the Netherlands, to the Mediterranean at Nice, France.  Between these two points are Belgium and Luxembourg, and a whole lot of time in France; the route includes the Ardennes, the Jura, and the Alps; and the entire trail is signed with red and white blazes, as are other GR trails, while guidebooks and maps are also available.  It has only been a few days, but so far the diverse riding has done nothing but put smiles to our faces.

We left Hoek van Holland along this signed GR route, although it seemed to be going another direction.  We abandoned in favor of cycle paths and a place to stay in Rotterdam.  We would return to Maaslius to reconnect with the route.

WPBlog001 702

WPBlog001 704

WPBlog001 726

At Maasluis, a ferry crosses the Maas river.  As we disembark, we spot red and white blazes and spend the first km along neighborhood singletrack.  Much of the riding reminds me of riding as a kid.

WPBlog001 727

The GR5 follows paved and unpaved cyclepaths, as well as established walking routes (like unpaved walkways near the city), and sometimes very small lanes.

WPBlog001 728

WPBlog001 729

WPBlog001 730

Camping opportunities abound, especially along the waterfront.  This waterway was in use by many recreational canal boats.

WPBlog001 731

WPBlog001 732

WPBlog001 734

The trail is locally called the ‘Deltapad’, or delta path, named for the delta region of several rivers that drain continental Europe into the sea.  The trail follows a lot of grassy doubletrack along dikes and dams.

WPBlog001 735

No reason to buy a map in the Netherlands.  Signs, numbered routes and point-to-point routes makes navigation easy.  I have a basic map of the country for reference.  Mostly, we travel without a map, which is liberating.  Public map displays serve to keep us traveling in a uniform direction.  Still, while chasing red and white blazes we have made at least a few circles.

WPBlog001 738

Mountainbikeroute (aka VTT, BTT, or MTB) is an exciting word.  Some Dutch singletrack along the GR5, near the Voornes Duins.

WPBlog001 737

WPBlog001 736

WPBlog001 741

To a coastal overlook, like California or elsewhere we have been.

WPBlog001 742

WPBlog001 743

Where to sleep?  This looks good.

WPBlog001 722

WPBlog001 747

WPBlog001 748

WPBlog001 744

WPBlog001 745

Butter, salt, shallots, tortellini, and herring in tomatensaus.

WPBlog001 723

WPBlog001 749

The next morning, we wind through dunes and coastal forests, making a full loop back to this point.  Retracing our steps, we find exactly where we went wrong.  Retracing our steps was a little muddy.

WPBlog001 750

WPBlog001 751

And sandy.

WPBlog001 753

Finally on our way, the trail leads to the beach, which was partly rideable in the intertidal zone.  Thinking of the Pugsley, or even those bold 29+ wheels I built for Cass’ Krampus.  Just a little more rubber would have helped.

WPBlog001 755

WPBlog001 754

WPBlog001 757

WPBlog001 758

Within a few moments, we are back in town.  Historic canals and churches one minute, sandy forested singletrack the next– nothing to complain about.

WPBlog001 762

WPBlog001 763

It has been a wet week along these coastal islands.  Still, more dry than wet is the realization that time is better spent outside, than staring at the weather channel.

WPBlog001 765

WPBlog001 766

Our camp last night atop a sandy hill, tall pines breaking wind from the Nordzee.

WPBlog001 767

We’ve lost the GR5 for a moment, realizing that we had followed another walking trail.  We will rejoin the route in Bergen op Zoom, headed towards Maastricht, NL through Belgium.  Three and four dollar bottles of organic wine end every day.  Coffee and stroopwafels begin the day.

WPBlog001 768

Recent mods

WPBlog001 709

Since landing in Europe, I’ve tended to a few loose ends.  The bikes were fully operable upon landing (and reassembling).  With a few small improvements, they are even better.

WPBlog001 714

Lael has a new 36t Vuelta chainring to replace a 32t ring.  She hopes the bigger gear will allow her a little more speed along paved paths, without compromising her ability to ride in the larger ring most of the time with an 11-32t cassette.  The 22t inner ring is still perfect for mountainous exploits.  The bashguard is just barely undersized for a 36t ring.

