Sunday, November 1, 2009

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 Dave Harris' TU site.

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 Canon A2000IS. 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