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  1. #1
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    Dave's Hairy Monster.

    Day One.

    The Omnivore needed to head north for more educatin', but wanted to get one last glimpse of the landscape he plans to call home before excusing himself for a year. He asked if I had an idea on how we might immerse ourselves into said landscape, see a few sights, and maybe camp a few nights under the stars.

    An idea? Yeah, I had <a href="http://2-epic.com/?page_id=518">an idea</a>.

    Packs loaded, chains lubed, weather websites perused and tires aired up, we rolled out--and straight to a pharmacy. I didn't catch exactly what it was that ailed him--he mumbled something about '<span style="font-style:italic;">atrocious gas</span>' and '<span style="font-style:italic;">hairy palms</span>' as he ambled off inside.


    We stowed some emergency calories in our bellies and on the bikes, then saddled up and followed Dave's GPS track through and out of town.


    For those that haven't gotten on the GPS program yet, I gotta tell ya it has really <span style="font-weight:bold;">e</span>volutionized touring. You can still opt to take maps and cue sheets if you like, but they've become largely superfluous (not to mention much slower and more cumbersome) once you're accustomed to your GPS unit. A glance at the screen every few minutes tells you if you're off the designated route, and intermittent waypoints (created, in most cases, by the route's mastermind) point out confusing intersections, good potential campsites, and, most importantly, water sources. While I refuse to allow a cell phone to bring unwanted chaos to my life, I'm no luddite. GPS is not perfect but the pluses far outweigh the minuses and touring is infinitely improved by it.

    Dave's route wound us immediately south into Arizona for the better part of the afternoon. Scenery included oodles of red dirt, oceans of red and buff colored rock, a deep, dark blue sky, and many spiny things. For company we had each other and the wind.




    TO decided that the trail wasn't entertaining enough, opting to add some excitement with the first of (what seemed like) 70 or 80 flats.


    The coolness of the day meant that we hadn't used much water, but Coyote Spring looked too appetizing to skip. The hundreds of bees surrounding it would seem to agree.


    That same coolness also lent a certain flavor to the low desert: In my mind it felt much <span style="font-style:italic;">higher</span>. Dunno exactly why.


    A stinger of a climb up the Honeymoon trail awaited us near suppertime. TO flatted again just as we started ascending, leaving me free to grind the lower stretches and plod the upper stuff at my preferred slothlike pace.


    Riding together up top, we roller coastered almost due north toward familiar ground. Although the trails of Gooseberry Mesa are not a part of the route (blasphemy!), just sensing their proximity put a little extra pep in my step.


    The golden hour found us cruising the swoopy sweetiousness of the J.E.M. singletrack as a waxing 3/4 moon floated ghostly over Zion.








    We rolled into Virgin at dark, topping off our water and onion ring stores at the one-horse tourist trap up the road. The steepness of the ensuing Smith Mesa climb was nearly negated by the perfect-for-climbing-in-the-dark temps and the more-than-adequate-for-riding illumination of the moon. Atop Smith Mesa we called it a night, unfurled our sleeping gear, and passed out.

    This was day 1 of 6. Stay tuned--much more to come.

    MC
    Last edited by mikesee; 10-25-2009 at 10:47 AM.

  2. #2
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    MC, you definitely live the life Great post, excellent pics, thanks for sharing.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  3. #3
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    Great post! What's your Lenz setup? 4" Leviathan?
    Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. Benjamin Franklin

  4. #4
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    Mike, I like your more-subtle-than-usual post processing on these. Looks like a fantastic adventure! Keep 'em coming!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dinoadventures
    Mike, I like your more-subtle-than-usual post processing on these. Looks like a fantastic adventure! Keep 'em coming!
    Thanks, I think, for the compliment?

    Perhaps it was the light and scenery that was more subtle? I didn't really do anything different--a little cropping, an occasional sepia filter, and an even more occasional tweak of exposure. Or maybe my monitor settings have changed?

    Dunno.

    MC

  6. #6
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    Day Two.

    The wind continued unfettered all through the wee hours, but we scarcely noticed through the fatigue of our first day out. In short, sleep was very, very good.

    Up and rolling shortly after sunup gave us superdelicious warm light to ride in, and through, on our way north.




    A good chunk of the day was spent riding near to and inside of Zion National Park. You can't "see" Zion from any road, but still--this kind of preview didn't suck.


    Because of strict no-bikes-on-trail rules in the park, as well as all of the private land surrounding it, we spent the lion's share of the day riding dirt and paved <span style="font-style:italic;">roads</span>. We knew that Dave had agonized over where and how to send the route, and figured that the options must have been slim indeed. We had to get north <span style="font-style:italic;">somehow</span> to tie into the alpine trails that we hoped would follow, so we enjoyed the views and tolerated the roads.








    The higher we climbed the more the wind prevailed, and the more evidence of full-time wind existed.


    TO seemed not to mind the soul-crushing roads quite as much as I did. Truth be told he nailed it on the head when he said, <span style="font-style:italic;">"You have an exceptionally low tolerance for 'em"</span>. I guess I just don't understand why anyone would choose to ride a <span style="font-style:italic;">mountain</span> bike somewhere that a car can be driven. So limiting, so uninspiring, so lacking in challenge and, more importantly, fun. A seaweed fueled break, complete with micro-nap, gave me the gumption to get back on the bike and unwind more not-so-skinny.


    Kolob Reservoir provided another welcome respite, as well as water to get us through the rest of the day.


    Above Kolob we climbed out of the red rock and into lava underlaid aspen groves.




    Not a single cloud blighted the sky all day. We looked *hard* for 'em, fearing the incessant wind would bring snow to end our trip early. Not one.


