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  1. #1
    Senior Member JeffOYB's Avatar
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    UL fast-touring? Self-supported RAAM?

    I tried asking about this in the Touring group. Didn't work. Let's see if it fits here better.

    How is the UL scene doing in road riding? There's an email list / Yahoo group.

    Any major news?

    I think the self-supported RAAM still stands at 14 days from 1958 by Richard Berg. Is this record apocryphal?

    Chris K was organizing such an event but canceled it due to safety concerns, as I recall. Lon H. has said that tired riders and car traffic don't mix and that his Pactours are about the outer limit, at 150 mi days with support. He may be right but it doesn't seem like common sense has ever influenced bikers or record attempters before.

    UL has transformed backpacking and mtbiking. How's it doing on the road?

    I imagine an aero carbon bike with cushy geometry and 10 lbs of goodies...flying across the land. Call it hyper credit-card touring.

    Anyway, any news here?

    (Beyond the super Oz dude, Peter Poit [corrected: Peter Neal], just finishing his record run on a lowracer with 300k ave days over 50 days for 15000kms.)
    Last edited by JeffOYB; 06-22-10 at 12:37 PM.
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  2. #2
    Randomhead
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    I thought there were a couple of ultralight people in the Touring section.

    I'd like to do one of the Pactours. 14 days self-supported sounds pretty impressive.

    I was going to put some aero wheels on my rando bike, but decided to put the money elsewhere. I think it would be a pretty good combination.

  3. #3
    Randomhead
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    dupe

  4. #4
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    ultralight and self-supported don't necessarily go together in terms of extreme distance riding. when they do, they are usually held together by a glue that is made of Unbridled Optimism.

    Thought experiment: if you were to try to do a self-supported record setting crossing of the lower 48, what would you pack? spare tubes? spare tires? spare spokes for your aero wheels? spare chain links? chain lube? if you choose to skip any of these, what will you do if the associated parts of your bike fails? Seriously, post this list to the thread, if you can. Don't just wave it away with "10 pounds of stuff" What would you pack?

    It's easy to ignore maintenance gear by just saying, "oh, well, if I make sure the bike is perfect before I start, none of this will be a worry." -- similar to the ultralight hiking world where people can reasonably say that they only have to pack a slimmed down first aid kit because they'll just be sensible about avoiding mishaps. And if one were to just take their bike on a 1200k or 500 mile ride, that's probably sensible ... but on a 3,000 mile ride where, presumably, due to time constraints, you will have little time to do much but sleep, eat and ride: it would be naive to imagine that you could get through the entire affair without flats or drivetrain wear.

    But unsupported RAAM's aside, what you're talking about is, essentially, randonneuring. While a stereotype exists for the randonneur as a steel frame riding, pseudo-retrogrouch with a bike that's festooned with Carradice and handlebar baggage, there are also a lot of guys who will do these rides with the minimum necessary amounts of gear. And, again, I think it's fine for some think that they can go 500 miles with only, say, 2 spare tubes, an air cartridge and a couple of hex wrenches as their only insurance from disaster, but the further you go, the more fate is tempted and the greater the chance that something will go wrong that will put a premature end to their ride.

    There've been some interesting articles in Bike Quarterly that discuss various ways of optimizing bikes and gear loads for lightweight distance riding (ie. swapping out all of your bolts to use the same size hex wrench and thus forego having to pack a multitool with several wrenches; the relative aerodynamics of saddlebags vs trunk racks vs bar bags vs panniers, etc.)

    Common sense notwithstanding, nothing is stopping you from just setting out on a bike with a couple changes of clothes, a couple spare tubes, some bags of perpetuem and a map. And if everything in your ride goes perfectly, perhaps you'll even succeed, but given the distance and the time restriction the odds are generally against you.

    that's not even getting into the role that a crew or support plays in keeping you sane across the length of the entire event. I mean, do you realize how little sleep RAAM riders receive when they're asked to cross the country in 12 days? It's easy to sit back with a pen and paper and just doodle out what kind of machine can be assembled to make something. It's easy to ignore the human that has to power the machine and what must be asked of them.

    (14 days is a pretty tough number to beat and seems a little unrealistic by itself ... do you have evidence of this record? The only hits that I'm getting on Google are old posts you've made to various 'bent forums over the years)
    Last edited by spokenword; 06-20-10 at 02:25 PM.

  5. #5
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffOYB View Post
    How is the UL scene doing in road riding? There's an email list / Yahoo group.
    Uh, so why not check out the Yahoo group then?


