Correspondence: My old Surly Pugsley, in a new home

NicholasCarman1 83

A few weeks ago, I added a page to the site titled “Contact me!“.  Already, I’ve enjoyed correspondence with several people, including an acquaintance and host from the San Luis Obispo Bike Kitchen, and the current owner of the purple Surly Pugsley that I rode for a year and a half, including a six month tour from Alaska to New Mexico.  

I purchased the Raleigh XXIX that I am currently riding less than a week before leaving New Mexico this spring.  As such, I was unable to sell the Pugsley in that time via Craigslist, and left it with Two Wheel Drive bike shop, where I worked part time.  I never knew what kind of home the bike found, until last week.  The following are excepts from email conversations with Eric.  

Nov. 10, 2013

Greetings from Boston, MA!  My name is Eric and I am the proud owner of your old Pugsley.  I bought it from a man who came from New Mexico and sold it to upgrade to a Ti fatbike.  I had known about your blog for a bit but had no idea that responding to a pictureless craigslist post would present me with such a find!  I have just completed my first (of hopefully many) bikepacking overnighters.  During my trip, I found problems using a rack and having the weight throw me off in turns.  I am now interested in buying the Revelate/Surly framebag to keep the weight lower, and wondered how it fit.  You said in one of your posts that the bag did not fit perfect.  What were your notes on the bag for the Pugsley? I wondered if it was a problem while traveling or would you advise towards a different bag.  Please let me know and thank you for being a great resource and inspiration in bikepacking.

-Eric

NicholasCarman1 84

Eric,

What great fortune to hear about the old Pugs!  I left the bike at Two Wheel Drive bike shop the week before I departed for Europe this past summer.  I worked at TWD part-time and Charlie offered to sell the bike for me if I didn’t get rid of it before leaving town.  Thus, I never knew where the bike went, although I hoped it would find a good home.  I know it is a well used machine, but I guarantee it is much, much more functional than when I first bought it in Seattle in the winter of 2011.  I picked it up for $1250 on a week-long layover in Seattle/Tacoma before flying to Alaska for the first time.  I eventually discovered rusty and maladjusted bearings, handlebars too narrow for my preference, and the ‘spare’ tire that wouldn’t seat to the rim due to damage (most likely from an overzealous tire lever operator).  By the time I was done with it a year later, nearly the only original part from my purchase was the frame! (some changes made for personal preference).    I will be flying back to AK this December, and hope to be riding another fatbike before the new year.  I am hoping to do things a little differently this time.

When I purchased the framebag directly from Eric (Revelate) in Anchorage, he was short on stock, and I selected to use a size Medium framebag on the older Medium frame.  As you may have learned, the Pugsley frame design changed a few years ago, when the new triangulated section near the seat tube was added, lessening the space within the main triangle.  As such, the current offering of framebags does not fit the older frames exactly, however, a Large size Revelate framebag should readily fit your Medium Pugsley.  Actually, the older frames offer more framebag space than newer frames– just buy ‘up’ a size on stock Revelate bags for an older Pugs.  The Large bag should fit nicely, and will help stabilize the ride compared to what you describe.  If you’re going for a completely rack-less setup– or even a rock-lite system– don’t hesitate trying out various dry bags and straps before putting down money for all the proper bikepacking kit available.  The ‘real’ stuff is top notch, although it is not always completely necessary.  I’ve wandered through a slew of home-brew bikepacking methods before landing on something that works for me.  At present, I have a lot more capacity than most bikepacking systems (for the computer, and luxuries of food and water).  Still, the bike rides nicely, maintains a narrow profile, and comes in lighter than the average rack and pannier system.

Do you have any photos of your overnight trip?  I’d be happy to share a few photos on the blog, along with some of our correspondence.  I think lots of readers will find it interesting to follow the infamous purple Pugs.  I find that conversations like these can be enlightening to others.

What do you do in Boston?

I hope you continue to enjoy the bike!

-nicholas

NicholasCarman1 85

Hello Nicholas,

Thanks for the quick response.  I will most certainly go with the large bag then!  I’m excited.  I have my next overnighter scheduled in two weeks where a fellow mechanic and I will ride fatbikes down the North South trail in Rhode Island.  It doesn’t seem like there is are as many long distance trails here in New England, but again I am new to searching for them.  Hopefully they will make themselves more apparent as time goes by.  I have had the bike for just about 2 months now and it still maintains about the same set-up that you left it with, but soon overhauls will need to be done.

I am originally from North Carolina and moved here to Boston about 4 years ago on a whim to escape the clutches of suburban desk jobs.  I ended up finding a home in a non-profit named Bikes Not Bombs, which provided a cycling community and taught me the skills to work on bicycles.  I am now a full-time mechanic.

For the first overnight, I started from home, cut across to Borderland State Park in Easton, MA and down to Dighton, MA through the power lines for the night.  On my first night, I found out my gear is not nearly as warm as I had expected :).  The next morning I headed down towards Bristol, RI and rode up the East Bay Bike Path and continued up the Blackstone River Path back into MA.  Not as much off-road riding as I would like but I am looking forward to more great rides!  Long distance on the roads is tough with the Pugs but off-road it is like butter!  I covered about 110 miles on my overnight.  Please let me know if you know of any good rides in this area.  I am itching for more continuous dirt roads.

