Some People and Bikes from Interbike 2015, Las Vegas, NV

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Advocate Cycles frames are hot off the press, each featuring custom decals designed by local artists on the top tube.  Tim and Odia Krueger of Advocate Cycles shared a booth with Cycle Monkey, Sinewave, and Red Bear Products.  The 27.5+/29 Hayduke is in the foreground, and would be a great bikepacking rig.  It shares many features with my new frame.

Arriving on Monday morning, each of the five person Revelate crew had their own story of nocturnal misery at cruising altitude.  Except Lael, who claims the “shortest plane ride of her life” as she slept from takeoff to landing.  A summer of sleeping directly on the ground probably helps.  By noon, everyone assembled at the Mandalay Bay convention center to reassemble the contents of a shipping crate into Revelate Designs booth #21186.

Interbike is a trade show.  Everyone rolls their eyes about Las Vegas, about the nature of the show, about the cigarette smoke in the casinos, about the food, about the organization that operates the event, and the industry.  Everyone complains about Interbike.  However, it is the largest collection of cycling industry professionals in North America, eclipsed in size only by Eurobike and the Taipei International Cycle Show, and for the most part, a lot of productive things happen here.  There are a lot of nice people, a lot of exciting new product, and for most attendees, there are new prospects.  Lael and I enjoyed meeting many internet friends for the first time.  We made new connections which we look forward to developing into the future.  I met Charlie Kelly and after a teaser story from the first Iditasport event in the late ’80s, I bought his book.  Lael met Rebecca Rusch, the legendary endurance cyclist best known for her 13 1/2 hour passage of the Kokopelli Trail.  We huddled around pizza and beer to hear stories from Mongolia and secrets of new products, designs to make cycling better and more fun.  We talked a lot about Revelate luggage, bikepacking, and adventure by bike.  We met the Executive Director of the Adventure Cycling Association, Jim Sayer; Editor of Bicycle Times magazine, Adam Newman; and on more than three occasions, I passed Tom Ritchey in the aisles of Interbike.  Is Tom Ritchey the most recognizable guy in the industry, or is he just everywhere?

Interbike was awesome.  We spent so much time talking to people that the week passed much faster than expected.  And now, in a last minute rush, we find ourselves trying to shift entirely into bike touring mode.  I haven’t downloaded tracks for the AZT, scheduled a route from Las Vegas to St. George or from St. George to Kanab.  Skyler and Panthea arrive in a few hours.  We’ve located a nearby desert campsite for the night, expecting to return to town to pack and plan in the morning.  It will be nice once we get rolling, but for now, my busy summer continues.

Unpacking the crate.  The bare convention hall is transformed in less than 24 hours.

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Outdoor Dirt Demo

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The new Surly Wednesday.

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27.5+, full-sus, Nobby Nic tires=traction, lots of traction.

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18.9lbs, the new 9zero7 Whiteout Team Edition.

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The new Fatback Skookum.

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Icelandic Lauf forks, simple, light, maintenance free, and awesome.  They feel really, really good.  Best considered for gravel to light XC.  Think Tour Divide race bike…

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The Queen of Pain, Rebecca Rusch, and the queen of eating sandwiches and sleeping in the dirt.

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Some bikepacking junk show at Interbike, for sure.

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Charlie Kelly talked me into buying his book.  He didn’t have to try very hard, especially with Joe Breeze just over his shoulder.

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Big Adventures, and lots of Chinese carbon.

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Hey, it’s me!

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Vintage 1987 GT.

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Marin Pine Mountain 1 rigid 27.5+.

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Lauf leaf springs.

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John Lackey, meet John Lackey.  John set the Iditarod record to McGrath last year.

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Lael trashed a tire commuting around Las Vegas.  She borrow a Fatback Skookum for the ride home.  Rolling a fatbike through a casino in Vegas is fun.

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Each Advocate Cycle model features a different custom design, this is the new Lorax.

