Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Getting Ready for Kettle Valley

With the clock ticking quickly, I've decided to pass on training tonight for the MS Mountain Tour. Preparations are necessary to ensure that this the 4th annual bicycle camping trip is a success. For the past three years, my cycling friend Roy and I have ridden our bikes along the Kettle Valley Railroad - an old railbed that is part of the Transcanada Trail. We do a different section at a time - usually 400 kilometers.
I have my TREK mountain bike (hereafter called BIG BLUE) up on the repair stand and so far have managed to reinstall the handlebar extensions, the fenders, an extra bottle holder, my unusual hornless bike seat, the rear pannier rack and the front handlebar bag. Oh yeah. Something new this year - an under-the-seat bag specifically to hold bike tools.

During my first year of doing the KVR, I carried 50 lbs. of stuff which I have since whittled down to 30. The weight of water is a concern. You want to bring enough yet you don't want the bike to be too heavy. I know Roy ran out of water one year and 2 years ago we ran out of water at Hydraulic Lake and were saved by a kindly lady at a farm that we had to ride off the trail to reach.

Last night I took the chain off Big Blue and cleaned it in gasoline and while the chain was drying, I cleaned off the rear cassette and front chainring. After installing the chain, I put copious amounts of oil onto each link, knowing that the trail is mighty dusty and the weather forecast is calling for 30 degree + weather which can dry out a chain in no time.

All my gear is laid out in the basement and having done this type of cycling before, I have drawn up a list that I only need to tweak slightly every year. For example, this year instead of taking heavy track pants, I'm packing lightweight nylon/spandex
pants. Why take a spare tube when a patch kit works just as well? I'm convinced that bringing a multitool is worth the extra weight and even though Roy disagrees, I'm bringing along an emergency kevlar spoke.

Another friend, Richard is joining us this year and I'm sure that once we all meet in Naramata, we can pool our resources and save some weight - why would we each need to bring a tire pump? Tire levers? Bike tools? Each year I have brought whistles so that we can signal each other. One blow means a brief stop. Two blows on the whistle means there is a problem. Since Roy usually rides ahead of me, he has never had occasion to use his whistle. Two years ago, just before we descended into Rock Creek, I noticed his rear tire was flatttening and I blew two sharp blasts and we pulled over to fix his tire. I think they are a great idea and again worth their weight.

Since we will be in the woods where there is no outside communication, I won't be updating my blog as often as normal. And besides, I don't want to carry the extra weight of a laptop and all its accessories. I'm proud of my 30 pounds and don't want to upset the fine balance that I have discovered over several years of bicycle camping!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Adrian,

    Your cycling adventure sounds wonderful. I've got comments for you regarding tubes and water though.

    I'm not sure if there are streams along your path, but if there are, MEC sells water drops.. about 100 grams to treat 120 litres of water I believe.

    Re: tubes.. I've had a tire sidewall be punctured in such a way that even after booting it involved patching tubes every 100km or so.. I bring a lightweight folding tire with me.. if you've all got the same wheel-size.. one would definitely be enough for everyone, I've only needed it once... Needless to say, I take an extra tube as well. Two reasons.

    1. Sheer convenience. I can patch the other tube whenever I feel like it as opposed to right when it's flat!

    2. The occasional valve problem. I've had troubles with both presta and schraeder valve tubes before, although very rarely! I'll get off my soap box now. BTW, I carry about 30 lbs. of gear as well.. aiming for 20!

    Do you have a handlebar bag? They're wonderful for snacking while moving!

    Happy cycle-camping trip!