    Above Cedar City.


    The GPS track led us onto the "C" trail, and the best riding of the day immediately assaulted us. Wall ride!


    Arriving in town at sunset left us little choice but to stop for the night. The ensuing <span style="font-style:italic;">road</span> climb up Cedar Canyon is narrow, twisty, and long, and people drive fast on it, none of which sounded appealing to us in the dark. We sprung for a forty-dollar room and indulged in a hot mexican meal at the burrito joint next door. Then, of course, some bad TV followed by blessed sleep.

    More to come.

    MC
    Last edited by mikesee; 10-25-2009 at 10:51 AM.

  7. #7
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    Great Stuff Mike thanks, Keep'em coming

  8. #8
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    Really, really nice photo work Mike!

  9. #9
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    Awesome. I love your pics of these long exploration rides. Thanks!

  10. #10
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    Inspirational, as always.

    As for converting others to the GPS, can I ask what you do about powering the damn things? On a six-day tour, mine would grind through--literally--handfulls of batteries, so it's never seemed a viable touring option for me.

    What's the work-around?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Val Garou
    Inspirational, as always.

    As for converting others to the GPS, can I ask what you do about powering the damn things? On a six-day tour, mine would grind through--literally--handfulls of batteries, so it's never seemed a viable touring option for me.

    What's the work-around?
    Well, I wasn't so much trying to convert folks as give them a reason to look into it. I know very few people that own GPS, and of these few have any idea how to do anything other than power it up. I wish that I had learned sooner, and I suspect there are many others in that same boat.

    I had a battery issue with mine (it ate 'em like candy) until I turned off the compass feature. Batt life literally doubled just with that one change, and navigation was unchanged--you still follow the track just as you did before.

    To answer directly, on some trips (high summer) I use rechargeable NiMH AA's and at most I'll need one set every ~20 hours of GPS use. That's ~2 days of riding on many of these trips. In colder temps I use lithium AA's, which last 50-60 hours of ride time. So on this trip, we rode for ~6 days, and I swapped batts twice, and the last set is still in there with hours of use left. Hard to beat that.

    Cheers,

    MC

  12. #12
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    I have been using my Garmin for short rides and touring for about a year. The only time I don't use it is on road rides. When you're (seemingly) lost in the woods and it's getting dark fast, GPS is hard to beat. It has also saved me from a snowy night in the woods while deer hunting.

    Like MC, I use rechargables as well, with ~2100 mAhr battery life. I just keep some extras in reserve.
    Too many bikes, not enough time.

  13. #13
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    Great photos as always, Mike.

    Kosmo and I are looking forward to riding with you, tomorrow. I rode his Sultan today while he was on his Superfly 100, for 29.5 miles on Bookcliffs trails. (Sections near the lots were too crowded, but most was fine.) Good times. Tomorrow he'll be on the Sultan and I'll be on my frightfully slow 26er, but I expect you and he will be able to challenge each other if you see fit.
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  14. #14
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    fantastic photos. Please keep them coming.

  15. #15
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    Day Three.

    Waking up with Al, and learning that it was dang cold outside that motel room door!


    We dilly dallied until the sun was pretty high, then started working our way up the canyon.

    Locally we call it chamisa. Nomenclature aside, this stuff is hardy!


    The first ~90 minutes of our day looked a lot like this. Nice grade, nice temps, nice light.


    I *did* mention it was cold, right?


    Leaving pavement was a relief, made even better by turning quakies and tacky trail.


    This pic has everything--action, intensity, bling, mystery, and...

    ...Red Vines?


    Three days running the sky looked *exactly* like this. Not a single contrail, much less a cloud.


    Artsy fartsy leaf shot, cleverly disguising (flavoring?) the waters of Lundell spring.


    Now I'm not naming names here, but someone in this photo has a problem that over the counter meds haven't been able to solve. No report on whether the prescription stuff has worked any better...


    The number and attitude of these downed trees (and the ones visible ahead) suggested avalanche, but it was hard to see where the momentum came from. Aliens, perhaps?


    Most of the VRRT was easily rideable with great flow through gladed groves and open meadows.


    Trailwork happens. Thanks!


    Cold overnight temps gave way to purrrrrfect mid-day riding conditions. With the exception of a bit of lingering wind, a guy would be hard pressed to ask for better than what we got.


    I'd been toting my packable fly rod from the start, hoping to put it to use in providing a meal for us somewhere along the way. I envisioned stumbling onto a pile of spawning brookies once on Boulder Mountain, but that was several days away and here we were, today, with access to a lake fulla rainbows and no schedule to keep.


    TO was game to nap while I played with the fishies. I asked a few lakeside old codgers (you know the kind--sitting in their favorite lawn chair, 6-pack cooler on one side, tackle box on the other, line in the water with bobber bobbing, "I'd rather be fishing" or "Ask me about my grandchildren" or "John Deere" on their ball caps) if they'd had any luck ("Not really") and if so, what the fish were hitting.

    To a man the answer was a disgusted and confused (as if the answer were so obvious that even the local Democrats knew) "Powerbait".

    Shoulda known...

    We were back on the trail (skunked!) after 15 minutes spent untangling monofilament, courtesy of gusty winds. Didn't even *see* a fish...

    But the trail we rode back onto, 'twas veddy veddy nice.


    Ascending switchbacks, micro-tech sections, roots, rocks, and even an occasional downed tree to hop. Without a doubt the VRRT was some of the most fun and interesting riding we did.


    Some pretty OK views too.


    Almost full...