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New SP 150x15mm thru-axle dynamo hub for fatbikes.  SP hubs are now imported and distributed in the USA by Cycle Monkey.  I’ve also got the new top-cap mounted Sinewave Cycles Reactor USB charger to test on the Arizona Trail.

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Bikepacking junk show at the Giant booth.  The framebag opens from the rear toward the front, and without any tension it immediately jams up when you try to close it one-handed.

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Lael didn’t know these stickers existed.  She said, “that’s what I did all summer”!

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Adan Newman, the new editor of Bicycle Times magazine pretends to be a roadie for the new SRAM Red road wireless launch.

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This is Advocate Cycles, Tim and Odia Krueger.

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The Revelate Designs booth, while small, stayed busy for the three day indoor show.  During most of the show the booth featured a Jones+ bike, a Co Motion Gravel frame, and a Fatback Skookum.

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Interbike was a blasto  Off to ride the Arizona Trail.  Shipping the computer away for a while for a real vacation.

Lockhart Basin Road, Utah

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Dirt touring routes south of Moab?  Surely, there are more than a few ways to figure it, but the Colorado River, Highway 191, and the LaSal Mountains make for some natural barriers.  Leaving town toward the south on the Lockhart Basin Road is an obvious choice.

The Lockhart Road is a Jeep track, or ORV route, one amongst a bevy of classic Moab routes.  Thankfully, all but the most technical of these rock-crawling Jeep routes are ideal for riding.  While the Lockhart Basin Route is signed as a “Most Difficult” route for motor vehicles, thanks to a few stair-step rock features scattered with boulders, the route is almost entirely rideable chunky doubletrack, with some fast dirt road riding in between.  From the center of Moab to Highway 211 at the south, the route requires one big day, or two leisurely days of riding.  Water is scarce– none is officially available on route– and even in cool October days, we were careful to watch our water consumption, choosing foods that do not require rehydration and sipping our bottles conservatively.  The total distance from Moab to Hwy 211 is about 60 miles, along some of the most scenic, accessible, legal riding we have found anywhere.  We left town with about 14L of water between the two of us.  If it sounds like the riding is getting better and better for us, that’s because it is.  Coming and going, via Moab, makes for some great riding.  

Thanks to Cass for the initial route recon, back in the fall of 2009.  That summer, he and I crossed paths for the first time at the Off the Chain Co-op in Anchorage, AK.  He visited our humble trailer along the banks of the Nenana River a few weeks later after riding south from Deadhorse.

Leaving Moab at dark, we shoot for some public land.  Camping in the west has spoiled us.

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We awake to the sounds of a small spring only several miles from Moab.  An early start is becoming more common, as food and water scarcity challenge us to keep moving at a healthy pace.

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Seemingly, it is 30 degrees in the shade, but 70 degrees in full sun.  Clear skies at 5000ft make October an excellent month to visit Utah.

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Our first climb reaches toward Hurrah Pass, less than 1000ft above.  Then, we drop down toward the Colorado River on the Lockhart Basin Road.

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Leaving the Kane Creek drainage, toward Chicken Corners.

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Up to Hurrah Pass.

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Since landing in Denver, I’ve done extensive work on our bicycles to get them back into top (well-used) condition.  Most notably, this includes new cables and housing, and some new drivetrain parts.  To replace worn chainrings on my crank, I ordered a new RaceFace Ride crank for about $100.  A new Shimano SLX derailleur was included to replace the uninspiring slop in the previous rear derailleur, which had been cobbled together from parts in New Mexico.  In haste, I ordered a newer 10sp SLX derailleur, which didn’t like my friction shifters and 8sp cassette and chain.  The system functioned, technically, although 10sp gear utilizes a different cable pull from the shifter (much like SRAM equipment), requiring a real big push of the thumb to access the climbing gears.  The eventual solution is a used $20 Shimano XT derailleur from Moab Classic Bike,  a hip little shop in a town obsessed with high-tech all-mountain machines.  The SLX unit is shipped home in a box with some other stuff.  The big ring — all 44 unnecessary teeth– is removed, in favor of: chainring to rock clearance, a shorter chain for crisper shifting, and a little less weight.  Works great, with less room for mud to hide when the trail gets thick.  For now, 32×22 rings up front, and an 11-32 8sp cassette in the rear.  That’s 16 gears!  

