This is the missing link. From exotic cyan coastline in Krym to clear air Rocky Mountain high, we’re coming from and going to many amazing places. So that the (un)important details are not forgotten– the rigors of traveling– they are included in time-lapse format for careful digestion. It has been a strenuous couple of weeks, even if it includes many group dinners, exciting new equipment, and route planning. I’ll never call any of this hardship, so don’t confuse my words, but I can be quite hard. I might rather be riding.
Dive down to the bottom for an addendum to the “Threadbare” post I shared a few months ago. More gear has found an end on this trip than on any other, due to rigorous conditions and timing. Lots of gear has been with us for two, three, four, or even five years, including hundreds of days of riding and camping.
Our last day in Krym is bittersweet. Through lower and lower mountains and hills, the landscape blends into city.
Simferapol, which becomes home for a few days. The long list of tasks in the city includes finding two bike boxes, resting, writing e-mails, buying equipment online, and buying a plane ticket beyond NYC, most likely to Denver, we think. Note: online retailers do not like purchases made from Ukraine, with a NY or AK billing address and a CO shipping address. Three purchases were declined without further confirmation.
Simferapol is ‘nothing special’, say the guidebooks, although it a unique retro-modern city that is the transportation hub of Krym. We enjoyed the city greatly.
Bike rack and V.I. Lenin, the latter whitewashed in bird shit.
The market next to the train station is superb, and generally welcoming of nonnative tongues, unlike many markets in Ukraine. Regional produce is much different than elsewhere in Ukraine.
The train station is also a great place to view incoming and outgoing cyclists, on various paved and unpaved excursions. Lots of backpacks and mountain bikes, or hardtail mountain bikes with rear racks. Lots of grit and determination.
Buy these maps from the well-stocked outdoor store outside of the train station for $2 apiece.
Lael and I picked up some ultralight sil-nylon backpacks to serve as traveling companions in the air, on the bikes and on foot. We hope to make some short hikes away form the bike. They may also serve as overflow when pulling away from a grocery, or when traveling by train, plane, or automobile. Lael’s 15L bag weighs 110g, although it is short on features. As such, it packs smaller than a t-shirt. Price: about $25.
We located to bike boxes several miles away, to be picked up on Saturday. We brought them back to our hotel, but had to go out looking for a pedal wrench. Eventually, we found a taxi driver with a 17mm box-end wrench, which mated well enough with the 15mm wrench flats on our pedals. Through mud and rain, the hex-compatible socket on the back side of the pedal axle didn’t provide enough leverage. The cabbie asks, “now how will you ride your bike?”.
We velocipede all the way home.
Bags are removed from the bikes for the first time all summer. With only a few failings from hard use, these Revelate bags have served Lael well. My Porcelain Rocket bags are a bit newer, and only show wear from sun exposure.
Preparing for our 5AM flight, we choose to sleep in the Simferapol airport.
Aeroflot takes bikes as luggage for free, as long as they weigh less than 50lbs. I had to unload a few items from my box to make weight.
Norway– wow– we’ve got to go there!
And Long Island. Welcome home. Still, a surpising amount of undeveloped land is visible form above, even in the eastern US. After a summer chasing trails in Europe, I have new hope for such overlooked places. How about Alabama? New Hampshire? South Carolina? Kentucky? South Dakota? Texas? Florida?
A night in the Jetblue terminal is as Lael describes, “like being trapped in a Gap store”. Jason Mraz and Miley Cyrus play on repeat all night in the crisp white terminal. Another early morning flight. Little to no sleep for a few days is no good. I find myself flirting with insanity, finding my way into the Ladies room in the middle of the night.
Bikes are $50 on Jetblue, same as on Alaska Airlines. Frontier takes bikes for free, but flies from LaGuardia Airport, while we land at JFK.
Denver, at last. Clear skies and snow-capped peaks welcome us. Pedals, handlebars, forks and front wheels are all removed from the bikes to squeeze into small boxes. Less than an hour after we roll out the door, we are fully loaded and ready to ride.
The first stop, after the $11 shuttle to downtown Denver, is the Cherry Creek Mall. You know, there’s nothing like Orange Julius and Cinnabon for a welcome back to America. Actually, I am insistent to visit the Apple store immediately to diagnose what I suspect is a busted internal hard drive on my MacBook Air. My suspicions are correct, and the repair will take a few days. The part is warrantied, while Lael gets a much-awaited haircut. She asks for something special…
A light-rail train takes us to Littleton where Andy and his family host us for a few days. Several packages await, and his bike barn serves as shelter from the snow to repair our worn bicycles and gear.
I ride his 1984 Miyata Ridge Runner while my bike is in pieces. This is as pristine an example as I’ve seen, and Andy has made some nice adjustments for improved functionality. A very nice riding bike.