    Near the end of the VRRT we dismounted the bikes, walked a ways out into the woods, then set up camp. Tarps strung between trees, bags unstuffed and pads inflated, water heated, meals rehydrated and eaten, teeth brushed, et cetera. Then kindling was gathered, wood collected, and fire struck. After a time, aspen and spruce transformed into glowing embers. Conversation ebbed and flowed, problems solved, new ones discovered, then they too were solved. Ducking the smoke, leaning away from the heat of a newly added log, subconsciously moving closer as the pile burned down.


    Living, plain and simple.

    MC

  16. #16
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    Nice photos, as always.

    I'm not a GIS professional, but I play one at work. That, combined with my geology background has made me feel like an idiot with consumer-grade GPS. Most of that is being unfamilar with the software, and I haven't really rolled up my sleeves to learn it yet. I finally picked one up this year, partly for recording rides but mostly for river trips. Another part of it comes down to not liking to navigate from a matchbook-sized screen. I understand what you mean by seeing in a glance if you're on the track, though.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Arriving in town at sunset left us little choice but to stop for the night. The ensuing <span style="font-style:italic;">road</span> climb up Cedar Canyon is narrow, twisty, and long, and people drive fast on it, none of which sounded appealing to us in the dark. We sprung for a forty-dollar room and indulged in a hot mexican meal at the burrito joint next door. Then, of course, some bad TV followed by blessed sleep.

    More to come.

    MC
    You should have given me a holler Mike, I live within a couple of blocks from where you were staying.

  18. #18
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    Inspiring stuff - particularly over here in the muddy/wet uk! What length fork on the Inbred btw?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenLightGo
    Great post! What's your Lenz setup? 4" Leviathan?
    Yep, 4" Lev with a 120 Reba. Come to think of it, I don't think I have any pics of the complete build yet, despite having it for ~6+ weeks now.

    I'll try to rectify that later in the week.

    MC

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Yep, 4" Lev with a 120 Reba. Come to think of it, I don't think I have any pics of the complete build yet, despite having it for ~6+ weeks now.

    I'll try to rectify that later in the week.

    MC
    Must ber yer XC/racer boy bike what with that QR front fork there.

    Nice pics! Thanks for all the effort to post these.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted
    Must ber yer XC/racer boy bike what with that QR front fork there.
    There be strange things afoot with that fork, hence the QR. But you probably already guessed that...

    Def-o-netly the XC bike. 120/100, no thru-axles, custom bars and bags, friendly gears, etc... Pretty much tailor made for all day (or many days) in the alpine.

    Once I'm done with the TR I'll try to put together a BR with all the details.

    MC

  22. #22
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    Very nice mc. I really have to do some trips next year. Have all winter to plan.

    Another battery saver trick for the GPSr is to turn the screen/page to something like the Trip Data page. Only displaying numbers will help because the map page is always redrawing the whole page.

  23. #23
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    So is the Reba on the Inbred at 120?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clink
    So is the Reba on the Inbred at 120?
    Si.

  25. #25
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    Soooo is it run with lots of sag? Wondering how it affects steering as frame is set up for 100mm.

  26. #26
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    Day four.

    Waking at sunrise, the view from the bag.


    Neither of us moved very fast to get on the trail this morning. That fact may have had something to do with the cold temps up here at ~9k', may have had roots in the frequent rude awakenings we'd experienced at the hands of oblivious (they never knew we were there) and intoxicated late-night ATV joyriders, or it could simply have been that we were tired from the effort of touring.

    Whichever it was we moved slow in packing up, even briefly rekindling the embers from the fire, and then once back on the trail we just kinda collectively shuffled along. No hurry, no schedule, stopping for whatever reason (or no reason at all) was just fine.

    It was around lunchtime that I realized what the *real* cause for TO's lackadaisicality had been: Withdrawal.


    A new man walked out of that gas station, fully charged on several cups o' mud. He pushed the pace (relatively speaking) the rest of the day, animated the conversation, and took the initiative to think proactively about our water needs. An amazing transformation, all at the hands of a few hundred milligrams of caffeine.

    But that was all on TO's end. I'm not afflicted with any kind of liking for coffee, so after we left the gas station I pretty much continued to drag ass, relatively speaking, the rest of the day.

    Working our way up one of the steeper bits of Pole Canyon.


    What we saw when we popped out on top.




    Many clouds in the sky today, pushed (pulled?) along by the everpresent wind. We got so used to the blow that it was only in very brief (and very protected) moments that we noticed the odd absence of it. And then we'd be right back in it. Dressing for the day meant dressing for wind chill and immediate evaporation of any perspiration. Easy enough.


    For the next chunk of hours the trail dipsy-doodled along the edge of the Sunset Cliffs. ATV-width trail, often badly eroded, led us back and forth from the cliffs to mixed groves of aspen and spruce.








    Ever wonder what that stuff looks like up close, what the glue is that holds it all together?

    Mud.


    Such stunning views tend, eventually, to desensitize you to the stuff closer at hand. I fought to remain sensitized.


    Someone had to.


    We descended a quick, exhilarating ~thousand feet into a dry creek bottom, where shandy track awaited.


    A proliferation of healthy oak argued for the likelihood of water nearby.


    TO checked the cues and found it so--not a mile ahead we came upon this clear running spring.


    When I moved out west ~17 years ago, childhood friends afflicted with the "<span style="font-style:italic;">Here's better</span>" bug would attempt to argue that fall colors were far superior 'back home' compared to the 'just yellow' that we get in the mountains.




    To this day I just nod and agree.




    Working our way out of the valley and back onto the flanks of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Big trees, big views, little us.








    Lots more 'just yellow' greeted us as we approached Water Canyon.


