Wednesday, 10 June 2009

It's a small world

It's funny how the world of the obsessive traveller is so small. I guess that there really aren't that many people who take off on their pushbikes to ride for 1000 miles. Sure, we might think that there are loads, but it's dozens, rather than thousands. The number of end-to-end (UK this is, not the Great Divide) riders must only be in the hundreds a year - less than a single Yeovil Town FC footy match crowd...

Anyway, I've been speaking to Eric of Epic Designs in Alaska. He is held in reverence by anyone who is anyone in the extreme mountain biking world. He lives in Alaska and practices what he preaches - namely riding bikes for a long time as tools of exploration and properly getting out there. He's also very handy with a sewing machine.

In the same way that Brennan Mulligan and Rob Thingy gained kudos in bike messenger circles when they created Timbuk2 bags, based on their own, and their friends' experiences of being SFO messengers, so Eric - and his go-to list of ultra-endurance hotshots has taken conventional bike touring and turned it on its head. He makes bags that fit inside the main frame of the bike (a wasted space usually taken up by a half-empty waterbottle) and using it for luggage instead. In addition, he makes bags the size of small tree trunks that strap to your seatpost and store as much stuff as you actually need...

So that's the frame bag... Now, how much stuff can I fit into a seat bag too? Take one pair of socks and pants? Or luxuriate with two? I don't reckon I'll be luring many ladies back to my one man tent anyway... :-)

You may think that you need more gear for your trip - and that's the problem that I'm going to find - but actually, if you can't fit it into one of Eric's bags, then you probably don't need it... And anyway, it's not like I'm off to Alaska. I only have to get over some mountains in July... I'm unlikely to get frostbite.

Now how much gear can I get into that?


  1. Chipps, when you get a chance check out the Salsa Amigos blog. You may have to go back in the archives a few weeks or a month, but we did a video piece where our head of prod design goes through his Fargo setup for the Tour Divide. You can easily survive with no more gear than he has...maybe a bit less.

    Personally, on my last three overnighters I've made the change to not using any sort of sleeping pad. I just try to find a comfortable spot on the ground. It has been working fine that way, though cold weather will eventually force me to carry a sleep pad again.

    On our last overnighter I didn't bring a sleeping bag either. I just took a ground cloth, some nylon pants, and a puffy synthetic jacket with a hood. Of course, I 'knew' it wouldn't rain that night. While that experiment worked okay, in the future I'll tweak it a bit in the future.

  2. Is that borne from the American optimism given where you can actually predict the weather accurately? In the UK, you hardly ever leave home without a waterproof, whatever month it is. I'm expecting mostly warm (or very hot...) weather, but I've been in a few French mountain rains and I'm going to need something warm and dry to crawl into at the end of the day... Otherwise I might as well stay in hotels... :-)

  3. I'm seriously thinking about one of the seatpost mounted bags.