We are enamored with American supermarkets. Half-filled public buses take us to Fort Collins in comfort.
Desperately holding onto Ukrainian traditions, making dozens of varenyky with friends. Sour cream helps the dough stick to itself when the dumpling is formed. There’s no place like home…
A quick visit to Pat Hegedus of Panda Bicycles in Fort Collins.
Organizing electronics to reduce the redundancy of chargers. A box of unneeded things goes home, or elsewhere.
While a friend’s Jeep transports us to Boulder for a night to pick up a used lens from a Craigslist seller, and then back to Denver to look at a used Pugsley. This time, the fatbike isn’t for me (not yet). He’s trading his Big Dummy for a Pugsley, to be build with a Rohloff. The frame had been modified to accept a belt drive.
Back in Denver, we avoid spending any more money. Riding around town is better.
After a few more Ukrainian feasts, we jump aboard another Jeep towards Grand Junction. This time, a friend from this blog offers a lift over the mountains. Changing seasons dictate a more rapid approach toward Utah.
But wait, I remember that my friend Jane lives in Carbondale. We met three years ago in Whitefish, MT, and have visited each other every year since. An overnight in Carbondale to catch-up, then back on the road to Grand Junction the next afternoon.
Carbondale is full of cool bikes. These Pugsleys are on demo at a local cross race sponsored by Aloha Mountain Cyclery.
Mukluk with 29+.
And a new colormatched Ti Mukluk, which pairs well with the VW van. Has anyone noticed that Race Face Atlas handlebars and XX1 drivetrains are all the rage? Where have we been? And the government shutdown? And that Miley Cyrus music video?!?
Willet whisks us to the trailhead beyond Grand Junction, outside of Fruita, just as thunderstorms pass and night falls. Thanks for everything Willet! Ride a few miles at night until showers and precipitous cliffside trails force us into a tent for the night. From Krym, to Colorado.
Threadbare and repairs
More from the original “Threadbare…” article. Below is an off-hand list of broken stuff from the last few weeks and months.
A broken bottle cage, after five months of use.
A broken Salsa Anything cage, after hauling my 64 oz. Kleen Kanteen for two summers. This things was broken in three or four places. A reimagined Anything Cage is due out sometime.
Lael’s Revelate Viscacha has held up, except for the loops on the topside (not shown). We put extra stress on them as we strap a sleeping pad to the top of the seat pack. An old shoelace is used to make all four attachment points better than new. A needle and thread goes a long way on a long trip.
We had an extra bottle cage mount installed in Fort Collins last year at Panda Cycles, although we never bothered painting it. It is probably time.
Cutaway of the bottle cage mounting system on the fork, before stuffing the bike into a box. Some rubber cushions the cage from the fork and protects the paint, not that the bike will see a showroom floor anytime soon.
Stitched and fixed Carradice. This thing is reparable, which makes it ultimately durable. Needle and thread do most of the work, although stitching canvas and leather can be hard with a standard gauge needle. A tire lever and diagonal cutters help a little.
Back in Denver, Andy helps paint parts of Lael’s frame. She dots her chainstay with pink nail polish. She will not repaint or powdercoat the entire frame. This frame tells stories.
Some zippers misfire, as the sliders wear out. A pair of plies and some light lube eek out some extra life. The slider will eventually need to be replaced.
Lael gets some bottle cages on her fork, to prepare for the desert. I have started to remove the back tabs to mount the cage nearer to the fork, to reduce the risk of broken cages. A crude task with the tools at hand.
More threadbare things:
Patagonia 5″ Shorts, worn threads at seam require constant repair, now past the point of repair (walking around Moab with a hole in my shorts)
Surly merino wool sweater is threadbare, has made me look more normal than technical gear and cut-off t-shirts
Maxxis Ardent and Schwalbe Nobby Nic are nearly worn on Lael’s bike
My drivetrain is well-worn, and will be almost entirely replaced to ensure a functional future (upgrading to 8sp!)
Need new rear brake pads
Need new cables and housing almost everywhere
New UV filters for camera lenses
New hard drive on MacBook Air (warrantied)
RockShox Reba forks need overhaul with new oil
Clean and lube everything that moves!
Patagonia Capilene 2 long underwear has holes, makes me look like a punk rock girl– not good. Probably find another solution.
Tent has a tear in the rainfly, both zippers are functional but delicate
Sleeping bags desperately need to be laundered
Lael lost her sleeping pad in a monsoon on the ride into Simferapol, my pad has delaminated, exploding into a pool toy (both Thermarest Pro-Lite).
Sunglasses scratched, shoelaces broken, pot support needs repair…
Thanks to Andy and family, Alex, Jonah, Jake, Willet, Jane, Scott Morris, and Aaron at Aloha.