    Although the riding got better and better as the sun set and moon rose, the wind had increased to the extent that we were having a hard time seeing the trail. Too much wind-whipped dust illuminated by our headlamps culminated in an awkward slow speed endo for me. We called it a night at Mill Creek Canyon, comfortably insinuating ourselves into the bosom of the big trees dominating that spot. Sinfully thick beds of duff twixt our pads and the earth, a small but bright blaze to warm our faces and feet, murmurs of appreciation as we tucked into our meager trail fare. TO crashed out a bit before I did, giving me a few minutes of silence to be thankful for roadless places, the health and wealth to get to them, and a companion so tolerant of my intolerance and other idiosyncratic behaviors.

    Then I passed out.

    MC

  27. #27
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    Hell yes.

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    Outstanding. Hard to believe there's a third yet to come....

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    Thanks!

    Ahhh, I'm stuck at home sick... at least there's living vicariously through your posts... keep 'em rolling!

    S
    "You know how they make aluminum bike frames? They take steel and suck out all the soul..."

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigWheeler
    Awesome. I love your pics of these long exploration rides. Thanks!
    Yes love em and your awesome pics! Multi-day trail ride reports rock...keep em coming please!
    Get off the couch and ride!

  31. #31
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    Wow. Just wow.
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  32. #32
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    Man! Ambitious and fantastic route. Well played. Beautiful shots and non-rambling verbage. Very nice.

    It's obvious that with the thousands of miles of backroads, trails, quadtrack, and what not right out my front door I need to get some bike packing gear, figure out how to use my GPS for more than just a glorified odometer, and get exploring. Your reports always inspire me.

    Thanks.
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  33. #33
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    Thanks Mike! That's beautiful.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clink
    Soooo is it run with lots of sag? Wondering how it affects steering as frame is set up for 100mm.
    Clink, if you are referring to the Leviathan, I believe that Mike is riding the new Leviathan with the geometry revised toward the 120mm fork on the 4". The new 3" is set up for the 100mm.

  35. #35
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    Very best way to start the day, at 5:00 AM, in my cubicle.

    You do the Rockies so much better than I did when I was there.

    Thanks

  36. #36
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    Thanks for making my rainfill New England day much better with those pictures!!!

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    Clink, if you are referring to the Leviathan, I believe that Mike is riding the new Leviathan with the geometry revised toward the 120mm fork on the 4". The new 3" is set up for the 100mm.
    Thanks, but I was referring to the Inbred.

  38. #38
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    Thread of the year. Many thanks for distractions from rain and class.
    Quote Originally Posted by sickspeed16
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  39. #39
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    293s front and rear? Interesting.

    Mainly I want to subscribe to a great post.
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    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  40. #40
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    Love the autumn leaves pics... and the bit about folks back East wanting to pretend they have anything on the West. Looks like another awesome trip, Mike.

  41. #41
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    More! More! More!

  42. #42
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    Mikesee, this forum is lucky it's got you. Some mornings I'm uninspired, but you fix that with these awesome posts. Gracias.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by mward
    Mikesee, this forum is lucky it's got you.
    That's what I tell myself...

  44. #44
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    Day five.

    Wind blew hard all though the night.

    We'd grown accustomed to the heavy breeze while riding and gawking the past several days. You just can't stop long if you're sweaty, or you find a sheltered place to take a break, or you add a layer. Easy cheesy.

    But for some reason the wind got to me on this night. No doubt a critical factor was our choice of bivy spot--under big pines, and atop their delicious detritus: Duff.

    But what else falls with the duff?

    Cones. Bazillions of 'em.


    It only takes *one* landing close (no contact need be made) to put your (my) sensors on high alert. Then the gusting wind takes over and rustles the branches overhead, maybe flaps the corners of your tarp a bit, plops a few more cones, and voila--you aren't getting any more meaningful sleep.

    TO sawed logs for hours, oblivious to the impending doom. Bastard.

    When finally there was enough light in the sky I got up and started prattling around, packing gear, munching on leftovers, happy just to be vertical again. Long nights this time of year = LOTS of camp time. TO stumbled around in a sleep hangover (bastard!) even longer than normal. Then we started up Mill Creek.

    The lower slopes were friendly enough grades to ride, even stiff and sore right outta the bag.


    But as we got higher the grade kicked up and the surface conditions deteriorated. Then we walked.

    Here's a glimpse of TO cresting the Mill Creek climb. On average the wind in this clip is a little heavier than what we'd had the first few days, and a little (OK, a lot) lighter than what we'd get for the next two.
    <object width="700" height="525"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7323179&amp;server=vimeo.com &amp;show_title=0&amp;show_byline=0&amp;show_portr ait=0&amp;color=ff9933&amp;fullscreen=1" /><embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7323179&amp;server=vimeo.com &amp;show_title=0&amp;show_byline=0&amp;show_portr ait=0&amp;color=ff9933&amp;fullscreen=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="700" height="525"></embed></object>

    Hairypants the route master had made some last minute trail tweaks just before sending us off, and hadn't actually been on-the-ground for a few of the upcoming miles. We never completely forgave him for the bushwhack away from BEAUTIFUL singletrack and onto another dang road.


    This view southeast over the Grand Staircase courtesy of another one of TO's flats.


    For the first time in days we felt hounded by the weather. Dark clouds, malevolent gusts, and an occasional spray of rain kept us anxious.




    There wasn't any singletrack to speak of, but we enjoyed a little-used ATV track with great flow.


    More yellow.


    Flowy track gave way to shand.


    A few miles of tailwind-aided momentum shot us onto the Skutumpah Road. Hair-o-rama's cues described it as easy cruising, which it emphatically was. Gradual and sometimes steep descending through stunning scenery, vaguely reminiscent of the Entrada Bluffs road a few hundred miles northeast. But Skutumpah was infinitely more enjoyable.


