Lael’s Stumpjumper

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While in Israel, Lael ordered a 2015 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon World Cup through The Bicycle Shop in Anchorage, AK. This is my third season working at the shop, and my first full summer in Anchorage. 

Lightweight, simple, comfortable.  The Small frame ensures the reach that Lael needs, and enables a comfortable perch in the aero bars.  She threw a leg over a Medium Stumpjumper in Tel Aviv and it felt too big for the task, although it might have worked as an everyday mountain bike, just not with the aero bars.  We needed a bike that could be built and ready to ride within a week of our return.  A complete bike made the most sense.

We relaced the SP PD-8X dynamo hub with new DT Revolution spokes and alloy nipples to the same Light Bicycle 35mm rims which have carried Lael all around the world this past year.  I installed my Supernova E3 Triple headlight and E3 Pro taillight on custom brackets to the aero bars and the non-drive side seatstay.  Hammering, bending, and drilling steel rack stays into useful light brackets is one of my favorite tasks.

We changed the stock 32T chainring to a 36T Race Face narrow-wide ring for the ride down, mounted to a North Shore Billet 104BCD spider, which technically enables the use of any 104BCD ring.  In Banff, Lael swapped the NSB spider for a direct mount 36T SRAM X-Sync chainring.  The chainline on the NSB spider wasn’t ideal.

The stock RockShox SID Brain fork was replaced with the Specialized Chisel carbon fork.

XTR Race pedals. 

Stock bars were replaced with Salsa Salt Flat bars which have a slightly wider 31.8mm section in the center to mount the aero bars.  Even so, they are clamped at the very edge of the section where the bars begin to taper down to 22.2mm.  It works.  The Salt Flat bars are cut down to about 700mm, with Ergon GS2 grips. 

Tires for the ride down to Banff are Specialized Electrak, set up tubeless until Lael blew one off the rim with a compressor on the Cassiar Highway and had to beg the owner of the Bell II lodge to borrow a 2.4″ Maxxis Ardent for the ride to Smithers, and the nearest bike shop.  For the race, 2.2″ Specialized Fast Trak Grid in the rear and 2.35″ Schwalbe Racing Ralph Snakeskin in the front, both tubeless.

Luggage includes custom Revelate Designs waterproof seatpack, extra voluminous and weather-sealed, as specified; a custom framebag with new UltraZip technology; a custom Lael Can top tube bag; and a stock Gas Tank, all black. 

A water bottle is mounted to a King Cage top cap mount and a second cage is neatly taped to the underside of the downtime, both Specialized Rib cages. 

The piece of 31.8mm plastic tubing used to package the Profile Design aero bars is drilled and zip tied between the aero bars as a mounting point for the Garmin eTrex GPS and cycle computer.

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Lael’s friend Julie made the drive from the states to visit in Banff in the days leading up to the race.  Julie, Lael and I all lived together about a hundred years ago when we were just kids in college.  Mostly, I collected bikes and funk records and Lael and Julie liked to dance and ride bikes.

The roll out from Banff, photos by Julie Weis.

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With Jill Homer and Katie Monaco.

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Pre-race meet.

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Colin Saman, a recovering roadie with a newfound interest in cycle trucks, fatbikes, and cross racing.  Colin ripped the Bosque trails in Albuquerque a few years ago on a borrowed Moonlander, when he rolled through town.  That was our first meeting.  Those images are featured in Bunyan Velo, Issue #1.

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Down the Goat Creek Trail, just a pink dot for the next two weeks.  Go Lael!

In her first day, Lael pedaled 183 mi before a 2.5 hour bivy.  She rose before sunrise and continued through the remote Canadian Flathead section.  She will cross the border around noon on Saturday, hoping to reach Whitefish by the end of the day.  After a cold wet day on the trail, the forecast looks dry and sunny for most of the week.

Follow the Tour Divide 2015 on Trackleaders.com.

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Bikepacking Israel event: References, resources, routes

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Join us Saturday night in Kfar Sirkin, Israel for an evening celebrating the simple pleasure of traveling by bicycle.  We’ve been in the country for three months, most often on or near the HLC track, joining weekend training missions to prepare for the HLC, touring the HLC, sharing the HLC with our friend Christina from Alaska (above), racing the HLC, and in my case, chasing HLC racers with my camera.  A collection of printed images will be on display from our time in Israel including postcard sized individual rider portraits from the HLC, which I will offer as a gift to all HLC riders.  All other images are for sale, so bring some shekels.  Help me lighten my load for the flight on Monday.

