What I have learned at Governor Dick – thank you SAMBA and Trail Committee- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Sep 2009

    What I have learned at Governor Dick – thank you SAMBA and Trail Committee

    I rode coast to coast on the road in 1979 and have always wanted to ride coast to coast on dirt. My cousin retired three years ago and rode his dual sport motorcycle from Tennessee to the Pacific Coast of Oregon via the Trans-America Trail. Following his ride we compared notes and I felt it could be ridden by mountain bike with a trailer (to carry water on the long stretches of desert trail).

    So I began my conversion from road/track fixed gear rider to mountain biker. Started off with a full suspension carbon fiber XC bike and a Bob Ibex trailer – more money than brains as it turned out.

    My training route is from Route 230 on the Conewago Rail Trail to the Horseshoe trail, up through state game lands 145 on mtb approved track to a single track leading down to the power line right of way, to Pinch Road. Up Pinch road to Gov. Dick trail 15 to 13 to 5 to 10 to 1 to game lands entrance on Pinch Road and from there back to the Rail Trail and Route 230.

    Lesson 1 – I suck on dirt – so I started riding dirt every day. No one told me that trail 15 at Gov Dick was considered one of the most technical but it taught me to think within my limits, to remember I will be riding every day for 4 to 5 months alone and at times far from help

    Lesson 2 – Once I felt I was riding okay without the trailer, I hooked up an empty bob and suffered from Horseshoe Trail on. Two riders on trail 15 couldn’t believe I was moving a bob through there. I did however learn how to physically move both machines, sometimes one at a time, over trail 15. The push up 10 to 1 is great training and I had hoped it would kill me so I wouldn’t have to train any more. I am sure I will be pushing a lot when I cross the Rockies and then the Cascades.

    Lesson 3 – a bob loaded to 18 pounds can kill you. My forth ride with a loaded bob pointed out two problems very painfully, 1) a loaded bob does not bounce off trees or rocks and will leverage the rear tire out from under you, 2) you may think that you can release from your clipless pedals as fast as a flat pedal but not when you are standing up and the bob slams you over with notice. Cost of lesson 3 – my fifth broken collar bone.

    Lesson 4 – A Bob and a carbon fiber dual pivot XC bike don’t play well together, the bob is too long and has enough leverage to force you over, and it places too much lateral force on the swing arm. I quote the bike shop mechanic when he checked out the side to side flex in the swing arm “Dude your 55 years old, where are you riding this thing?” So I now ride an aluminum frame full suspension single pivot all mountain bike and I use an Extrawheel Voyager instead of a bob.

    Lesson 5 - Over two years of training I found that my clipless pedals and shoes were just not working. The walking sucked (and I walk my mountain bike a lot) and every now and then I would go over clipped in. So I changed to Grind flat pedals with pins and 5.10 Sam Hill down hill shoes. Three things happened immediately – 1) I looked like a dork, 2) I road over stuff I use to walk and 3) with stealth rubber soles the 5.10 Sam Hills have way better traction when pushing across streams and up rocky slopes.

    Lesson 6 – You may laugh at my Brooks B67 saddle but my happy behind doesn’t care. The B67 is a sprung saddle which turns my full suspension all mountain bike into a total suspension all mountain bike.

    I want to thank the trail committee at Governor Dick and the SAMBA group for providing me with some of the best laughs and creative combinations of swear words I have ever uttered in all my years of riding - trail 15 has been a blast.


  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: barnold74's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    A bob trailer on 15....wow you are the man!
    Glad to hear you enjoyed the trail. Thanks for sharing your experience.


  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    you ever checked out long unsupported rides like the great divide mountain bike route/race?

    lots of unsupported remote miles, and most folks are doing it without a bike trailer.

    if it were me i'd be thinking hardtail 29er with some creative light packing and maybe some panniers. i'd think a full-sus might be fun for maybe 10% of the trails but i'd think your gonna be way happier on a more efficient bike in the long haul especially if you can get away with not towing a trailer. 95% of this has got to be fireroad right? truth be told i have never seen any info on this route

    couple links you may want to check out:


    regardless of your gear decisisions i'd love to hear about your adventure. keep us posted! i hope to do something like this once my kiddies grow up as well.

  4. #4
    Reputation: mtmiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Great story - keep sharing!
    DB Dirt Club
    DBs on Dirt since 2010

  5. #5
    Can't feel my legs
    Reputation: JPark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    There is a thread about this on bikepacking.net. Not a lot of information, but certainly worth checking out.

  6. #6
    The White Jeff W
    Reputation: jeffw-13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by max-a-mill
    you e95% of this has got to be fireroad right? truth be told i have never seen any info on this route

    Googled Trans American Trail...

    This motorcycle adventure across America on the Trans-America Trail is NOT a single-track tight woods ride. It is a route using dirt roads, gravel roads, jeep roads, forest roads and farm roads. Dropping down into dried-up creek beds. Riding atop abandoned railroad grades.
    No moss...

  7. #7
    Reputation: swampboy62's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Damn. Go for it.

    And if you do, keep us up to date on a site like CrazyGuyOnABike:


    Might get some feedback on touring with Bob there, too.

    Steve Z
    Pedaling when it's dry
    And paddling when it's wet

    My insignificant blog:

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Raise trail 15 to 8,400 feet and add sand!

    "This motorcycle adventure across America on the Trans-America Trail is NOT a single-track tight woods ride. It is a route using dirt roads, gravel roads, jeep roads, forest roads and farm roads. Dropping down into dried-up creek beds. Riding atop abandoned railroad grades."

    I just came back from mountain biking the jeep trail over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains into Great Sand Dunes National Park and I have one small observation on comparing a jeep trail in the rockies to NOT being a tight woods trail like trail 15 at Governor Dick.


    The only difference between trail 15 and the 125 miles of jeep trail we rode was that the tightness in places were just as bad as 15 but was due to boulders and dropoffs instead of trees. In many places the specialized 4 wheelers winch themselves over boulder patches with some of the boulders we carried and they winch over being at collerbone height when standing flat footed.

    The steepness of the switch backs equaled trail 6 for distances up to a 3/4 of mile.

    I moved my rig over the jeep trail using the same techniques I learned at GD 15, and 6.

    The one issue I totally forgot about was sand. Here in the East the rocks we ride over or slide a wheel in between are imbedded in dirt. Not so in the Rocky Mountains, the rocks are buried in sand. I rode down sections of switch back on the Sangre de Cristo jeep trail that were as steep as trail 6 and took me longer to desend than if I were pushing up trail 6 due to the depth of sand built up between the rocks. The sand was so deep that I rarely had to touch the brakes, the main issue was not going over the bars when the front wheel buried, towing the Extra wheel helped out greatly in keeping the rear wheel down and behind me. My partner had panards and a back pack and that is no way to cover trail like this. Loading the bike down makes it hard to lift the front wheel and move it about while riding and a back pack puts weight way too high up for steep down hills.

    Now I know that not all the Trans American Trail is going to be this bad. Actually I hope its not because I have planned to cover in 1.5 days what a dirt motorcycle covers in a day and the pace through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was way below that pace.

    The only suggestions I have to the trail committee at Governor Dick is to raise trail 15 to 8,400 feet and in the worst possible areas dump a few tons of fine granite sand.

    Again thanks to SAMBA and GD Trail Committee for all you have done!


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