    Plus I just liked the way the word rolled off my tongue--it could be noun, adjective, or verb equally well. Skutumpah!

    Inches-deep wind drift across the otherwise graded road bed.


    Approaching Cannonville we got a good look at what we assumed would be the evening's conquest: Powell Point.


    I'd been subconsciously dreading that climb, knowing it was likely to whup me into a sniveling mess. More than normal, I mean.

    But once it came into view I got really motivated by the idea of making it up there to camp.

    We rolled into Tropic powered by a now-nuclear tailwind. I screamed back at TO that I didn't think I could push this much wind. I don't think he could hear me, but the statement would turn out to be oddly prophetic.

    An hour at the main tourist trap gave us our RDA of onion rings, double bacon cheeseburgers and, naturally, coffee. Then we reloaded bikes and packs with 3 days of vittles for the big push over the top and down to Boulder. As I coerced 2 lbs of M & M's into my frame pack, TO asked to borrow my spoke wrench. I dug it out and handed it over, thinking it odd that this was the second time he'd needed it. He disappeared to tend to his truing issues while I finished packing up.

    Loaded for bear we prepared to roll out.


    But something wasn't quite right with TO's wheel, and he asked me to have a look. I sighted down the left side of the wheel, turned a few nips, and quickly brought the wheel within ~1mm of true. But then I sighted down the right side and my jaw hit my knees. Huge, huge wobbles. TO had had a similar problem with this model of rim a few months previous. He suspected the rim was splitting circumferentially so he removed his tire, tube, and rim strip to have a look. Sure enough, cracks propagated from several of the spoke holes. His wheel was toast.

    Our trip was done.

    We spent a few minutes discussing options, which given our distant-from-a-bikeshop location included riding pavement or hitchhiking, either way just to get to his car in Boulder. The state of his wheel ensured that the former would quickly lead to the latter.

    After much discussion we opted to get a room and find a phone/computer in hopes that we could bribe someone to deliver a wheel. But it's just never that easy. Not a single room (out of hundreds!) was available in Tropic, despite the town being deserted. Sitting roadside in a 40+ mph breeze it was hard to think clearly. We both remembered a motel and campground back in Cannonville, but that was...

    Gah. Upwind.

    Granny gear would have been appropriate against that blow, but in granny you didn't have consistent enough chain tension to keep the bike upright. Not that I managed to keep it upright. We struggled much, I walked a little, and eventually we made it to that haven for weary travelers: KOA.

    I chuckled aloud when I walked into the wind-free office and read, "It's not camping, it's <span style="font-style:italic;">Kamping</span>"!

    One more day to go...

    MC

  45. #45
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    So uh what kind of rim was that?

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    Fantastic images and you're quite the story teller. I truely feel like I'm there with you guys!
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    Wow. Just WOW!

    This looks like so much fun I can't tell you. I need to do some rides like this!

    Thanks for sharing Mike!
    Last edited by goneskiian; 10-30-2009 at 12:18 PM.

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    The anticlimactic last day.

    When you're touring in SW Utah in late summer, and it's *this* cold...


    ...learn from my experience and take your time getting a move on. It can only get warmer.

    TO and I used our palatial-imitation Kabin to spread out gear, do some eating, and discuss our plan for the day. Getting a wheel was simply not going to happen. So we needed to get back to Boulder, a full-day's ride on pavement from where we sat. Without a doubt the scenery on that paved road is stellar, but I'd sooner gouge my own eyes out with spoons than ride more road. The past 5 days had given me *more* than my quota of tarmac and gravel for this year and some of next. We needed a better plan.

    Trouble was, we knew we couldn't rely on TO's wheel to make it more than a mile or two. So riding the trail was out. After all possibilities (even the ridiculous ones) were tossed out on the table, we came up with a simple plan. TO would hitch a ride to his car, fetch it, then start heading back this way. While he was hitching, I'd ride along our original intended route, hoping to make it as far as Pine Lake to meet him there. Once there we'd camp for the night, maybe fish a little, then call it a trip and head home.

    I headed out into a world blown free of dust and dirt--everywhere you looked seemed newly minted, especially the sky.


    Late morning these guys were melting under direct sunlight, but I never felt anything like 'heat' all through the day.


    I took my time on the paved stretch up to Tropic, toodled my way along the gravel headed east out of town, then rolled through Henderson Canyon trailhead to find...

    ...not much. There was sort of a hint of a trail to follow, so I pointed myself that way.

    For about 3 minutes the trail surface looked like this:


    Hardpacked and easy cruising. For about 3 minutes.


    And then it wasn't so firm. From what I could gather while walking the next 8 or 9 miles, someone had brought 15 or 20 beeves down from the high country and their collective hooves had obliterated the crust. Not much to do but grin and keep walking. Except that I didn't really grin.


    High in the canyon I found *some* of the perpetrators. Somewhere in there a narrow foot path used to exist...


    Erosion and defoliation specialists with a minor in sh1t production is what they are. I'll spare y'all the rant, just know that I have zero tolerance for private grazing on public lands. Nuff said.

    There were a few very, very short stretches where the beeves had clearly not relished obliterating the trail--so they'd gone off trail for a spell, leaving the original tread intact. And it was pretty sweet.


    Scrub oak turning.


    Getting really close to popping through the capstone here. Often throughout the day I'd turn to mention a thought or point something out to TO, but then I'd catch myself.