This reference is a companion to our bikepacking event in Israel.  For those unable to attend, some technical meat is contained in the links below, although we won’t talk about gear the whole time, I promise.  For a dose of inspiration, including words and images from our last few years by bike, dig deeper into the blog.  The search bar at the top of the page is a good place to start; the chronology or word cluster at the bottom is a fun way to navigate as well.  Be sure to read more about the other amazing riders listed below.

The equipment listed reflects a commitment to travel by bike and to an outdoor lifestyle, for more than half of each year.  It is not meant as a complete list, but only to share the more interesting choices.  Do not mistake the equipment we use as anything other than our best effort to enable the riding that we seek.  Each trip demands unique solutions, related as much to individual needs and preferences as the place or the weather or the terrain.  Lael has been sleeping without a sleeping pad for the past six weeks.  If you require a three inch cushion of air to sleep comfortably, don’t let us convince you otherwise.  Moreover, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it takes a lot of equipment to go bikepacking, especially here in Israel.  It doesn’t get any easier than Israel– the weather is great, the riding is great, you can camp all over the place, and if you really get in a bind you’ll have to fight off hordes of people who want to help.

I am especially proud of the list of European Bikepacking Routes, which I have extended to include the HLC and IBT in Israel.  This list is the result of 8 months of bikepacking across Europe, from Amsterdam to Athens via Ukraine, in the summers of 2013 and 2014.  Cheap flights from Tel Aviv enable access to some of the best bikepacking routes in the world, only a few hours away.  More established routes will appear in the next few years, and the opportunity for custom route design is limitless.  Read more about Bikepacking Europe: North Sea to the Black Sea in Bicycle Times #30.

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News, reviews, routes, and inspiration:

Bikepacker’s Magazine; USA/global

 

Routes:

European Bikepacking Routes

Pedaling Nowhere- Routes; USA/global

Bikepacking.net Routes (plus user-submitted routes); USA/global

 

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Luggage:

Complete list of bikepacking bag makers; global

Revelate Designs; the best, ready to ship from USA

Nuclear Sunrise; custom bags from Texas

InPack; custom framebags in Israel 

 

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Dynamo lighting and power:

Kerry Staite (K-lite) guide to dynamo lighting and charging

SP PD-8/PD-8X dynamo hubs; available from Intelligent Design Cycles

Supernova E3 lighting; E3 Triple headlight and E3 Pro taillight

Exposure Revo; light

K-Lite Bikepacker 600/1000; light

B&M USB-Werk; USB power

Sinewave Revolution; USB power

Forumslader; DIY charging designs (German)

Custom switches from K-Lite; recommended for most systems with lights and USB power

 

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Our favorite equipment:

Revelate Designs luggage

Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent

Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag

Mont-Bell Down Hugger #3 sleeping bag

Surly Krampus frame, lots of tire clearance

Paul Thumbies, thumb shifter mounts

Syntace P6 high-flex carbon seatpost

Answer 20/20 carbon handlebars

Light Bicycle 35mm carbon rims

Derby 35mm carbon rims, heavy duty

Ergon grips

Brooks B17 saddle

King Cage Top Cap water bottle mount

Maxxis Ardent tires, EXO or LUST casing

Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes

Fujifilm X100T digital camera

CrankBrothers M17 multi-tool

MSR Titan 0.8L titanium cookpot

Penny Stove, ultralight alcohol stove

 

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Inspiration:

Bunyan Velo; edited by Lucas Winzenburg

While Out Riding; Cass Gilbert

El Taraumara; Michael Dammer

Pedaling Nowhere; Logan Watts

Pedaling in Place; Joe Cruz

Zen on Dirt; Ezster Horanyi

Diary of Scott Morris; Scott Morris

Mjolnir of Bjørn; Bjørn Olson

Mike Howarth

Salsa Cycles Blog; MN, USA

In other words, from AK to ZA

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Dundee is a gorgeous town in the Battlefields region of the KwaZulu-Natal province.  The air is humid, the land green; trees are a growing resource for shade after weeks in the veld.  The city is an unusually un-segregated mix of black and white, bustling with small town commerce, equal parts derelict and shiny new.  A lack of abandoned storefronts is a feature in a rural town in South Africa, as in America.  The Dragon’s Spine route has ushered us through the open roads of the karoo and over the mountain highlands of Lesotho, and back into South Africa.  Leaving the country for two weeks and arriving in another province and another climate is startling and exciting.  The South Africa we left behind is different than the South Africa we discover in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, but not altogether different.  We rode about 30km of gravel railroad service roads yesterday from Elandslaagte to Dundee.  In Dundee we’ve just been interviewed by the local newspaper, the Northern KwaZulu-Natal Courier.  The woman at the local tourist office phoned a correspondent from the paper.  We stand in front of our bikes outside the office for a photo.

In spite of the recent drought on the blog, several outlets have published materials originating from our mad traveling contraption.  Soon, we return to your regularly scheduled program.  Enjoy!

The Salsa Cycles Blog has published “Riding to a Glacier” about an impromptu ride from our front door in Anchorage, AK to the Knik Glacier.  While the events have been documented on the blog, this is an original adaptation, featuring Lael, Christina, and the inimitable Carp, who can ride through waist-deep water.  Thanks to Mike Riemer for sharing our home-brew adventures with the Salsa community!

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The Revelate Designs Blog features “A Letter from South Africa”, in which I complain about white people who complain about being white in a country where being white is still a great privilege.  But we meet some of the loveliest people in the karoo, “these people have hearts the size of Africa.  It is money and politics which lack heart, I suppose.”  There are details about broken carbon, a failed $90 tire, more dead zippers, and a USB charging device that quit after a month–  a must read for curious gear heads.  There are details about the groundbreaking luggage designs in use on our bikes.  Thanks to Eric Parsons for epically creative luggage and the chance to speak candidly about life on the road.

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The new Routes page on Pedaling Nowhere is a growing resource of established routes and creative additions to our community.  It brings detailed and visual route information to one place, including inspiring images, essential stats, and route descriptions.  There are many ways to find and design routes, but this resource has a lot of potential to connect more people with more riding.  I’ve shared three routes from our European adventures alongside classic rides from Cass Gilbert, Joe Cruz, Logan Watts, Tom Walwyn, and more.  Thanks to Logan Watts for the visual and technical expertise to create such a powerful site.  Just don’t follow any of his bikepacking tips— as always, drink real beer!

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Another great place to discover routes is Bikepacking.net, one of the oldest resources of its kind.  There is a growing list of bikepacking routes, an active forum, and an user-supported database of gear reviews, trip reports, and tech.  I recently added the Bike Odyssey race route in Greece to the page.  Sign up to become a member of the forums or to add content to the page.  If you haven’t yet heard of Scott and the mammoth bikepacking scavenger hunt he and Eszter completed this past summer on the Continental Divide Trail (not the Great Divide Route!), you should also write to thank him for the concept of a bikeable Arizona Trail (AZT), and for the Coconino Loop, the Gila River Ramble, and other SW-area routes.  He’s also the guy behind Trackleaders.com and Topofusion mapping software, and has inspired riders to carry their bikes for over ten years.  A veteran bike adventurer and computer programer, I crown him “The Wizard” of bikepacking.  Thanks Scott!

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Bikepackers Magazine, in collaboration with Bikepacking.net, has compiled a resource called the 2014 Bikepacking Year in Review.  Lael and I are featured among a list of accomplished racers and riders, including Mike Hall, Kurt Refsnider and Jay Petervary; Scott Morris, Eszter Horanyi, Cass Gilbert, Kurt Sandiforth, Bjorn Olson and Kim McNett.  Bikepackers Magazine is a top resource for bikepacking news.

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Lastly, the Anchorage Dispatch News published an article about us just before we left town in July, entitled “Bike-work routine allows couple to take long cycling treks”.  Lael and I lived in Anchorage for the winter and organized an event called “The Art of Bikepacking”.  Held at The Bicycle Shop on Dimond, I shared a series of photographic prints from our travels in Europe; Eric Parsons of Revelate Designs spoke about the history of his company; and Dan Bailey shared professional tips for amateur adventure photographers like us.  Thanks to Erik Hill for the exposure in the ADN.

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