    Quote Originally Posted by JeffOYB
    Any major news?
    What kind of "news" exactly do you expect?

    At this point, UL gear has been out for a few years, and improvements are going from shedding pounds to shedding grams. I can't imagine what "news" you expect.


    Quote Originally Posted by JeffOYB
    I think the self-supported RAAM still stands at 14 days from 1958 by Richard Berg. Is this record apocryphal?
    RAAM started in 1982. At best it's a misunderstanding, at worst it's BS.


    Quote Originally Posted by JeffOYB
    Chris K was organizing such an event but canceled it due to safety concerns, as I recall. Lon H. has said that tired riders and car traffic don't mix and that his Pactours are about the outer limit, at 150 mi days with support. He may be right but it doesn't seem like common sense has ever influenced bikers or record attempters before.
    I'm gonna guess that if you did 150 miles for multiple days in a row, you'd see a) why RAAM requires full support and b) why the guys who openly push the envelope and excel at it still draw the line somewhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by JeffOYB
    UL has transformed backpacking and mtbiking. How's it doing on the road?
    It's kinda doing nothing.

    Racers and racer wanna-be's go ape for low weight, but the even the most ardent weight weenies understand that weight is not a primary factor when it comes to cycling. It makes zero difference on the flats and a small penalty on climbs. Aerodynamics actually has a much bigger impact on overall cycling performance.

    As such, my guess is that in most cases, if you were doing long distances and/or touring you'd do just as well, if not better, by reducing volume and focusing on aerodynamics (e.g. using a single-wheel trailer vs panniers) than by merely cutting weight.

    Even keeping that in mind, most randonneurs have other priorities than selecting a "fast bike," and if going unsupported are far more likely to opt for ruggedness and comfort over light weight.


    Quote Originally Posted by JeffOYB
    I imagine an aero carbon bike with cushy geometry and 10 lbs of goodies...flying across the land. Call it hyper credit-card touring.
    Well.... Yes and no.

    Yes in that, theoretically, you could make a carbon touring bike, cut your gear volume and weight to the bare minimum, arrange for specific deliveries along the route and stay in hotels, and potentially go a bit further every day than if you were on a steel bike and 40+ lbs of gear.

    More importantly, people already do this. In most cases, they figure out their limits, ditch what they can live without on tour, and carry what they need.

    That said, "No" in that certain specific aspects of this are unrealistic.
    I doubt you'd be able to carry UL basics, especially repair gear, in 10 lbs or less (especially when you include the weight of racks and luggage).
    Simply sitting upright (i.e. "cushy geometry") will create far more drag than what you can save by using an aero frame, aero wheels etc.
    Most design choices to enhance performance will cut comfort. After 70-100 miles, it's likely that a lack of comfort will in fact negatively effect your performance.
    If you truly want to "fly across the land," get a recumbent. Or a motorcycle.

    I say you should start doing doubles and plan to do an ultra event like PBP or the Furnace Creek 500. By the time you actually get to the event, you will almost certainly figure out some of the strengths and weaknesses of an UL approach for those types of rides, and potentially for touring.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    There were several people doing fast trans-USA rides prior to RAAM. I think John Marino was one of the first to use support.

    During RAAM several years ago (in the '90s?), Wayne Phillips attempted to set an unsupported trans-USA record to go with his trans-Canada ride. He was struck by a van (hit and run) and is now paraplegic. That was the incident that made RAAM mandate support crews.

    That would be Peter Heal, known as 'Poiter' because an Aussie TV comedy character.

  7. #7
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Actually there has been a lot of progress in UL, though few apply it to bike touring. The gear really isn't a problem, though you may need custom bags to stow it all aerodynamically. A big bag on a seatpost rack, frame bag, and custom bar bag under clipons should do it fine. Be sure to allow space for a 6-pack of Ensure. Of course you'll need at least 4 tubes, spare tire, cables, lube, multitool, but I never go LD without that stuff anyway. Doesn't weigh much or take up much room. Of course you'd use a carbon bike with aerobars and skinny tires. I don't know about carbon wheels. Deep section low count blade spoke aluminum probably makes more sense. You'll want to train with a Camelbak and bottles to cut the frequency of stops and to be able to bridge the dry spots.

    It's not about the gear, it's about you. If you're into breaking some record, then listen up to the RAAM rules. That's why they're there. If you want to fast tour across the country, go in mid-June and sleep when it's dark. You'll have plenty of daylight to push yourself to your limits and that'll cut down on your lighting weight, too.

