Type 2 Diabetic. Bike tour guide. #NextBurgh Flâneur.   Coffeeneur.    Errandoneur
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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Fully Loaded Shakedown

04/03/12 43m 60F
Rode 43 miles, Montour Trail, fully loaded.

My first overnight "bike packing" or "bike camping" trip of the year is in about three weeks, so it's time to begin putting everything together on the bike and giving it a bit of a shakedown.

For today's ride I took off two dilapidated old panniers and put on two brand new Ortliebs. The old Avenir's were very much built to be put on and left on, they're a bit of a pain to mount and unmount; the Ortlieb's are simple and easy by contrast.

I filled the panniers with my camping gear - hammock, two wool blankets, cook stove and accessories, some foul weather gear - and added my sleeping pad athwartships. Some pannier systems place the sleeping pad vertically, aft of the rear panniers, I'll have to see what works.

With the bike rigged as it is I've got an aft center-of-gravity, that may be an issue on steep climbs with the bike tending to rotate away from the front wheel. The Surly frame does handle better and more comfortably with a full load of weight on it.

I started in Boggs. The first ten miles felt quite difficult (with the weight), I felt some pain in my quads in places I didn't know it could occur. About a half-hour in I did get rained on for about fifteen minutes, and in the rain the value of the Ortliebs was brought home again; no need to put on raincovers, they're just good to go.

Navigating the two detours with the loaded bike was a bit of a lesson. I'm glad it wasn't slushy or muddy; my tires are 32's, I could see how you might want wider tires for a sloppy surface. The main differences with the heavy bike seem to be that starting and stopping are a bit more complex, and I think I need to be a bit more ahead of the bike than I'm used to thinking.

Having said all that, when I got to McMurray I stopped at Starbucks for coffee and then Subway for a sandwich. When I got back on the trail, the pain and agony was gone and it was just a bit of extra work and some consideration of inertia; I think the pain and resistance was mostly a mental issue.

A very nice ride.


  1. Very nice set-up :) You are going to have some excellent adventuring.

  2. When touring with a loaded bike, you'll never regret having very low hill-climbing gears and be thankful every time the long hill turns from steep to really steep.
    My wife and I just did our first overnight of the year, riding the Allegheny River Trail from Foxburg to Oil City, the staying at a motel in Franklin, Pa. The smoothly-paved trail was a wonderful dose of quiet beauty after a winter of riding in city traffic. Though we chose not to camp, it felt like a mini-vacation. Wonderful!
    If you ever decide to ride this trail, bring a bright light for the two long, curving tunnels.

    1. As you now, Tandem.Cap, I have trouble keeping track of my lights.

  3. I too, Type 2, have a light blue Long Haul Trucker with front and rear racks and mudguards (or fenders as you'd call them). The main difference is I don't have as many bottle cages and I have STI shifters, instead of bar-end ones and my saddle is less springy and I don't have a kickstand. Otherwise, they're markedly similar.

    I hope you love yours as much as I love mine. I didn't think before I had it about what material had been used for my bike frames. Then I felt how the steel frame seemed to go round the corners with me, instead of having to be wrestled round.

    It's one of the wonders of the age.


  4. Hello Invy, we share enthusiasm for the LHT. I recently replaced the drivetrain and put on a Whipperman teflon-coated chain that matches the frame, thought I'd mention that. I really wanted to use STI shifters, I think it's a more elegant interface, but my worthy bike gurus tell me that the gear ranges I want aren't compatible with STI.

    It rides even better with a bit of weight on the frame. Thanks for your note, as always. Cheers, V.