Touring - any advice on backcountry bikes and backcountry touring in general?
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11-26-07, 10:01 AM
Howdy... any advice anyone can offer on backcountry touring would be appreciated. Particularly, I'm interested in thoughts on what sort of frame anyone would recommend, whether rigid or suspension is preferable, and what sort of camping gear and necessities to bring.
11-26-07, 10:28 AM
Do you mean off-road touring, or tours in rural / unpopulated areas? And for how long?
If you mean exploring and touring self contained on fire roads, forestry roads, dirt & gravel tracks and places where you can barely locate a trail or path then you need durable yet light weight camping equipment and a simple durable bike. My travels have mainly been in Mexico, South America, Canada and the Western US in such off road terrain. The Divide Ride was my last long ride offroad.
I use my rigid Bruce Gordon RNR with basic equipment loads of less than 20 pounds in two front panniers and a rear rack dry bag stuffer. Schwalbe Marathon XR 700x45 tires have worked well for durability and traction with only deep sand causing float problems at times. When conditions require carrying or pushing the bike the lighter load really makes a difference. On one day I had to lift my loaded bike over a series of downed trees every hundred yards for ten miles. River and stream crossings are easier as well with light weight loads.
See the Backpacking Light forum for equipment options. http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/display_forum?forum=18&id=UDXFjFpH:188.8.131.52
My shelter of choice: http://www.tarptent.com/contrail.html
I have come to enjoy the lack of vehicles and the silence available in offroad or back country touring. It does however require more self reliance and preparation
11-26-07, 01:20 PM
I recommend a rigid steel road bike and very tough tires with a patch kit or spare tubes. A world traveller I know carries two extra fold up tires but I don't because of the extra weight.
You also might want to consider some sort of fire source for heating food, tea, etc. I use an ancient SVEA 123 stove that burns Coleman fuel. There are many types of stoves to consider. There's nothing like hot food and drink after a cold day of riding.
And rain gear. If there is any possiblity of rain you will be forever glad you brought the it along. IMHO, ponchos suck for riding. I have a set of rain pants and rain jacket that are bright orange so I can be seen in a deluge.
11-27-07, 12:57 AM
Once you ride the forest roads of BC - you will be hooked.
Not for the uninitiated, however.
Extremely remote - rugged - lots of grizzlies.
11-27-07, 09:24 AM
I'd suggest a good hardtail with a lockable front fork. The suspension should be something reliable and easy to fix as well as pretty rugged. Often these are at cross purposes but you can do some research over at MBTR. Rear suspension is nice for the ride but you'll lose efficiency and there's more stuff to go wrong.
For comfort, get good gloves, a set of barends and better grips. You'll probably still end up with hand problems...rough roads will beat up your arms...but at least you might avoid the worst of it. Most of the really firm grips out there are good for a couple of hours riding but not so good for several hours per day. Try a few from firm to soft before you set out on your adventure.
For carrying gear, use a trailer. I hate trailers but putting all of your stuff over the wheels of a mountain bike and trying to ride over rocks is worse than a trailer. However a trailer does have some handling issues. On steep downhills the trailer may try to lift the rear wheel so you have to get further back off the saddle. On corners the trailer will try to push the bike off line. And, if you try to ride any drops, the trailer will hang up on stuff. Use the trailer for getting your gear from place to place and save the mountain biking for the times you don't have the trailer...after you set up camp.
For camping, use whatever you'd use for backpacking. You are more remote so you'll have to use freeze-dried :p more. Also practice good bear country habits. Look around for how to do it on the web and follow the guidelines: Don't cook in your tent. Don't eat in your tent. Don't store food in your tent. Don't wear your cooking clothes in the tent. In other words, don't make yourself into a bear snack!
11-28-07, 09:06 AM
Appreciate the feedback!
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