  8. #8
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    While I agree in sentiment with some of the comments here, and I think 10lbs of kit is pretty tough to get too... the TD racers are going fully self supported, refueling at cafes, grocery stores, and convenience stores, and planning for bike maintenance in specific locations (if nothing breaks sooner) over 2745 miles. No follow cars, no one to meet you on the route. No staffed checkpoints. You are on your own. Yes, you can mail stuff ahead - but you might not make it to the PO, or you might have to wait around for it to open, etc. Route is gravel, dirt, paved, double track, forest service road, a bit of single track. It crosses the continental divide numerous times.

    The men's record from Banff, , AB CA to Antelope Wells, NM with 200k of accumulative climbing is 17 days, 23 hours, 37 minutes. Camping, eating, fixing, riding, climbing.

    Kit setups and weights range from Matt Lee (record holder) carrying no pack, and everything on the bike - to folks with panniers and packs and all sorts of in between.

    Kent Peterson (rando rider, car free blogger, generally nice guy) is out on course now, SS. With a fairly minimal kit, and platform pedals.


    Seems that the OPs post isn't crazy, or out of line.
    A UL road event, self supported, could be a bit more mileage. You might have more options for resupply / repair. You'd have less climbing, less technical riding, less walking in snow, less packing your wheels and bike with mud and slogging for miles on end, etc. etc...





    And there is the Pony Express Permanent, able to run under RUSA rules...

  9. #9
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    my kit, for a future fast and light tour.
    this was for an s24o shakedown late last fall (got down to ~20 or so overnight) - running in warmer weather i'd be able to leave some heavier clothing out, and for extra capacity add in a jandd frame bag and a wingnut gear hyper (camelback like) for extra water capacity and to stow frequently used layers:





    handles great. dyno light up front. room to spare in the epic designs saddle pack... planning to use it this summer for a 2-3 day trip to figure some more things out - including a homemade tarp / bivy setup.

    and no, i'll never be in a position to set any sort of record, but i have moved to winnowing down my kit, trying to travel lighter...

  10. #10
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    These folks are hovering with sub 20 pound kit for self contained touring:
    http://wheelsofchance.org/2010/02/02/ultralight-setup/



    http://ultralightcycling.blogspot.com/


  11. #11
    Senior Member JeffOYB's Avatar
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    The UL bike touring folks consider a UL kit to be 12 lbs max, incl. racks. They tour this way. They tend to go rackless. Framepack, bar-burrito, seatpost-burrito and bladderpack (but many TD riders are going without anything on the back).

    Replace worn parts at bike shops along the way or via kits you mail forward to yourself.

    A RAAM crew seems to run about $15K these days.

    Yeah, we'll see more TD type riders point their mission onto the paved roads and back road s and go for a horizontal axis and see what they can do. I'm just surprised it's not already happening more than it is, or more publicly.

    I don't know what the TD rigs are weighing in at. They're using UL ideas, but it seems likely that they might have to amp it up a bit, who knows.

    I do drop in on the Yahoo group but I'd think their antics would trickle over here into Ultra- and Enduro- cycling, or into a new subforum for Ultralight Touring.

    You're right (in a way) that the two vectors -- of UL and long-distance -- don't always go together, but sometimes they do...

    I appreciate the pics and other contributions to the thread!
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    There is a better way to run a race across America.

    1. Conduct a ten day "PAC Tour type" fully neutral support ride consisting of ten back to back 200 mile plus days.
    Each "RAAM racer" would be require to finish within the prescribed time limit - something akin to 12mph.

    2. After ten days and about 2200 to 2400 miles of riding and one rest day - an "all out" fully supported RAAM segment would begin on the "12th day."

    3. The all out "RAAM like" segment would be about 800 miles in length using fully "rider/crew self-support" but the last 100 miles would be conducted on a safe, secured non-traffic race course, and the last one-hundred miles the only support could come on each lap in the form of hand ups from crew members at the pit area. (next to the finish line)

    This format solves many of the ethical issues surrounding the idea of exercising a person to dementia, and doing it on public roads. RAAM is - as it stands right now - somewhat of a criminal enterprise for a variety of reasons - and those associated with it are directly and or indirectly violating many of the precepts of good sportsmanship and well as various state statutes.

    There's nothing noble about pushing a human into a diseased state - and doing it on public roads without respect to life or limb for others who might be involved in related support and public safety activities. (or any public road user in general)

    Two-cents worth - additional comments not withstanding.

  13. #13
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffOYB View Post
    The UL bike touring folks consider a UL kit to be 12 lbs max, incl. racks.
    Who are these UL bike touring folks? Who is making the rules?
    They aren't carrying shelter in there, are they?