    I rolled down to Pine Lake (our meeting point) at 3ish and he wasn't there. I pedaled around the lake, through the campground, and back to the lake. Not finding him, and unwilling to sit still while the wind continued to suck precious heat away from me, I decided to spin uphill aways. Twiddling a friendly gear on this rough ATV track was a fine way to keep warm. As I pedaled along I fiddled with the GPS, ultimately guesstimating that Powell Point just might be reachable, for me, today. Lacking a better option, I set my sights on 'higher' and kept climbing.

    Long story short, I was cutting it close on time to tag the top then descend back down to meet TO at Pine Lake by dark. I ended up in full time-trial mode for over an hour, giving myself a luxuriant 2 minutes at the Point proper to take in the sights. Truth be told, the view was nice but the ~20 degree temps and 40mph wind didn't encourage relaxing and enjoying. I grabbed these few snapshots on the fly then got the flock outta there.










    Between the windchill at the Point and ~30 minutes of high speed descending, I was borderline hypothermic when I got back to the lake at dark. TO hadn't arrived and I was too cold to sit around waiting. I dug out my last layer and contemplated building a fire, but before I could finish zipping into it a pair of headlights rounded the bend and there he was. Phew.

    We loaded up the car, drove a minute to a somewhat wind-sheltered spot, made camp. Then spent the next few hours discussing his next ~year of study in AK, my wheelbuilding business, and every other thought that came to mind.

    All while staring into this:
    <object width="700" height="525"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7341777&amp;server=vimeo.com &amp;show_title=0&amp;show_byline=0&amp;show_portr ait=0&amp;color=ff9933&amp;fullscreen=1" /><embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7341777&amp;server=vimeo.com &amp;show_title=0&amp;show_byline=0&amp;show_portr ait=0&amp;color=ff9933&amp;fullscreen=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="700" height="525"></embed></object>

    What a great, great way to wrap up a summer.

    Thanks Dave.

    Thanks Pete.

    Until next time,

    MC

  49. #49
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    absolutely awesome!
    totally something I'm interested in.

    so what GPS unit did you guys use?
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    What a great, great way to wrap up a summer.

    Thanks Dave.

    Thanks Pete.

    Until next time,

    MC

    And Thank YOU, Mike, for sharing all this with us!

  51. #51
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    Stunning and epic, Mike. A humble and heartfelt thanks the effort and taking us "along."
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  52. #52
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    What a great adventure! Truely inspiring. Fantasitic narative and beautiful pictures. I am reminded by your travels that I need to take a camera with me when I ride. If I may ask, what camera did you use. Your photos are stunning!
    Nobody will hurt you more than yourself

  53. #53
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    Thanks for sharing that awesome experience. Photos are truly exceptional.

  54. #54
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    Most excellent, as usual. Keeps me coming back for more.


  55. #55
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    If you had my cell number in your non-existent cell phone I could have helped you guys out, not to mention a place to stay on the first night. Also hot coffee and cold beer, but I guess that wouldn't help you much either.

    Good thing you made it to Powell Point, helluva view.

  56. #56
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    I charge my Garmin and phone with a HYmini wind charger. Has battery storage, light, and USB port as well as a solar panel for daytime recharging.

    $50
    http://www.hymini.com/html/HYmini.html
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Dave's Hairy Monster.-img_2858.jpg  


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    Thread of the Summer/Year

    Absolutely amazing and awe inspiring thread........
    Mike, you really need to compile your travels/rides into a mountain biking documentary.
    Maybe a CD/DVD or at the very least, a pictorial essay "coffee table" book!
    Great stuff!

  58. #58
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    Mike, thanks for taking us along on your adventure.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cactus Jack
    Absolutely amazing and awe inspiring thread........
    Mike, you really need to compile your travels/rides into a mountain biking documentary.
    Maybe a CD/DVD or at the very least, a pictorial essay "coffee table" book!
    Great stuff!
    I'd buy it!

  60. #60
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    thanks again mc.

    monte

  61. #61
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    Lovely pics and story. Definitely living vicariously through you as I watch the rain fall and things turn muddy here!

    I have a Garmin 550t that I recently took bikepacking. If I keep the screen on dim instead of full brightness, the batteries lasted quite a while. In daylight, I could still see the light purple line with sunglasses on and could just tap the screen to get a better look at things and then it would return to dim mode fairly quickly if I wanted. One set of batteries (NiMH) last nearly two full days of constant use and playing with at night. Mounts function excellent on the stem if you know how to tighten a zip tie well. I bought mounts for all my bikes and now use the unit in constant full brightness mode set on "dashboard" mode for local rides. It records moving time, stopped time (or total time), average moving speed, etc. Expensive, but highly recommended. Bikepacking.net has a review of the new lower cost Garmin model that has similar features.

  62. #62
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    Amazing thread, mikesee, reminds me of Anthony's epics. Beautiful photos, and great write-up. I have equal parts awe, and envy. Those of us that are unable to do rides like this thank you for posting, so we can be there vicariously.
    "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."
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    thank you so much AGAIN. your pictures are amazing. I am just learning photography and those photos are great.

    when are you going on another epic ride. we all want MORE!!!!!

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Plus I just liked the way the word rolled off my tongue--it could be noun, adjective, or verb equally well. Skutumpah!
    Or expletive! Cool word indeed.

    Skutumpah, this wind blows!!

