Sunday, December 14, 2014

Light at the end of the Tunnel

Had a chance the other day to ride Gold Camp Road—it’s a local favorite with access to single track, interesting tunnels and depending on the section, little or zero traffic. Time to the 2015 TDR is marching on and I continue to test and evaluate gear choices. 

More on Saddles:

I tried the noseless Spiderflex saddle but have discarded it as it simply puts too much weight on my feet, hands and forearms.  In short there is no real ‘rest’ position; you always have to brace your arms or legs.  And it’s more difficult to grab & eat or other one-hand or no-handed actions with a noseless saddle

As part of my testing I have been riding without chamois padding.  Like everything else going combat has some pluses and minuses. Also along this line I will be trying some heavily padded, elastomer sprung “comfort saddles”.  These type saddles are aimed at the recreation/bike path crowd but my thinking is that if I remove the padding from my bike shorts but add padding to the saddle it might be a workable TDR combo.  In addition these type saddles are wider for a more upright position.  If I cannot find a clear winner I will simply buy a new Selle Italia Turbomatic.  That was my choice for 2014 and overall it’s the best saddle I have found for multi day.

Carbon ‘no-name’ fork is now on the bike.  Bike weight with aero bars is now 20.8lbs.  Once I put on the carbon rims with Nano’s I suspect I will be close to 20lbs.  So as mentioned in earlier posts with a 30lbs target this leaves 10lbs for bags, lights/electronics, sleep system, water system, tools, extra/rain clothing and miscellaneous gear. 

Sleep System:
As part of my quest to reach 30lbs I am going to test one of these as my TDR sleep system: Blizzard Survival Bag

From my web research these all-in-one bivy/bag are light, warm and waterproof.  On the other hand they are noisy, not very packable after 1st use and non-breathable.  But only some real testing will tell me if I want to use one on the TDR. 
My current sleep system, as seen above, is a SOL Escape™ Bivvy, old 1lb Montbell down bag and a couple of pieces of Therm-a-Rest foam.  I think with dry bag and straps it weighs in at 2 or so lbs. At the end of the day I know I will be in hotel rooms more than I think I will-- so who knows, a sub-1 lb sleep system may be just the ticket.


  1. Very interesting to hear your thoughts on gear Marshall. I have been running the Turbomatic saddle since mid last year after your recommendation and am finding it very comfortable.
    Being from the sub-tropics I can't handle the cold so will be running a substantial sleep system. Sub 1lb sounds great from a pedalling perspective but it will tip you in favour of indoor accomodation more often. Having said that, is that so much of a problem if it is a cold year again?
    Cheers and thanks for all the info and tips you are putting out there. They are extremely helpful for someone coming from the other side of the planet.I hope to meet you on the start line.

  2. Flyboy-glad you enjoy the blog--within reason you will quickly adjust to local/cool conditions. Its actually quite interesting how one's body rapidly adapts. That said a sleep system you are confident in is important if you hope to camp more vs hotel.
    best of luck and see you in Banff............

  3. Marshall,
    Noticed that your favorite bun-butter is A&D, same as mine. One nagging thought I have every time I camp in bear country, after carefully bear proofing food items, is if the critters prefer their riders with or without A&D sauce? The thought first came to me in 2013 at night at Red Meadows Lake. The next day Mat Lee told me, "I wouldn't camp there - too many bears!".

    Saddles: I sympathize with you - 20 years of Mtn biking and I have never found a comfortable saddle. Recently I use a Selle Anotomica Titanico X (geez - a lot of words!). It has become my 'least miserable saddle'. Might try one if you haven't.

    Glen (Flinch on bikepacker's)

  4. Flinch, my problem is not so much saddle 'comfort' per say, but rather I am very prone to clogged pores and in-grown hair--these issues can manifest after even short 2-6 hr rides training rides with just washed shorts, fresh chamois Cream etc--not a big deal in sub 10 day events--but after about 7 days of 15+ hr efforts the once minor irritation has developed into full blown nasty
    anyway my 'next' new post mentions my latest saddle --we will see it I am still using it come Banff

    1. In years past I used military wool surplus clothing, and the wet heavy pants did the same follicle irritation dance on my legs. The trick? Pantyhose (cut legs off). Some of the guys I hiked with wore TWO pair - seems that they slide on the other fabric and keep the irritation at bay.

      Besides, you know I like a manly guy wearing...oops, family channel! :>

      Hey, I won't tell!

  5. Marshall - I am interested in your experience with this Blizzard Emergency Blanket. I use the SOL with Sleeping Bag. Don't like it so much. Are you using the Blizzard on its own? no sleeping bag? BTW - I see you are signed up for SC400, hope we can meet up a head of time and catch up.

  6. Marshall - I am interested in your experience with this Blizzard Emergency Blanket. I use the SOL with Sleeping Bag. Don't like it so much. Are you using the Blizzard on its own? no sleeping bag? BTW - I see you are signed up for SC400, hope we can meet up a head of time and catch up.

  7. Michael,
    I have used the Blizzard 1 time under real conditions--rode 12 mile into late night and camped--windy, dry & semi cold (about 30-34 deg F) pad but no sleeping bag--warm over all, feet were cold as I started with damp socks--slightly damp inside in morning, this could be issue on back to back nights but easy to wipe dry, sets up and backs up very very fast, crinkly/noisy but not an issue for me, nice & roomy inside, overall I like what I learned but will know more after SC400--will write up once I know more, find me and say hi at SC400.......