WPBlog001 712

Looking for a suitable mounting point for my Supernova E3 Pro headlight, I finally revisited my first idea and drilled the fork crown.  The hole was perfectly sized so that the M6 bolt tapped the hole.  With so much thread engagement, the bolt did not require a nut on the backside.  I considered mounting from the brake bridge, but there is scarcely enough material there to feel confident about drilling a hole.  I also attempted to mount a top cap on the underside of the steerer tube (I drove a star nut inside), but the light arm would have been damaged by the brake bridge under full suspension compression.  I removed the air from the fork to test.  This was the best option, but limited space below the handlebars.  I switched to an XS 6L Sea-to-Summit compression drybag.

Also pictured, a buttery smooth Velo Orange Grand Cru sealed cartridge bearing headset– as a friend recently said, “because I like to know the history of my bearings”.  It is one less thing to think about.  I install cartridge bearings with as much grease as possible, to further resist contamination and corrosion.

WPBlog001 711

I inquired about USB charging from a dynamo hub in Amsterdam’s De Vakantiefietser bicycle shop.  The Busch and Muller USB-Werk AC seemed to be the best option for my needs, acting as a bridge directly to a USB out.  The system does not have a battery, and is only suitable for charging during active cycling.  So far, it seems to charge best with the lights turned off.  Without a battery, the system is very lightweight, excluding the existing hardware (hub, lights, wiring).  With a battery, I could capture all of the power coming out of the hub at all times as light, by directly charging a device, or by storing it in a battery for later.  I paid €99 for the device.

WPBlog001 713

Before leaving town I swapped the SRAM indexed trigger shifters, which performed crisply, for some top-mount thumb shifters.  I am accustomed to thumb shifters on my bikes, and index shifting in general.  Mostly, this decision was made for better cable routing with a drybag strapped to the handlebars.  I found a nice Shimano Deore LX rear derailleur in the parts bin at Two Wheel Drive, although it was missing two pulleys and a back cage plate.  I sourced these parts from a used Deore long cage derailleur missing a fixing bolt.  With some further modification and grease, I had a like new rear derailleur.

WPBlog001 717

Within a day of cycling, I noticed a broken barrel adjustor on my right shifter, most likely from spending time in a box on the airplane.  I have used these thumb shifter mounts on the Pugsley for nearly a year, without fail.  However, the aluminum adjusting bolt is a weak point.  A host in Rotterdam found a steel replacement in a parts bin.

WPBlog001 721

Repaired.  The replacement steel bolt should be no problem.

WPBlog001 715

Before leaving the country, I picked up a pair of GP1 BioKork Ergon grips at REI in Denver.

WPBlog001 720

A section of old inner tube and some zip ties make a durable chainstay protector.  The rubber also dampens the sound of a slapping chain.

WPBlog001 710

Finally, with the smell of cooking fuel permeating from my framebag, I couldn’t wait to attach some bottle cages to the fork.  In search of hose clamps, I encountered this solution.  John, our host in Rotterdam suggested I attach a standard bottle cage with a durable adhesive tape such as electrical or duct tape.  The solution is simple, lightweight, and presumably durable.  He claims to have done this on a Santa Cruz Nomad, eventually breaking the bottle before the tape ever failed.  The result is also more attractive than hose clamps.  Perhaps more aerodynamic as well?  Cleaning alcohol in high concentration is commonly available in the Netherlands as Spiritus for about €1 per liter..  Without the label and with the addition of a Porcelain Rocket decal, I now refer to it as ‘rocket fuel’.  Now, to tame those wires…

WPBlog001 703

A bit rainy and blustery along the Maas river near Rotterdam.  We might take some short days this week to wait out the rain.  Out looking for the GR5, and dodging rainshowers.

Rivet Nutting

WPBlog001 564

Identify hole location, mark with sharp tool.  Hammer and punch to create impression.  Drill holes with small bit, patience and cutting oil.  Drill hole to size with larger bit.  Install threaded rivet nut with the “Brute” Rivet Nutter tool.