    Can't believe you rode back against that wind for a KOA. Talk about soul crushing. Browsing through this nice little post with pretty pictures and beautiful views many of us start to believe that we could actually do something like this. Then you casually tell us about retracing your route into the face of a gale force wind how many miles? I think I would've just laid down in a fetal position on the side of the road and cried like a baby at that point. There are tough guys.... then there are folks like you who just totally scoff in face of suffering. Respect.
    I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth...
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  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by KRob
    Can't believe you rode back against that wind for a KOA. Talk about soul crushing. Browsing through this nice little post with pretty pictures and beautiful views many of us start to believe that we could actually do something like this. Then you casually tell us about retracing your route into the face of a gale force wind how many miles? I think I would've just laid down in a fetal position on the side of the road and cried like a baby at that point. There are tough guys.... then there are folks like you who just totally scoff in face of suffering. Respect.
    It was KOA or camping outside. Temps were fine for the latter, but with that kind of wind you just don't get much rest.

    WRT 'suffering', it's all relative to what you're used to. I "suffered" more following you for ~3 hours on your home trails than I did at any time on this 6 day trip. Too fast = suffering, to me. But 10-12 hours in the saddle, day after day after day, in heat or cold or wind, sounds like a relaxing, fun, quality way to spend time.

    YMM (and clearly does) V.

    MC

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    DHM, the details

    Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about this trip.

    First, the route track, waypoints, and cues can all be found at <a href="http://2-epic.com/?page_id=518">Dave Harris' TU site</a>.

    I used a Garmin GPSMap 60cs. I've owned it for 3 (4?) years now, and while it is far from perfect or even really good, it is predictable and functional and I don't want to buy a new one. Yet.

    Next, the total distance we covered was ~302 miles, with ~38,000' of climbing. Note that TO and I did NOT complete the entire planned route--we stopped short due to TO's wheel failure.

    Here's a profile of our route, with mileage on the horizontal axis and elevation on the vert.


    And here's a coarse overview.

    Looking at the above it'd be hard to argue with Hairypants' assessment that his course covers a 'spectacular chunk of planet earth'.

    Next, all of the pics and vid on this trip were shot with a <a href="http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=ModelInfoAct&fcategoryid=183&modeli d=17482">Canon A2000IS</a>. I like this little camera for a few reasons. Primarily that it is small (like that's a big deal anymore?!) and easy to carry and access. But I also like that it cost me ~$180, so if I kill it I can replace it and not worry too much about the $$$. My last favorite feature about it is that it uses AA batteries, so I can use NiMH rechargables in warmer months, and lithium when it's colder, and I can get batteries for it pretty much anywhere.

    TO shot this, er, shot a few days into this trip. My camera is in the black neoprene sleeve on the right shoulder strap.


    I've learned enough about photography (<-not very much at all!) the last few years that I can easily see all of the flaws and inadequacies in my shots. Most of them are user error--this little camera takes amazing shots if you let it. But even when I get everything right there are still some unavoidable pitfalls to cheap p&s cameras: Way-too-high pixel density, barrel distortion, whacked ISO and white balance, blown highlights, etc... These are unavoidable when using a point and shoot--even the high $$$ p&s cameras are going to have the same flaws.

    In order to 'step up' and get rid of these flaws I'll need to spend the $$$$($) and lug along a DSLR and at least two lenses, plus a filter or two and the attendant stuff needed to protect, clean, and keep it all clean. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, this seems unappealing. I'm not out there to create perfect images. My focus (<-snort!) is on experiencing some of the world outside, having a little adventure, moving light/fast/efficiently, and recording the trip to jog the memories later in life. Imperfect photos seem a small price to pay for the convenience and cost of the camera I'm using.

    Some folks that know a helluva lot more than I do about photography hold out hope that the recent introduction of micro four thirds cameras will bridge the gap and provide a decent solution for those of us looking for quality without the bulk and hassle of a DSLR. I'm happy to play wait and see on that one.

    Next, the bike.

    Obviously this is not the bike as it was packed for *this* trip--I don't seem to have a pic of it set up that way.

    It's a '10 LenzSport Leviathan 4.0, with a RockShox Reba 120. Wheels are DT Swiss 190 hubs laced to Stans Arch rims, with 2.0 Comp spokes and DT Prolock alloy nips. This wheelset is three seasons old now, and gets used for all of my alpine/XC/bikepacking rides in summer, as well as CX and road duty all winter. The rear shock is a Rock Shox Monarch 4.2. It has a platform feature (Motion Control) that I don't feel much need to use on this frame. It is lightly active, supple on small stuff, maintains traction well without blowing through travel when you stand and burst, and can easily keep up with the extra inch of travel afforded by the Reba up front when hauling the mail. Hard to imagine wanting a different bike than this one for pure XC *or* bikepacking--it just seems to do everything really well and without drama.

    Component highlights include SRAM twisters, Phil Wood square taper BB, Middleburn cranks, Action Tec ti rings in 20 x 29 up front, an 11-36 spread out back, and Egg Beater single ti's. Tires were/are tubeless (Bonty 29-3 up front, Specy Fasttrak Control 2.0 out back) run with a 60/40 blend of Stans goop and Tubeless Slime at ~23-24psi. No flats or air loss throughout the trip. They're good, solid, predictable XC tires with a decent combo of volume, grip, and rolling resistance. Everything else should be easily visible by clicking and zooming on the pic.

    Here is a *different* bike, but packed pretty much identically to the way I packed my Leviathan on this trip with TO.


    Frame pack was custom made by Eric at Epic Designs to fit the Lev's main triangle. I used a Sierra Designs 30* down bag, Big Agnes Primaloft insulated 2.5" thick sleep pad, Osprey Talon 22 pack, and a handful of other things that have been proven to work (by me, for me) on similar trips. Among these are a pepsi can stove, MSR filter, Fenix L1T AA LED light, Crank Bros multi tool and mini pump, custom Black Sheep 28" wide x 20* swept ti bars with 8oz of fuel stored inside, WTB Vigo saddle, Oakley Radar glasses w/polarized lenses, Lake MX90 shoes, head-to-toe wool from Ibex and others, and my newest favorite, the Tak shell from Loki.