    Credit card. Clothes. Road food. That I think I could get to 12 pounds (I'd have to weigh my bags first!).

  14. #14
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike View Post
    Who are these UL bike touring folks? Who is making the rules?
    They aren't carrying shelter in there, are they?

    Credit card. Clothes. Road food. That I think I could get to 12 pounds (I'd have to weigh my bags first!).
    UL hiking is around 9 lbs., so an extra 3 lbs. for bike gear. Seems about right. Yes, that includes tent and sleeping bag, but does not include food or water. Summer conditions only at that weight.

  15. #15
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    ahh. the food and water part had me.

    i'd have to weigh my kit. with a 30deg bag and heavy shelter i know its not close... but i'm working on that.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    More evidence of what i think is wrong with RAAM

    Be sure to read the description of what happened at the bottom of the article......

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium View Post
    More evidence of what i think is wrong with RAAM

    Be sure to read the description of what happened at the bottom of the article......
    Weeeeelllllll . . . while I very much admire the grit of the RAAM riders, and followed the race this year through its Facebook page updates, I do sometimes question the value of a race that sometimes seems as if it's more an exercise in "which rider can best cope with sleep deprivation" than anything else. Still, the accident in this story doesn't seem to me to be a function of anything "wrong with RAAM" -- unless RAAM has some rule that limits how many drivers can be available in a support RV.

    A driver falling asleep at the wheel (when there is, or should have been, some additional person on board to share driving duties) is not quite the same thing as one of the solo racers falling asleep and perhaps careening over the centerline into oncoming traffic.
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  18. #18
    Randomhead
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    I don't think that most crews have all that much of a sleep deprivation problem. You can fall asleep driving at any time, it's the driver's responsibility to stop when they feel that might happen.

  19. #19
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxine View Post

    A driver falling asleep at the wheel (when there is, or should have been, some additional person on board to share driving duties) is not quite the same thing as one of the solo racers falling asleep and perhaps careening over the centerline into oncoming traffic.
    I'm not sure what is worse - a lone cyclist pushing the limit and falling asleep, or a support vehicle full of sleeping / resting / working crew that ends up wrecking... potentially taking other cars and cyclists with it.

  20. #20
    Randomhead
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    it was a vehicle for a multi-rider team. So even the riders aren't all that tired.

  21. #21
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    it was a vehicle for a multi-rider team. So even the riders aren't all that tired.
    clearly the driver was...

  22. #22
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    My point is that leaving the race in its current format invites these mistakes or misjudgments.

    There is no excuse for this incident. But as it is - RAAM by its nature taxes far too many people in strange ways.

    I've driven support when I shouldn't have, and so have hundreds of others over the years. There simply is no way to test or otherwise safeguard both support persons and riders. RAAM has always been an accident waiting to happen.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike View Post
    I'm not sure what is worse - a lone cyclist pushing the limit and falling asleep, or a support vehicle full of sleeping / resting / working crew that ends up wrecking... potentially taking other cars and cyclists with it.
    Oh, no question! That's absolutely correct.

    My post was prompted by Richard pointing to the RV accident as a "symptom of what's wrong with RAAM." My point (badly made!) was that the scenario of the solo cyclist crossing the centerline is clearly a function of the way RAAM functions -- solo riders must ride on their own, and there is no rest time built into the race (it's just first over the finish line wins, with the clock always ticking), so there is clear pressure on solo riders, inherent in the structure of the race, to push the line on sleep deprivation.

    But the scenario of the sleepy RV driver is not *caused* by RAAM's structure, per se, unless, as I noted, RAAM has some weird rule that limits how many available drivers can be present in the RV.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    That accident was very simply the fault of the team/crew. There is no excuse for any crew member to be so fatugued that they risk falling asleep at the wheel. Especially one that isn't even directly involved with the race. It doesn't matter if it is a team or a single rider. The driver was cited as he should be. I don't see how this is a result of the RAAM race format. My teammates (not counting crew) have 30+ RAAM crossings between us and we've never had a "sleep at the wheel" issue. If a driver gets sleepy, they should pull over immediately and switch with a fresh one. If there is an ego issue, that person shouldn't be on the crew. On our team there is no discussion, if you are anything close to tired you are not behind the wheel. This a safety issue, simple as that. All teams and riders should have enough crew so that this isn't an issue.
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxine View Post
    ...But the scenario of the sleepy RV driver is not *caused* by RAAM's structure, per se, unless, as I noted, RAAM has some weird rule that limits how many available drivers can be present in the RV.
    RAAM has no such rule...
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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