WPBlog001 574

WPBlog001 573

WPBlog001 572

I selected to install three rivets in such a manner that allows a standard water bottle cage,  a Salsa Anything Cage, or a Topeak Modula XL cage.  Specifically, the Salsa Anything Cage must be located above the chainrings.  The 64 oz. Klean Kanteen that I hope to use is too wide to clear the chainrings, but is narrower than the crank arms.

The standard H2O cage uses the lower two holes.

WPBlog001 569

The Salsa Anything cages uses all three holes.

WPBlog001 570

The Topeak Modula XL cage uses the upper two holes.

WPBlog001 571

At the rear, I drilled into each seatstay to install a butchered Nitto mini-rack to be used as a Carradice saddlebag support.

WPBlog001 568

The seatstay bridge had a small drain hole, which I enlarged and tapped for an M5 bolt.

WPBlog001 566

WPBlog001 565

I have a habit of drilling holes in new bikes.  I installed water bottle mounts to my Surly Pugsley last spring.  And, I drilled the seatstay bridge on my VO Campeur to accept a VO Pass Hunter rack..

XXIX+G

WPBlog001 563

I rode the Cannnondale Holligan to the Railrunner station in downtown ABQ, and rode the train north to Santa Fe.  I sold the Hooligan to Cass and purchased this large-framed Raleigh XXIX+G from an acquaintance, who had at once ridden the bike with both drop bars and suspension fork.  I was back on the train within the hour.  The new bike rides real good.

Framebag coming soon, thanks to Scott of Porcelain Rocket.  Many changes to come in the next two weeks.

WPBlog001 562

Scott has made an informative video on how to make a pattern for a custom frame bag.

The Salida Circuit

7787WP

Salida makes the list of exceptional small towns with happy people and healthy economies.  A loose association of places that I may someday like to live, these towns all claim something special aside from jobs and homes.  Salida claims world-class singletrack and one of the most popular paddling spots in the US, the Upper Arkansas River.  What it doesn’t have, is a thriving ski industry.  That’s why it looks and feels like a real place.  Marquette, MI has Lake Superior, rail-trails and nearby forests.  Ithaca, NY is Gorges, if a little less happy.  State College, PA has access to amazing local forests and trails, but an overwhelming college culture.  San Luis Obisco, CA is great, but about 12 miles too far from the beach.  I hear Ashville, NC is nice.  And Flagstaff, AZ.  Leadville is a dream, although living at 10,200ft has both costs and benefits.  The more I travel, the more selective I become.  I may never settle down.

Salida warrants a week.  We found a ride to Interbike with a local shop owner, so we had a week to spare.  We waited out some weather, commuted to town every day on singletrack, and went for an epic overnight trip.  For a week, we were residents of Salida, doing all the normal things that people do, except working.

The greatest warmshowers host has a home in Salida, but lives in Texas.  Imagine the luxury of a house on a hill out of town after three months in a tent.  Of course, the outdoor hot tub overlooks the valley and several 14,000ft peaks.  Every morning, Lael practiced yoga as I wrote and drank coffee.  In the afternoon we would commute to town on singletrack– North Backbone to Lil Rattler, and then the Front Side Trail to downtown Salida.  We finished the day making conversation at one of three local bike shops– all amazing– before stopping at the grocery store and riding home at dusk.  Every evening, we prepared a feast.

Waiting out some weather, and snow in the mountains.

7710WP

Commuting to town is fun, until someone gets hurt.

7839WP

7924WP 2

7914WP

7847WP

7928WP 2

Riding home.

7790WP

7795WP

Enraptured in the routine of city life, another commute to town.

7779WP

7769WP

Crying makes it better.

7770WP

7776WP

Front Side descends right into town, right onto Main Street.

7726WP

Route planning in town.

7991WP

7993WP

Salida, 7083ft.  West on County Rte 140, cross Highway 50 to 220, a dirt road.  Then a few miles up towards Monarch Pass on Hwy 50 to Fooses Creek.  Back on dirt, connect to the Colorado Trail and climb another 3000ft to the Monarch Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.  Push the last 1000ft up to 11,920ft.  Finally, almost 5000ft above Salida.  Rest.