    At the start, fully loaded with ~7 days worth of food, fuel, batts, 140oz of water, fly rod/reel/flies, zip ties, chain links, lube, spares, etc, etc... the bike weighed ~38lbs and my pack was ~18.

    Hope that helps--don't hesitate with questions.

    MC

  67. #67
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    Thanks for the detailed spec list Mike! Awesome to see how someone approaches a trip like this and I know I learned a thing or three from this.

    One question I have is "where" did you pack all of that gear as opposed to the "what you used". For example: Where did the sleep pad, sleeping bag, and stove/attendant bits go? Frame bag? Osprey pack?

    Thanks again for sharing all of this. Fantastic stuff as always!
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  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    But even when I get everything right there are still some unavoidable pitfalls to cheap p&s cameras: Way-too-high pixel density...
    Not sure what you mean by this, how is higher pixel density bad?
    This computer system is not intended for use in the operation of nuclear facilities. -Mac

  69. #69
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    Awesome.

    That setup looks SO much better than the racks and panniers I used 20 years ago. I just flipped through a friend's recent copy of Mountain Bike and it has an article on bikepacking that caught my eye. I have a Backpacking Light subscription and they were talking the same lingo.

    You may think you don't know much about photos, but I'd kill to have mine turn out like yours. I'm not in the market for a new camera yet myself, but I'm cautiously optimistic about some of the new breeds with larger sensors in a pocket-sized body. David Pogue's posts and reviews are a good one to watch from a beater's perspective. DPreview.com goes a little over my head.

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by fallzboater
    Not sure what you mean by this, how is higher pixel density bad?
    Not saying this is exactly what Mike means but many camera buffs are looking for better pixel quality, not more of them.
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  71. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by fallzboater
    Not sure what you mean by this, how is higher pixel density bad?
    When I started to think about how to answer, 2 things popped into my head:
    1) I'm such a hack photophile that I'll undoubtedly botch the answer, so head over to DPReview.com and read up. Higher pixel density isn't *always* bad, but compare any P&S to any DSLR and ask yourself why the density is so much lower on the DSLR's.
    2) This is the 29" forum!

    MC

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted
    One question I have is "where" did you pack all of that gear as opposed to the "what you used". For example: Where did the sleep pad, sleeping bag, and stove/attendant bits go? Frame bag? Osprey pack?
    My packing theory is nothing new: I *try* to get the heavier stuff onto the bike, and the lighter stuff on my back. This can be (is) confused by certain light things (sleeping bag) being too bulky to go in the pack, or needing easy access to things that would better fit inside of the pack. But who wants to keep taking the pack off?

    So, on the bike I have the sleep pad under the bars, with a fleece hat and 6 spare batts in a separate hand-sewn pocket. Sleeping bag is under the seat, along with a few freeze dried meals. Frame pack holds all of my trail snacks in such a way that I can access and eat 'em without stopping. Also in the frame pack are arm warmers, two sealant-filled tubes, mini pump (wrapped in duct tape), spare bike parts like cleat bolts, chain links, der hanger, 4, 5, and 6mm bolts, set of brake pads, zip ties, super glue, patch kit, chain lube and rag. Basically all of the stuff that I want 'close at hand'.

    GPS is on the bars, tilted in such a way that I can see it day or night without glare from sun or headlamp.

    Inside the pack are the fly rod/reel/flies/knife/foil/spices, water filter, knee warmers, stove/pot/lighter/primer cup, 9' x 9' tarp and two stakes, jacket w/integrated hood/mitts/gaiter, more freeze dried meals, 4 liter bladder, a sleeve of Nuun, first aid kit, toiletries, headlamp, camera batts, etc... Basically each item in the pack is there because I'll *probably* be stopping to take the pack off if I'm going to use that item anyway. Example: to filter water, I need the pack off to access the bladder, so I can dig the filter out at the same time. In order to put on the jacket, I need to take the pack off, so the jacket is in the pack instead of on the bike, etc...

    I'd dearly love to have more frame pack volume, simply to get more weight off my back as well as to make that much more stuff easier to access. Not too likely to happen, but for folks that are just looking at which bike to buy for singletrack touring/bikepacking trips, add front triangle space as a potential point of consideration

    Cheers,

    MC

  73. #73
    Harmonius Wrench
    Reputation: Guitar Ted's Avatar
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    Mike: Awesome answer as always. I appreciate the consideration in your detail and philosophy on why you do what you do.
    Riden' an Smilin'
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  74. #74
    mtbr member
    Reputation: fallzboater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    When I started to think about how to answer, 2 things popped into my head:
    1) I'm such a hack photophile that I'll undoubtedly botch the answer, so head over to DPReview.com and read up. Higher pixel density isn't *always* bad, but compare any P&S to any DSLR and ask yourself why the density is so much lower on the DSLR's.
    2) This is the 29" forum!
    Maybe it's the same way that a single-speed is better than a 3x9 or 2x10. Eventually the purists will be espousing that 1 pixel is all that's necessary.

    I occasionally get a very nice, well-exposed, photo by accident. I'm sure I could do better by learning to use all the controls on my P&S (which does have full manual modes) than getting a better camera.
    This computer system is not intended for use in the operation of nuclear facilities. -Mac

  75. #75
    fnar fnar brrraaaaap
    Reputation: ilostmypassword's Avatar
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    effing amazing! I'm going to visit next year and experience this

    Thanks for sharing!

  76. #76
    Ride.Recover.Beer.
    Reputation: briank10's Avatar
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    Great pictures!

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