Carrying water bottles on the fork is standard bikepacking practice, and is familiar from touring bikes going well back. (My friend Ed Carman’s beautiful mid-1970′s Eisentrout Limited has a fork that is probably not the original but was drilled for bottle mounts in the early 80′s). I’ve secured two bottles to each fork leg with no grief.
I have also used Salsa’s Anything Cage to good effect on my forks, secured by a combination of hose clamps and the mid-fork rack mount. As long as the loads are kept reasonable and are roughly symmetrical, bike handling is only minimally affected. The concept is exemplary, but Anything Cages are fairly fragile. Salsa has promised a redesign.
Jeremy at Cleaveland Mountaineering sews up an alternative in the form of a cordura semi pocket with a closed bottom and a metal stiffener to bolt to triple bosses. Optional large steel band clamps are available for attaching it to an undrilled fork. The pocket has two straps with metal strap locks to secure diverse roughly cylindrical loads. Because the body of the pocket is soft and compliant, there isn’t a chance of damaging it from rough road shaking or laying the bike down. The pockets each weigh a bit more than an Anything Cage, so this is not a weight saving measure. Still, the bomber construction, ease of use and massive versatility absolutely gets the job done.
David Herlihy—renowned cycling historian and author of Bicycle: The History and The Lost Cyclist (two of my favorites)—gave a terrific talk today on recently recovered images from the famous round-the-world trip by Allen and Sachtleben in 1891. The photos were scanned from negatives long buried in UCLA’s archives, and include samples from their time in Greece, Turkey, and Persia. This is part of the span that would provide the source material for Across Asia on a Bicycle (1894).
The cultural and social aspects of their journey fascinate the most, but looking at their strikingly modern bikepacking gear for broken rough roads is a treat, too.
If you’re in NYC tomorrow (May 4th), head down to the Bike Expo NYC to catch a repeat performance at 4pm.
Load two bikes onto the Camry roof rack as far apart from each other as the crossbars permit. In between, the kind of canoe from bargain outdoor stores every summer camp leaning against houses in half overgrown side yard in the Adirondacks, tied down against kids toy blue styro blocks, nylon twine holds the nose secure under the front bumper, the tail to the ironic seeming tow hitch pointing at the Vermont plate. The resulting unkempt mission, we could be going fishing or shooting, it’s true that we have six cans of beer.
We drive to the put in a few hours away, undercarriage bouncing against ruts. Unload, frames stacked in the middle space, wheels secured on top of them, same twine. Push off, distracted current, paddles dipped dipped.
Mist, sandwiches and apples lunch, day warms up. Tell stories, let silence, argue the way we always have since we met in an Intro Philosophy class, like two people who essentially agree. At the end but the halfway, drag the canoe out of the water then flipped into the brush, Kriz builds up the Stumpjumper that he’s had since Junior year, I’m on the Trucker. Dirt roads back to the car, now the river isn’t half the horizon, it’s just another shimmering mote out of the corner of our eyes alongside the farm buildings, the old stone walls, the rural power lines. Ticking along in jeans sweaters and watch caps, cross bridges that we’d looked up at hours before, perceive space as if time’s reversed. Not so much on a bike ride, but riding bicycles for the movement and moment. We’ll dismount, secure them, get in, collect the boat on the way back home.
Early in the Spring I asked my friend and cycling co-conspirator Nicholas Carman to build a set of 2-9 wheels for my Pugsley. We debated and joked our way between conceiving of the bike as a Krampug or a Karate Pugs, ie, with Rabbit Holes+Knards or with standard 2-9 rims so as to run tires as narrow as ‘cross tires. I have an excellent 2-9 and a cross bike, but I still wasn’t much attracted to the 29+ format. Every time I envisioned a situation where I might like Knards, I imagined myself even happier on full blown Fat tires.
What I ended up requesting is a wheelset that I could put on the Pugs when my friends were doing a fast Thursday night group ride, or for domestic bikepacking when I would be trying to keep up with the skinny tired set—we’re speaking relatively here, of course—but where I still want all the braze-ons and gear carry options that I now have on the Pugs frame. Mostly, I wanted to see how versatile a Pugsley could be.
Nick laced a SRAM X7 hub and a Surly Singlespeed hub to Velocity Synergy offset rims. I mounted my go-to tire pair, a Schwalbe Racing Ralph up front and Maxxis Crossmax in back. Unusual spoke tension aside, the results are splendid.
Naturally, the first thing is the shocking acceleration of the 2-9 wheelset compared to Large Marges+Larrys. Out the front door and up a steady climb, I just laugh, as the Pugsley has never shot from the line like that. Once in the woods, its overall behavior became clearer and was consistent: at low speed the steering is light and fast, almost but not quite nervous. It’s nimble on singletrack between trees and while picking around and “problem solving” through rocky ledgy uphill sections. It certainly turns more willingly than the Karate Monkey does. At speed it’s notably more of a handful than a Karate Monkey or the Rob English.
Board the train, a familiar shuffle even if at an odd AM hour and unfamiliar conductors and car companions. Even if this unwieldy cordura bag. Keep having to rehearse that I’m disembarking on an impossibly earlier stop, one that I’ve only unthinkingly glanced at from a window seat. Step off onto the platform, a few minutes of assembly, rest of the commute home a different way.
Rail trail with seniors walking briskly and smiling parents pushed running strollers and furtive young people who I wonder why they aren’t in school about. Lunch. Then country roads that were yesterday google map speculation, churches farms cemeteries like only the Northeast has, a big climb—the sign says so, Steep Incline Ahead—with a thunderstorm, obviously perfect. Then another recreational path and trail and miles and daydreams or retreat, towns seen from the inside out, from behind and unassuming, maybe it’s imagination but people seem more open to a pedaler on a folding bike with panniers with nearly normal clothing. A break sipping a coffee, a phonecall, you’re huh where?, and some answered correspondence from a bench. Stone barns, a dirt trail through a park. Then home.
Serene as Buddha both, a bearded senior with a bird—a cockatoo—on his bars; a dapper pinstripe businessman in a three piece suit on a longboard; neon deep rim narrow riser bar fixies, one every few minutes like they’re late to a parade for themselves; those distinctive stout rental bikes always two or more abreast and Italian French Portuguese voices; more briefcase fronted Bromptons than I’ve ever seen; a little girl with a purple helmet with rigid cat ears, I say, “I like your helmet,” she pedals harder with her whole body; a triathlete; Rapha jerseys; Dutch bike; a half dozen different configurations of recumbent; a Pinarello Dogma 2 Team Sky edition; velojoring behind a Husky; tattooed jean shorts knee socks piercings flying hair on a 70′s tourer; khaki pants, maroon shirt, hi-viz vest, coke bottle glasses bent over his bars, startling me as he whizzes by, look down, 22 on the Garmin, look across to the receding figure, a battery.
Nearly 80 degrees warm on the Hudson River Greenway along the West Side Highway.
They would catch my eye and a more basal part of perception before I became inured to them, start of surprise and piqued alarm, bicycles moving along at a speed not impossible or strictly unusual, but in absence of travail and conviction, none of the tension and purpose of a rider’s bowed coiling body leveraging into the big ring small cog that would be required for that clip. Impassive undistressed overwarmly dressed rider, maybe a pedal stroke here there but then coasting that defies folk physics appearances like not quite right movie CGI.
This part of lower Manhattan, greatest concentrations of electric bikes in The City, and therefore I’d guess in the USA.