7999WP

8002WP

8006WP

8012WP

8014WP

8015WP

8026WP

8033WP

8035WP

8038WP

8042WP

8043WP

8046WP

8049WP

8055WP

8057WP

8068WP

Five miles along the Monarch Crest Trail at almost 12,000ft towards Marshall Pass.  As you ride over passes, they are the highest topographic point.  When riding ridges, the passes are the lowest.  Four more miles to Silver Creek, the last drainage that will route us back to town.  Further, the Colorado Trail leads over the Continental Divide towards Sargents Mesa.  For now, we want to return to the east side of the Divide, to Salida.

8075WP

8080WP

8082WP

8090WP

8098WP

8095WP 2

8110WP 2

8117WP

8130WP

8111WP 2

Beyond Marshall Pass, toward the SIlver Creek drainage.

8140WP

8147WP

8154WP

8144WP 2

Silver Creek, as the sun falls.

8149WP

8159WP

8165WP

8167WP

8171WP

8172WP

8174WP

8190WP

8180WP

8176WP

8201WP

8198WP

…until someone gets hurt, and a crank is bent.  Could be worse.  At least it clears the chain stay.  Fading light, pedal on.

8205WP

8213WP

8206WP

8222WP

Final light.

8215WP

8232WP

Finishing up by headlight.  As soon as the sun falls, my dynamo lighting becomes visible in the thick wooded singletrack.  At the junction of FS 201, the road to Bonanza, and the Rainbow Trail, we select the Rainbow Trail.  We were here a year ago and have already ridden down the FS road.  Time for something new, in the dark.

8236WP

8238WP

The final descent to Hwy 285.  High fives and a fast paved downhill to town.

8240WP

8246WP

Love. Salida.

8275WP

8318WP

Many thanks to Anton from Salida Bike Company for the ride to Interbike in Las Vegas.  And many more thanks for the escape from hundred degree heat and slot machines.  For now, we’re back in Colorado.

8344WP

T-minus: fun in the big wide world

5931WP

The neverending list of things to do before leaving the metro area is now a short list of loose ends.  Need to puts Stan’s sealant in our tubes.  Need to install a new SRAM PC-870 chain on the Pugsley.  Need to install the Surly 1×1 bar with shifters and brake levers.  Install another water bottle cage on Lael’s Raleigh.  Swap stems and seatposts on the Raleigh; a little lower up front with weight forward over the bars might ride better– this is a bike fit.  Ride some more.  Is that better?  How about the saddle angle?  Reach?  The pedals feel forward of the saddle.  Slide it forward.  Now, descend standing on the pedals.  Climb.  Pedal casually.  It’s close to perfect but it still feels new.  It’s a big bike compared to the Hooligan.

5959WP 2

6039WP

The task of finding an appropriate used bike and dressing it for singletrack touring isn’t entirely complicated.  Doing it on a budget between several cities with inconvenient transit systems is.  There isn’t a bus directly from Fort Collins to Denver, even though an interstate highway spans the 65 miles between the two cities.  It even requires two buses to reach Boulder, which is nearer.  I was lucky to find a Craigslist seller that would meet me in the middle.  I walked to the bus in Fort Collins, walked four miles in Longmont, and upon returning to Fort Collins in the evening I was forced to “velocipede” the bike several miles back home in the dark.  I lowered the saddle and propelled the bike in a seated running motion.  I now have a deep appreciation for the development of the chain-drive system.

To meet Lael last week at the Denver airport required similar transportational creativity.  First, to attend a meeting of the Denver Surly Owners Society (S.O.S.) I jumped on the bike in Fort Collins with a light load for the 65 mile paved ride to town.  The Pugsley doesn’t fit on the bike racks found on many buses, so this was my only option.  Leaving a few hours later than planned, I diligently sat on the bike to reach my downtown destination by six.  Fifteen, sixteen miles an hour had me on track to arrive in time, when a headwind halved my progress.  Pushing through the wind and the suburban armor of Denver, I finally crossed the Platte River into the heart of the city.  A visit to a city’s center is essential, but the surrounding sub-urban layers have as much to say about the city as the core.

