The Passion never fails to drive us—somewhere. What, regular mountain bike rides don’t assuage that constructive discontent? Maybe going thousands of miles—over weeks—will work.
Slogging roads on a 100-pound divorce horse doesn’t sound much like mountain biking. But I’m sure it’ll foster appreciation of mountain biking as we know it. The Weasel is up for it. Now it’s time to remind myself that I am, too. I am, too.
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, US/Canada border to US/Mexico border is the objective.
Not in the official race, but we may set a course record for longest-on-route. Or win the Great Wall of Frame Bags Award. To placate the Gods of Discontent for a time is all I truly hope for. We might even have fun in the process.
alpha: I think this thread could be a running report. I more like the idea of free dialog.
The div-horse unladen weighs under 43 pounds, down from 49 set up more for trail riding. It's a MTB Tamdems Tourista; aluminum Rohloff-specific frame manufactured in USA by Sherwood for MTB Tandems. We normally run a double-crown fork and Thudbuster post in back. We got this bike specifically for dirt touring, but we've milked it pretty well for local trail riding.
We've ridden this bike on most of the trails I ride on my single. The uninitiated are often surprised that tech trails get ridden on tandems. Sometimes a rider will be like "hey, mind if I follow?" The big bike hates to endo, and the traction under 270 pounds of rider weight is pretty amazing. (Think tractor pull.) Sharp switchbacks are the nemesis, but one can grab a little extra rear brake and move the rear sideways. Surprisingly, I can loft the front a few inches without any help. None of that's gonna help much on the Divide, tho...
alpha: The best trips always start with a dream. If you want it, it'll happen. Subconscious powers...not to be underestimated.
Kronk: (edit) A classic, for sure
bmf: Many thanks!
bachman: Every successful relationship has it's formula. Glad you've found yours! No misconceptions or false expectations equals smooth sailing.
I had a fiancée who selflessly encouraged me pursue outdoor activities with all the gusto I could muster. The issue was, the more I obliged, the less we saw of each other. I realized I wasn't okay with it. I wanted a partner in crime, someone to get psyched on crazy ideas, the planning, the doing, the basking in the afterglow.
Then there was this fierce little climber I met in the gym. Her intensity on boulder problems was infectious. And she really liked breakfast cereal. And cared little about the mundane trappings of life as we saw it being pursued around us. I fell harder for her than she did for me, but I managed to close the deal (read: she took me on) and we married three months after our first date. This year will be our 13th. (Still noobs, Bachman.)
Our honeymoon, a couple of years after our ceremony, certainly galvanized our union and confirmed that, definitely, she was the right lass for me:
Excellent, JK! Enjoy the falls and give a kiss to the big stone for me. +1 on that great hike C2L mentions (I think they're permitting it now). I love hiking in the Sierra, but I usually end up on some kind of mission when in Yos...like earlier this year, trying not to slow down my bro Kris on Washington Column:
Pardon the digression, but suffice to say there is a certain comfort in being on the ground – anywhere.
We have five caches going out to post offices en route. I'm thinking we should get to each one after ±10 days' riding.
We're really not depending wholly on this stuff; it's mostly comfort food that will likely be tough to find with any consistency on the route. Mountain House dinners, our fave oatmeal, ramen, tea, energy stuff...and consumables like personal items, camping stuff, bike parts (let's hope not too consumable), etc. We'll pilfer what we want and send the rest back to ourselves. My pal Mark will be on standby to mail cache boxes as we approach our pickup points (don't want them sitting in a PO for weeks). He's also the keeper of the Master Parts Box™, which contains all manner of contingency items to keep the QE2 sailing forward.
mhow: Thanks for your perspective. I got a little saturated with the planning and was feeling like it was all a bunch of work. We took a little ride yesterday which seems to have reeled be back into the fun zone. Cheers...
mhop: Great photo! Thanks for all your contributions to the Tandems forum and the Fandango thread. I know you guys have some nice terrain out there, and it seems the SE US is sort of the epicenter for mountain tandem'ing with MTB Tandems in the hood. Glad you're tearing it up!
We had frame bags made by Porcelain Rocket. Scott was fantastic to work with, and we had no issues. I borrowed one of these bags which fit on my FS single bike and used it on the CO Trail, great performance and zero durability issues. The small frame-top bags came from a mfr no longer in the game. The sleeping pads are held by a Revelate Harness Pocket, which provides some easy-access storage (goal being to open the panniers only at bivies). That dinky pocket, surprisingly, will swallow two 2.5L Platypus bottles...that's a lotta water!
My main cargo objectives were to not carry anything on our backs, and to keep the weight positioned low. I used a typical "bikepacking" set up a few times recently and am reacting to those experiences, as well as gearing up specifically for dirt road riding.
I already owned the Ortleib Bike Packer panniers and Old Man Mountain racks, so it was no leap to get to this set up. The panniers, off the shelf, are bomber but heavy due mainly to the fitting and removal features. Since I don't need the bags to be removable or work with various racks, and I objected to the weight, I gutted the bags of extraneous stuff and got them down to half their stock weight. This required patching many holes and creating my own supportive structure from the plastic stiffeners bolstered with some aluminum pieces. Then I mounted them to the racks semi-permanently. Taking the racks off is easy, so NBD. I've added a horizontal compression strap to each pannier to suck it into the rack, and so far it's riding very nicely loaded up.
Not shown in any photos so far is our hydration storage. We will be using our Porcelain Rocket Anything Cage bags for water and riding food, since a 2.5L Platypus and a handful of snacks fit perfectly within one. The front will lie flat on the rack; the rear will attach to captain post and stoker bar. Shower Pass hose reels (those with the French-sounding name I can't remember) will mount on each h-bar and manage the hydration hoses.
Add one Arkel map case. We'll have a couple extra dry bags on board for extreme overflow storage (say, getting beer to a campsite) and hanging or storing food. One of those bags will probably be a REI Flash pack -- basically a stuff sack with shoulder straps.
So it's the usual mashup of off-shelf and custom stuff, bag-wise. Nearly infinite storage capability, since with racks you can simple lash stuff on temporarily as needed. Realistically, we'll be packing, max, five days worth of food on the longer re-supply-less sections.
I'll pop in some photos so you can see how I've hacked, er, crafted a few things to (hopefully) work.
Finally snapped a few details for you, mhop – recent refinements included:
Front (and rear) panniers have comrpession straps. You can see I've wound them around the rack and added a zip tie too keep them loosely in place. Loops sewn to the rack would be nice and clean, but I'd actually like the option of removing and re-purposing these straps as needed. The blue drybag contains my Platypus bottle with lots of room for other stuff.
The massive rear panniers still have capacity left.
Rear rack stays make great handles. I should wind some bar tape around those.
Tidy captain's cockpit including one bell for people, one for bears, and a small light underneath.
Fine work by Scott of Porcelain Rocket.
Stoker's Anything Cage (aka hydration) bag closure finishes over captain's seat rails. Velcro hose keeper.
Where the magic happens. Second oil change for this hub just done. A bit trickier wheel removal than an average bike, and it won't happen unless the tire is deflated or the tensioner removed. I had to remove a small bit of the rack tubing near the lower attachment to enable disconnection of the hub cable interface for wheel removal.