I will take good care of her and feel free to drop by and take her for a spin if you are in town.

-Eric

NicholasCarman1 87

NicholasCarman1 86

Boston-area bikepacking routes:

Does anyone have any suggestions for mixed-terrain or off-pavement routes near Boston, MA, or within range of the city via public transit?  Note, fat tires don’t play well with bicycle racks on many buses, but something like the Amtrak Downeaster works.  Help an urbanite out of the city!

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8 thoughts on “Correspondence: My old Surly Pugsley, in a new home

  1. That’s so awesome, I’m really glad the pugs found a better home! The guy who bought it from the shop just didn’t seem to get it. So cool to hear that he contacted you as well!
    cheers
    rusty

    • Ha! I really like that Eric writes, “I bought it from a man who came from New Mexico…”. Sounds like some old-west kind of stuff, as if a horse or pack animal.

      Someday I’ll upgrade to a Ti bike. Someday.

      • If you can get your bike onto the Fitchburg/South Acton Line out of North Station you can end at Fitchburg ( whick kinda blows) but is a 10ish mile country road ride to Ashburnham MA, from there theres dirt roads that lead towards Mt. Watatic. From Watatic crushed gravel/powerline routes/ snowmobile trail run all up into NH, even to Mt. Monadnock. Theres a ton of options in that area, I’m sorry I cant be more specific, I’ve only recently done some hiking up there and found out about a lot of that. But once you get to Watatic there seemed to be pretty solid signage.

        Another good idea would be to look around your area for the nearest snowmobile/ ATV club. These guy have it done packed in the north east for the off road game. You can get from my town of Baldwinville( pop. 2085) to the Canadian border I’ve heard on trail. Note this is a snowmobile route which is dependent on snowmobile club bridges and sometimes frozen lakes but some of these route are super well marked, even including dining and fuel options along with distances to the next such pit stop, way sick.

        Lastly Google Earth search powerlines near you and look if theres trails under them. If you don’t give a care about hearing buzzin all day, the riding is so good with views you won’t see anywhere else and usually a ton of trails spurring off them.

        I’m kinda all over the place looking for a job Eric, but maybe we can get together and ride if you want . Sorry to take up so much room on here Nick.

        Thanks and hope you find some of this rant useful,
        Matt G.

  2. Very cool to see how far your old Pug has migrated. It’s almost as if it sought out someone who would want to take it camping. My old 20″ Pugsley frame recently went to a guy in Vermont who was sizing up from an 18″ Pug. Eric, if you’re ever in Vermont, I know a guy who might be able to help you find some dirt.

  3. Hey there Eric! I’m new to the boston area, I live in boston and work in hingham as a mechanic for EMS. I recently purchased a 2013 pugsley and I’m looking for routes and riding friends.

    Feel free to contact me mackey553@yahoo.com

    Hope to see you out there!

    -Landon

  4. Off road bikepacking in the Boston area is tough. A lot of great road riding and some decent mountain bike trails, but few opportunities for long distance off road/wilderness travel.

    Day Trips:

    You can link bits and pieces of trails to create a decent off road ride in the greater Boston area. Lexington’s Ride Studio Café has two good options: the Honey 100 and the Diverged Ride.

    The Medford Fells is another option within easy striking distance.

    Overnights:

    Harold Parker State Forest is surprisingly close to the city, has campgrounds that you can poach in the off season (totally empty), and a huge network of trails to explore in the morning before heading home.

    There are countless town forests that you could stealth camp in, but you’ll be on roads to/from and certainly listening to road noise all night. The forests around Harvard/Littleton are worth checking out. An easy way to escape the city is to follow the Minuteman Bikeway from Arlington to Bedford then continue west ( Concord, Acton, Harvard).

    Longer Trips:

    Bear Brook State Park and Pawtuckaway State Park (NH) are within a day’s ride, but you’ll be on paved roads the whole way. Both offer trails for exploring, but you’ll be going in circles instead of making headway.

    There are miles and miles of dirt roads in Western Mass and New Hampshire. You could certainly plan a loop with stealth camping in town/state forests. Check out the routes for rides such as the Kearsarge Classic and D2R2.

    The real gem of the region is the White Mountain National Forest. Abundant dirt roads, mountain bike trails, wild camping, and countless chances to combine riding with hiking/trail running. You can plan some pretty cool hikes (point to point) with bike shuttles. A friend and I stashed our bikes at the south end of the Presidential Traverse, parked a car at the north end, hiked the traverse (two nights out), then rode back to our car via Jefferson Notch Road (unpaved mountain pass). This was just a short, three day trip but it is easy to imagine a longer trip exploring more dirt roads. Skipping the car, you could cross the whole region, travelling from NH to ME. Given the time, this would be the ultimate greater Boston trip.

    Transportation:

    Transportation is decent. Concord Coach allows bikes and can take you to/from NH (up the 93 corridor, all the way to the White Mountain region) and ME (Midcoast region and as far North as Orono). The Downeaster train also allows bikes and can take you to costal Maine.

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