The S.O.S. is a small crew of Denver’s cycling elite, with a healthy association of bicycle advocacy and bike-sharing.  Denver’s B-Cycle bike-sharing program is the first of it’s kind in the country, and I was hosted for the evening by Philip who manages the fleet of 500 bicycles involved in the program.  Philip recently tackled several days of the Colorado Trail on a 1×9 Surly Karate Monkey with a Salsa Enabler fork and a fat tire up front– half-fat.  The S.O.S. group rode to Salvagetti, a hip local shop specializing in transportation cycling and featuring a host of Surly bikes, custom built to finer specifications than the standard builds offered.  Salvagetti hosted a grand re-opening party at their new location; on display was the singlespeed Kona that local rider Justin Simoni rode in this year’s Tour Divide, finishing first in the SS category.

5811WP

5822WP

5818WP

5825WP

5838WP

5842WP

Denver’s new airport is about thirty miles from the city center, seemingly in Kansas.  I was able to put my bike on an $11 bus to arrive in time to meet Lael.  Rejoined and rejoiced with my traveling companion, we left the airport on bikes.  Very few airports are easy to access by bike, and Denver’s isn’t one of them, although technically it’s tolerable.  The two-three lane highway exiting the airport has a generous shoulder and some bike signage, except when road construction channels traffic into a narrow corridor, excluding the shoulder.  The responsibility to maintain the bicycle facility has been ignored through the phase of construction, presumably because very few people ride to the airport.  Bikes just aren’t that important sometimes. The Albuquerque airport is located only three miles from the main east-west boulevard in town; I was able to shoulder a large bike box for the three mile ride through neighborhoods, to package my bike for flight in the airport lobby.  I have ridden to or from airports in Paris, Boston, Seattle, Anchorage, El Paso and Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh will soon have a short connector trail from the airport to the Montour Trail, a main spur from the Great Allegheny Passage, which then connects to the C&O Trail and Washington D.C about 350 miles away.

5886WP

Riding through Denver in the morning is pleasant and a free bike map helps guide the way.  We rummaged through used outdooor gear at the WIlderness Exchange, and found a new helmet for Lael at REI.  With her new Giro cap, she looks like a short-track speed skater on a bike.  Cooking on the sidewalk outside of REI, we dined on breakfast burritos made with fromage et saucisons from France.  Lael also brought salted caramels, a kilo of grey sea salt, miniaturized homemade cornichons (pickles) and a bottle of calvados.  We have been eating well.

A bus to Boulder whisks us out of the city for a few dollars.  The immaculately organized Boulder Community Cycles provides inexpensive used chainrings, v-brake levers, and stems; a cousin in Boulder provided a mailing address, where I received several packages.  A friend picked us up to return to Fort Collins to begin building and rebuilding bikes.

5894WP

5903WP

5912WP

Back home, fixing bikes: derailleur hangers to transform the singlespeed to a geared bike and a new Velo Orange Grand Cru sealed cartridge bearing headset replaces a worn-loose ball system; used Race Face stem, Surly steel chainrings, and Shimano Acera brake levers from Boulder Community Cycles; a hard to find 30.0mm Salsa seat post clamp; Velo Orange thumb shifter mounts will accept the levers from my Shimano bar-end shifters and the $20 gold anodized On-One Mary handlebar.  Lael loves her “Marys”.

5923WP

5945WP

5976WP

5951WP

5989WP

5942WP

5930WP

6020WP

All work and no play is no good at all:

6030WP

6062WP

5979WP

5962WP

5971WP

5974WP

6053WP

6076WP

6002WP

6006WP

6012WP

5716WP 2

5784WP

The last few days have been a lazy parade of swapping parts, tuning the ride and dialing the fit.  However, there has been time for swimming and baking pies, visiting local breweries and bike builders.  Fort Collins has a veritable bike zoo between Panda and Black Sheep Bicycles.  More on that later.

6100WP

6153WP

The bikes are riding, Lael is acclimating, and transportation to Interbike is in the works.  It’s been a busy week, but it’s all coming together.

5937WP 2