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The view from the top, near Hurrah Pass, looking down on Kane Creek.

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An unspectacular feat– the climb to Hurrah Pass is small change compared to the climbs on the Kokopelli Trail.

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The otherworldly vistas are unlike anywhere we’ve ever been, certainly a long way from Ukraine.  Note the broadly curving anticline, of the arch-like curvature of the sedimentary layers.

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This might be the best weather of the year.  Riding temperatures are perfect.  Nights are cool to cold, but we are well prepared for much colder weather. 

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Stick to the Lockhart Basin Road, as the route to Chicken Corkers cuts right, toward the Colorado River.

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This is where the trail gets tough.  Excepting these few pushes over chunky, rocky, boulder-filled slickrock canyons, the route is extremely rideable.  Just a few unrideable pushes in this section, before riding back onto something more like a ‘road’.

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A road in there somewhere…

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Rideable, once again.

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The route is easy to follow, especially as all two or three major junctions are signed– there aren’t too many places to get lost.  However, we were following a GPS track of the route, so navigation was a breeze.  A few rock cairns help locate the route along the way.

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The basin is a broad topographic low, adjacent to the Colorado River, characterized by canyons and valleys, and the resultant ridges and spires.  The route follows the edge of the canyon the entire way, hugging steep cliff walls for miles.

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While constantly undulating, the route hovers right around 4500ft.

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There is no shortage of chunky road to navigate, although most of it is fun to ride quite fast.  We’ve enjoyed these rides, like the Kokopelli Trail, that blend wide-open dirt roads and rough technical tracks.

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Shadows grow longer, for a memorable early-evening descent.

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Lael claims this might be her favorite ride ever!

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A six mile road leads down to the Colorado River, but to preserve our southward trajectory, we stick to the main road.  It looks like a worthwhile detour. 

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Ride until dark, camp, ride again.  Overland travel by bicycle in the west has a nice rhythm.

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Moments before dark, Lael laces up her shoes for a run.  Not a day passes that she doesn’t aim to go running, often for an hour or more.

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Sunset, and sunrise are worth a few moments of our time.  So are the stars, and the mornings, and afternoons, and evenings– never a bad time of day or night, this time of year.NicholasCarman0001 915

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In addition to rocky, chunky tracks, sandy washes are also best navigated on larger tires.  

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Back on Highway 211, we detour several miles to the west to pick up some water.  The Needles Outpost is a private facility near the entrance to Canyonlands National Park.  Water is available in gallon jugs for a price.  Free water is available inside the park, a few miles further, for a $5 entrance fee.  Riding east on Highway 211, you should encounter surface water in several places along Indian Creek, although cattle ranching in these parts mean a reliable purification or filtration system is necessary.  Not sure is these streams run dry mid-summer.  Water levels seem good this time of year, or perhaps just this year.  

At least the water is still cheaper than gas, which goes for $6.50 a gallon.  Edward Abbey, who was a park ranger in these parts, would be happy to see the price of fuel.  

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Continuing south, we have our eyes on Elk Ridge Road over the southern portion of the Manti-LaSal National Forest, which eventually connects to Highway 95.  From the end of the Lockhart Basin Road, the Needles Outpost is 4 miles west; the beginning of Beef Basin/Bridger Jack Mesa Roads (to Elk Ridge Road, FR 88) is about 8 miles east on Hwy 211, with a pit toilet and information board at the head of the road.  Monticello is about 45 miles from here.

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Lael devours the last few pages of her novel, Pretty Boy Floyd, by Larry McMurtry. to save weight in her pack.  She’s already carrying the replacement novel by Tom Robbins, purchased for 50 cents at the Moab Public Library.  She loves the Moab library.

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She leaves it on the message board at the head of Beef Basin/Bridger Jack Road, amongst notes from climbers and hunters.  The area is a very popular climbing destination.

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Into the mountains!

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